I made this homecoming dress a couple weeks ago for my niece, and I had the hardest time finding info on how to make a pick up skirt. I mean, I knew how to make the pick ups, but I didn't know how much fabric it would take, etc. And basically everything I found, only told the how...but no details on the fabric etc, so I decided to write a tutorial, and hopefully this will help you guys if you ever want to do this.
It's actually in-credibly easy to do! So, here we go!
What you'll need
safety pins...lots of safety pins
When choosing your fabrics, if you want your pick ups to really hold their shape use a stiffer fabric, like taffeta. I used a polyester shantung, which isn't very stiff, so I had to create larger pick ups to get a really dramatic effect. The softer the effect you want, the softer the fabric you should use. I also, read somewhere in a forum, that if you want to use something soft, like organza or chiffon for the top skirt, you should cut 2 additional top skirts in a matching tulle and all three layers as one. Otherwise, the delicate fabric will tear with movement. You should also be sure to use a sturdy lining fabric when using softer top fabrics.
1) Figure out how long you want your finished skirt to be (minus the waistband and minus 1").
If you are making a dress, it's a good idea to complete the bodice so that you can see exactly where it ends and measure your skirt length from there. Add seam allowance.
If you are making a bubble skirt, you will need subtract another 3-4" from the final skirt length so that the top skirt can "bubble" under when you stitch it to the lining.
2) Cut the skirt lining to that length. I used a skirt lining pattern I already had then cut it down to the length I needed. If you don't have a pattern you can use, follow these instructions:
If the zipper is on the side: Cut 2 rectangles. To figure the width of the rectangles, use your hip measurement + 1" for ease + seam allowances.
If the zipper is in the back: Cut 3 rectangles. Cut the front rectangle the same as if the zipper was on the side. Then for the back, use your hip measurement + 2" for ease + seam allowances. Then, cut that rectangle in half so that you have a left back skirt piece and a right back skirt piece.
Next, sew all your skirt lining pieces together, making sure to leave about 5" open at the top on the zipper seam, so that you can insert the zipper. Gather the top edge of the skirt lining so that it is the same size as your bodice/waistband.
For a regular hem: hem the lining using a narrow hem (either use a narrow hem foot or turn the hem up 1/4"; press; turn it up anther 1/4"; press and stitch in place).
For a bubble hem: press the bottom raw edge of the lining up to the RS by 1/2".
3) For the skirt, you will cut 2 or 3 rectangles as described for the lining, except you will cut them twice as wide and at least twice as long.
I cut mine twice as long, and I just barely had enough to achieve the fullness I did. If you want it about the same fullness as mine, I would cut the length 2x longer plus about 6"...You can always cut extra fabric off, but once it's too short...well, you know...you get to start all. over. again! So, despite the fact that I absolutely HATE to waste fabric, I'd rather do that than have to make the skirt twice!
Sew the skirt pieces together, just as you did the lining pieces.
4) If you are making a dress, you will want to sew the bodice lining to the skirt lining and the bodice and skirt together. Then, with RS facing and seams matching, stitch the bodice to the bodice lining according to your pattern instructions. It should look like the picture above.
If you are making a skirt, with the RS of the skirt lining facing the WS of the skirt, baste them together. Then, gather the waist so that it matches the waistband.
5) Open a lot of safety pins.
6) Hang the dress/skirt from a dress form, or if your like me and don't have a dress form, just hang it somewhere and pull up a chair...preferably one with wheels so you can slide back and forth to get a good look at your work. ; ) Pin the raw edges of the skirt lining to the top skirt where you are going to insert the zipper...or you can go ahead and insert the zipper before making the pickups...that's what I did, but it's totally up to you!
7) Starting at the top of the skirt, grab the skirt fabric and pull it up higher on the lining and to one side a bit, put your hand inside the lining, pinch the top skirt fabric through the lining to hold it in place and pin the skirt fabric to the lining with a safety pin. Be careful not to twist the lining fabric around or pull up the lining with the skirt fabric. You want to keep the lining hanging straight...ie you only want to change the shape of the skirt fabric...not the lining fabric...Does that make sense??
The fabric coming from the bottom should go under the fabric from the top.
You can make the pick ups as big as you want like in this pic...
or as small as you want, like in this pic.
Symmetrical. Not symmetrical. Whatever. That's the great part about this! It's almost impossible to mess it up! And as your working, take time to step back, look at how it's draping, and if you aren't happy with something, you can always unpin what you don't like and make adjustments.
Here's what it looked like once I pinned all the pick ups.
8) Once you are happy with the shape of the skirt, you will need to stitch the skirt pickups to the lining using a zigzag stitch. At first, I would pin the pick up in place with a regular pin like this, then, remove the safety pin and stitch.
But then (after about 2 pick ups lol), I got lazy and started just carefully stitching next to the safety pin...okay, so I stitched directly on top of them, but you do run the risk of breaking a needle on the safety pins and possibly damaging your sewing machine, and I'm sure it's even possibe you could somehow injure yourself, so do this at your own risk...but if you are lazy, be sure not to sew over the side of the safety pin that doesn't open because then it doesn't come out. Lesson. Learned!
Once you think, you have got all the pick ups sewn in place, look inside at the lining for more safety pins! 'Cause chances are: you missed a few! And just keep checking until you get them all.
10) Now all that's left is the hem.
For a regular hem: Turn the dress inside out, and trim the top skirt so that it is about 2" longer than the lining, then do a narrow hem. A narrow hem foot would really come in handy here because if you have to iron that all the way around, twice, it's gonna be a pain!
For a bubble hem: Turn the dress inside out, and trim the top skirt so that it is about 4-5" longer than the lining. Run a gathering stitch around the bottom of the skirt 1/2" from the raw edge, and gather it so that it is the same width as the skirt.
Now this part is sort of hard to explain, but I'll do my best. If you have trouble please feel free to email me or comment, and I will do my best to answer any questions. I could even do a video of this part if needed.
Okay, as you are gathering, pin the skirt to the lining at points directly below where your bottom row of pick ups is sewn. It's best to do this while the dress is hanging, so you can see the natural fall of the fabric. Fold the raw edge under along your gathering stitch and pin it to the lining. You want the pressed edge of the lining and the folded edge of the skirt to line up.
You will have extra skirt fabric between those pick up points like in the picture above. Gather the excess skirt fabric so that it fits between those points, and fold the raw edge under and pin as you did before.
Once you have gathered and pinned the hem, stitch the skirt to the lining using a ladder stitch and your done!
Hope that helps someone! And as I said before, if anything needs clarification, feel free to email or comment!