The Ball Gown Skirt DIY: Taffeta Maxi Skirt

I will take pretty much any excuse to dress up.  Dinner party?  Dress up time!  Wedding?  Gotta find a new outfit!! Celebrating our anniversary after two years of not having a change to do anything to mark the occasion?  You know I was dressing to the nines for this one!

As a result, I have collected a range of dresses appropriate for more formal occasions.  But, I just didn’t really want to wear any of these dresses.  I wanted something new.  I had see full-length ball gown like skirts all over Pinterest, and I really felt that I could make one myself.

The overall construction is almost exactly like that of The Kate Skirt, only much longer, fuller, and gathered as opposed to pleated.

I didn’t make an official tutorial, but I’m going to walk you through the general steps in case you want to attempt one of your own.

I purchased 3.5 yards of a 60″ wide stretch taffeta.  The stretch is inconsequential.  It just happened to be the taffeta that had the right shade of pink/magenta that I was going for.  I used nearly ALL of the 3.5 yards.

After washing, I took the fabric and folded it in half and then cut down the middle, so I ended up with two pieces that were 60″ long by 63″ wide.

Then I took one of the pieces and cut it in half again(this will be the two back panels).  Now you will have three pieces that are more than likely REALLY long(unless your legs are longer than 5’…haha).

I cut off 12″ along the bottom to make the waistband and the ties(6″wide for the waistband, 6″ wide for the ties).  I made(and later attached) the waistband EXACTLY the same as I did for the Kate Skirt.

My skirt had pockets, which I did the same as for the Kate Skirt, only I had huge panels of fabric that I was sewing together.

There are different ways to gather material.  One is to sew a long loose stitch along the area you want gathered, then pull on one of the loose strings.  I’ve never had much success with this method as my strings always break and I can’t get my gathers to be even.  For this skirt, I cut a piece of twine about 6 inches longer than I wanted the waist to be.  I tied a knot about 3 inches from each end so that the distance between the knots was the waist measurement(28″ in my case).

I hand stitched one end of the knot to the right hand side of the back seam and then the rest along the edge of the fabric.  I folded the fabric edge down and over the twine, and made a little “pocket” for the twine.  Once I had the whole length of the twine encased in fabric, I pushed the fabric down the length of the twine and tada it was gathered!  I kept doing this till I went around the whole skirt and got to the left side of the back seam.  I tied the two ends of the twine together then sewed on the waistband, and then cut the twine where I had knotted the two ends together.

I inserted the zipper and hemmed the bottom and the skirt was done.

I made the sash by sewing two 6″x63″ pieces together to make one piece that was 6″x126″, folded it in half, right sides together and sewing up all but 1 side, then flipped it inside out and used heat n’bond to close the open end.

The technique is really easy, but what can cause difficulty is the shear amount of fabric you’re working with.

The end result is totally worth it though.  For less than $30, I had a gorgeous ball gown skirt that made me feel like a princess.

If I were to do my wedding over, I would make these skirts for my bridesmaids to wear(probably not in this bright pink though!).

I got multiple compliments throughout the night(one lady even stopped her car on the side of the street to tell me she loved my outfit).

-Tamara

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19 thoughts on “The Ball Gown Skirt DIY: Taffeta Maxi Skirt

    • guitargrl325 says:

      I originally planned on shortening it so that I could wear it for work, but I still haven’t done it yet because I like having a ball gown skirt!! I don’t really know what I’ll do with it. I’m kind of trying to work up the courage to wear it to work, but I don’t want to look unprofessional either……

      • missanubis says:

        I thing everyone needs a ball gown skirt (and an event to wear it). I bet you could pull it off with a smart sweater and a tweed blazer.

  1. alviya zaker says:

    This s really beautiful!!! Im a new beginner, can i ask u abt this dress? should i just use one piece only to make this or i have to cut 2 pieces for the back panels too? i just cant understand how to use those back panels. Thank you so much

    • guitargrl325 says:

      You don’t have to make three panels. I did three because I wanted to have pockets on the sides and a zipper in the back. but yes, if you only needed a zipper and no pockets you could use one large piece with only one seam.

  2. Sharon Mayfield says:

    This is such a beautiful skirt. I am working on having a skirt like this made; can’t find a pattern anywhere. Can you tell me what skirt size 3.5 yards is?

    • guitargrl325 says:

      You can kind of make it whatever size you need based upon how much you gather it to fit to your waistband. For my shorter skirts, I usually cut out the front panel at 40″ and two back panels at 20″ wide each. So, in total of 80″ gathered down to about 30″, so just under 3x the waistband length. Obviously the fuller the skirt you want, the wider the pieces you would start with.

      However, if you didn’t want gathers at the waist but still wanted a very full long skirt, you could attempt a circle skirt. It would take a BUTT load of fabric and you’d probably have to do it in panels, but it would be very dramatic and beautiful.

    • guitargrl325 says:

      It would depend on several factors. First, how soon you wanted it. I would need to order the fabric, and then make it and then ship it to you which would take a few weeks at least. The exact fabric I used is no longer available, but they have a very similar fabric available.

      Cost would depend on a few things…how much fabric I need to buy(the bigger/taller you are the more fabric I would need to buy), whether you want it lined or not and what kind of shipping you’d be looking at(i.e., are you okay with regular USPS or UPS, or do you want it overnighted ect).

      I’d say a rough estimate for a lined, full ball gown like the one I made, based on current available fabric prices would cost around $100-125, depending upon your size.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I am 5’6 and about a size 4. Regular shipping is good, and I am in no rush to have it made I really want to wear it to my bachelorette party in August!

  4. Nina says:

    I’m a complete newbie to the world of sewing. I mean I’m going to step in the fabric store today for the first time in 10 years kinda new. I’m hoping to make this skirt to be part of my own DIY Lehenga. It’s a type of Indian outfit that is basically a crop top and skirt. Hoping it works out!!! Thank you so much for sharing, it really is beautiful!

  5. Orlandrea says:

    This is exactly what I have been searching for. I have a question. Can I use an elastic waistband and maybe add belt loops for the sash? I’m a newbie in every way. I’m using a borrowed sewing machine that does not have a zipper foot. If I can pull off a pretty good “practice” skirt or 2, this will be the skirt that I make for my wedding. 🙂

    • guitargrl325 says:

      I would think you could do it. I don’t see why not! and you might not even need belt loops, Mine doesn’t have belt loops that the waistband/tie stays in place.

  6. Nicole says:

    Question- I love the drop waisted ball gown skirts from Shabby Apple- could I adapt this pattern to include the drop waist? I am very much a beginner but I would love to try. This skirt is so gorgeous!

    • guitargrl325 says:

      I’m so sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I was caught up in motherhood and having a new baby/going back to work. I’ve never made a drop waist skirt so I’m not sure how that would work but I’m sure it’s possible. I’m guess this is the skirt you are talking about? http://www.shabbyapple.com/shop/waltzing-matilda-ball-skirt/ If I were going to make this one, I would probably use a pencil skirt for the top portion and then attach the ball gown/gathered portion for the full skirt part.

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