Skull print circle skirt (& crinoline)

1950s style circle skirt in a skull & crossbones cotton print.

1950s style circle skirt in a skull & crossbones cotton print.

For the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge #23, the challenge is to make something historical (or historically inspired) that is wearable in an every-day context.  I actually was a bit stumped, but then realized that I needed to test out the circle skirt pattern for my Enchantment Under the Sea costume, and that if I made it up in a fabric I’d love… I could wear it for something other than “costume”.

Of course.. this meant I raided my stash of skull-print fabrics!

The fabric is a 100% cotton I bought a few years ago. Probably after Halloween. I thought it looked enough like the black and white polka-dots that 1950s-inspired rockabilly outfits are commonly made of. Showing it off while making it, it actually took a moment for my housemate to realize it was skull-and-crossbones. (Oh.. she should know by NOW! 🙂 )

The skirt is three full quarters of a circle, and two half-quarters for a center-back zippered seam. (More for fabric use than for the seam placement admittedly.) The waistband I cheated a bit, and did a partially elasticized band – so it still has a hook and bar at the back opening where the fabric is flat, but the rest of the waistband is elastic for comfort, fit, and to add a bit of gathering to the top of the skirt without actually having to gather up the fabric. The hem is done with 2″ wide black horsehair braid, hand-stitched to finish (6 meters of hand stitching… ouch!)


To make the circle skirt (this one, as well as the one for the costume) hang nicely and feel more accurate to the 1950s I needed to make a crinoline too. I opted for teal to go with the costume, but it happens to look fantastic with the black and white skull print too.

I actually made TWO tulle garments – the crinoline uses about 5 meters of tulle, while the petticoat uses about 4 meters.  I did this because the different “layers” were very visible with the knit fabric of the costume’s skirt, and the petticoat helps even it out a bit.

1950s style circle skirt in a skull & crossbones cotton print.

Just the Crinoline under the skull-print skirt.

For the crinoline I largely followed Sugardale Clothing’s blog post with instructions, however I made some variations.  For the lowest tier of the netting, I doubled it, so that the folded edge would be on the bottom. Raw-edge tulle tends to catch on things and be scratchy, so having it folded at the bottom keeps that from happening a degree. I also did each subsequent tier with a double-layer of fabric, though not exactly the same width – so that it would give extra “poof” to each tier. I used swimwear fabric for the yoke, and did an elastic waistband. I did love her technique using ribbon, though I used wide white twill tape. In retrospect, a matching tape would have looked prettier. I did my skirt in four sections to make it more manageable, each gathering about 4.5 meters of tulle down into one-quarter of the finished crinoline. I also used a pleating attachment for my sewing machine for the lowest (and most gathered) tier. (Read my post on using pleating attachments here.)

The petticoat is more like the pattern on Edelweiss Patterns Blog with significant variations as well. I did a deep folded hem (to have that double-layer of fabric at the edge once more) and I used swimwear fabric for the yoke, and did an elastic waistband. I did mine as a solid skirt rather than open, since I didn’t want things shifting on me when I wore it. There’s a lot going on under there!


I don’t have a good half-slip to use with the crinoline/tulle petticoat, and the tulle was still a bit itchy (mostly around the waist though) so I ended up wearing a pair of tight shorts under the crinoline the first time I wore it. It worked pretty well actually – especially since it was a cool December evening!

Historical Sew Fortnightly

The Challenge: #23: Modern History – due Mon 15 December.  Make something historical or historically inspired that is wearable in an everyday context.

“For the purpose of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, ‘historical’ is WWII era and earlier, so no later than 1945..”

… so… this isn’t quite within the “Historical” Sew Fortnightly perimeters, but I didn’t see that until afterwards! OOps!  Oh well, I’m calling it a HSF project anyways… (And I don’t have anything else on the agenda to take it’s place!)

Fabric: 100% quilting cotton with skull & crossbones // 100% nylon tulle, swimwear (content unknown – spandex for sure!)

Pattern: self-drafted circle skirt // self-drafted from two website directions

Year: 1950s // 1950s

Notions: elastic, thread, horsehair braid, zipper // thread, elastic, twill tape

How historically accurate is it?: The pattern for the skirt is accurate. Beyond that it was a whim. // I’ve found examples for both through sewing blogs as being accurate for the 1950s, though the fabric is incorrect.

Hours to complete: 4? I never look at this.. since I work in pieces. // ages –  all . that . gathering. (maybe 10 hours in total?)

First worn: I wore the crinoline and skull print skirt for the photo December 6th. The crinoline and tulle petticoat I wore to my Dec 6 party under my Enchantment Under the Sea costume, and then I wore just the skull-print skirt on Dec 7th when I played hostess and had some friends over for a gathering, and then out for dinner later that same day for dinner! 

Total cost: Not sure. I used about 5 meters of fabric, at I’m guessing $6-8/meter. Circle skirts aren’t really great at using up every bit of fabric though, so I have lots left over for a shell top or something to match. Horsehair braid was 7 meters (with a meter left over) at $4.50-20% / meter. Elastic and rest were in my stash, but guessing $2.50 for the elastic, $1.50 for the zip, $2.00 for the thread? // 9 meters of tulle at $1.99 – 50%/meter, swimsuit fabric was in my stash but I’m guessing .5/meter at about $8.00/meter, $2.50 for the elastic, $3.00 for the twill tape, $2.00 for the thread?

2 comments on “Skull print circle skirt (& crinoline)

  1. […] I made my skull-print circle skirt last year, I really wanted to make it up again. I was actually itching to use some gorgeous bronze […]

  2. […] the pattern cuts up so quickly, sews up so quickly, and I’ve had a lot of fun wearing my skull-print skirt from before, and I love how it wears too – so once I was on a roll, I wanted to keep it […]

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