Make a Gypsy Skirt

Many costumes call for a gypsy skirt. It’s great for belly dancing, peasants, gypsy costumes, prairie looks, romantic skirts, folk dancing, pirating, and witchy wear.

You can use earth tones, dark blues, and forest greens for Renaissance faires. Gothic belly dancing (raks Gothique) has basic black as a given, but you can also go with deep purple or burgundy (blood red).

Here’s how to make your own pattern.

Get a tape measure. It helps to have a friend measure you.

Decide if your skirt is going to sit at your waist or your hips. This pattern is for a skirt that sits at your waist. Decide how many tiers you want. This pattern has 4 tiers and is ankle length.

Decide if you want it floor length or just long enough to cover the tops of your gypsy boots or pirate boots.

Measure your waist. Then add 2″ worth of overlap. This is for fastening and ‘ease’. So if your waist is 22″, your strip of fabric would be 24″ long.

Ease is extra fabric added in to make a garment more comfortable.

Then, decide if you are going to use a drawstring, or elastic, or hooks and eyes or a zipper.

Since I wear mine at Renaissance faires, I always go with drawstrings. That way if I lose or gain weight, it will be adjustable. Gypsy skirts are heavy, and if you are on the thin side, 1″ elastic will hold it up. If you are well endowed all that extra fabric may make the skirt too heavy for elastic to hold it up. If you find the elastic not working, you can replace it with a drawstring instead.

Cut a strip of fabric for the waistband twice as wide as you want the waistband to be, plus 1 1/4″ for seams. Say your waist is 22″. You would cut a strip 24″ long (22″ + 2″ of ease, and 3 1/4″ wide).

Cut a piece of iron-on interfacing half that width and slightly shorter. Following directions on interfacing, iron on to one half of the waistband. Fold the waistband in half lengthwise with right sides together and press to mark the center seam. Iron each long side wrong side to wrong side 5/8″ along the length of the waistband. Now, with right sides together, fold waistband in half again, sew 5/8 seam along each end being careful not to unfold crease. That way when you flip the waistband right side out, the ends are finished.

Now, figure out how wide you want each tier. You can make your gypsy skirt with 3, 4 or 5 tiers. It is common the top tier to be the most narrow, and have each tier get wider as you go down, but that is up to you.

Each tier is a long rectangle. The first tier is 3x the waist length. The 2nd tier is 3 1/2 times. The 3rd tier is 4x’s. If you want a lot of tiers make each tier a foot longer.

If you want to, you can make the pattern with pattern paper or brown kraft paper on a roll. Or just figure out the size of each tier and cut the rectangles w/o a pattern.

As the tiers get bigger, your fabric won’t be long enough. So piece them together taking care to match stripes if necessary.

If you can’t remember how to gather fabric, check your sewing machine manual or a basic sewing book.

Pick up your first tier. With the short edges right side together, stitch a 5/8″seam 1/3 of the way across. The rest will be left open so you can get into the skirt. Press seam open. Baste and gather the top tier to fit the length of the waistband with right sides together, leaving 1″ of each end of waistband free to turn.

Using the same technique, add each tier. Remember, you gather only the top of each tier and sew it to the tier above it.

When all the tiers are added, hem the bottom with a shirt tail hem. (In other words, fold over twice 1/4″ each time and stitch by machine).

If you are going to add ribbon trim, sew it to tiers before joining the skirt together.

Now go back up to the waistband. Fold it in half so the outside is facing out. Re-iron it to lay flat. Then hand stitch the inner edge to cover all the raw edges of the first tier. If you are going to use hooks and eyes, add them now. If you are using a drawstring, use a seam ripper to carefully open the seams on each end just enough for the drawstring to go through for tying. Make the drawstring at least 20″ longer than your waist so you have room to tie a bow. Using a sturdy woven trim for the drawstring is much quirker than trying to make a drawstring.


Remember, a very full skirt will go straight out when you swirl. So don’t forget to wear harem pants and /or dance trunks under it.

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