To make a hoop skirt, you first have to know exactly what you want to make, or rather who you want to look like, because the term “hoop skirt” is vague and more-or-less imaginary and doesn’t necessarily refer to what you think it does.
Do you want to look like Queen Elizabeth I? You want to make a Tudor-style farthingale, stiffened with cane or willow (not a bad idea!), starched rope, or whalebone (terrible idea!).
Do you want to look like Marie Antoinette? That’s actually a pannier that gives you those wide, French-royalty hips.
Did you escape the guillotine? Good job! What you’re now wearing is actually just a thousand petticoats under your dress!
It’s the 1800s, and wow, all those petticoats are warm! Instead of a billion layers, how about you wear just one cage crinoline, and if it’s 1855 or later you can even make it from steel (thanks, Henry Bessemer!).
It’s possible to DIY all of these iterations of the “hoop skirt”–and without whalebone, yay!–so whether you’re looking for your next cosplay piece or the perfect skirt silhouette, scroll down to what you want to make and check out the tutorials that teach you how to make it!
There’s not much difference between a farthingale and a cage crinoline, other than the materials used. Even the silhouettes are similar! In many ways, a historically-accurate farthingale is more eco-friendly than a cage crinoline, as it used natural materials like willow or hemp rope rather than steel or, later, plastic.
Fortunately, you can use natural materials for both garments, or substitute upcycled materials.
1. Authentic Farthingale
This rewrite of a historical pattern is not for the beginner, and not so much for the visual learner, either, as it’s not well-illustrated. But it IS the way to make an authentic historical farthingale!
2. Basic Cage Crinoline
This is the ideal type of cage crinoline, with structured hoops inserted into a petticoat. Don’t want to seek out an online specialty store for the boning? No problem, because these hoops came from the hardware store!
3. How To Draft A Custom Pattern
Back when hoop skirts were legitimately in fashion, everything was custom-tailored (fun fact: all the fancy people STILL custom tailor their clothing, even the off-the-rack stuff!). Get your own perfect fit by drafting a custom cage crinoline pattern to your own exact measurements.
4. Visible Cage Crinoline
Cage crinolines and farthingales were meant to be worn under a skirt, but wearing a cage crinoline on the outside is a fun look, especially if you ditch the petticoat option so that you’re left with just the visible cage.
5. Upcycled Wire Hanger Hoop Skirt
Yes, you CAN use the wires from upcycled wire hangers to make a quite serviceable hoop skirt! You can replace the vertical boning with fabric for a garment that will collapse instead of flip up and show off your panties every time you sit.
6. Authentic Pannier
Here’s another one of those authentic, historically-accurate tutorials with few illustrations and lots of sewing skill implied. Good luck!
7. DIY Pannier
Here’s how to sew a pannier from scratch, including how to sew channels for the boning and yet another hardware store boning supply!
8. Shower Caddy Pannier
If you need the look of a pannier, but you don’t need it to be historically accurate, here’s a shortcut method that upcycles two net shower caddies.
9. Video Tutorial
Sometimes you just need a video to hold your hand and walk you through the step-by-step process. That’s exactly what you get with this pannier tutorial! The creator has a separate video tutorial for kid-sized panniers.
10. How To Make A Petticoat
Depending on the time period and the garment, petticoats were meant to be seen or unseen. No matter which you’d like to make, this tutorial will walk you through the design, construction, and sewing.
11. Rainbow Petticoat
Decide for yourself, but I’m nearly positive that you need to make this rainbow petticoat.
12. Variable-Length Petticoat
You don’t always want to make a floor-length petticoat, and this tutorial is especially useful because although you can use it to make a petticoat of any length, the petticoat that the author is making is specifically a shorter one.
13. Video Tutorial
Here’s another basic petticoat tutorial, but the video format sometimes makes it easier to follow along.
14. Adjustable Petticoat
This is a useful petticoat to make, because you can adjust it at any time to change the amount and location of fullness.
15. Tiered And Layered Petticoat
Don’t be afraid in the math involved in making the pattern for this petticoat, because this tutorial is one of the best explanations available for exactly how a petticoat is constructed, and why it’s constructed the way that it is.
Have you ever sewn a specialty undergarment for an outfit? If so, tell me about it in the comments below!