Girls RaRa Skirt
Project by Helen Bowes
In this tutorial we look at how to create a RaRa (or layered) skirt. I decided to make this as a present for one of my nieces. My daughter loved (still does love) her RaRa skirt so I thought I’d make one no one else would have. As always start with gathering your equipment together.
1-inch wide elastic
Material of your choice – you may want patterned or plain or a mixture
Sewing machine, needle and thread
Pattern marking device such as tailor’s chalk
Cutting mat and rotary cutter or scissors
Iron and ironing board
The first stage is to choose a fabric that will work for the character of the child you are making for. So, in this case the fabric that will form the ruffles is made from a Minnie mouse fabric. The connecting layers are made out of a base pink. The idea is that when the child spins the skirt layers will separate and you will see the pink under the Minnie mouse fabric.
So, in order to make your skirts you need to know how big your child is!!!
Measurements should be made where you want the skirt to sit. So, you can measure around the child’s waist or, if you want it to sit slightly lower then measure around the hips or anywhere between their waist and hips. In this case the skirt will sit on the girl’s hips. In terms of fabric the elastic is width +1. The connecting pieces are width x 1.5. The ruffle pieces are the length of the connecting pieces x 2.
Next you want to work out the length of the skirt. This skirt was going to have a drop of 10 inches. Once you know the drop, you need to decide how many layers the skirt will have. As most RaRa skirts have three layers we will be sticking with convention. So, your maths will be 10/3 to know the width of each layer. Factor in for the waist band being an additional inch.
Skirt Width Maths:
Child’s measurement = 20inches
Elastic: 20 + 1 = 21 inches
Connector: 20 x 1.5 = 30 inches
Ruffles: 30 (connector length) x 2 = 60 inches
Skirt Length Maths:
Ideal drop = 10 inches
Number of layers wanted = 3
To allow for allowances aim for each layer to be 4 inches.
Elastic = 21 x 1”
3 x Connector pieces = 30”x4”
3 x layer pieces = 60” x 4”
Once you have your measurements you can cut out your fabric. For the ruffle pieces, I needed to join two lengths of 30” material together to get a piece long enough. Sew a seam by placing the pieces right side together and sewing along one short edge. Once sewn press this edge flat.
The next stage is to hem the bottom edge of your ruffle pieces. It is easier to do this at this stage before you create the ruffles. Using a standard sewing machine, the best way to hem is to fold the edge over ¼ inch and press with an iron. Then fold over ¼ inch again so in total you’ve turned over ½ inch of material. Press with an iron and then sew along the edge.
Once this is all complete you can make the flat material into ruffled material. To create the gather set your stitch length on your machine to the longest possible. This is usually around 4 or 5.
Sew from one end of your fabric to the other following these rules:
· Do NOT back stitch at either end
· Have long tails of thread
· Do more than one row with a few mm between each row
· Don’t cross your sewn lines
Once you have sewn your lines you can start the gather. Split your threads at one end into the thread that sits on top of the fabric and the thread that sits underneath (on the wrong side) of the fabric and chose which strands you will use. I used the threads sat on top of the fabric. Now pull on these threads and you will see the fabric start to gather. Move the gather along the fabric as you create more. The aim is to have the gathered fabric be as long as the connector piece of fabric.
Once you are happy turn the fabric, so the right sides are together and sew a ½ inch seam joining the two short edges together. The next step is building the skirt.
Place the ruffled piece inside your connecting piece with the right sides facing each other. Use plenty of pins or clips to hold the pieces together. The aim is to get the ruffles evenly spaced around the piece. Once you are happy sew ½ inch seam around the skirt layer to bring the two layers together. If you have an overlocker you can then use this on the seam – I don’t so I used a box stitch to go over the seam to secure all the stitches in place. Once sewn into place turn the right way around and press your seam.
This bottom tier is the only tier where you are stitching two pieces together. Now to create the next layer you need to sandwich three pieces together. Place your ruffle piece with the wrong side facing the right side of the previous connecting piece. Then place your next connecting piece over the top of this with the wrong side facing out. So, you end up with your ruffle piece sandwiched between two connecting pieces.
Once sewn together and you are happy, turn the right way around and press the seam as you did with the first piece.
Repeat this until all your layers are sewn together. In my case I have three tiers, so it looks like this with it all sewn together:
With your layers all complete, you can look at creating the waist band. Cut your elastic to the length you need. The top connector piece will turn into your waist band. Create a hem on this top piece by folding over ¼ inch and pressing down. I found it easiest to turn the whole skirt inside out and press down over the end of my ironing board.
Now fold this whole top layer in half so you are creating a pocket through which the elastic will fit. Press this down with your iron to create a crisp edge. Before you sew, check that your elastic will comfortably fit in this pocket and is not too wide.
Once you are happy, turn the skirt so it is the right way away. Top stitch along the bottom of the waist band so you capture your turned edge. Leave a 2-inch gap where you do not sew as you will thread your elastic through this gap. Double check you have caught your edge on the wrong side of the skirt. I had to go back and restitch as I managed to miss a section of the seam on the inside. To thread the elastic, the easiest way I have found is to place a safety pin on one end of the elastic. Place this end into your pocket and use the safety pin as your guide as your move it through the pocket. Safety pin the other end of your elastic to the fabric so you don’t lose it into the pocket. Slow and steady wins this one…... if you rush you risk losing the safety pin off your elastic and will need to start again.
Once you have threaded the elastic through, sew the two ends of the elastic together. Place the completed elastic loop so it is within the pocket. Top stitch your opening closed. Press the skirt one final time.
You now have a completed RaRa skirt!
To see more from Helen, visit her on Instagram!
Made by Helen Bowes for The Craft Cotton Company 2020