How to Make a Poodle Skirt

A poodle skirt and matching collar from the 1950s in the permanent collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianna. (Photographed by Michelle Pemberton for the museum.)
A poodle skirt and matching collar from the 1950s in the permanent collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianna. (Photographed by Michelle Pemberton for the museum.) | Source

What is a poodle skirt?

A poodle skirt is a wide swing skirt, usually made of felt, which has a design appliqued to, or ironed on, the fabric.

The skirt is usually black, pink, or powder blue. The design is frequently a French poodle, but flowers, flamingoes, or hot rod cars are sometimes used. The hemline is most often to the knee or slightly below it.


When did poodle skirts originate?

Poodle skirts first appeared on the fashion scene in the 1950s in the United States. The skirts quickly became popular with high school-age girls. The teenagers wore the skirts to their classes and to school dances which, in the 1950s, were known as sock hops.

The poodle skirt trend caught on with many movie stars. Photographs of them wearing poodle skirts appeared in magazines and tabloids. The stars were also seen wearing the skirts in advertisements for unrelated products.


What is a sock hop?

Sock hops are informal school dances that originated in American high schools in the 1950s at the beginning of the rock and roll era. The dances were usually held in the high school’s gym. The term sock hop was derived from the requirement that dancers had to remove their shoes in order to protect the varnished floor of the gymnasium.

In 1957, Danny and the Juniors recorded At the Hop. This song described what happened at a sock hop and named many of the popular dances of the day. If you have an opportunity to see a video of the group performing this song, you will see a number of young women wearing poodle skirts.

The Only "Tricky" Part

Cutting the waist requires another calculation: c=pi(d) or d=c/pi. Remember from geometry that radius is half the diameter and Pi=3.14.

Knowing these formulas will tell you how far down from the point to cut. If, for example, your waist is 30, divide by 3.14 to get a diameter of 9.55. Half of this is your radius, so divide by 2 (4.77). This is how far down to cut from the point of your fold.

Remember to measure the hem from this line as well rather than the point or your skirt. If you forget to do this, your shirt will be several inches too short.

What supplies and equipment are needed for making a poodle skirt?

  • Black, pink, or powder blue fabric, preferrably felt, at least 48" square
  • Poodle appliqué
  • Elastic
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Straight pins
  • Needle and thread or a sewing machine


A detail from the poodle skirt in the permanent collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianna. (Photographed by Michelle Pemberton for the museum.)
A detail from the poodle skirt in the permanent collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianna. (Photographed by Michelle Pemberton for the museum.) | Source

How to Make a Poodle Skirt Without Using a Pattern

  1. Measure around your waist (W), and then add 2” for seam allowance (W+2).
  2. Measure the desired length (L) of your skirt, and add 2” (L+2).
  3. Measure out a length of elastic that is 1/2" less than your waist measurement (W).
  4. Fold your fabric in half, and pin the two layers together.
  5. In the center of the folded line, draw a semi-circle that is half of W+2.
  6. Measure out from this semi-circle the desired length of your skirt (L+2).
  7. Cut the fabric following these lines.
  8. Hem the bottom of the skirt by folding 1” of the fabric under to hide the cut edge.
  9. Fold over 1” at the waistband. Stitch the fabric close to the edge, thereby creating a 1” channel. Don’t stitch the fabric all the way around. Leave 2” open at the end.
  10. Thread some elastic into the gap, through the channel, and out the gap again.
  11. Stitch the two ends of the elastic together and close the gap on the waistband.
  12. Sew the poodle appliqué onto the skirt.


Have you ever worn a poodle shirt?

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Comments 52 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

I didn't know how the "sock hop" got it's name! Interesting! That looks like fun, I want to go to a sock hop! I dance so much better barefoot, so no socks either. The skirts are too cute!!


ithabise profile image

ithabise 4 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

Very nice hub, Daisy! I have learned something new today...the young man I am. My mother would find this hub very interesting, as it relates to her time and she's a seamstress. Now I have something new to chat about with her!


theclevercat profile image

theclevercat 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hey, cute! I would love to be able to really sew, but right now I prefer cutting and hemming with as little stitching as possible. Maybe I'll make on of these for Barbie. ;^) Voted up!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Sunshine,

Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs. Don't you think a 1950s theme would be a great idea for a party?


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

In high school in the 1950s every girl either had a poodle skirt or wished that she did! Saddle shoes and crinolines were a must to wear with the circular felt skirts, and at the sock hop, we did take off our shoes and dance in our socks. Love the memories this hub brought back! Now I wish I still had my black poodle skirt for old time's sake.

Voted up and interesting!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Michael,

Thanks for your comments. Does your mother have a computer? If she does, perhaps she'll have an opportunity to read my article.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

So cute! I want to make one - and even with your directions, I am still challenged, but that's because I like to sew my fingers or the clothes I'm wearing to the things I'm trying to make. Hehe. Beautiful hub!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

theclevercat,

Do you have a Barbie collection? It would be so easy to make a poodle skirt for Barbie. You would probably have to draw a poodle on a plain piece of fabric, however, rather than purchase a ready-made Barbie-size appliqué.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Stephanie,

Thanks so much for reading my article. If you still had your 1950s-era poodle skirt, you could probably have sold it on eBay to a collector!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Cyndi,

Thanks for commenting. I am so happy you wrote what you did...now I know I'm not the only person who has sewn what she was sewing to what she was wearing. I feel so much better now!


ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

The middle school where I sub recently had a dance to celebrate the reading of the boob, "The Outsiders" the girls had to dress up like those in the 50's. They wore these skirts. It was put together with some sewing and some using stich witchery. What a sight!

Thanks for sharing. Voted Up and Useful.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

ComfortB,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for sharing your school's story with us.


onlooker 4 years ago

Thank you, Daisy. Very useful and interesting facts about the poodle skirt. I won't be making a skirt of any kind anytime soon, my skills are very limited you see. But I am a little more knowledgeable now, thanks to you.


KittySews profile image

KittySews 4 years ago from Maryland

I made one of these skirts with kitty on it-as my name is Kitty and made a crinoline out of Betty Boop Print Cotton and Ruffled the Material t the bottom edge of the skirt and wore a Betty Boop leather jacket to a Hub Caps show... I had a Wig on like Betty Boop and took Bright Red lipstick and outlined my lips like her... I went in and sat down at a table where people I usually saw at Dances were and they did not know me... They are the best skirts for swing dances etc.... Love Them!! Great article idea


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I remember the Poodle skirts and the sock hop, those were the good ole days. Fun hub..Thank you..


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Ava,

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. Have you seen poodle skirts in Nepal?


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Kitty,

Welocme to HubPages! It's nice to meet you.

Thanks for sharing your anecdote about your *kitty* skirt and Betty Boop outfit. What fun!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

This is so cute! I absolutely love poodle skirts. I like all things from the 50s era. Thanks for sharing this!!!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

always exploring,

It's nice to "see" you again. Did you actually own a poodle skirt?


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Jeannie,

Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs.

Don't you just love the "look" of the woman in the first photo?


KittySews profile image

KittySews 4 years ago from Maryland

Actually going to see the HubCaps tonight.... Thanks for the Welcome


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Kitty,

Thanks for stopping by again. Enjoy the HubCaps show!


onlooker 4 years ago

No, never have Daisy. I've seen it in the movies..not the Nepalese movies of course =)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

I think a 1950s themed party would be a blast!! I'd never want that party to end!!:)


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Ava,

Thanks for stopping by again. Do you see many American movies in Nepal...ones depicting the popular culture of an earlier decade?


onlooker 4 years ago

A lot of the box office hits in the US premier here at the same time or a day or 2 days later. Yes, people do watch a lot of American movies especially our generation. We watch more english movies then Nepali movies.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Ava,

Watching American movies in Nepal seems to be a good way to hear the various American English accents.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

Daisy, I did not have a poodle skirt, but i can remember the older girls wearing them. My thing was rolled up jeans with penny loafers, aha, those were the days...


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

always exploring,

Thanks for visiting again. I can't recall ever seeing photos of rolled up jeans and penny loafers as a *fashion statement*. I'll have to do some research on that.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona

I really enjoyed this article! Listened and watched the video twice. I am saving your instructions for the pattern. Thank you for a great time. Sharing this and voting up.


eolikes profile image

eolikes 4 years ago from Bangladesh

I enjoyed it. thanks for sharing


Ebower profile image

Ebower 4 years ago from Georgia

This could be used as a great costume for a costume party or for Halloween. I voted this up and useful. I also enjoyed the history you provided at the beginning.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

eolikes,

Welcome to HubPages. It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my Hub.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Erin,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my Hub and commenting in it.

I agree with you...The entire poodle skirt "look" would be great for a costume party. Don't you think that a 1950s-themed party would be a lot of fun?


PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 4 years ago from Florida

Daisy,

This hub was so cute and if you like to sew (I do not) but my cousin Marti does, I will tell her about this one.

My mother had a Poodle skirt, and she let me wear it to High School one Friday, and it was a hit. Good Memories.

Your Hub Friend,

Bobbi


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Bobbi,

Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs. I didn't have a poodle skirt, either, when I was growing up. There isn't any reasons why I can't have one now!


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

That young couple looks very cute. :) What a fun hub!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Cyndi,

Thanks for visiting again. I changed the photo to the *young couple* last night. I was looking for images for another article, and I can across that photo. I just couldn't resist using it.


Nolimits Nana profile image

Nolimits Nana 4 years ago from British Columbia

Well, that was a trip to the past! My sisters all made themselves a poodle skirt, and I inherited one which I proudly wore.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nicki (NolimitsNana),

It's nice to meet you. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my article. Do you or any of your sisters still have the poodle skirts?


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I loved this article! Took me back many years when I wore Poodle Skirts! They were so comfortable. They just made you feel girly if you know what I mean?

I voted this Hub UP and I will share, Mary


prettynutjob30 profile image

prettynutjob30 4 years ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

How cute I love poodle skirts my mom made me one for a Halloween costume when I was younger voted up and shared.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mary,

Thanks for reading my article, commenting in it, and sharing it. In my research, I saw poodle skirts in pink, light blue, and black.

What color was your skirt? Did you wear saddle shoes with it?


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

prettynutjob30,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my article, commenting in it, and sharing it. I appreciate your support.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

This skirt is a great idea for a halloween costume for someone! Not for me, I'm a witch this year. Not that I need much of a costume! Haha! :)


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Linda (Sunshine625),

Thanks for visiting again. The skirt would be terrific as part of a Halloween costume. What I like about the instructions is that you don't have to buy a pattern...a knowledge of math is needed, however.

I think I'll use my "I Love Lucy" costume again this year. It's a replica of one of Lucille Ball's outfits from her television program.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

This is great Daisy, I had never heard of it before, clever stuff! Have a great Halloween! nell


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nell,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. Thanks, too, for your Halloween wishes.

It's interesting that this pop culture fashion item never crossed the Atlantic from the US to the UK. What about sock hops?

I haven't met anyone who attended a sock hop. If I hear from a reader who went to sock hops at their school, I can add some details about the dances to my article.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 14 months ago from New Delhi, India

Very nice and informative hub!

I do not wear skirts but I like sewing them for young girls. Applique designs are one of my favourites, while sewing. I enjoyed going through this hub.

Your instructions and information about Poodle skirts is really interesting and I was not aware of it.

Thank you for sharing the pictures and the video. Pinned and shared!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 14 months ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Chitrangada,

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. Poodle skirts were popular decades ago in the United States. Now, they are a nostalgia type of item, but still fun to sew.


Judi 13 months ago

I wore poodle skirts AND the rolled up jeans with penny loafers! The jeans were a weekend outfit as young ladies did NOT wear pants to school or anyplace else really except horseback riding or gardening! So that's what we wore to football games on top we wore our daddy's long sleeved white dress shirt (the longer, the better!) with the sleeves rolled up and the shirttail untucked! We were really cute (at least we thought so! We wore saddle shoes and white socks- the heavy weight ones , cuffed, just so, with 3 inch cuffs! Oh to accessorize, we tied a scarf around our necks, then positioned it at the side. The scarf was a small square one! This was in the 50's. I graduated from high school in 1958 in Oklahoma. Those were the "good ole days!!!!"


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 13 months ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Judi,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your anecdote. I appreciate your sharing your memories with everyone.

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