- Arts and Design
How to Make a Poodle Skirt
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
- Tape measure
- Tailor's chalk
- Straight pins
- Needle and thread or a sewing machine
How to Make a Poodle Skirt Without Using a Pattern
- Measure around your waist (W), and then add 2” for seam allowance (W+2).
- Measure the desired length (L) of your skirt, and add 2” (L+2).
- Measure out a length of elastic that is 1/2" less than your waist measurement (W).
- Fold your fabric in half, and pin the two layers together.
- In the center of the folded line, draw a semi-circle that is half of W+2.
- Measure out from this semi-circle the desired length of your skirt (L+2).
- Cut the fabric following these lines.
- Hem the bottom of the skirt by folding 1” of the fabric under to hide the cut edge.
- 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.
- Thread some elastic into the gap, through the channel, and out the gap again.
- Stitch the two ends of the elastic together and close the gap on the waistband.
- Sew the poodle appliqué onto the skirt.