The Simple Hoopskirt

While working on my Anastasia costume, I quickly realized that I need a hoop skirt to make it look the way that I want it to look. The bad thing is that I don't have all the money in the world to make a proper hoop skirt. The solution to my problem was simple. I would have to make one on my own. After searching around the interwebz, I came across this tutorial here. It was exactly what I was looking for. 

Sorry for the lack of photos. I lost half of them during a crash. *

After playing around with the pattern, I came up with my version. At the end of the post, I post a link to a PDF instruction version.
And here is what we are making:

One Size Fits Most

Now I am 5'10 with a waist of 43' and this fits me perfect.  The drawstring waist is perfect to tighten in if you are smaller.


  • 900 inches (75 feet) of 1/2" flexible poly piping. I found mine at Home Depot
  • A strip of fabric 45″ long x 4″ wide for a drawstring waistband
  • 20 lengths of ribbon or strips of fabric finished on each edge, each 41″ long and approximately 1″ wide.
  • Duct tape
  • 4 feet of string for the drawstring
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • fabric chalk or marker
  • pins
  • measuring tape

Step 1: Preparing the strips 

If you are using strips of fabric instead of ribbon, you are going to need to measure out your strips (41"x 1 1/2"). Then you are going to need to  hem both edges of your 20 strips. Yes, that is 40 edges. It will take a while so I recommend having a movie or TV playing in the background. Once finished, your strips should be an inch wide.

Step 2: Making the vertical hoop strips
Put 2 lengths of your 20 lengths of ribbon or fabric wrong sides together. Sew a line across the top 1/2″ inch from the edge.  Forward  and backward  your stitches at both ends a number of times so that the line is very secure.  Don't skip this step! Doing this helps support the weight of the hoops. If you don't do this, your stitches will come out.

Measure down from that line, and mark a line at 4″ and another at 5″. Sew the two lengths of ribbon together at the line you have marked with strong stitches. Continue to measure, mark and sew sets of lines every 4″ and 5″ down from the sets before them. You are making the holes that the hoops will be going in.

Eventually you should have a ladder of stitches holding the two lengths of ribbon together. You should have 8 4″ gaps and 8 1″ gaps, and end up on a small gap. The little gaps are where you will thread your hoops through.

Do this to the remaining strips of fabric. You should end up with 10 strips.

Step 3: The waistband

Sew two buttonholes side by side and 1″ apart 1 1/4″ up from one long edge of the 45″ drawstring waistband. The buttonholes are to thread the drawstring through and should be 1/4″ longer than your drawstring ribbon is wide. It does not matter where on the 45″ of the waistband you place your buttonholes, though I like to place them at the centre (i.e. 22 inches from one short edge)
Sew the two short edges of the waistband wrong sides together so that the waistband forms a circle.

Step 4: Attaching the strips to the waist band

Pin the hoop strips/ribbons to the right side of the waistband on the long edge closer to the buttonholes at regular intervals, with the short edge of the strips meeting the edge of the waistband. I did mine about a hand width apart from the other.

Baste them to the waistband using 1/2″ seam allowance
Fold and iron the waistband in half along the length, so that it is now 2″ wide.
Fold the unfinished edge with the hoop strips sewn to it up into the waistband. Fold the other edge into the waistband and iron, so that both unfinished edges are hidden inside the waistband. 

Sew 1/8 of an inch from the edge with the strips to close the waistband.  
Thread your drawstring in one buttonhole, around the length of the waistband, and out the other side.

Step 5: Cutting and threading the hoops

Now cut your hoop lengths.
Length 1: 70″
Length 2: 85″
Length 3: 92″
Length 4: 102″
Length 5: 110″
Length 6: 117″
Length 7: 125″
Length 8: 130″
Slice along the length of the poly piping for three inches at one end of each of the hoop widths.
Thread Length 1 through the first set of small gaps along the verticle straps at the top of the hoopskirt. 
Squeeze the cut end of the hoop length into the uncut end so that the poly piping forms a circular hoop.
Repeat with Lengths 2-8, working your way down the sets of small gaps along the vertical straps.

Step 6: The Adjustments

Using a dressform or with the help of a partner, try the hoopskirt on and see how it looks. You may need to shorten some of all of the hoops (do this from the un-sliced into end) if the hoopskirt looks too big on you. You may find that you want to adjust the relative bell shape of the skirt.
When you are happy with all of the hoops and the shape of the skirt, fasten all of the hoop connections by wrapping them with my old friend Duct Tape.

Step 7: Securing the hoops

This step is completely optional. If your hoops don't move when you walk, then don't worry about securing them to the dress. But I know I was going to be wearing mine during a busy convention, so I attached mine. 
Now the girl that I followed for this tutorial sewed the pipes to the fabric strips by using a huge needle.This is better if you plan on having this hoop skirt for a while. Me, I didn't have the arm strength for that so I went back to my old friend Duct Tape. I just made thin strips of it and wrapped it in an X formation. Starting from the front and going into the back. 
Do this to all of the gaps the hoop is in. 

Ta da! Your hoopskirt is done!

Well done! You just finished your first hoopskirt. Now go out and show the world how fabulous you look. Just add a petticoat to the skirt because the hoops will show through the dress. 

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