How to Sew a Full Princess Gown

I see every holiday as a chance to sew my daughter a princess dress. The bigger the skirt, the happier I am. The problem is, it’s not always easy to achieve a very full skirt if you’re following a pattern. Yes, there are patterns that are better than others, but I’ve found myself disappointed on several occasions because the skirt wasn’t ‘poofy’ enough. That’s not a problem any more; I finally figured out a solution.


Last year, after studying Chelsea’s amazingly full, floor length ballet skirt I had my eureka moment. Honestly, it was so simple that I was almost embarrassed I didn’t think of it myself. Most patterns I’ve found instruct you to attach a strip of tulle to the bottom half of your skirt lining. This gives you a very nice shape, but not a gown. The ballet skirt had yards and yards of tulle gathered and sewn directly to the waistband with a lightweight fabric over the top. The results? Super poofy! You have to have a full layer of tightly gathered tulle sandwiched between your skirt and your lining! If you want a very full skirt, you simply can’t use a strip of tulle at the bottom, and you can’t hide your tulle under too many weighty layers of fabric.

I finally got a chance to try this out with Chelsea’s Christmas dress.

I followed my pattern, but instead of attaching the strip of tulle to the lining, I gathered 4 yards of tulle, still folded from the bolt, and sewed it directly underneath the lightweight top fabric.

Below, you can see the lining underneath, the layer of tulle, and then the very lightweight skirt…and my daughter’s jeans she had on. Oh, and I made the bodice a size too big because I accidentally bought the wrong pattern–but that’s a whole different story. She’ll be able to wear it next year, so–you know–whatever.

Christmas Dress

It doesn’t look like much tulle, but it really did the trick. If you want it even fuller–think hoopskirt–you could sew an additional 5-6 yards of gathered tulle to the bottom half of your tulle layer.

By the way, I made the shrug with the same pattern I used in my fur shrug tutorial. It’s also lined, but because this minky fabric isn’t as bulky as faux fur, I didn’t need to make the larger size to compensate. I would also like to note that I think it looks like a rug. No matter–she picked out the fabric and she loves it.

Happy sewing!


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