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Charlotte Skirt Sewalong #3: Peplums & ruffles!


Is everyone ready to get a-gathering? It's part three of the Charlotte skirt sewalong and we're going to be showing you how to:

  • prep your length of fabric according to whether you're doing a peplum or a ruffle
  • gather and baste your fabric
  • attach your peplums and ruffles to your skirts

*Before you begin: have you thought about making your peplum or ruffle in a contrasting fabric? Make sure you are using a fabric of a similar weight (or lighter) as your skirt. A heavier peplum will be bulky at the waistline and harder to stitch, and a heavier ruffle will weigh down your skirt*


The first thing to do is determine whether you are making a peplum or a ruffle. The peplum sits at the waist and is open at centre back to allow entry into the skirt, while the ruffle is stitched to the hem and closed at centre back to form one continuous loop.

~ Peplums ~ With right sides together, fold your fabric in half lengthways and stitch the two short ends shut. Trim the excess seam allowance, turn out to the right side, and press.

charlotte skirt sewalong - by hand london

~ Ruffles ~ With right sides together, hold the two short ends and stitch together to form one continuous loop of fabric. Press seam open.

charlotte skirt sewalong - by hand london


For this sewalong, we will be gathering our fabric by hand, for which you'll need two hand sewing needles and some thread. Although time consuming, hand gathering is a sure fire way to get perfect gathers. For other options, check out our tutorial, 3 Ways to Gather. Here's how we did it:

Wrong sides together (right side facing you), fold your fabric in half lengthways.

Thread up your two needles with the thread doubled up and knotted together a good two or three times at the ends. You want your lengths of thread to be roughly your waistline plus five-ish inches.

Start at one end of your peplum, or at the seam of your ruffle, and hand sew two parallel rows of running stitch. It is important to stitch these rows at the same time (as opposed to one then the other) so you can gather as you go.

charlotte skirt sewalong - by hand london

When you get to the end, check the length of your gathered edge against your waistline/hem. It needs to match up perfectly so if it's too short, pull out some of the gathers, and if it's too long, gather it a bit more. Once you've got it the perfect length, tie the two ends of thread tightly together to seal the gathers.

charlotte skirt sewalong - by hand london

Now all we need to arrange the gathers so they are evenly spaced, and then machine stitch them securely into place. This is called basting. Use the longest stitch setting for this and gently guide the gathers through so as not to move them about too much.

charlotte skirt sewalong - by hand london

Attaching the peplum:

Lining up the edges of your peplum with the skirt's opening at centre back, pin the gathered edge all along the waistline and stitch securely into place. Don't worry about the running and basting stitches at this point; visible stitches can easily be removed once you've attached the waistband.

photo 2-1

Attaching the ruffle:

Right now you'll want to try on your skirt so you can figure out where to attach the ruffle to achieve your desired length. We highly recommend attaching the ruffle about an inch or two above the knee (so that the ruffle ends just below the knee), to ensure maximun walkability. If you decide to attach the ruffle below the knee, be prepared to find out how the pencil skirt became nicknamed the "wiggle" skirt!

Lining up the ruffle's seam with the back seam of your skirt, pin the ruffle to your hem and stitch it securely into place.

charlotte skirt sewalong - by hand london
The dipped hem

Remember Elisalex's NYE party Charlotte skirt? Instead of cutting the skirt straight across and then attaching the ruffle, à la Charlotte's Jungle January ferocity, if you want to go mega mini, the best way to go is with a dipped hem that will really accentuate those curves...

  • Lay your skirt flat, folds at centre front and centre back.
  • At centre front, mark where you want the seam to go (bearing in mind that the ruffle will add a few inches of length) - we marked this point to be just below the pelvic bone.
  • Do the same at centre back marking the widest point of your bottom.
  • Draw a gently curved line joining the centre front and centre back and cut along this line, using our trademark super tech-sketch as a guide.
  • Attach your ruffle as normal.


Nearly there guys! Coming up next in our Charlotte skirt sewalong we have a little bonus post - how to add a lining to your Charlotte skirt! If you'd like to add a lining to your Charlotte skirt, you'll need a metre of a lightweight slippery fabric like a polycotton or sateen. If you can find it, an anti-static lining fabric is best, especially if you plan on wearing your skirt with tights - no one wants a static spark show going on between their legs...

Comments on this post (3)

  • Jan 25, 2013

    Excellent idea! Why not make a peplum belt? We’ve got a fun diy coming up next week right along those lines… ;)

    — byhandlondon

  • Jan 28, 2013

    Yes, a peplum belt would be GREAT! Can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store as I still have plenty of fabric left over.

    — Name *

  • Jan 24, 2013

    I’m not sure that I want a fixed peplum so I am going to have a go at making a detachable one!

    — Trixie Lixie

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