Category: Irish Dance Patterns

Welcome to Earnest Threads!

Hello!  We’re so glad you’re here.

We’re currently working on a pattern sloper and will soon be looking for testers for our first two women’s fashion patterns.  We’re excited to begin offering a variety of sewing patterns including wardrobe staples, artful accents, and practical accessories.

We began developing patterns for Irish dancing costumes under the name Gúna Rince in 2016.  We will be continuing those patterns in what will be known as our Gúna Rince line (they’ll move from our old website this spring).  We’ve also moved all those old blog posts here so everything stays together.

Apart from sewing patterns, we also make and sell a variety of eco-printed textile goods and accessories.  Check our Etsy store to see what we’ve been working on.

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Constructing Skirt Pieces

Hello! I’ve got a photo tutorial for you today. I’ll go through the steps to construct lined skirt pieces, such as those used in Skirts II, IV, V, VI, and VII in the 3rd Edition of the pattern.

Each piece of the skirt is made of 3 layers:
1. Fashion fabric – Our top layer, the main visible fabric of the dress.
2. Skirt base or stiffener – Stiff panels would have a layer of stiffener such as (Pellon 70 or Vilene S80). Soft panels still need some support; I like Pellon 40 Mid-weight Sew-in (Vilene M12/312 is supposed to be similar).
3. Lining fabric – Usually satin, often in a contrasting color.

1.  The first photo (left) is my fashion fabric.  It’s a black microvelvet, and it was very flimsy, so I fused it with Pellon Shape-Flex.  This isn’t necessary for most fabrics, so you’d just have the fabric.  For all intents and purposes, this Velvet/Shapeflex combo is 1 layer.

2.  In the second photo (right), I’ve added the Base layer, which in this case is Pellon 70.  The piece I am photographing is skirt front piece C from the 3-panel skirt.  If you are creating a soft skirt panel, you’d use a softer base material, as I stated above.  I’ll note that the 3 dots near the center of the base layer are only references for embroidery placement.  Baste the two layers (fabric and base) together around the edges.  You can see this done in the next photo.

3.  The next step is to do your decoration, whether it be embroidery, topstitching on appliqués, pre-made trim, or any number of things.  You can see I’ve added some machine embroidery here (left photo).

4. Trim the seam allowance off of the bottom edge of the Base layer. As you can see from the photo (right), I’m doing a shaped hemline so I trimmed to that shape. If you’re keeping it straight, you would just trim straight across. For soft panels, this isn’t necessary. You can leave it in, as you’ll see in the next photos.

***This tutorial will use a seamed edge sewn with right sides together. Another option, as stated in the Pattern Instructions, is to stack fabric, base, and lining, trim away bottom seam allowance from all, and satin stitch the edge. If you do that, you can skip to step 7***

5. Pin the lining fabric to the fashion fabric with right sides together. Stitch together along the hemline.

The left photo shows the piece I have been working with in the previous steps. The right photo is a soft panel from the back of the skirt. You can see that on that one, I didn’t trim the base layer out of the seam first.

6. If you have a shaped edge like me, trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ and clip curves as necessary. If your hem is straight/normal, this is not necessary.

7. For a straight hemline, you want to under-stitch by pressing the seam allowance towards the lining, and stitching it down 1/16″ from the seam (top photo). To clarify, the stitching will go through the lining fabric plus the seam allowance of all 3 layers, but not the base or fashion fabric. This does two things. It keeps the shape of the hem edge smooth by reinforcing it with a second line of stitching. Secondly and most importantly, it keeps the lining fabric from scootching around to the outside of the dress, which would look horrible.

Now for a shaped hemline like mine (middle photo), it’s difficult to under-stitch because of the angles and corners (OK mine’s pretty mild so I probably could have, but I wanted to show you this other option). Instead, turn the skirt piece right side out and pin the hem edge flat, as I’ve done in the right-hand photo. Be sure the fashion fabric is showing just a tad on the edge, as my black velvet is doing. You don’t want that lining making an appearance! Finish the edge with a line of top-stitching 1/4″ away from the hem (bottom photo). It doesn’t have to be exactly 1/4″, and if you have embroidery right near the edge, it’s best to run it along the edge of the embroidery, which will disguise it. Now this velvet of mine pretty much hides anything (evidence by how much I had to over-expose this photo to even show it), but if you’re worried about how it looks you can always use clear quilting thread.

8. Whichever method you used, give your hem edge (now turned right-side out) a nice press! If you used the under-stitching method, make sure your fashion fabric is rolling around the edge, like in the middle photo. You don’t want the lining peaking around to the outside.

9. Get your lining fabric laying all flat and nice, and baste around the side and top edges of the piece (left photo).

10. Usually my lining ends up with some extra at the edges. If this happened to you, trim it off now, so the edges are clean and even.

That’s it! After constructing all your panels, consider checking out this post on stitching them to the under-skirts and sewing the side-pleat. Coming soon, a tutorial for constructing the 3-panel skirt.

Happy sewing!

Lining and the Center-Back Skirt Seam

The center-back seam allowance of the skirt is never pretty.  The skirt gets lined, usually in beautiful contrasting fabric that flashes when the dancer kicks, but the bulky seam allowance always stands out, looking gross and un-finished.  Due to the way the skirt is constructed, and the fact that the center-back is an alteration point, there is really no way to hide the seam allowance completely, so I like to bind the center-back seam allowance in lining fabric.  You can do it two ways:

1. Leave extra seam allowance on that edge when cutting the lining fabric.  To figure out how much lining seam allowance to cut, double the seam allowance of your other fabrics on that edge and add 1/8″.  So instead of 1″ you’d cut 2 1/8″, or instead of 1 1/2″ you’d cut 3 1/8″.

Press over 1/4″ of the lining and fold it up and around the edge of the skirt panel to the top.  It should end up about 1/4″ away from the center-back seam line.  Don’t let it sit closer than 1/4″, as you don’t want it to interfere with the seam.  Pin the edge down as shown below and stitch along the edge.

2.  If you’ve already cut out the lining and weren’t able to add an extra inch or two, you can also just cut a strip of lining fabric and bind the edge in the standard way, like you would with bias tape…really really wide bias tape!  Except it doesn’t need to be cut on the bias, since you’re binding a straight edge.  Just like in the previous description, don’t let it sit within 1/4″ of the seam line.

If you ever need to let the center-back seam out, the wrapped fabric can just be folded back or removed completely.

Here are a few photos of a dress from a couple years ago.  This one was done with the second method of using a separate piece.

Choosing the Right Fabric

There are many types of fabrics commonly used for Irish Dance costumes.  These are a few of the most popular.

Satin is probably the most common fabric used currently, and also can be the easiest to work with.  Satin is the glossiest option, though you’ll find quite a bit of variety in the amount of shine between different types. Use a thicker “duchess satin” that has some structure, rather than a thin “satin charmeuse”, which is widgy and frustrating to work with.  Charmeuse can work as a skirt lining, but not for anything structural.

Dupioni Silk
Dupioni silk used to be very popular, and still is for some dressmakers.  It has a beautiful sheen, which is different from glossy satin, and is easy to use.  Some varieties are more textured than others, so pick according to what fits your design.  That being said, silk doesn’t always hold up as well over a long period of time, and tends to show scarring from alterations.

Gabardine is also a popular option, but it has more of a matte look.  Most gabardines are fairly sturdy, making it a great option for team costumes as well as solo dresses.  It doesn’t scar as easy as other dress fabrics, so it will last longer and look better after multiple alterations.  Gabardine doesn’t have as “fancy” of a look, which may be a pro or con depending on the dancer and the dress design.

Velvet is another popular choice.  It has a great richness and depth of color under stage lights.  Velvet will give you the deepest stage black (I never use anything else for black).  That being said, velvet is going to be a bit trickier to work with.  Its bulk can quickly add up, so I’d look for a micro-velvet that is more lightweight.  Velvet can be found made from a variety of fibers.  In my experience, cotton velvet is easiest to work with, but polyester velvet has the best sheen.  Unfortunately, velvet does show alterations annoyingly well, as the pile gets crushed where seams have previously been.  Apply some heavy steam and ‘brush’ the fabric along the grain with a scrap of velvet to help smooth the pile and reduce the visual evidence of scarring.

Sheer Sleeves
The new trend towards slimmer and sheer sleeves brings new fabrics into the ID world.  Organza is sometimes used, though depending on the slimness of the sleeve, a gusset may need to be added so that arm movement isn’t impeded.  Organza is a delicate fabric that scars easily and won’t hold up well to heavy embroidery.
Many dressmakers are opting for stretchy fabrics such as laces or power nets.  These allow for more movement in a tight-fitting sleeve.  Every fabric will have a different amount of stretch, so do your research and leave extra seam allowance until you know the sleeve fits well.

Bodice Base (and Skirt Base)
It is important to pick a good base fabric for your dress.  This is a fabric that sits underneath the dress fabric to provide structure and stability.  Together, the two layers are treated as one as the dress is constructed.  For most thin fabrics like satin or silk, you’ll want something fairly sturdy like a light-weight twill.  For bulkier fabrics like velvet, you may be fine with a Kona cotton or similar.  Mid-weight non-fusible interfacings work great as a skirt base fabric, but I would not recommend them for the bodice.  Twill/thick cotton/etc also work in the skirt.

You may also enjoy my post on skirt stiffeners

Two satins (plus sequin appliqué). Notice that the gold satin has a slightly higher sheen than the white.
Cotton velvet (black) and dupioni silk (green). Note that this velvet has less gloss than the next two photos, which are polyester.
Polyester micro-velvet (black), polyester gabardine (red), and gold satin at bottom of sleeves.
Polyester velvet (blue) and satin (turquoise).

Drafting a Slimmer Sleeve

*Update!*  Try our Slim Sleeve Add-on!

Styles change quickly and many people have asked me about drafting a slimmer sleeve as sheer and even skin-tight sleeves come into greater popularity (first photo below).  The sleeve in the Gúna Rince pattern has a slight puff at the shoulder, as you can see in the second photo.

©2018 Rising Star Designs

This post will show how to cut down the sleeve pattern to get a standard dressmaking sleeve fit.

This isn’t meant to be a definitive formula, but merely a starting point.  You will want to mock up your new sleeve to make sure it fits well and make changes if necessary.  For drafting purposes, trace a copy of the sleeve so you are not cutting the original.

1. You’ll need a flexible ruler or tape measure to measure the armscye edges of the front and back bodice. (I’ll do the Ladies 10.  Back=8.8″ Front=8.5″ so 17.3″ total).

Your end goal is to make the armscye edge of the sleeve about 1.5″ bigger than the bodice (you can go as low as 1″ for small child sizes).  This 1.5″ is not extra to be gathered, it’s simply how sleeves are drafted; they need a little ease to perform properly.

2. Draw a vertical line downwards from the top notch and cut along that line so your pattern piece is now in two halves.

3. Shift the left piece to the right 1/4″ and the right piece to the left 1/4″.  They are now overlapping by 1/2″ total.
•For small sizes you can overlap less… 1/4″ or 3/8″ total.
••If the circumference of the sleeve at the bicep/armpit is already fairly tight on the dancer, you may want to skip this step.

4. From the center-top, mark 1/2″ and redraw your sleeve cap so that it hits that 1/2″ mark.
•Small sizes can start with moving only 3/8″ down.
••If you skipped step 3, move 5/8″ down instead. 

Re-mark the top notch by centering it on the overlap at the top of the sleeve.

5. Measure your armscye edge.  Mine was 18.9″
18.9 – 17.3 = 1.6 inch difference
That’s pretty close to 1.5 so I’m going to call it good.  If yours is not as close, repeat step 4, going up or down by 1/8″, rather than 1/2″, as needed until you have that 1.5″ difference.

At this point you should cut one sleeve out of a spare fabric and fit it to make adjustments if necessary.

If you are making a sleeve that is almost skin-tight, you may want to add a gusset under the arm to add to the dancer’s range of motion.  Drafting a gusset is simple.

1. Measure the armscye edge of the sleeve from bottom to notch on each side.  Mine were 3.1″ in the back and 2.9″ in the front.

2.  Draw a horizontal line (6-8″ long).  Bisect that with a line that is the width of your gusset.  Gussets can be anywhere from 1.5-3″ wide, depending on the range of motion you need to add, and the size of the dress.

I’m going to make mine 2″ wide, so that line is 1″ long on each side, making for 2″ total.

3.  With a curved ruler or tape measure, draw a curved line from the top point arcing left and down to the horizontal line.  This curve is the length of our back sleeve measurement (mine was 3.1″).  Draw a second curve to the right of the top point that is the length of your front measurement (mine was 2.9).  Remember to measure the curve, and not the horizontal line.

4.  Mirror the curves underneath the horizontal line.

5.  Mark the vertical line with two notches as shown.  These notches will line up with the underarm seam of the sleeve and the side seam of the bodice.

Add a grainline on a 45º angle.  This gusset is cut on the bias.  I also like to add a reminder of which side is the front and back…let’s be honest they look about the same!

Cut the gusset with the same amount of seam allowance as you are using in the armscye seam.  If your sleeve and bodice are of different fabric, make the gusset from the sleeve fabric.

After sewing the sleeve underarm seam, sew gusset to underarm of sleeve with right sides together.  Corners of gusset will match sleeve notches and the notch of the gusset lines up with the under-arm seam.  From here you can put the sleeve in pretty much like normal.

Skirt Side-Pleat (and Under-Skirt) Construction

Many folks find the skirt’s side-pleats the hardest part of construction to wrap their head around.  It’s probably the part that’s farthest from typical fashion construction, so this is understandable.  I’ve been wanting to make a photo tutorial of these steps for a while, and have finally been able to take some photos while working on a dress this month.

I’m starting at the point after the skirt front and back have been finished separately (see photo of backs below).  In the 3rd Ed. patterns, this is step 37.  For reference, the skirt I photographed is a stiff single-panel (View VI in 3rd Ed.).  For a better fit on this specific dancer, I’ve added a couple small pleats in the back.  You’ll also notice that I’ve bound the center-back seam allowance in lining fabric.  This is because I hate seeing the contrasting seam allowance underneath when the dancer kicks.  In this case the seam would have been black on gold…so noticeable!  I believe these are the only two ways in which the photos differ from the original pattern.

1. Basting to the Under-skirt
Baste a skirt back to the under-skirt back.  Stitch along the dropped waist seam line using a machine baste.  I didn’t in the photo, but I’d advise continuing the stitching down the side edge as well.

Since I have a stiff front skirt, I’m not using a front under-skirt.  I just basted along the dropped waist seam line to make sure it’s visible.  If you’re making a soft front, you would baste the skirt front to the front under-skirt, in the same way as the back.

2. Stitching Front and Backs Together
Now we have 3 pieces, one front and two backs, with under-skirts attached.  With right sides together, pin the backs to the front at the sides (I threw my ruler in to show that the front is underneath…it’s hard to tell with the black velvet.  The ruler is not related to the task at hand). The order of layers here is, bottom to top:
1. Front Under-skirt (if using.  I’m not.)
2. Front Skirt
3. Back Skirt
4. Back Under-skirt
Of course with the under-skirts basted to the skirts, it’s only two functional layers; the front and back.

For best results, I’d recommend lining up the side-pleat line first, then pinning the seam based on that.  Because I did some alterations to the shape after constructing my backs, the shape changed a bit and the edges of my pieces don’t line up exactly.  The side pleat is pretty deep, so it’s not the end of the world if I lose a 1/4″ at the edge.  It’s much more important that the pleat-folds line up with each other.  In an ideal world both your pleat-folds and your seam edge will line up, but it doesn’t hurt to check just in case.

Once you have stitched the seam, trim seam allowance to about 3/8″.

3. Binding the Side-Pleat Seam
Bind the seams sewn in the last step either with bias tape, or a strip of your lining fabric (strip can be cut on the bias, but on grain will work too).  Be sure to use thread that matches the lining fabric…this will be seen!  Once you’ve finished with this step, keep the seams flat as they have been since step 2.

4. Tacking the Side-Pleat
The skirt is now all in one piece, but we haven’t yet made the pleats defined.  On each side of the skirt, double check that the side-pleat fold-lines are lined up with each other.  Draw them in, if you haven’t already (mine is that shadowy brown line…my disappearing marker is starting to die).  Pin through the top few inches of the fold line to keep it from shifting.  1/16″ away, stitch parallel to the line starting 1/2″ above the seam line and ending 1/2″ below.  You can do this either by hand or machine.

5. Pressing the Side-Pleat
The skirt is now complete, but the most important step still remains.  We need to press the pleats into the skirt, so that it gets its distinctive shape.  If you skip this step, the skirt will look weird and bulbous, even if it was constructed correctly.  Fold both front and backs along the side-pleat fold lines and press well.  Use caution with velvet; you don’t want to crush the pile.

The skirt is now complete and ready to be sewn to the bodice. Remember to fold the bulk of the pleat towards the front before stitching to the bodice, as shown below.

If you have a lightweight machine that has trouble with bulk, try our alternative method for stitching the dropped waist seam.  I’ll leave you with a couple photos of the completed side pleat.

Happy sewing!

Drafting a Rounded Collar

**Update!**  The Rounded Collar is now available as an add-on to the solo dress pattern.  Buy it here!


Here you’ll find drafting instructions for a mandarin color that works on a round neckline, rather than a pointed one, like what is included in the pattern.  This has become a bit of a fad lately, and I’ve had a couple people ask how to do it.

©Elevation Designs

You will need:

Bodice mock-up (or real bodice pieces)
#4 Collar pattern piece
Paper (or sturdy fabric)
A pen
1.  Measure the neckline of the front bodice from center-front to the shoulder seam.  For the size I am using, it is 4 5/16″.
Measure the height of the collar pattern piece at the notch.  Mine is 1 1/8″.
[I use paper to draft this pattern piece.  I also pin it to a dress form.  If you are going to be drafting this on a live human, you may want to make this piece out of some stiff/sturdy fabric because it will be easier to pin onto the fabric bodice.  You could even baste it on.]
2.  Draw a rectangle that is twice the length of the neckline and exactly the height of the collar (mine is 8 5/8″ x 1 1/8″).  Mark the mid-point of this rectangle as center-front.  Trace the back half of the collar (from the notch to center-back) onto each side of the rectangle.  It should look something like this.
 3.  Cut the strip out and clip the front rectangle section about every 1/2″ starting at the top of the strip and going almost all the way to the bottom edge.  Make sure not to cut all the way through; the middle of your strip should look sort of like fringe.  There is no need to  clip the back half; it does not need to change.
4.  Starting at center-front, pin the collar onto the neck edge.  It will really help to have the neck edge drawn or shown with stitching.
 5.  Carefully tape the fringes into your desired shape.  You will notice that in some places (like the front) the fringe wants to overlap, but at others (like the sides) it angles away from itself.  Let the front overlap enough that the collar isn’t gaping forward, but not so much that it will choke your dancer.  Try to keep it as symmetrical as possible.
 6.  Once all the fringes have been taped together, remove the collar piece.  It should look something like this.
7.  Fold the collar draft in half and lay it on a fresh piece of paper.
8.  The two halves probably won’t be exactly the same.  We do the best we can, but we are human after all.  Trace both halves onto the fresh paper so that they overlap.   Mine were very close to being identical, but you can see a bit of variation in the middle of the bottom line.
 9.  True up your pattern, splitting the difference where the two halves disagreed.  Mark your center-back, center-front, and shoulder notch (the shoulder notch goes where the front and back sections meet).
Ready to sew it on?  Check out this post!

Collars – Two Ways

Here are two ways of putting the collar on.
The first method is from the Second and Third Edition pattern instructions.  It is the easiest way, especially if you are shortening or shaping the collar (like I have below with the scalloped edge).  The downside to this method is that you do get some seam allowance tickling the dancers’ neck, but if you are planning to put a lining in your dress, it’s no big deal.
The second method is from the First Edition pattern instructions.  I replaced it because it is a bit more complicated.  However, it creates a nice clean seam by pushing the neck-edge seam allowance up into the collar itself and is great if you want your collar to really stand up straight and tall and bold.  Since I wasn’t working on another dress while taking these pictures, I’ve done it in muslin with just a lazy zig zag instead of a full satin stitch.

First Method

1.  After your shoulder seams are sewn, start by trimming away your neck-edge seam allowance and finishing the edge with a satin stitch.
2.  To make up your collar pieces, flat all three layers together and satin stitch the top edge (no seam allowance).  Serge or zig-zag the bottom edge to keep the layers together.
3.  Mark the seam line on the front of the collar pieces with thread or disappearing marker.  Clip the seam allowance along the length of the collar, not clipping closer than 1/8″ to the seam line.

Back side (left) and front side (right)

4.  Pin your collars to your bodice, matching the notch with the shoulder seam.


5.  Using a thin satin stitch (and I say thin here in referring to the density, not the width), sew over the neck edge stitching to attach the collar. 

You can instead do a straight stitch-in-the-ditch along the left edge of the satin stitching.  I think this is what I put in the 3rd Ed. instructions, and makes it easy to alter later…less seam ripping!


6.  Viola!  Collar on!  View from the inside:

View from the outside.  I used too thin of a satin stitch in step 5, so the stitching of my neck edge isn’t as smooth as it could be.  I might redo it later, but you get the idea.


Second Method

1. Start by basting the stiffener to the front layer of fabric.  Baste 1/16″ inside of the stitching line along the bottom edge.  Then, trim the seam allowance away (on the bottom edge only) and satin stitch the edge to finish it.
2.  Add the second layer of fabric to the back side, so the stiffener is sandwiched.  When you line them up at the top edge, the second layer (which will be our lining) will be longer since its seam allowance has not been trimmed away.  Along the top edge this time, baste 1/16″ inside the stitching line catching all 3 layers.  Stop (this is important) 1 inch away from the center-front point.  Trim the seam allowance away again (all the way down to the point), then satin stitch the edge to finish it, stopping 1″ above the point.
3.  Press the lining seam allowance to the inside, clipping if necessary.  It should look like this:
 4.  Draw the stitching line around your neck edge with a disappearing marker, or mark it with a basting thread.  Clip the curve of the seam allowance liberally.
 5.  Pin the stiff collar outer layer to the neck edge, matching the notch with the shoulder seam and the point with center-front.
 6.  Do the same on the underside.  The priority here is that the collar lining is laying flat.  If the folded edge is a bit off from the stitching line, don’t worry.  So long as it’s not more than an 1/8″ too high, it will get caught by the stitching.
Once this step is done, the neck edge seam allowance should be sandwiched between the two collar layers.
 7.  Using a thin satin stitch (and I say thin here in referring to the density, not the width), sew over the satin stitching on the bottom of the collar.  This step is similar to step 5 in the first method, except for that the stitching you’re going over is on the collar, instead of on the bodice.
8.  Now that the collar is attached, go back to your front point and satin stitch those last 1″ segments.
 Ta-da!  Your collar is now complete and ever-so-distinguished (or it will be if you used lovely dress fabrics, rather than muslin).

Single-Panel (Flat-front) Skirt Adaptation

Many people have asked recently how to modify the solo dress pattern to make a single-panel skirt.  [Edit:  The second edition pattern includes a single-panel skirt, so no adaptation is needed.  This post is for customers using the first edition.]  This style of skirt is becoming increasingly popular, perhaps because of it’s sleek silhouette or because of the opportunity to design large sections of skirt embroidery without having to break it up into different panels.

Pattern Modification:

1.  Find your Skirt Block pieces.  These pieces represent the shape of the skirt without the pleats and gathers of the Skirt Views I-VII, so they are basically a single-panel skirt already.
2.  Because there are no pleats, gathers, or extra fullness in the skirt if it just flat across, you’ll want to make the side pleat deeper so there is more room built in for high kicks.  An extra inch is a good guideline…maybe a bit more if you are making a dress on the larger end of the spectrum.  Extend the bottom of the pleat out one inch, and use your ruler to connect that point to the top seam line.
3.  Add your side notch back on.  Don’t worry about getting it exactly X inches from the top.  The only other piece that uses it is the back, and you’ll copy that over.
4.  Repeat Step 2 with the Skirt Block Back.  Copy the side notch from the front to the back so that the side-pleat seams line up.
5.  The skirt front should be quite stiff.  I’d recommend two layers of your average stiffener.  Because the skirt front is one flat piece, you could get away without it but it’s a good idea to keep it in.  However, you don’t need two layers of stiffener in the under-skirt and two layers in the main skirt; just use one in the underskirt.
For the back, you have some options.  The whole back piece does not need to be stiff.  You certainly can make it that way, and if you do, use only one layer of heavy stiffener.  If you’re looking for a softer back, you may still want a thin layer of something in the back skirt, like a medium-weight non-fusible interfacing.  This will keep the skirt smooth and not too flimsy that it can’t retain shape.  Pick your interfacing based on your fabric choice.  Something lighter with a heavy velvet; something a bit beefier for a thin satin.
[Edit:  Some people have found that they did need the under-skirt in the front and back, and some have said that they didn’t.  It really comes down to your stiffener.  If you’re unsure, try it both ways.  Remember that if the dress is too big around at the dropped waist, the stiffener has to work extra hard to keep the shape.  The dress shouldn’t measure more than 1.5-2″ larger than the dancer at the dropped waist (1.5″ for kids, 2″ for teens, adults).]
6.  Find your under-skirt pattern pieces (7-8).  Lay them over the top of the skirt block front and back so that the top edge of the block lines up with the dashed seam line on the under-skirt.  Add the excess in the side pleat so that the two line up at the bottom edge of the Under-skirt (you will be adding less than the original inch).
[I colored the block light grey, and made the under-skirt slightly transparent so you can see how they line up.  Despite the changes in color, we are still dealing with the paper pattern pieces.]

Fabric & Cutting

Cut 1 on fold of fabric
Cut 2 on fold of stiffener
Cut 1 on fold of lining
Cut 2 of fabric
Cut 2 of stiffener or non-fusible interfacing (depending on desired stiffness)
Cut 2 of lining


1.  Build the skirt front and backs following steps 26-28 of the pattern instructions.  You’ll skip step 29 because you only have one piece for each front and back.
2.  Baste the skirts onto their under-skirts (step 30).
From here, you can follow the directions as per usual, stitching the fronts to backs and creating the side pleat, and continue to finish the dress as per usual.  Cheers!

Adding a Bodice Lining

I mention briefly in the intro to the pattern instructions about adding a lining and here’s how to do it.  You can use any thin material; I like cotton because of its breathability.  If you did a mock-up of your dress (and you should), you can even use the same pieces, providing you did not have to alter them beyond use.
I usually do the neck and sleeves after the bodice is built, as they are a bit easier before the skirt and zipper are added, but you can also put the whole thing in at the end.
1.  Preparing your pieces
To start, check that your lining pieces have the same seam allowance as your dress pieces.  Sew the bodice front and backs together shoulder and side seams, and attach the sleeves but do not hem them.
2.  The Neck Edge

How your lining attaches depends on how your neck edge is being finished off.
Finishing the edge with a satin stitch?
(You can do this step now, or at the end)  Press over the seam allowance at the neck edge of your lining, but press over a 1/4″ in from the neckline (so if you have 1/2″ of seam allowance at the neck, you’ll press over 3/4″).  Pin the lining to the inside of the dress, so the lining sits 1/4″ in from the edge.  Slip-stitch the lining to the dress.  You can stitch it to the fabric if it is textured, like velvet.  Otherwise, carefully attach it to the satin stitching (see picture below).  Stop stitching 1.5″ away from the center-back seam line.
Finishing the neck edge with a collar?
(You can do this step now, or at the end)  Follow the instructions above for finishing with a satin stitch, except that you can press the lining seam allowance right on the neck line, rather than 1/4″ in.  When pinned and stitched, the lining should line up with the neck edge line instead of being 1/4″ below, as directed above.  I don’t have a picture of this, but it’s fairly similar to the instructions above.
Finishing the edge by turning the seam allowance under?
Pin the lining to the dress at the neck edge with right sides together.  Stitch along the neckline.  Clip seam allowance and turn lining towards the inside.  Press the seam.  If desired, stitch 1/4″ away from the edge (see picture below).  Stop stitching 1.5″ away from the center-back seam line.  For the dress below, I topstitched a small facing to the neck edge of my lining first, so the white wouldn’t peak out the top.
Adding a lining after construction?
Follow the steps above for finishing with a satin stitch or with a collar, whichever is applicable.  If you don’t have a collar, use the satin-stitching method, so the facing stays away from the edge.  See step 5 (center back) before stitching all the way to the zipper.
3.  Sleeves
If your sleeves aren’t sewn into their respective bodices, do that now.  Hem your dress sleeves (but not the linings).  Press the hem of the sleeve linings up 1/2″ shorter than the original hem, and slip-stitch the lining down 1/2″ away from the hem edge.
4.  You’ll now continue on with the regular instructions, making your skirt, sewing the dropped waist seam, putting in your zipper, and everything else until the dress is finished.  I would even sew on any cape velcro you have to add to the dress now.  Make sure your lining stays out of the zipper and dropped-waist seam.
5.  The Dropped Waist Seam
Press the seam allowance up along the bottom edge of your bodice lining.  Pin the folded edge right along the dropped waist stitching line (you can see the stitching line in the picture, where I’ve pulled the lining up a bit).  To ensure your lining isn’t too tight up and down, have your dancer try it on quick, or put it on a dress form.  If your dress fabric is loose and bubbling, the lining might be too short and tight.  Re-press the lining 1/4″ down to loosen it up.  Slip-stitch the lining to the inside of the dropped waist seam, stopping your stitching 1.5″ away from the center back.
6.  The Center Back
Press over the center-back seam allowance 1/4″ away from the seam line.  Pin the folded edge to the inside of the zipper, 1/4″ away from the edge.  If you stitched the zipper on 1/4″ away from the edge, you can use the stitching as a handy guide.  Slip-stitch the lining to the inside of the zipper, and finish off the small gaps in stitching at the back of the neck and dropped-waist seam.
Your dress is now beautifully lined.  Linings not only catch sweat, but they also make the dress more comfortable.  Enjoy!