Finding the waist

  1. Set up the stand (dummy) You can either set up the stand so the the waistline is at the correct height, or shorter so the distance between the floor and the waistline is the actual intended length of the skirt i.e. the hem sits on the ground. The second method makes it easier for you to get the hemline level all round with out having to use a ruler.
  2. Arrange the petticoat Once you have the right height, put the petticoat on the stand and level it out. Arrange the fabric of the petticoat roughly how you want it to end up, especially paying attention to the amount of fabric at the front sides and back, as more fabric will be required at the sides to go over the bum pads, and you may wish to have less fullness at the front of the skirt. Gather at front and pleat at the back. Too many gathers at the front will make it fall in.
  3. Mark the waistline When you are happy with the draping, use a water soluble marker (normally blue) draw around the waistline. The blue line goes at the bottom of the petersham waistband which should sit on the actual waist.
  4. Take the petticoat off the stand and lay flat. As the fabric was gathered when you drew the waistline, the blue line will now appear as dots or dashes. Connect the dots on one side, and then copy to other side and ensure they are even. You will see the line going up over where the bum pads would be and lower at the front an back where it is flatter.
  5. Add 7.5 cam seam allowance at the top and cut off the excess fabric. Keep cut off as this can be used again as a template for these bumpads.

Applying the petticoat waistband

Using a Petersham strip for the waistband, take the waist measurement and add 1.25cm for ease, and another 7.5 cm at each end for fitting (better to be too long than too short). Mark cf and quarters.

Pin on bum pads and petticoat drops to stand.

Starting at the back, pin the right hand side of the placket opening to the CB mark on the petersham waistband.

Using double thread tack top and bottom of pleats on to petersham. This allows you the machine stitch from the petersham side without the pleats folding back.

See my petersham waistband sample for more detailed instructions (with pictures).

Tips for pleating/gathering on the stand

  • Do one side and then the other (pleats normally face towards the back)
  • Gather front and then let out to ease. Gathers might be good between pleats and front
  • You can use your fingers to measure the depth of a pleat and check that they are even
  • You can often see at the bottom of pleat or drapes if they are out or uneven
  • Chevron pleat – front first, last to back
  • Edge of deep pleats face centre back
  • Yokes may be used for bigger petticoats


  • practice pleating/gathering petticoat waistband on the stand.