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4.02.2012

Simple Bubble Skirt - Tutorial


Hellloooo!

I'm so excited to share this new tutorial!  It's a super easy, super adorable bubble skirt.  It's made using any knit fabric, and there are NO HEMS - just seams!  This tutorial was originally posted at A Couple of Craft Addicts as part of their Serger Series week.  Wicked fun.  :)

I was so excited to be asked to be a part of Serger Week - I LOVE my serger to bits, and I use it on just about every sewing project!  If you sew for children (or at all, really) - a serger will make you happy.  Trust.

So here's what I put together for the beginning serger user:


A super fast and easy bubble skirt, made with just 3 rectangles!  Huzzah!

I hope through this tutorial you can get a good understanding of what a serger does, and how you can use it to make quick work of your sewing projects.  But don't go away if you don't own a serger!!!  You can absolutely sew this skirt on a sewing machine.

I own the Brother1034D.  I think a pretty large number of home sewist who have a serger - have this one.  For good reason!  It's relatively affordable (less than $200 on Amazon right now - that's what a lot of sewing machines cost, people!), and the reviews are undeniable.

Here she is, sitting on her serger seat:


Here is a bigger peak into my sewing room, if you're into that kinda thing, like I am. ;)

I've had this serger for about 2 years now, and I have absolutely no complaints.  None!  Once you know what you're doing - which admittedly takes a little time - it's a breeze to use.  At this point I'm still learning its' capabilities, but I look forward to using it any chance I get.  Maaad serger love.  :)



Ok, so here is the business end of the serger!

The numbers on the dials that are in black - like the 5 on No. 1, are the common, typically used settings that work for most applications.  The 'R's are the settings needed to achieve a rolled hem.  Here is an example of a top I made with a rolled hem.  Delicious. :)  The rolled hem setting can also be used on knits to create a lettuce edge hem, like so!  So super awesome.

When serging knits, it's the differential feed (4.) that you want to check out.  When this dial is set to 1.0, your two sets of feed dogs are moving at a 1 to 1 ratio, or, in unison.  When the dial is set lower than 1.0, your rear feed dogs are moving faster than the front ones, therefore pulling and stretching your fabric as it goes through the serger.  This is not a good thing if you want a nice flat seam on a knit.  You will have a hot wavy mess on your hands.  If you are serging fine woven fabrics that tend to pucker (think chiffon, silk), this lower-than-1.0 setting is a good thing, and you will have a flat, non-puckered seam.  Raising your differential feed above 1.0 causes the rear feed dogs to move slower than the front ones.  This takes away any stretching issues with knits.  You'll notice that there are a few different stops on the road from 1.0 to 2.0.  This is because there are so SO many different types of knits - some that need the rear dogs to move really slowly, and some where just a little slow-down does the trick.  Take a few scrap pieces of your fabric and play with the differential feed settings between 1.0 and 2.0, to find what's best for your particular fabric.


Stitch length and width are more a preference thing - I generally leave them on the bold numbers.  And the knife - I keep it up at all times because it's rad and impresses my husband.


Ok, so let's serge a skirt, shall we?!


You will need:
This will depend on what size you make, but not likely more than 1 yard of knit fabric.
A serger, loaded up with matching thread
Your sewing machine - for a basting stitch to make gathers


A few notes:
I want to make sure it's clear that this project does not, by any means, NEED to be sewn on a serger.  Anywhere I am serging seams, you can absolutely use a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.  The waistband seam is the one that will get the most abuse, so a nice high width/short length zigzag would be best there, for optimal stretch.  Cool?  Ok.


About fabric - you will have all sorts of different results (all good!) depending on the type of knit you choose.  Mine (c/o Kitschy Coo, it's amazing!  Go git some!) is pretty stable, not slinky at all, resulting in a good poof effect.  If you choose a drapey, slinky knit, your skirt will have a more swooshy, swingy effect.  Both awesome.  Proceed without caution.  :D


Below are the pieces I cut out for Emmy's skirt:


WAISTBAND:  Your waistband height will ultimately be half of what you cut - mine was 6" tall to start, and is 3" on the finished skirt.  Factor this into your total skirt length.  Also, you want the waistband to fit snugly, so I subtracted about 1.5" off of Emmy's waist measurement for my waistband width.  19.5" minus 1.5" = 18" waistband, cut on the fold at 9".  * If your knit is ultra stretchy, subtract more like 2"+ from the child's waist measurement, so the waistband is nice and snug.*

OUTER SKIRT:  Determine the length you want your skirt to be, then subtract the finished waistband height (3" in my case).  I wanted my skirt to hit just above the knee, so using the chart below, I took 12", minus 3" for the waistband to get 9".  The Inner Skirt will lift your hemline by about 1.5" inches, bringing me to 10.5", so I rounded up to 11" for my outer skirt height (for growth and longer wear).  Geeeez I hope this makes sense.  Leave a comment on this post if I'm confusing you, and we'll discuss.

INNER SKIRT:  Same as Outer Skirt, minus 2" in height.

To get the width of both Inner and Outer Skirt - multiply your waistband by 1.5.  My waistband was 18", times 1.5 = 27", but I cut out 28" for what reason, I don't know.
Above is a chart I've put together with the average body measurements of wee toddlers.
It is important to repeat that these are average measurements.  Although Emmy is 2 years old, her waist measurement is only 19.5 inches - not 21.  So it's a good idea to measure if you want to be certain about your fit, although this should be a good jumping off point.

When I go in to serge, this is how I begin.  I place the beginning of the fabric edge well under the presser foot, just below the knife.  Sidenote - if your knife is down when you're going to start a seam, turn the hand wheel until the knife is up:


For this skirt, I poopoo'd seam allowances, and just let the knife take off what it needed to to make the seams clean and even:


Ok, to start (finally lol), serge your waistband together along the two short sides, opposite the folded side:


Snip off your thread tail:


Admire your perfectly flat seam that you knew you would achieve because you figured out your differential feed setting beforehand:


Fold your waistband in half, so that the raw edges are chillin' together:


Serge both skirt pieces as you did the waistband, serging opposite the folded edge, and you will have three tubes of awesome:


Turn your Inner Skirt inside out:


Insert your Outer Skirt into your Inner Skirt like so, matching up the bottom edges and pinning at the seam line:


I don't usually like to use pins when serging because I'm horrified that I might run over one with the knife :O, but in this case, to keep everything together, it's a good idea to pin.  So pin around your bottom edge:


On my serger, and most others I presume, you can remove this part of the work bed.  I like to do this, especially when serging small garments like this one:


So now get ready to serge your bottom seam by placing it under the presser foot.  I like to start near my back seam:


Serge all the way around (SWEET LORD REMOVE THE PINS BEFORE THEY ARE ANYWHERE NEAR THE PRESSER FOOT GAHH!), not stretching or pulling - just allowing the feed dogs to do their magic, until you approach where you began:


Now in order to keep from going in circles here, you're going to want to gradually move your garment forward and out to the left.  I am way overdoing it in the photo below, fyi.  Just keep the all-of-it moving forward, as you guide the fabric out to the left, and don't worry about serging over what you've already serged, that's ok:


Trim your thread tails and admire your handiwork:


Now pull down the Inner Skirt:


Niiiiiiice.  
Next, pull the Inner Skirt up into the Outer Skirt until the top raw edges are lined up together:


Here's a peak into the bottom hem you just made - without hemming:


Awesome :)
Now, pin all the way around the top to prepare for basting a gathering stitch:


We need to gather the skirt to fit into the waistband:


On your sewing machine, pull out a nice long bit of thread:


Lower your thread tension, so it's easy to pull your gathering stitch:


Set your stitch length to mad long:


And stitch around the top of the skirt without backstitching:


Don't backstitch at the end either.  Instead leave yourself another long tail and tie it into a double knot.  Now hold onto the long bobbin thread you started with and begin gathering your fabric evenly around the skirt.  Pull gently - this is just a bit trickier (I find) on knits than it is on wovens.


Gather until your skirt is looking like it'll fit into your waistband and tie off those threads when your satisfied with the gathering:


Now pin your waistband around the gathered skirt, matching your raw edges and back seam:


Here's where that detachable part of the work bed is a good thing.  Everything moves smoothly around the smaller opening:


Since at this point we're serging 4 layers of fabric, the seam may be a thick one, resulting in a traffic jam behind the presser foot:


The solution to this is to, after every inch or so of serging, stop and gently pull your skirt through the space towards you, as pictured below.  If you allow it to bunch up, the feed dogs won't be able to feed the fabric and you will have WHOLE LOTS of thread on one small area of fabric that didn't move anywhere while you had your pedal to the metal.  I know this to be true.


You are all but DONE!
Inspect the waist seam to make sure you've caught all four layers of fabric.  If not - no worries!  Go serge over it!  But hopefully you you did, and you can now flip up your waistband and swoon over your new little skirt!


SWOON!!


:D


So there you have it!  A super quick and adorable bubble skirt for your little one! What do you think?  Will you give it a try?!  Are you less wary of sergers now?

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to comment or email me.  I'd be happy to help!
And send me pics after you make one!

ALSO - stay tuned for quick tute on how to make this a twisted-hem bubble skirt!
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuun.  :D

Aaaand, here it is!



Much love, 

Pin It

69 comments:

  1. Found you on Sew Can Do, great tutorial and super cute skirt!!

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  2. Cute skirt, and great info on the serger. I didn't know the 'R' stood for rolled hem! I knew you could make a rolled hem with the serger, I just never investigated how to do it!

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  3. Awesome tutorial! My kiddo needs a few of these! By the way, your pin cushion thing is very nifty looking

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    Replies
    1. Lol, thank you Abby! My pin cushion thing was actually the top of a tea light candle holder thing. It was like a palm tree or something, pretty ugly. But it has teeny tiny holes, so it's downright perfect for holding pins! :D

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  4. What a great tutorial. The skirt is so cute. You have a wonderful blog and I am excited to be a new follower on GFC. I would like to invite you come visit my blog @ http://www.arosiesweethome.com/
    and share in my link party @ http://www.arosiesweethome.com/2012/03/welcome-to-our-3rd-link-party-we-are-so.html
    Hope to see you there
    Rose

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  5. soaking up all the incredible inspiration today!

    come visit my blog and giveaway:
    http://hellolovelyinc.blogspot.com/2012/04/april-giveaway.html

    smiles to you.

    michele

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  6. Adore this fabric! Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Super cute! I love the colors! I'd love for you to link up to Crafty Cousins.
    http://crafting-cousins.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-i-wore-sunday-week-10.html

    ~Natalie @ Crafty Couusins

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  8. OK...Can I just give you a big hug!? I have that serger and I'm just learning how to use it. This is SO helpful! Thank you so much for sharing! Oh...and I'm totally making that cute skirt. :) I'd love for you to link this up to may party! http://www.thelittlegiggler.com/2012/04/love-it-and-link-it-up-3.html

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  9. Cool tutorial! I'm new to sewing & would love to eventually try this!
    I'm your newest follower, hope you'll follow back:)
    www.rockpaperscissorscreate.blogspot.com

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  10. That is adorable! I would love for you to share this (and any other creations) at my new linky party "Pin It and Win It Wednesday" at www.cheapcraftymama.com!

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  11. Awesome tutorial. I don't have a serger yet (I have dreams..) but I love your style of writing and tons of photos. I'll be clicking over to follow you next. Thanks for sharing!

    Jess @ tupelocreative.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Jess!! :D Glad you liked it! I love a ton of pictures, too - it's really the only way for me wrap my head around something! Cheers!

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  12. Awesome skirt and tutorial! I've just started to take up sewing and have been toying with the idea of getting a serger so I can make my own cloth diapers but was promptly overwhelmed--I will definitely check yours out on Amazon! :D

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  13. This is too cute! (I really love your sewing machine) I would love for you to link up at my Linky Party via: http://ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com/2012/04/show-me-what-you-got-linky-party-8.htmlto share this awesome idea with my readers

    Mrs. Delightful
    www.ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com

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  14. What a fun skirt. I LOVE that fabric! Where did you find it?

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  15. Fantastic tutorial & such a cute skirt! I definately have to whip up one of these :)
    Love the "Sergery" pun! :D

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  16. Thank you for the great tut!

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  17. Wow, this is a fabulous tutorial and that skirt couldn't be cuter. Super adorable. Thank you so much for sharing at our party this week.

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  18. this is super cute and i'm so wishing i had a serger! great tutorial!!

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  19. I love this skirt!! And your tutorial is wonderful! (I think I need to commit to getting a serger...) Where did you buy this cute cloud fabric?? :)

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  20. I also would love to know where you got this adorable fabric, or at least who made it.

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  21. Sarah that is darling. I must admit I am a bit jealous of your serger. Thank you for joining in the hop and for your bloggy friendship

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  22. does that comment make sense? giggle.

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  23. Thank you everyone! There is a link to the fabric in the post, but if you missed it, here it is: http://www.kitschycoo.bigcartel.com/products It's from Kitschy Coo, and it's FABULOUS. :)

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  24. Ah, there it is! Thanks for the link, anyway. :) Noticed this fabric comes from the UK. Any advice on how much to buy for this skirt? (I have a 2 year old too.) Kinda pricey...yikes! Thanks!

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  25. What a great tutorial!! I have been wanting to make some of these for my girls. I am so excited to use your tutorial and make some. I just need to get some fabric. Thanks for sharing with us!:)

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  26. Thanks for linking to Sew Crafty Saturday! Shared this on my FB & Twitter!

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  27. LOVE this bubble skirt--I want to make an adult version. Not gonna lie uber jealous of your serger! It must be a dream!!! Just wanted to let you know I featured you on Sew Woodsy! Thanks for linking up!

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  28. I love this! May I feature it on www.sewcanshe.com? Please drop me a line caroline@sewcanshe.com to let me know.

    Thanks!

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  29. can this be made for a newborn as well. I am thinking this would look really cute in different patterns and colors for my new granddaughter when she gets here. And if so how do I go about doing it? I am new at sewing cloths but this does not look hard at all. Do I just measure her waist then cut it out 2 or 3x's her size?
    deana

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely! This could be made in ANY size! Even us grown gals could rock one! :D

      Just measure her waist, then subtract about 1.5-2 inches from that measurement, for the waistband width. Then measure from her waist to her knee (or wherever you want the skirt to end) and subtract the finished waist height (I'd suggest a waistband height of 4 inches before folding (so approx. 2 inches on the finished garment)) from that, for your skirt length. Multiply your waistband piece times 1.5 to get your skirt width!

      Let me know if you have any more questions! Once you get down to doing it, this will all make more sense, I promise. :)

      Delete
  30. Thank You for all the review on the serger, Iam learning how to sew, and wish to have a serger. I am excited to be your newest follower and learn from you.

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    Replies
    1. Oh thanks, Bernice! No problem at all!

      Delete
  31. I think that if I have time this weekend, that this will be my project. I have a baby girl and I'm going to make it for her. I also have a 12 year old and it would be cute if they went out matching...maybe you could enlarge the sizes?

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    Replies
    1. That would be ADORABLE if they matched! :D

      I have no reference measurements for older girls, but it would be totally easy to figure out. Just take the waist measurement & subtract 2 inches - that's your waistband width. Then measure from the waist down to where you want the skirt to hit, and from that measurement, subtract the waistband height. I'd recommend your waistband height on the older girl to be about 4 inches on the finished garment - so you'd be cutting it at 8 inches high.

      Let me know if I can help further! Send me pics of your finished skirts!

      Delete
  32. I'll be featuring you on Thursday. Thank you so much for sharing at {wow me} wednesday. :)

    Ginger @ gingersnapcrafts.com

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  33. Awesome! First time here, love your wit and creativeness! I just got the same serger for Christmas and have finally gotten over my fear of using it! I've made two skirts so far, I think this will be next. Thank you So MUCH for the detailed explanation about the settings and what you used. Big help!

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    Replies
    1. Thnak you so much, Sara! I'm glad I could help! :D

      Delete
  34. Hello. Can the skirt be made without a serger? I don't have one (still a beginner). Thanks.

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    1. Absolutely!

      Anywhere I've serged seams, just use a zig zag stitch (and of course, use a ballpoint needle on your machine). On the waistband, make sure you use a wide and short zig zag stitch, as this part of the skirt needs the most stretch. I've noted all of this in the tutorial, but if you need any further help, let me know!

      Delete
  35. I love your phrase, "SWEET LORD REMOVE THE PINS BEFORE THEY ARE ANYWHERE NEAR THE PRESSER FOOT GAHH!" I burst out laughing. Love the skirt! Great job and idea.

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    Replies
    1. Lol, thank you Tamara! Haha!! Yeah, I sort of just write as I'm thinking, so things like that tend to come out! :D

      Delete
  36. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  37. This is such a cute skirt!! As soon as I saw it I wanted one for myself, so I made one out of some black knit. I'm 18 years old, but the instructions worked great and it was so easy to follow! I want to try the twisted version too.

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    1. OMG Elizabeth, that's awesome!! Do you have pictures of the skirt? I'd love to see it! :D

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    2. Hi Sarah! I just posted about making this skirt on my blog, and you can see pictures there. Here's the link if you want to take a look! http://thecollegeseamstress.blogspot.com/2012/04/bubble-skirt.html

      Delete
  38. Hey Sarah, love it! do you think I could do it on a regular sewing machine!? I don't have a serger but think it would be so adorable for my little lady!

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely! Like I say in the post, you just need to use a zig-zag stitch on the seams, instead of serging. Let me know if you make one! :D

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  39. I just wanted you to know that I featured this on my blog with a link back to you. I don't have a featured button I just wanted you to know it's out there. Please let me know if you'd like it removed.

    http://www.thisbigoaktree.com/2012/05/happy-mothers-day-to-me.html

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  40. What a pretty skirt,who wouldn't love it!
    www.blissfulsewing.blogspot.com

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  41. Thank you for this tutorial! Once I can actually thread the serger I bought at a garage sale, this will be my first project. Until then, I'll just use my handy dandy little Janome Jem and zig-zag my way through it.

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  42. I have the same serger and LOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE it!!

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  43. I must make this skirt for our little granddaughter. Lily is 4 and lovessss to dress up and twirl.

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  44. I actually have a serger question...no family who sews...got l at garage sale...got it threaded, cuts fabric, runs great...the 2 needles don't go deep enough through the fabric to pick up the bottom threads..help?! Would really love to be able to use this thing!! lorie.judd@yahoo.com

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  45. I made one of these skirts... turned out great!! I have posted it up on my blog if you would like to check it out.. http://sewloveit.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/pear-bubble-skirt.html

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  46. I made one of these for my 7 year old last week. Put up a picture of it on my blog and a link back to your tutorial. THANKS!! :)

    http://lornaslalaland.blogspot.com/2012/09/busy-as-usual.html

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    Replies
    1. Awesome - it looks great! :D

      An easy way to make it fuller is to make the inner skirt less wide. The way I did it has you cut the inner skirt and outer skirt at the same widths - both rectangles. But if you make that inner skirt smaller - more like a trapezoid, you will have more poof. :) I go back and forth on whether I should amend this tutorial to tell people that.

      Delete
  47. Great tutorial! I've been thinking of making one myself, these instructions will help a lot! Please, visit my blog too and let me know how you like it: http://jelenacreative.blogspot.com/
    Wishing you all the best! :)

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  48. I have read blogs its really amazing got excellent verity from your website, i found a great information through blogs & comments. Good Job...!!!. Cashmere Ponchos

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  49. I just whipped up a few of these for my 3 year who has to wear navy skirts to school everyday. I had navy stretch fabric remnants so it worked out great. I was able to adjust the length/waist to fit my long and lean girl. THANKS!!

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  50. Can you tell me what kind of needles you used for this?

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  51. I've been wanting to make a bubble skirt. Thank you for the tutorial!! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

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  52. Funniest tutorial ever. So much win here. :)

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  53. I just made one!!!! Soooo easy. This was my first real project on my serger and, thanks to your tutorial, my daughter has a super cute skirt.

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  54. Veronica Meza MaplesJanuary 14, 2015 at 12:39 PM

    Hi. I'm fairly new to sewing. Regarding knits. I did see the different fabric on the link you provided. It may be a dumb question but I know there are different kinds of knit. Exactly what type did you use? Thanks in advance.

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