How to Make a Petticoat in Less Than an Hour From a Tablecloth

So I know, it’s kind of a random thing to make a petticoat out of, but a round tablecloth that is finished on the edges (and bonus if it has ruffles on the edge like mine did!) is a perfect thing to use, and can be found in thrift shops and garage sales very inexpensively (or even for free!).  And no time-consuming hemming involved, because it already has a finished edge!

I had finished making Simplicity 3725 for my daughter (this is a great pattern, by the way – I’ve used it multiple times!) and I really wanted to give it a little more oomph and make a petticoat for it.

And I remembered the round off-white tablecloth with a stain on it from my mom’s giveaways. It screamed at me then to be made into a dress up skirt or a petticoat, and so petticoat it became!

Making a petticoat with a round tablecloth is exactly the same process as a circle skirt, without having to hem anything!  For my daughter, I wanted it long and the 60″ round tablecloth worked out perfectly and I didn’t have to adjust the length (almost never, no – less than almost never, do things just work out like this in costuming! 🙂 So I will show you how to adjust!)


  • Round Tablecloth (see below for determining what size tablecloth you will need)
  • 1 1/2″ – 3″ wide elastic – use one that is nice and soft and not too bulky since this will go directly around the waist

How to Determine What Size Tablecloth You Need:  (note – there is a small amount of math, but bear with me! It’s not hard at all! Grab your calculator and I’ll walk you through it! 🙂 )

1.  Using a tape measure, measure from your natural waist (about 2 inches above your belly button) down to wherever you would like the bottom of the hem to hit. Now double that number. Let’s call it Measurement A.

  • My daughter measured 27″ from waist to floor.  27 x 2 = 54 , so her Measurement A is 54″.

2. Now measure around the widest part of your hips – it is lower than you think and should go around where your hip bones are and the widest part of your backside. Now add 2 inches to that number. Let’s call this Measurement B.

  • My daughter’s hip measurement was 24.5″.  24.5 + 2 = 26.5, so her Measurement B is 26.5″

3.  Next, take your Measurement B and divide it by 6.28.  This is Measurement C.

  • Using the numbers from the above example, 26.5 / 6.28 = 4.22 so Measurement C is 4.22″

4.  Last step! Add together Measurement A and Measurement C.  Your tablecloth will need to have a diameter at least this many inches to go to the length you want.

  • 54 + 4.22 = 58.22″  So for my daughter, I was able to use the 60″ diameter round tablecloth.

Phew!!! Now we are ready to get started!!! 🙂

1.  Take your tablecloth and find a place where you can lay it flat if you can (even on a bed or the floor works).

2. Fold it in half.   It kind of makes me hungry for tacos…

3. Now fold it in half again!

4.  Now remember that measurement you took from your waist to where you wanted the bottom of the hem to be? (In my example, my daughter’s measurement was 27″.) Measure the length of your desired skirt from the bottom edge towards the point you made and make a little mark.  Move around in an arc making little marks so that you have a little quarter circle traced out.

5. Cut on your line through all thicknesses, then unfold – you are basically cutting a nice perfect hole right through the center of the tablecloth!

6.  Now it is time to sew on the elastic.  You can make an encased waistband if you would like, but I had a thin and soft knit elastic that would be a perfect waistband by itself, so I decided to sew the fabric directly to the elastic.  

Start by wrapping the elastic around your waist where you are going to where the skirt, overlap it about an inch, and cut the elastic.  So that we know where to sew it, take this piece you just cut and with it wrapped around your waist, pin the ends overlapping with a safety pin. Now test it to make sure it feels comfy and can still stretch over your hips. If it looks good, sew it across both edges of the elastic.

7. Now we are going to mark the front, back, left side, and right side of the elastic. I just fold the elastic loop in half and then make a pen mark in the front, the back, and then on the two sides.

8.  Mark the same thing (front, back, left side and right side) on the top of the skirt fabric as well.

9. Match up the lines on the elastic and the lines on the fabric and pin the top edges of both together at each mark.

10.  You may see at this point that you have way more fabric than elastic, and that is a good thing – you didn’t do anything wrong! 🙂 We are going to gather it by hand so that it is equally distributed along the elastic.

The way we are going to do that is with one hand find the middle of the fabric between two pins and hold onto it. With the other hand, find the middle of the elastic between those same two pins, and now match up that middle point on the elastic with the middle point of the fabric. Pin it together.

Do this same thing between all the sets of pins until you have a lot of pins in the whole thing and the fabric is, for the most part, pinned flat against the elastic.

The edge of your elastic should be lined up with the edge of your fabric all the way around.

11. Switch your machine to the zig zag stitch setting (we want a stretchy stitch to sew something stretchy!) and sew the elastic to the fabric with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  I know it’s kind of a big no-no in the sewing world, but occasionally in cases like this I sew over the pins very carefully. Or you can just stop right before the pin and take it out carefully and then continue, so as not to pull apart the elastic and fabric you so nicely lined up.  Choose whatever works best for you to keep everything together and get a nice straight seam.

And now you are done!!! 


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