How to Make Your Dress Poofy as Heck

There’s been a lot of talk on Weddingbee about “other” wedding dresses, meaning the dress you wear to your rehearsal dinner, shower, and/or bachelorette party. In fact, it was Weddingbee that introduced me to the concept of wearing a white dress to all wedding events (not that I needed to be introduced to the concept of wearing certain colors, but you get what I mean).

I’m so grateful to the bees who blazed the wearing-white-to-other-wedding-events trail before me. That was sarcastic actually. If I hadn’t decided I needed a new white dress for every event, I’d be a lot better off, I imagine. I want my money and naïveté back! And my closet space too. For those of you who haven’t considered the fact that you have to wear white to all wedding events because you’re the friggin’ bride I apologize for giving you the idea now.

I decided to make a dress to wear to my shower (possibly both showers) because it would be “cheaper” and I could “make it look however I wanted.” I seem to have forgotten that buying fabric is rarely cheaper than just buying a Forever 21 dress. I also seem to have forgotten that I suck at sewing, so it’s literally impossible for me to make it look however I want. But I did my best!


Personal pic

I promise you I’m not wearing opaque white tights. That’s my real leg color…

I wish I could provide you with a tutorial, but I actually used a pattern for the bodice (crazy, I know). It’s the dress pattern featured in the Burdastyle Sewing Handbook, if you’re curious. I also used Casey Brown’s circle skirt tutorial, and I sort of haphazardly attached the top to the bottom. You don’t want to see a close-up of the zipper area. Trust me. You’ll notice the skirt is really poofy too, sort of Mad Men-esque, to use an already overused phrase.


Image via The Gloss

I was going for a less costumey version of Betty Draper. As I always am…

When this show first came on the air, I stupidly thought her skirt was poofy because it had a lot of fabric, or maybe because the fabric was stiff and draped differently. Both are partly true, of course, but now that I’ve been reading sewing blogs a lot more, I realize she was most definitely wearing a crinoline! After all these years of failing to achieve maximum poofiness–exhibit A, my engagement pics dress–I finally discovered the secret to poofiness!

You’re probably familiar with crinolines if you’ve started looking at wedding dresses already because many of them require one. For those who don’t know, a crinoline is also sometimes referred to as a petticoat, pettiskirt, or slip. You can buy them inexpensively from various Etsy sellers, square dancing costume sites, and yes, wedding dress shops. Here’s more info on Wiki for those who love fashion history.


Image from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding via Unreality Shout

Without the crinoline, or its cousin the hoop skirt, dresses like this wouldn’t exist! And that would be a tragedy.

I tried to make my crinoline using this tutorial from Sugardale, but I wanted to make an elastic waistband (I’m a beginner! Leave me alone!) and I also ended up buying the wrong fabric (I’m a beginner!), plus I ruffled my fabric way more than I was supposed to (I am a friggin BEGINNER, people!) so the tutorial didn’t end up applying to me very much. I ended up making more of a tutu…


Personal pic


Personal pic

This was the most difficult thing to photograph ever.

And even though it looks ridic by itself, it gets the job done under the skirt.


Personal pic

I purposely bought pink netting so it could peek out cutely, but I think it’s too light to really make a difference. Still, it happens to match perfectly with my favorite pair of shoes (bought for $9.99 back in 2004–best purchase ever) and my beloved bow belt.

Here’s a quick and dirty explanation of how I made the crinoline: I first decided how long I wanted the crinoline to be (based on the length of my skirt) then divided that number by 3–for 3 tiers–and accounted for seam allowance. The first tier is an elastic waistband attached to some lining fabric that I gathered against the elastic. It’s 7 inches wide, as all my tiers were (to make a ~21 inch long crinoline). The second tier is ruffled netting that’s 7 inches wide and several yards long. I think 12 yards? I kept adding more because my machine ruffled it too much, so it wasn’t long enough. The third tier is more ruffled netting, about 16-20 yards I believe. Again, it depends on how ruffly you make it—mine’s a tutu, remember? Then you attach all three tiers to each other and you’re done. I suggest using a real tutorial though.

And here it is in action:


Personal pic

I’m not sure why my calf muscle looks like it’s birthing another calf muscle. I’m not even athletic.

Stay tuned for yet another white dress I’ve procured for the wedding! Did you guys get caught up in buying other white dresses for wedding events?


Mrs. Unicycle

Chicago, IL
Wedding Date:
June 2012
Honeymoon Planning with the Minks
Gifting the Girls
Add a comment


  1. Member
    lerenard 297 posts, Helper bee @ 6:04 am

    You are my sewing hero! That dress (and crinoline) look fabulous!

  2. Member
    ohmybears48 2454 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:16 am

    Dear Ms. Uni. You’re from Chicago. I’m from Chicago. Let’s get together and be best friends. We can wear tea length dresses and talk about poofs. Also, you can tell me how you make your hair look so healthy. I think we’d be a match made in heaven.

  3. trailmix Member
    trailmix 6663 posts, Bee Keeper @ 6:23 am

    Wow, you have mad sewing skills for a ‘beginner’! I love the dress you made, it’s so cute!

  4. porcupine Member
    porcupine 633 posts, Busy bee @ 6:41 am

    I love it! Really cute. I wish I had any sewing abilities whatsoever. I have yet to find one damn good white dress to wear my rehearsal- the countdown is on, bah!

  5. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 7:09 am

    Super cute! My sewing skills are mediocre at best, so I’m super impressed you made something you can actually wear!

  6. Member
    zeraaashian 54 posts, Worker bee @ 7:16 am

    This might be awkward….but you have superawesome legs!

  7. Member
    toshella 730 posts, Busy bee @ 7:21 am

    You look adorable! I love that dress!

    PS: I think I’m just wearing dressing in my wedding colors for the ‘other wedding events’. Because I don’t own any white dresses, but I sure do have a lot of purple!

  8. Member
    Coffee cup 2319 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:44 am

    Yes, you just introduced me the idea of “white dress for every wedding event”.. FI’s not going to be happy, lol.

  9. Member
    therascalqueen 204 posts, Helper bee @ 12:28 pm

    Oh my gosh, the dress you made is the one I want for my rehearsal dinner! I swear, I’ve been spending the last week online obsessively trying to find one that isn’t a wedding dress ($$$). Full skirts are hard to come by! It looks adorable on you!

  10. Member
    sugarbox 226 posts, Helper bee @ 12:55 am

    Your dress is beautiful and cute .

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Ronnie, Guest @ 7:57 am

    LOL I love your rundown. I’m a beginner also and completely understand!! Not only was it filled with personality but a fun read. This definitely is helpful though.

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