How to Make a Can-Can Skirt

Things You'll Need

  • Soft measuring tape

  • Muslin

  • Awl

  • Pencil

  • Scissors

  • Ruffle fabric

  • Sewing machine

  • Thread

  • Gathering foot

  • Skirt fabric

  • Lining fabric

  • Pins

  • Chalk

  • 7-inch zipper

  • Zipper foot

  • Needle

  • Hook and eye closure

Make yourself a can-can skirt.

The can-can is a risqué dance that was popular in the mid to late 1800s. Women would lift their skirts to show off their undergarments. The can-can skirt is a circle skirt with ruffles sewn on the inside. The ruffles represent the woman's petticoats. These skirts were traditionally white but today come in all colors. The skirt can be paired with a corset or bodice.


Step 1

Measure your waist. Subtract 1 inch from your waist measurement and multiply it by 1/6. This will be known as number A.

Step 2

Measure from your waist to the length you want your skirt and add 1 inch. This will be known as number B.

Step 3

Add number A to number B. This will be known as number C.

Step 4

Cut the muslin into a square. The length of each side of the square should be the measurement of number C plus 2 inches.

Step 5

Punch holes on the middle of the measuring tape at number A and number C with the awl.

Step 6

Secure the end of the measuring tape to one corner of the muslin. Put the tip of the pencil through the first hole and draw a semicircle. Repeat with the second hole. You now have a line for the waistline and hemline.

Step 7

Cut the pattern out along the lines.


Step 1

Subtract 6 inches from number B. Add the answer to the number of ruffles you want then divide this number by the number of ruffles you want. This will give you the width of the ruffles.

Step 2

Multiply number C by 3.14 and then multiply by 2. Multiply that number by 2 for a standard ruffle or by 3 for a fuller ruffle. This is how long the fabric for the ruffle needs to be.

Step 3

Cut the ruffle fabric into strips as long and as wide as determined by the two previous steps.

Step 4

Fold under the top and bottom of the fabric strips lengthwise 1/4 inch, wrong sides facing each other. Fold the same edges 1/4 inch again the same direction as the first fold. Sew all ends in place with a straight stitch on the sewing machine.

Step 5

Gather the fabric strips into ruffles on the sewing machine using a gathering foot.


Step 1

Cut the skirt fabric into two rectangles, number C plus 2 inches by twice number C plus 4 inches. Repeat with the lining fabric.

Step 2

Fold the skirt fabric in half widthwise and pin together. Pin the pattern to the fabric making sure one of the skirt's sides of the pattern is along the folded edge. Outline the pattern onto the fabric using the chalk and remove the pattern. Repeat with the other skirt fabric rectangle and the two lining fabric rectangles.

Step 3

Cut along all the lines you drew. You will have one front half-circle and one back half-circle in skirt fabric and one front half-circle and one back half-circle in lining fabric.

Step 4

Pin the front of the skirt to the back of the skirt along the side seams, right sides facing each other. Sew the side seams together with a 1/2-inch seam allowance with the sewing machine. Repeat with the skirt lining.

Step 5

Sew the first ruffle to the bottom of the skirt lining, the wrong side of the ruffle to the inside of the lining. The bottom edge of the ruffle should be 1-inch from the end of the lining. Sew the next ruffle to the skit lining above the first overlapping 1/2-inch. Continue with the rest of the ruffles. Do not go higher then 6-inches from the top of the skirt.

Step 6

Sew the skirt lining to the skirt, right side of the skirt facing the ruffle side of the lining, along the hem line with a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Match up the side seams. Turn the skirt right side out.

Step 7

Fold the top of the skirt in towards the lining 1/2-inch, wrong side facing each other. Fold the top of the lining in towards the skirt 1/2-inch, wrong side facing each other.

Step 8

Pin the zipper 1/2-inch from the top on the wrong side of the left seam of the skirt. Pin the lining to the back of the zipper matching up the side seam. Sew 1/4-inch around the zipper using the zipper foot, through the skirt, the zipper tape and the lining.

Step 9

Cut the stitches on the side seam of the skirt in front of the zipper with the scissors, opening up seam on the skirt. Cut the stitches on the side seam of the lining behind the zipper with the scissors, opening up seam on the skirt. Only cut the thread. Do not cut the fabric. Stop cutting before you reach where you sewed across the zipper.

Step 10

Sew around the top of the skirt 1/4-inch from the edge, joining the lining to the skirt. Hand-sew the hook and eye closure above the zipper.


If you don’t have a gathering foot, sew double row of basting stitches and pull the ends of the stitches to make a ruffle.


The more ruffles on the skirt, the heavier the skirt will be.