Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Lolita Fashion Hoop Skirt/Cage Petti Guide

This is less of a tutorial and more of a guide to create your own cage petti for lolita fashion. It will aid you in making one exactly the size you want for yourself, but keep in mind, it will require a bit of math as all sewing does. You can easily change the shape by swapping out the type of petti you layer on top (A-line vs Bell). This is by no means the only way to make a cage petti or the correct way. This is simply the way I made mine along with my friend Frilly Dragoness!

Start off with calculating the amount of supplies!

A-Line Cage Petti
Step 1: In order to come up with your measurement table (example shown below), calculate the circumference for the 4th tier. I would recommend recording everything in a spreadsheet for your ease of calculation. My dress's hem was 92 inches in circumference. I subtracted 5 inches so I wouldn't look overstuffed and could fit a petti over top of the finished hoop skirt. This worked for my dress and petti however, it didn't work quite as well for Frilly Dragoness's, so you may want to remove an additional 2-3 inches depending on your petti volume. This is the circumference for the 4th tier. *Note: I converted my chart to centimeters for clarity.

Step 2: Divide the circumference of the 4th tier by 5 (four tiers and one waist tier).

Step 3: Subtract this result from the circumference for the 4th tier to get the circumference for the 3rd tier. Subtracting the same result again, gives the circumference for the 2nd tier, and again for the 1st tier.

*Note: If the first tier and/or second tier measurement is less than your hip measurement, you will need to make an open back petti (see step 5). Also keep in mind the proportions of the silhouette. If your waist circumference is too close to the 1st tier circumference, try dividing the 4th tier by 6 in Step 2.

Step 4: Finally, add 10cm (4") to each tier's circumference for the actual cut of steel boning. An additional 10cm (4") is needed to create an overlap when you join the boning into a circle.

Example Measurements (Closed Back Petti)
Circumference Steel Boning (cm) Steel Boning (inches)
Waist 62cm 0cm 0"
1st Tier 88.39cm 98.39cm 38.74"
2nd Tier 132.59cm 142.59cm 56.14"
3rd Tier 176.78cm 186.78cm 73.54"
4th Tier 220.98cm 230.98cm 90.94"
Total 658.74cm 259.35"

Step 5: Open Back Petti (as seen here or below)
In order to make an open back petti to allow you to pull the cage petti over your hips, you will need to create a gap. This gap is what allows you to bend the steel open wide enough to slide over your hips. Take the circumference of the 1st tier, divide it by 5. Now subtract this result from the original circumference. This will remove one fifth of the circle. Do this again with the 2nd tier if necessary. Now proceed with Step 4 to get the final cut of steel boning, but do not add an additional 10cm (4") to the tiers you've converted to open back (see example below).

Example Measurements (Open Back Petti)
Circumference Open Back Length Steel Boning (cm) Steel Boning (inches)
Waist 62cm - 0cm 0"
1st Tier 88.39cm 70.71cm 70.71cm 27.84"
2nd Tier 132.59cm 106.07cm 106.07cm 41.76"
3rd Tier 176.78cm - 186.78cm 73.54"
4th Tier 220.98cm - 230.98cm 90.94"
Total - - 594.54cm 234.08"

This amounts to ~7.2 yards total for the closed back petti or ~6.5 yards for the open back petti.

On to purchasing!

I purchased 2 10-yard rolls of 1/2" continuous white steel boning from CorsetMaking.com (see below for other suppliers). In actuality, I only need one per petti. Keep in mind you're shipping a bunch of steel, the shipping cost for me was around ~$14 (for 4 rolls, two for me, two for Frilly Dragoness).

At the same site, I also purchased hoop boning connectors found here. They come in a pack of 6, so depending on how many tiers your cage petti has, get the corresponding amount (less one or two if making an open back petti).

For the tape, you can use fabric if you'd like to cut strips and strips of fabric and figure out how to deal with fraying and or fabric wear, or you could buy a bunch of twill tape. I chose this route and bought a 72-yard spool of 3/4" white twill for ~$17 shipped at TwillTape.com. Keep in mind you will have to sew two pieces together, so if you need more space to sew (as opposed to right along the edge of the tape), I'd advise getting 1" or larger twill tape (found here) to aid fitting the 1/2" boning inside and help yourself out. You could also buy boning casing, but I found it much more expensive then simply making it myself.

I also picked up a pair of tin snips on Amazon as I only had wire cutters. I definitely advise getting a pair, as cutting steel with scissors will destroy your scissors and you will likely injure yourself. Tin snips also save you a lot of effort when cutting the boning. You will also need a large pair of pliers. I only had a small pair and really struggled with crimping the hoop connectors (ended up asking my husband to help crimp), so a larger pair would have helped.

I also grabbed some heat shrink tube on Amazon, as we always use it anyway at home and I wanted to nicely cover the hoop connector. I got a variety size pack, but if you just need it for this project, grab 2 pieces of 13.0mm internal diameter x 100mm length (simply cut it in half) at a hardware store. This isn't completely necessary, but helps keep the sharp edges from cutting through your trim tape over time. I use the extra tubing to protect and organize other cables/wires I have since my cat has a tendency to chew on them.

On to cutting and sewing!

Cut each piece of boning to your corresponding lengths. To minimize waste, try to fit your lengths nicely within the 10-yard rolls (if you needed more than 10 yards to make your petti).

Next, cut your trim tape to the length of your boning (you will have 10cm less boning when crimped, but you will need the excess trim tape to join your seams). It was easier to match my boning to the tape to cut it to size rather than measuring. Cut two strips for each piece of boning. Then, sew these strips together to create the boning encasement, being careful to allow enough space for the boning to fit inside.

Slide the boning inside the casing!

You should now have 4 pieces (for 4 tiers) of boning encased in twill tape. Now you can start forming the hoops. If you are creating an open back petti, do not join all 4! Only join the tiers that you don't require open to put on the petti.

Slide the twill tape down out of the way and place the heat shrink on the end of the boning sliding it out of the way. Don't forget to do this before you crimp! Next slide on the metal connector and close your hoop aligning them to overlap (10cm or 4"). Crimp down on the connector. Make sure you do this as tight as you can, the steel boning should not slide out or move at all when you pull on it (this is why I asked for help).

The resulting crimped connector!

Slide the heat shrink over the connector and heat it with a lighter/heat gun. Make sure not to burn your twill tape!

You now should have four hoops ready to be sewn.

Slide the trim tape back over the connectors and hand sew it closed. For an open back petti, hand or machine sew the end of the first tier boning encasement shut.

All four sewn!

Cut a length of twill for the waist, long enough to fit your waist and allow you to tie it off in a bow. Next, cut the corresponding length of twill for the vertical struts of the hoops skirt according to the length from your waist to the hem adding additional for seam allowance. Four struts was sufficient, but you can have as many as you would like. Measure where you'd like your hoops to land (evenly spaced along the skirt). I placed mine every 4.75" or every 12cm. Align the joint of each hoop and cover the seam with your vertical length of twill tape. Frilly Dragoness suggested to pin each tier in place so we could try it on with our dresses and adjust each tier as necessary. Doing so was extremely helpful in finding the perfect position for each tier!

Final Closed-back Cage Petti

To finish, you have several options. If you don't plan to move around the tiers, hand sew each hoop at the corresponding vertical tier. If you would like to move the tiers, Frilly Dragoness suggested placing a button on each tier and creating button holes at intervals that work for different dresses. This is what I plan to do with mine, making the button holes with different colored thread to aid switching lengths. This also gives you the option to remove tiers for shorter dresses!

The final worn photo taken by a fellow comm member
at the event we made our cage petti's for!




American Suppliers:
European Boning Supplier:

Decorative Supplies:


Atelier Pierrot - Exposed White Cage Crinoline under White Partial Skirt
Atelier Pierrot - Black Cage Crinoline over Purple Skirt
Atelier Pierrot - Wine Cage Crinoline over Wine Skirt
Atelier Pierrot - Black Cage Crinoline over White Skirt
Atelier Pierrot - Black Cage Crinoline over Harlequin Skirt
Atelier Pierrot - Exposed Black Cage Crinoline under Black Partial Skirt

Decorative Versions:
Atelier Boz - Mystras Crinoline
Atelier Boz- Mystras Crinoline Black (Coordinates)
Atelier Boz - Mystras Crinoline over White Skirt
Atelier Pierrot - Mini Crinoline Orleans (Coordinate)
Atelier Pierrot - Mini Crinoline Remake (Details)

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