How To Draft A Bubble Skirt Pattern

Pink bubble skirt with a bubble skirt pattern draft.

If you wish to make a simple, yet visually appealing summer skirt, you can try sewing a bubble skirt. Technically, a bubble skirt is a version of a gathered skirt. However, the fabric is gathered not only at its waist, but also at the hem of the skirt thus creating the look of a bubble or balloon if you wish. It is an ideal girls skirt pattern for beginners.

In this tutorial I will describe how to draft a short bubble skirt pattern with an elastic waist.

Measurements needed for the bubble skirt pattern

Measure your hips: take the measurement at the widest part of your hips.

Measure your waist: measure your waist where you want to wear the waist of the skirt. This may be at your natural waist (the most narrow part of your waist), higher or lower than the natural waist.

Decide the skirt length: usually, a short bubble or balloon skirt length is above one’s knees. Take measurement from your waist to the length you fancy.

Calculation of individual pattern pieces dimensions

Now, you will have to calculate the dimensions of individual pattern pieces. These are:

In the section below there is a detailed description how the pattern pieces dimensions are calculated. There are images of such patterns as well. Before cutting the pattern pieces, make sure you have pre-treated all the fabrics you are going to use for sewing.

Elastic band

Elastic bands of different widths and colors.

There are two formulas how to calculate the length of the elastic band – one for narrow and one for wide bands. Wide elastic bands are quite strong and they shouldn’t be of the same length as the narrow ones, otherwise you would feel uncomfortable and your skin can suffer from compression.

elastic band narrower than 2,5 cm: elastic length = 0,7 * waist circumference
elastic band wider than 2,5 cm: elastic length = 0,85 * waist circumference
elastic band narrower than 1 inch elastic length = 0.7 * waist circumference
elastic band wider than 1 inchelastic length = 0.85 * waist circumference

Rib jersey fabric

Rib jersey fabric used for an elastic waist band casing.

The jersey fabric will be used as a casing for the above mentioned elastic band. Measure your waist circumference. This will be the length of the rib jersey. I consider 8 cm (about 3 inch) an ideal width for the waistband casing. This value needs to be doubled as the rib jersey fabric has to be folded in half.

rib jersey width = waist circumference
rib jersey length = 2 * 8 cmrib jersey length = 2 * 3 inch


Pink knit polyester lining fabric and plain weave cotton fabric that can be used as a lining.

The lining of the skirt should be wider than your hip circumference as you have to be able to pull the skirt through your hips. I recommend adding about 10 cm (4 inch) ease. This won’t make the lining too wide and will make getting the skirt on easy.

The length of the lining should be about 10 cm (4 inch) shorter than the desired skirt length.

lining width = waist circumference + 10 cmlining width = waist circumference + 4 inch
lining length = skirt length – 10 cmlining length = skirt length – 4 inch

Design fabric

Different design fabrics suitable to make a bubble skirt (balloon skirt).

The design fabric should be 12 cm (5 inch) longer than the desired skirt length. Extra 12 cm (about 5 inch) will be folded towards the inside of the skirt in order to create the bubble effect on the skirt hem.

The design fabric width should be twice your waist circumference. This piece of fabric will be both the FRONT and BACK of the skirt.

design fabric width = 2 * waist circumference
design fabric length = skirt length + 12 cm design fabric length = skirt length + 5 inch
Dividing the design fabric to FRONT and BACK

It may happen that the calculated fabric width will be wider than your design fabric width. In such a case you will have to divide the design fabric into two pars: FRONT and BACK. You may also divide the lining into two parts.

FRONT design fabric width = waist circumference
design fabric length = skirt length + 12 cm design fabric length = skirt length + 5 inch
BACK design fabric width = waist circumference
design fabric length = skirt length + 12 cm design fabric length = skirt length + 5 inch

In the images below show you the individual pattern pieces with their dimensions.

Bubble skirt pattern draft examples

FRONT and BACK as one piece

Bubble skirt pattern draft example.

FRONT and BACK as separate pieces

Bubble skirt pattern draft example.

Do not forget to add seam allowances to all pattern pieces. There isn’t a typical hem allowance as the bottom of the skirt will be folded towards the inside and attached to the bottom of the lining.

Bubble skirt pattern calculator

To make drafting easier for you, I have created this free sewing pattern calculator, that will compute dimensions of all pattern pieces needed to sew the bubble skirt.

* Fabric width without selvage lines
Pink bubble skirt with an elastic rib jersey waistband.

Calculated pattern dimensions

Bubble skirt patttern draft.
Bubble skirt patttern draft.
Bubble skirt patttern draft.

How to sew the bubble skirt

Now you have learnt how to draft a bubble skirt pattern. As you can see, it is a very easy skirt pattern for beginners. I assume you wish to know how to sew it. Next week I will publish the step-by-step instructions in my next blog post. 

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