How to make a tulip skirt

The tulip skirt was one of the pieces I designed when I first started DIYcouture in 2008. The construction process is similar to the DIYcouture pleated skirt - cutting shapes to form a front and back, making pleats to bring the waist in, adding a waistband then joining front and back together - but the outcome is very different. It has a voluptuous, grown-up silhouette, accentuating the hips and pinching the body in again at the thighs or knees.

Since I designed it, a lot has happened, and the instructions have been on the back burner in a colossal way. I began 2012 with the plan of releasing three eBooks. These would be 'How to make a kaftan,' 'How to make a shrug' and 'How to make a tulip skirt.' I organised a photo shoot in early February and found myself a brilliant photographer called Leyla Razavi, all thanks to Twitter. Leyla is actually a lawyer, but a keen photographer in her spare time.

I made nine different versions of the tulip skirt for the shoot, each of them made in a different way to show quite how diversely the basic DIYcouture instructions can be interpreted.

You can't call a photo shoot a photo shoot unless you serve biscuits on a plate in the shape of a fish.

Here I'm pinning one of the tulip skirts onto Camila, my model, as I ran out of time to sew a button on. I spotted Camila in my local supermarket wearing patterned trousers and a cropped top with her gloriously red hair flowing around her shoulders and left the queue and the checkout to hunt her down!

This is probably one of the most vintage looking outfits I've ever styled. The fabric has the air of Victoriana about it and it seemed to cry out for yellowing lace and burgundy velvet! 

Here is Leyla, making the best of less-than-luxurious conditions. We did the shoot in my sewing room and Leyla had to squeeze up against the radiator to get enough distance from the models.

We had a lovely makeup artist called Mika Hurukawa. Here she is adding a bit of powder to the already radiantly beautiful Uljana.

Here is Uljana in one of my favourite tulip skirt outfits, keeping it simple with monochrome.

The illustrations of the tulip skirt throughout the eBook are based on a real, salmon coloured skirt. 

When it came to the shoot, I styled it with a vintage short sleeved jumper. I didn't notice at the time but it covered too much of the waistband, which I wanted to show.

We also forgot to get Camila to pose in anything other than our standard, criminal-looking stare-straight-ahead-arms-by-side pose, which I needed for the last page of the book. I only realised this when I finally edited the book, almost a year after the shoot with Leyla, so I donned the skirt myself, which was a lot of fun!

Finally, I made a gallery of the various tulip skirt variations to go up on the DIYcouture website, and put the eBook up for all to download


  1. thanks so much for making this a free download. Its such an awesome skirt x

  2. thanks so much for sharing this as a free download!Looking forward to making it!I especially love the first one with the flowers!

  3. Thank you so much for making this available. I'd love to make a long mustard coloured skirt, I have some cotton velvet in exactly the right colour, do you think this would be suitabl

  4. Oops! I get this message when I try to down load the file Bandwidth Limit Exceeded

    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.

    Can you email me the file?

  5. Hi Jane,

    Sorry about that and thanks for pointing it out. The website is back up and running now so you should be able to download the Pdf.

    Long and mustard-coloured sounds wonderful. Personally I find velvet slightly tricky to use, especially when cutting diagonally across it, as the tulip skirt requires. If you are not afraid of velvet, then I say "go for it!" It would help to tack (i.e. very rough hand sew) all your seams together before you machine sew, as this will help stop the velvet moving.

    Enjoy using the instructions Jane : )

    Best wishes-

    Rosie xx

  6. I'm not able to download this either. I get the same bandwidth exceeded message. I desperately want to make this skirt. It looks absolutely perfect.


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