Make It With Momo: Sailor Moon Skirt Hip Roll Tutorial
You know her, everyone loves her, and her fashion is iconic- Sailor Moon is one of the most popularly-cosplayed cartoon characters ever! Sporting a mix of fun, feminine, and sleek aesthetic, the famous suit rolls are a defining feature of her classic costume, and the hip roll is certainly no exception! And even though it is a single roll as opposed to the double or triple rolls on the sleeves and gloves, it is probably the most frustrating roll to put together and sew on! But I'm here to help walk you through the process that I use for my suits!
There's more than one way to do some of these steps, so don't be afraid to get creative with this process!
With most of my sewing patterns, I like to do video tutorials, but this one has been tricky for me to film alone, so I will come back with that soon! For now, I have this handy dandy blog post to assist you through the process! And want to know the best news?
No pattern purchase for this is required!
While this tutorial is intended to go with my Magical Girl Skirt Pattern 1320, and its unique construction process,
you can also adapt these steps for other similar projects that do not use my pattern. ;3
I'll show you how to create the dimensions for your hip roll pieces. They're all going to be rectangles, so you can use some scrap paper to create a pattern if you prefer, but otherwise, you won't need anything more than that! If there's any step you don't understand or need help on, let me know and I'll be happy to assist explaining anything here in more depth! I know I'm not the best at explaining things in words, but I try my best nonetheless! Email me at email@example.com if you would like additional assistance, and I'll get back to you as soon as I'm able to.
This tutorial is somewhat intermediate. You will need to know how to do these hand stitches: whip stitch, baste, slip stitch. While I wouldn't call this project beginner-friendly, some simple practice can make any beginner into an intermediate sewist! For this project, you will greatly benefit from having access to a sewing machine with a zipper foot, although it is possible to make this without a machine. Creating the hip roll will require some dexterity, so if you need assistance with this, perhaps a friend or family member will be able to help! But with enough preparations, you'll be able to create a beautiful skirt hip roll, no problem!
It is recommended that you complete the rest of your skirt, including waistband, skirt snaps, skirt hem, etc. before doing the hip roll. I save this step for last when building my sailor skirts!
1-2 yards* of white 4-way stretch knit material such as spandex, lycra, milliskin, ponte knit, scuba knit, spacer, etc.
1-2 yards* of white 1/2" thick batting sheet (the same material one would use for lining a quilt or a coat, not the kind that is loose such as for stuffing pillows or plushies)
long, thin, and sharp quilting pins
large safety pins
large, dull upholstery needle
fabric scissors, and optionally, thread snips if you have them
sewing machine with traditional zipper foot attachment (not an invisible zipper foot)
optional: cutting mat and rotary cutter
*the length of these materials will be determined by the finished length of your skirt's waistband. When in doubt, I tend to get more fabric, since it's better to have too much for a project than not enough!
After procuring these supplies, you’re ready to get started!
~ ~ ~ Assembly Photos Coming Soon! ~ ~ ~
Step 1: Cutting Fabric for the Hip Roll's "Tube"
The first step you'll need to do is measure your bias tape waistband. This will be entirely unique to each skirt, which is why it is essential you have already finished the skirt waistband and assured that it fits on the body that will be wearing it. Measure all the way around the waistband, starting at the center front point, and ending back at center front again.
To start creating the hip roll, you will cut two strips of white knit fabric- which I will call spandex from here on, but you can use your preference of knit. You'll want two rectangles that are 4” wide, and 4” longer than your skirt's finished waistband. So the formula is:
Width: 4" Length: the full length of your skirt's finished waistband + 4"
So for example, if your skirt's finished waistband came out to 30”, you’ll add 4” to make your strips 34” long. This will give you a little bit of wiggle room. Some of the extra length might be cut off later, but it is to ensure plenty of extra space in case the hand sewing causes any shrinkage in the finished length. Spandex can be quite shifty that way! Especially when stuffed with an equally funky material, and hand-sewn to bias tape- weird things can happen. Better to have too much than not enough!
Optional: Baste the White Fabric Strips Together
You’ll use two strips on top of each other, double-layered to help make the hip roll look smooth and sleek. I like to baste stitch around all the edges to hold these pieces together for the next step, since spandex can be slippery sometimes.
Step 2: Sew the Fabric "Tube"
Once you have your double-layered rectangles, you will fold them (together) in half on the length of the rectangle. This is how we will make the “tube” for the hip roll. Stitch along the length of the fabric on the side that is open (so opposite of the side that is folded) to create the “tube”. You can sew wrong sides together because we will not be flipping this item inside-out. The seam will stay exposed up until it is hand-sewn to the skirt.
Step 3: Cut the Batting for the Hip Roll "Snake"
For the stuffing, I like to use 1/2” batting sheets. This may be called something else in different regions, but essentially is just the material one may use to line a winter coat, or put inside a quilt. I prefer the batting to be in a sheet as opposed to loose (like the kind inside of a pillow) because it looks smoother and more even, plus is easier to install. 😊
You will cut one rectangle of batting the same dimensions as your hip roll, so 4” wide by 34" from the first example. You will then cut two more rectangles, both 4” wide, but each 2” shorter than the previous one. So the second rectangle would be 4” by 32”, and the third rectangle 4” by 30”.
Once the three batting rectangles are cut, you will stack them on top of each other, centered so that the ends where you made different length look somewhat like stair steps. Next you will start the process of rolling them together.
Step 4: Rolling the Batting into a "Snake"
For this step I recommend having some large safety pins and a large, dull upholstery needle. Dull as in it has a more rounded point, a sharp one isn’t necessary for this. The larger size makes it easier to handle and not get lost inside the batting roll. I like to start in the middle of the batting rectangles and work my way out to each end. You will roll the batting together tightly, and use the safety pin to hold it in place. Make sure to pin deep into the batting to catch more than the top layer.
If you do a lot of baking, pottery or similar hobby, rolling the batting into a long “snake” might be somewhat easy, but if not, just keep trying at it! You’ll want it as tight enough to make it easy to go through the tube when we get to that step. It will naturally loosen up a little bit anyways. The ends of the batting where the “stair steps” once were should look more tapered than the other areas. This will help shape the front point on the skirt waistband.
Step 4: Whip-stitch the "Snake" and Remove Pins
Now you will use that large, dull needle I mentioned earlier and some white thread to whip stitch together the layers. Make sure, again, to go a bit deeper into the material to ensure you are catching more than the top layer. This stitch does not have to be particularly good looking, and you can make large stitch lengths. It is essentially just there to hold everything together for the next step.
If you run out of thread before you get to the ends, worry not. Just tie it off and start another section. As you do get to the ends, though, you'll notice the roll start to taper. This is good! It will set you up for Step 6.
Step 5: Pulling the "Snake" Through the "Tube"
Reminder that for this entire project, you will leave the spandex tube's seam allowance exposed! Do not flip it inside out. This makes it easier to alter in Step 6.
This process is where you will finally insert the batting to create the hip roll! There are many ways one might do this process, whichever works best for you is good! So you could use a long ribbon and safety pin it to one end of your batting roll and drop the ribbon through the spandex tube so that you can catch it on the other end, and pull the ribbon, and then batting roll through the tube. You can also use tools like a waistband threader, some manner of crochet hook set up, or even just a single large safety pin. 🧷
When inserting the batting into the tube, be slow and delicate, if you pull too hard, whichever device you picked to pull the batting through the tube may rip out and damage your little plush “snake”. Luckily the batting roll can be easy to repair, but best to avoid if possible! When you have pulled the roll nearly all the way through, try to center the roll such that it is in the middle of the spandex tube. You can now remove your device that you used to pull the batting roll through the tube.
Step 6: Taper the Hip Roll
To finalize the tapered effect on the hip roll, use a zipper foot or similar sewing machine foot to slow you to stitch closer to the batting roll. You will do this process for each end of the roll: starting at about 4” up from the end of the roll, align your first stitch so it will be directly on top of your stitch that is holding the spandex together. Be sure to back-stitch at the beginning and end of this process! You will then start to gradually move away from the stitching line you made along the length of the tube, and start to follow the batting as it gets a bit thinner. I usually try to go from 4” to 2” wide if possible. Keeping in mind that the 2” is folded, so on the surface, it will look more like 1” when you have it laying flat under the sewing machine foot.
The tapering process may require a bit of judgment from your own perspective to adjust as you see fit. Everyone’s hip rolls may look a bit different, so it may need some additional tailoring to get whichever shape you find ideal! But more or less that is the whole process of creating the roll. If you have any leftover spandex that doesn’t have any batting at the edges, you can clip that off, so that it doesn’t look too deflated when you sew it onto the skirt.
Optional: Align the Stitches
This next optional step can be a bit tricky and finicky, but may help improve the look of your hip roll: if you notice that you can see where you whip stitched the batting through your spandex tube, try as best you can to align the batting whip stitch with the seam of the spandex. Again, this area will not be visible when it is hand sewn to the skirt.
It is difficult to explain how to do this process, but I essentially do it by pinching the spandex and trying to move it so that the spandex seam starts to scoot closer to the batting stitch. It may take a while, but the effect will be worth it when you are finished! If you cannot see the stitching then you do not have to worry about this step! 😊
Step 7: Pin the Hip Roll to the Skirt
Next is attaching the hip roll to the skirt! This is probably the most lengthy step of the whole process. To begin, use some long, sharp quilting pins to attach the hip roll to the waistband of the skirt. I prefer to start at the center back. Pin such that the seam of the hip roll is touching the skirt waistband. The hip roll seam will be encased against the waistband as you hand-sew it to the skirt.
Do not begin sewing until you have pinned the entire hip roll to ensure that it fits your waistband. Your hip roll naturally has a bit of give to it, so you may have to pull or squish together a little bit in order to get it to fit. Try to give yourself a little extra length hanging off in the front, such that the batting kind of squished together at the center point. Pinning will not come out looking the exact same as it being hand-stitched, but try to do your best to get it as close as possible!
If you find you are coming out too short no matter what you do, you may have to remake the hip roll unfortunately, and use longer rectangles If you are finding that it is too long, you can fix this without having to remake the entire roll. Simply unpin, clip off the excess (for both ends of the roll) and either use the sewing machine or a hand stitch to taper the batting starting higher up than where you originally did your first tapering stitch. You don’t want to lose that nice gradually thinning effect if you had to shorten the hip roll! It is okay if you have to stitch through the batting and clip some of the batting off at the seam of the tube. This will not be visible in the end.
Step 8: Hand Sew the Hip Roll to the Bias Tape Waistband
Once you believe you have gotten an ideal shape and length for the hip roll, and pinned everything in place, you can begin the hand stitching! Similar to the pinning process, I like to start at the center back and work my way around each side to the front. I also do two rows of stitching- one on the top edge of the bias tape waistband, and then later, one on the bottom. Doing one row at a time is preferable since if you make any errors, it is less work to take out one row of stitches as opposed to two.
To sew the hip roll on, you will use a hand stitch called a slip stitch. It does not have to be tiny, something between 1/8” to 1/4” apart each stitch is fine. This makes it easier to take out if you have to adjust any areas, but is still small enough to hold the roll securely. Try to ensure that the seam of the hip roll is still touching the bias tape. The idea is that once you have your top and bottom stitched finished, that seam will be encased between so that no one ever sees it.
I also like to hold off on stitching down the very center front area until I have gone around both sides of the skirt from the center back, just to make sure everything is coming out centered and the proper lengths. As mentioned previously, sometimes the hand stitching will come out longer or shorter than the pins made it appear.
Step 9: Hand Stitch the Center Front Point
This area is what I find to be the most finicky step in the whole process. I essentially slip stitch the center front points together to create the V shape, but the stitches will be much smaller than before. Everyone's hip roll results may run a bit differently than each other's, so this step will require some individual judgment on how to approach and adjust the front V. You can practice with scraps if you want to get a hang for it before attempting it for real on your actual skirt. But as I often say with a lot of cosplay sewing- it's an art, not a science!
Step 10: Adjust as Needed, and Finish with Center Back Snaps
To attach the back bows and support the weight of the back bows,some snaps will be needed on both sides of the hip roll, at the center back of the skirt. One snap (I use a 1" snap) will go on the inside of the hip roll and attach to the leotard. This snap helps support the weight of the bow, and keeps the hip roll from sagging down.
The other snaps will be two 1/2" snaps, aligned so they are next to each other on a horizontal plane. I use two of these snaps because if you only use one, the bow may have a tendency to spin and become crooked easily. So using two snaps helps keep the bow evenly poised on your suit!
When stitching the snaps, I like to start with the two outer hip roll snaps. Find the very center of the back by folding the skirt in half, with the center point being on the other folded end. While hand sewing the snaps on, I will actually guide the needle all the way through the hip roll and tightly pull it with each pass through. This tight stitch will help squish down the batting inside the hip roll to make room for the large bow that will be attached, and it will also make the snaps more secure.
Once you have attached your final three snaps, and tried on the skirt, you can determine if there are any adjustments you'd like to make, such as restitching an area, or evening out your hem, etc. etc. But if you don't see any changes you want to make, then your skirt is now complete!! Congrats!