I have chosen to do five panels instead of the customary four because I like my skirts full enough to drape dramatically over my cage and hide the cage bones well. I really don't like it when a skirt appears to tug and pull because it really isn't full enough to cover the cage properly. So, I went with five instead of four. We shall see if I can manage to gather it all to the waist.
In order to create the skirt, I first had to measure out how long I wanted the panels to be. These needed to be long enough to be able to hem the skirt later on. So I have 5 skirt panels the width of the fabric and long enough to hem, about 44 inches by 56 inches each. At the top of each panel I finished off the seam so the fabric would not fray. Then I sewed each of the panels together with a half inch seam allowance in order to create a circle. on the last seam I left about 10 starting from the top unfinished. This will create the front opening to the skirt. Once the skirt is gathered, I will attach the left side to the left side of the bodice and the right side to the right of the bodice. Hmm that seems a bit confusing. Pictures to follow.
On to gathering:
In order to gather my skirt I focused on one panel at a time to avoid breaking my thread and getting it too tangled. To create the gathering stitch (cartridge pleating) I ran one long stitch followed by a short stitch and so on along the top of the skirt panel. Once I was finished I would repeat the process in the same pattern just below the first row of stitching. once you have two completed rows, grab one end of the thread and pull, gathering the fabric as you go. Repeat for each skirt panel.