Circle skirt tutorial

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I just love circle skirts. Wearing this one makes me want to spend the whole day twirling. This skirt is so straight forward I feel weird about writing a tutorial for it at all. But it could make a nice first drafting pattern for someone, and there are some useful tricks to know when making a circle skirt.

Note: this pattern is written for 1/2″ seam allowances.

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You’ll need two measurements: your waist and the length of the skirt. Measure around your body where you want the top of the skirt to be: this is the waist measurement. Then measure down from this point to 1″ bellow where you want the hem of the skirt to fall: this is the skirt length. The waistband will be made from a rectangle 3″ wide and as long as your waist measurement + 1 1/2 inches. The skirt is made from two identical semi-circular pieces. Before we draft this pattern piece, you should know that it will have negative ease at the waist. This means you will cut out a piece that is smaller than you are. Not to worry! Because parts of the circle will be cut along the bias and therefore stretchy you’ll still fit into it. And it means that the flare of the circle will start off ever so slightly lower which stops the skirt from puffing out right under the waistband and is a more flattering look. Now, for the pattern. Subtract an inch or two from your waist measurement. I used 1″ here. You’ll want a bit more for lighter-weight fabric and larger pattern sizes. Draw a semi-circular curve half as long as your reduced waist measurement. At each edge draw a line down to the skirt length. To draw in the hem, move the measuring tape along the waist curve, keeping it perpendicular to the waist and mark several points along the edge of the skirt. Draw a semi-circular curve connecting these points. Your pattern piece is done. Use it to cut out two identical skirt pieces. If you want pockets, cut pieces for those as well (I used a lighter weight fabric for this).

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If you’re doing in-seam pockets, sew them to the side seams of the skirt.

Sew up the side seams of the skirt, leaving 10″ unsewn at the top of the right side. Sew in a 12″ invisible zipper in these top 10″. Fold the waistband in half with the right sides facing in. Sew up both short ends. On one side sew in 1″ along remaining raw edge. Turn right side out and press flat. Next, sew the waistband to the skirt: press under 3/8″ on the front of the waistband, sew the back of the waistband to the skirt beginning and ending at the zipper, then top-stitch down the front of the waistband. Make a buttonhole in the 1″ flap at the opening of the waistband and sew a button to the opposite side.

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The right thing to do now is to hang your unhemmed skirt for a couple of days to let it settle. Because the grainlines are inconsistent through the skirt some parts will grow more than others. It’s not a huge change and it’s never bothered me, but if you’re a perfectionist, let it hang and recut the hem so it’s actually straight. Now you can hem it. Fold up and press 1/2″, then fold up and press another 1/2″ and sew it down. I do a lot of handsewn invisible hems, but I really don’t recommend it for a circle skirt unless you love hemming. It looks good and the weight of it is nice to twirl in, but it takes hours.

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6 Responses to Circle skirt tutorial

  1. Kristin says:

    I love circle skirts! My one and only is starting to get worn out and I can’t wait to make another one soon!

  2. Samantha says:

    Thank you for being specific. I’m just learning to sew and want to do a skirt as my first project, however most tutorials assume you already know how to sew a skirt :(

  3. Charlene says:

    I stumbled onto your blog while looking for something, and then looked at your recent blog posts. And bam! There’s the tutorial for something I need!

    i just recently discovered a vintage crinoline underskirt at a thrift store, and it screams for a vintage-style circle skirt to be worn over it. I don’t have a pattern for one, and was waiting for the fabric store’s patterns to go on sale. But your blog saved the day! Thanks for posting this tutorial. :)

  4. Sindisiwe says:

    This skirt is beautiful! I imagine it would be difficult/impossible to sew a pocket into the side with the zip. Have you ever tried? Could you give me some tips? :)

    • Naomi says:

      The easiest thing to do is to put the pocket lower than the zip. If your skirt is narrow and sits low on your hips, you may need the zipper to be so long that this puts the pockets in an awkward place, but with a circle skirt you don’t need a very long zipper. With a high waist like this the zipper ends well above where you would usually put a pocket and isn’t a problem.

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