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Tutorial: DIY Circle Skirt

August 21, 2015

Circle Skirt Tutorial

Figure out how much fabric you need. You will need enough fabric to fold twice: once hot dog style (salvage to salvage), and then hamburger style, with a little left over for your waistband. The pattern you will make is 1/4 of a circle. You will cut the pattern out of the folded fabric, which will then unfold to a full circle, like cutting a snowflake!

This tutorial uses about 2.5 yards of woven dupioni fabric, a matching 7″ zipper and thread, hooks & eyes and a 1/4 yard of interfacing for the waistband.

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Measure your waist to determine your radius. You can calculate your waist radius or use the guide provided above.

A little side-note: I subtracted a bit from my radius. From my circle skirt sewing experience, the waist and hem are on bias, meaning they will stretch (lengthen while sewing), and your waistband is on grain, so it won’t. It’s already going to be difficult to pin the skirt to your waist band because of this, so subtract a tiny bit. My waist is 27″, so instead of 4- 3/8″, I just did a 4″ radius.

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Making the Pattern

  1. Gather Your Supplies
    Pattern Paper:
    When making the pattern you can use dotted paper or brown paper.  I used dotted paper for this tutorial and prefer it because the numbers and dots help keep you in line. If you don’t want to order pattern paper by the roll, buy brown craft paper at your local hardware store for around $10.
    Scissors: I designate my paper and fabric scissors because cutting paper with your fabric scissors will eventually dull your fabric scissors. If you’re not planning on making more garments then don’t worry about it.
    Tape measure: To get your waist measurement.
    Pencil and ruler: I love C-Throu rulers for making clothes. They help square off your lines perfectly.
  2. Draw your radius at the very bottom of your paper using the guide above. Make sure to square your lines to make a perfect 90 degree angle.
  3. Draw the 1/4 circle for your waist. Here’s a trick: use the pattern paper as a compass! Cut a long strip of the pattern paper and mark the measured radius length on that strip.  Pressing one marked end of the paper strip on the corner of your pattern (the right angle), poke a hole in your paper-compass at the end to stab your pencil through and draw the circle.
  4. Keep one end on the mid point and and draw the 1/4 circle with the other end.
  5. Draw the length you want your skirt to be.  It’s your preference, just make sure you start that measurement from the waist, not the radius. Add your hem to the length. I included 1″ for my hem.
  6. Use a long piece of pattern paper again to compass out the length of your skirt.
  7. Your skirt pattern is finished and it should look something like this (above).
  8. Pattern your waistband.  Think of how wide you want it and then double it because you’ll be folding it over. For length, use your waist measurement plus an extra 1/2″ – 1″ overlap for hook and eyes or buttons.  I only did an extra 1/2″ for hook and eyes and I wanted a big 3″ waistband so I made my waistband pattern 6″ wide by 27.5″ before adding the seam allowance.  To add a seam allowance add 1/4″ all the way around your band. Pattern is done.

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Cutting

** Pre-wash fabric before cutting.

  1. Fold your fabric first hotdog style and then hamburger style.
  2. Place your pattern on top of the fabric so the large curve faces the open ends and the 90 degree angle faces the folded edges. Hold the pattern in place using weights.  I just use found-objects like sea shells and rocks.
  3. Pin your pattern through all the layers of fabric.
  4. Cut out waist quarter-circle.
  5. Cut out hem quarter-circle.
  6. Cut out waistband.

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Sewing

** Before you start please note that I did not finish the frayed edges. You can finish the frayed edges before you sew together by using pinking shears, fray check or by zig zag stitching the edges.

  1. Fold your skirt in half and cut one end open.
  2. Measure your zipper and mark the length from the waist with a pin. Pin and sew the seam you just cut open only to the zipper mark.
  3. If you’re using interfacing (which makes the waistband stiffer) press (iron) it on to your waistband now.  Make sure the sticky side is on the wrong side of the fabric. This will be inside for extra support if you want.
  4. Press and sew your waistband with a 1/4″ seam allowance on each side. Trim the little corners off at 45 degree angles to make sharp corners.
  5. Turn the waistband right-side-out. Use something pointy (pen, pencil, etc.) to push out the corners of your waistband. Be careful to not poke through the fabric— we just want to make a sharp corner.
  6. Pin either edge of the waistband to your skirt. Make sure you pin your fabric face-to-face.
  7. Sew the waistband to the skirt with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
  8. Press the seam allowance (just sewn) up over the waistband.
  9. Pin and sew in your zipper. Click here to see that zippers are actually fairly simple to sew in.
  10. Now that your zipper is sewn in you can pin the other side of your waistband 1/4″ overlapping the waistband/skirt seam. This will sandwich your skirt and the top of your zipper inside the waistband.
  11. Once your waistband is pinned into place, you can turn over and “stitch in the ditch” meaning you sew right into the seam that connects the skirt and waistband.
  12. Make sure your waistband overlaps on one side 1/2″ – 1″ for your buttons or hook and eyes. I like to slip stitch that overlap; it’s quick and clean.
  13. Press your hem.
  14. Sew your hem. This can be difficult because your skirt is cut on the bias and curved. You have a few options here: 1) sew with that machine, if you’re brave, 2) hand-stitch it, which looks really nice but can take along time, or 3) use bias tape to get a nice, clean hem.
  15. Sew your buttons or hook and eyes on to your waistband. Voila! You’re done!

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