Hey so I feel like every time I write I’m gonna start with “ugh, I can’t believe this took me so long, but here’s the post” … but I made this about a month ago and here it is! Just in time for the two days of summer we got.
Anyway look at this:
Check out that chaos and food and bogey. This is why I never get anything done. Or at least why things take me a month to write about….
So the actual sewing of this skirt is SO easy, I started at about 9am and finished at 11am, which is amazing for me as I’m super slow and sewing and prone to faffing around, but I was super pleased because I had time for an afternoon nap before the kids came home, so that was a GOOD day.
Also I made this amazing fish finger sandwich for breakfast when I made this skirt and it was so good, I can’t stop thinking about it.
How much do you know about circle skirts? Well, I’m assuming you can understand from the name that it’s a skirt that’s made out of a circular piece of fabric – this can be a quarter, half or whole circle, and the bigger the circle, the more drape on the skirt. A lot of 50’s style and rockabilly skirts are circular, as they hang really nicely and flare out when you twirl around, which is really eye-catching and glamorous.
Here’s a quick diagram to show you how much fabric you need for the amount of drape you want:
I’m making a full circle skirt (because why do things by halves?). This is super easy because you don’t even need a pattern, just a couple of important measurements.
First you need your waist measurement, an idea of how long you want the skirt to be, and how much fabric you have (this will determine how you cut your pattern piece. It is possible to cut it in one piece, but I wouldn’t recommend it as it’s harder to attach a zip).
Now, there are tonnes and tonnes of tutorials on Pinterest and the like showing you how to work out the measurements for the waist and waistband and how to do all of the maths that I’m not going to go into here – it’s super simple though and you’ll end up with just two pattern pieces, one for the skirt pieces and one for the waistband. I actually used the basic instructions from the first Great British Sewing Bee book, as I had them to hand and it’s very clear.
I’m using a really cute light chambray fabric in pastel blue with white swallows printed on it. I’ve said before that I really like chambray, it’s sort of a half-denim as it has a white thread one way, and a coloured one the other way, giving that it the washed-out look, but it’s not as thick as denim and feels nicer.
I’ve worked out I should need about 3m of fabric, so it works out pretty economically. I recommend a slightly heavier weight (quilting) cotton in a print, chambray, denim, linen, anything that’s going to drape well. Mine is from Favourite Fabrics eBay shop, and my zip is from eBay too.
This pattern piece is a quarter circle, which is being placed on the fold of the fabric to make a semi-circular piece. I’ve drawn it on squared paper, which is a lot easier to get straight lines on, especially when you’re drawing a large piece, and besides, when you’ve drawn it out once you can keep it for next time. I like to stay-stitch around the waist to make sure it doesn’t get pulled and stretched out of shape.
The waistband piece, again, is cut on the fold so it will be double the length of the pattern, and there will be a little overlap so that you can fasten the waistband with a button. I actually cut mine way too long and had to trim it quite a bit, but if you’ve measured correctly it shouldn’t be a problem for you (haha I hate cutting things).
So there’s really not a lot of sewing involved in this skirt – just to sew the two pieces together, add the waistband and hem it, that’s it. We’re also adding a concealed zip to the fastening to make it easy to get in and out of, as it sits close on the waist and there’s no stretch.
First, you need to sew the two sides together, leaving enough room on one side for the zip to go up to the top of the waistband.
Mark where to sew up to on the side of the skirt, accounting for the length of your zip. I’m using a concealed zip, but you could really use a normal zip in the same colour as your fabric. If you’re feeling fancy you could do a lapped zip, but the idea of this skirt is to keep it nice and simple.
Press the seams flat where they join and finish them with an overlocker or zig-zag stitch.
The easiest way to insert and invisible zip is, surprisingly, with and invisible zip foot. Or, a regular zip foot and a little bit of patience if you don’t have one – but they’re like £3 so just get one and make your life easier. I hate zips, you know that, but actually this one went in with very little effort. The trick is, I find, to sort of press out the tooth end of the zip with the iron so it lays flatter. Then pin it so the pins are pushing the teeth out first, it makes it so much easier.
You can see what I mean in this photo, make sure your pins are pushing the teeth down and they’ll go through the invisible foot a lot more easily. It also means you’re going to get in a lot closer, making the zip invisible!
The final of the main construction is attaching the waistband, I forgot to take pictures of this, but essentially you are folding the waistband in half lengthways, turning it out, and attaching it to the top of the skirt. There should be an overlap where the button or slider fastening goes. Here’s a good tutorial on the basics of waistbands, nothing to be scared of at all. You can finish it on the inside by concealing the seam inside the waistband, or just finish the raw edge off on the inside.
The last part is to turn up and finish the hem, I’m using an overlocker so I’ve simply run it round the edge of the skirt, turned it up one centimetre and stitched it in place. It takes ages! only by doing this to you realise how much fabric is involved in the full circle skirt, as it just seems never ending!
As the hem is curved, work slowly and make sure to follow the curve round. Press it really well before and after you sew it and it will give you a sharp finish. I was a having a little tension problem with my machine so it’s not perfect, at some point I will unpick and resew it.
There’s a lot of movement in the skirt, which is lovely and freeing on a warm day, it looks great with heels and a tight top. The waistband is designed to cut on the natural waist, so quite high, and looks good cinched with an elasticated 50’s style nurses belt.
It’s really easy to make, and although it takes. couple of metres of fabric to make, it’s a really practical skirt, and a couple in different fabrics/colours would give your wardrobe an immediate update. I actually think that the construction of the circles skirt is a lot more flattering than a gathered skirt, as its sewn flat into the waist band and hangs straight down it doesn’t add any unnecessary bulk around the waist (and who wants that).
Next time I sew this I’m going to add side-seam pockets, which would make it even more practical (all skirts should have pockets), and I might try with actual denim (ahhh who am I kidding I’m gonna get some crazy cat fabric from Frumble).
So what do you think? Are you gonna have a go with making a circle skirt?