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Add the elastic waistband
I will go through the next steps quickly, as I’ve already gone into detail about how to sew an exposed elastic waistband in the previous sewing lesson.
Cut a length of elastic 2 cm less than your waist measurement. Sew the two ends together, right sides facing, with a 1 cm seam allowance. Then open the two seam allowances to the sides and sew them down.
Next, mark the elastic band into fourths, starting from the back seam. (I don’t bother putting a pin there because it’s easy to see the seam.)
It can be tricky to line up the curved fabric with the straight waistband, especially with larger sizes, so I suggest in this case to mark the fabric and elastic into eighths, not just fourths. Once you have them marked into fourths, just fold the fabric/elastic so that two adjacent pins are meeting and place another pin on the fold, as shown by the arrow in the picture above.
Match up the pins marking the eights on both the fabric and elastic, and pin them together, right sides facing. Match the front and back points of the elastic with the grain of the fabric, NOT on the diagonal bias. I haven’t talked about bias yet, but you can get the idea from how the squares on the fabric above are arranged compared to the position of the back elastic seam.
If you are sewing a two-layer skirt, match up the pins on the two fabrics and sew the top edge together with a 1/2 cm seam allowance. If they are first joined, it will be much easier to sew them to the elastic band.
Remember that the elastic will be less wide than the fabric, so the fabric will scrunch up.
Sew the elastic to the fabric with a 1 cm seam allowance, stretching it as you sew from pin to pin, and making sure that the curved fabric edge is lined up with the elastic edge. Again, refer to this lesson on sewing an exposed elastic waistband if you’ve never done this before.
Try on the skirt and make sure it fits well. If it does, sew a wide zig zag stitch (I used 5 mm wide, 1.5 mm long) all around the edge of the elastic, making sure to catch the raw fabric edge. This keeps the fabric from fraying and adds strength to the waistband.
Hem the skirt
This is by far the most annoying and time-consuming part of sewing a circle skirt. While it’s easy to hem a straight edge (see my lesson on the perfect hem if you need more practice with it), doing so on a curved edge is MUCH more finicky.
I usually like 1 cm hems on most garments, but that is too much for a circle skirt. If you look at the picture above, you can see the difference between a small rolled hem (sewn with a rolled hem foot) and a regular 1 cm hem. The fabric was much harder to fold and sew regularly for the 1 cm hem, and created a more rigid and bulky hem, which didn’t look nice at all on a light and airy circle skirt. I ended up cutting off that hem and sewing it again with a rolled hem foot.
If your fabric is very light, I highly suggest you use this foot, which will save you a LOT of time. But if you don’t know how or your fabric isn’t extremely lightweight, no fears! I will now show you how to manually sew a 1/2 cm hem, and give some other time-saving ideas for hemming the skirt!
1. Sew all around the edge of the skirt bottom, on the wrong side of the fabric, with a 1/2 cm seam allowance.
2. Iron the fabric edge up just beyond the thread from step 1 so that it is visible on the back side.
3. Sew the folded fabric down with a 1/2 cm seam allowance to keep it in place for the next step.
4. Fold and iron the fabric edge up again along the raw fabric edge that you just sewed down in step 3. Then sew the fold down again with a 1/2 cm seam allowance. The fabric might gather up a bit, but that’s fine as long as it’s flat on the right side.
Iron the hem one more time, and you’re done!
Here are some other hemming options if you want to save time:
- Use a rolled hem foot on lightweight fabric.
- Sew a wide zig zag or overlock/serge the raw skirt edges, fold them up once along the edge of the stitches and stitch in place.
- Overlock/serge the fabric edges with a matching or contrasting thread color and leave them visible.
- Use a non-fray fabric and leave the edges raw.
- Hem with bias tape.
Looks amazing, right? I know, it takes a long time to keeps sewing and ironing around that never-ending circular edge, but it’s totally worth it in the end… especially when you look at the whole finished skirt!
So now, put that skirt on and do your thing! Circle skirts are great over leggings for little ones who love being girly without having to give up on the fun of being a kid!
To be quite honest, it’s hard to stop twirling around in a circle skirt, even for an adult!