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Welcome back to the Learn to Machine Sew series on Cucicucicoo! I promised a cool practical tutorial to go along with my last lesson on how to sew an exposed elastic waistband, and boy, is it cool! Too often people think that you need fancy patterns and techniques to sew your own beautiful clothing, but sometimes it’s nice to use a simple pattern to show off your favorite fabric, or to quickly sew up an outfit for a last minute party invitation!
Sewing a circle skirt is an easy way to add fun me-made garments to your wardrobe, and the great thing is that it’s really easy to fit it perfectly to your body‘s shape!
And to save you the trouble of making calculations, I’ve included a free downloadable pattern with 34 sizes, so you can create the perfect fit for your preemie newborn neice, your large-boned XXL-sized aunt, or anywhere in between! All you need to do is add the desired skirt length!
You can use all sorts of fabrics for this type of skirt (recognize the super-drapey fabric above from my lesson on why fabric drape is so important?), or even put two fabrics together for a two-layered skirt, like you can see below. I’ve even included instructions for making a cute little accessory from the strange triangle-shaped pieces of fabric left over!
Are you excited yet? You should be! Let’s get started!
- Light- to medium-weight fabric. Choose the drape according to how clingy or stiff you’d like the skirt.
- Wide elastic matching the color of the fabric. The length will be roughly the same as your waist circumference.
- Polyester thread. I prefer polyester to cotton thread in projects with elastic to avoid thread snapping.
- Sewing needle appropriate to the type of fabric chosen.
- Rolled hem foot (optional). I will give instructions on how to sew a very small curved hem with a regular foot, but using a rolled hem foot for very lightweight fabric is infinitely faster!
Circle skirts take a lot of fabric and, the bigger the size and longer the skirt, the more they take. I used just under one yard of 115 cm (45″) for my daughter’s skirt and for me entire pieces of wider cuts roughly 180 x 180 cm (if I remember correctly). If the fabric you want to use is not wide enough, you can simply cut out two semi-circles by folding the fabric once, instead of twice, and cutting the shape twice before joining them, but remember that that means you need twice as much length!
First things first, take the measurements of the intended wearer. Measure the circumference of the widest part of the hips, the waist where the elastic waistband will sit (it’s up to you if it will be a high- or low-waisted skirt), and the length from where the top of the waistband will be to where the hem will fall. Write these numbers down somewhere.
You might want to take these measurements in centimeters because that’s the unit of measurement I’m using in this tutorial. Centimeters are much more precise and easier to calculate than inches, so that’s what I use!
Prepare the pattern
Download the free Circle Skirt pattern from my Free Downloads page, print it at actual size or 100%, and join the two pages so that the markings line up. (You can find more info on how to print and assemble PDF patterns here.)
Trim the left and top margins off of the pattern, then cut along the curve corresponding to the hip measurement. My daughter’s hips were 61 cm at the widest part, so I rounded up to 62 cm and cut along that line.
Cut the fabric
Iron the fabric, then fold it in half, and in half again so that you have four layers of fabric with the folds at the top and left sides. If the fabric is slightly longer, you can fold it so that the excess is all on one half of the fabric, as you can see above.
Pin the pattern to the top left corner of the fabric so that each trimmed side of the pattern matches up with a folded side.
Now we need to calculate the fabric length. Take your skirt length measurement, subtract the elastic width, and add 2 cm for seam allowance and 1 cm for the hem allowance. I imagined my daughter’s skirt to be 35 cm long and the elastic was 4 cm wide, so 35 – 4 + 2 + 1 = 34 cm.
Line up the zero on a ruler or tape measure with the cut curve and mark the fabric at the calculated fabric length with a fabric marking tool (I love these water soluble fabric markers*). Do this all around the skirt so that you trace out a second wider curve with a series of dots or dashes. I suggest starting along the two folds to make sure that you have enough fabric before continuing.
Connect the dots to make a line. Cut off the corner of the pattern if it gets in the way. As you can see above, I make a little mark on either side of the tape measure so as to make twice as many marks each time I move it.
Cut along both curves, unpin the pattern, and you’ll have a quarter-circle of fabric.
If you want to sew a two-layer skirt, repeat these steps with the fabric that will go on top, but condering a length about 6 cm shorter than the bottom layer.
Take advantage of the fabric being folded in fourths and mark the quarters of the smaller top curve with pins. You can see in the picture above how I put a pin in each of the four folds.