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My daughter and I LOVE circle skirts. We have a bunch between the two of us because they’re comfortable, pretty and just fun to wear. They can be casual, like most of ours, or elegant if using silk or other fancy fabrics. (I recently wore one made of satin to a wedding.) The only problem is that they require a lot of fabric and, if you cut them out in one piece the traditional way, you can only use very wide fabric that WITHOUT a directional print. That is until today, because I’m going to show you how to make a circle skirt with directional fabric or smaller cuts of fabric!
My original tutorial on how to sew a circle skirt (along with a free template) is one of my most popular tutorials, and it’s no wonder because circle skirts are pretty simple to make and once you wear one, you just can’t stop dancing, twirling and swishing it around!
Like I said before, though, in order to make a traditional circle skirt, you need a wide piece of fabric, especially if you are a large size or you’re sewing a long skirt. And fabric with a one-way print becomes an issue, too. Since I’ve published that original tutorial, a lot of readers have written to me asking what to do if the fabric isn’t wide enough or the print is directional. Luckily, there is an easy solution: instead of cutting one circle of fabric, cut two semicircles and join them!
Just to make sure we’re on the same page here, this is what I mean by “directional print.” Both of the above fabrics have prints. The one on the left is non-directional, meaning that it doesn’t matter which way I hold the fabric because the print will always look right.
The drop print on the right, however, is less forgiving. Our eyes expect to see drops dripping downward, not upward. When cutting a one-way print, you need to make sure that you’ve positioned your pattern correctly so that the direction of the print will be correct on the finished product.
This usually isn’t such a problem, though you may need to have extra fabric yardage in order to fit all the pattern pieces on in the right direction (as opposed to a solid color or non-directional print, when you can squeeze pattern pieces in even upside-down). But if you cut out a classic circle skirt in one piece from a directional print, the print will be upside-down on the back. Yikes!
So today’s tutorial is a simple hack of my old circle skirt pattern and tutorial, making two semicircles and joining them to make a full circle. What do you say, are you ready to learn how to make a circle skirt with directional fabric or with fabric that isn’t wide enough for a full circle? 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.
- Cucicucicoo Circle Skirt pattern (My free patterns are available to all Cucicucicoo Newsletter subscribers. The Newsletter is sent out every two weeks and you can unsubscribe whenever you want. Sign up for the Newsletter here for access to dozens of free downloads, templates and patterns! If you are already subscribed, check one of your old Newsletters or your welcome e-mail for the link and password.)
Preparing the pattern:
Print out the Cucicucicoo Circle Skirt pattern at 100% (no resizing or fitting) and follow the instructions in my original Circle Skirt tutorial for finding your size and cutting out the pattern.
Cutting the pattern on non-directional fabric:
I will first show how to cut out two semicircles of fabric with the pattern on non-directional fabric (fabric that doesn’t have to be laid out in a specific direction because of its print or stretch). This is to save fabric. Like I said before, if the fabric is non-directional, you can fit the pieces together more easily with less waste.
1. Iron the fabric, then fold it so that the selvages meet up at the top. Position the pattern so that one side is directly on the fold and the other side is parallel to and 1 cm away from the open selvages. (top picture)
2. Follow the instructions in the original Circle Skirt tutorial for calculating the skirt length and drawing and cutting the curve. I suggest pinning the fabric before cutting so that it stays folded and in place for the next steps. Notice that I folded the fabric so that the short edge ended right where the bottom curve of the skirt ended, so as to avoid waste. (bottom picture)
3. Remove the first cut piece (still pinned together). Unfold the fabric yardage, rotate it and fold in the other direction, rearranging the position of the fold until you can fit the first cut piece (upside down) on top of it, with the open edges at the top and the folds now at the right. Then cut along the curves of the first cut piece. (above)
This time there is no need to leave an extra 1 cm along the open edges because the first cut piece already includes it. I had to trim a little bit from the open edges of my second piece above simply because the blank space at the selvage was wider than the seam allowance and therefore would’ve been visible on the skirt.
If you can’t figure out how to fit your second piece in this way, your fabric probably isn’t wide enough to do so. It depends on the size and skirt length. In this case, follow the instructions on page 2 of this post for directional print fabrics.
Hooray! You now have two semicircles of fabric with seam allowances on the open sides! Now let’s join them.
4. Open up the folded pieces and line up the straight edges, right sides facing. Pin them.
If you have a tag that goes along the side, pin it in place between the two layers, pointing inwards.
5. Sew along the pinned edges with a 1 cm seam allowance. Finish off the edges (if your fabric frays) with an overlocker or with the zigzag stitch. (top)
6. Finish off the inside circle curve (if your fabric frays) with an overlocker or with the zigzag stitch. Notice how my side label pops out nicely! (bottom)
7. Continue following the instructions in the original Circle Skirt tutorial for adding the elastic waistband (here I already finished the fabric edge off, so you don’t need to do that with the elastic waistband) and hemming the skirt either with a rolled hem foot or my trick for easier curved hems, as explained in that post. Or hem the skirt with bias tape, which is even easier and faster!
I love the look of circle skirts, both when still with the fabric draping down in pleats…
… and when spinning and flared out!
Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s see how to make a circle skirt with directional fabric, or one-way fabric, which requires a different way of cutting.
Cutting the pattern on directional fabric:
Using fabric with a one-way print isn’t really that different from using any other type of fabric, except for the fact that you have to fold the fabric in the right direction, and also that you can’t wedge in the pieces so you end up with more waste fabric.
1. Iron the fabric, then fold parallel to the selvage so that the directional print is running in the right direction on both the right and wrong sides. Trim the cut edges if necessary to make them even and perpendicular to the selvage.
Position the pattern so that one side is directly on the fold and the other side is parallel to and 1 cm away from the open cut side. Follow the instructions in the original Circle Skirt tutorial for calculating the skirt length and drawing and cutting the curve. I suggest pinning the fabric before cutting so that it stays folded and in place for the next steps. Notice that I folded the fabric so that the short edge ended right where the side curve of the skirt ended, so as to avoid waste. (top picture)
If the piece doesn’t fit on your fabric this way, either, because the fabric isn’t wide enough, you’ll need to cut quarter-circles instead of semicircles. I’ll show how to do this at the end of this post.
2. Remove the first cut piece (still pinned together) and reposition it along the same fold further down on the fabric. Then cut along the curves and the top straight edge of the first cut piece. This time there is no need to leave an extra 1 cm along the open edges because the first cut piece already includes it. (bottom picture)
And look at that! You now have two semicircles of fabric with seam allowances on the open sides, and the print is running in the right direction on both!
Now just sew the skirt as described previously. Here’s a quick run-through:
Line up the straight edges, right sides facing. Pin (with label, if you have one) and sew with a 1 cm seam allowance. Finish off the straight edges and inside circle curve (if your fabric frays) with an overlocker or with the zigzag stitch. Use the instructions in the original Circle Skirt tutorial for adding the elastic waistband and hemming the skirt.
Isn’t that awesome?! A wonderfully full and swirly skirt with a cool printed fabric that is the right way up on both sides! I used this technique to sew three new skirts for my girl, who is going through a crazy growth spurt and desperately needed skirts that would actually cover her bum, and this one for me, and they have been our favorite clothes all summer long!
Cutting quarter-circles with the pattern:
If you want to be really precise so that your printed fabric shows up the right way even on the sides of the skirt (I didn’t bother for this simple print, but it makes sense to do it for a larger more obviously directional print), or if your pattern piece simply doesn’t fit onto your cut of fabric, you can use quarter-circles instead of semicircles. Just beware that you will need more fabric and will end up with a lot of scraps!
1. Fold the paper pattern piece in half along the inside curve, lining up the left and top edges. Make a good crease in the fold. (shown on the left)
2. Open the pattern up again and draw a line along the inside of the creased fold to make it more easily visible. (marked with red arrows on the right)
3. Position the pattern on the fabric (without folding it) so that the creased fold runs parallel to the selvage, along the printed design. (marked with red arrows on the right)
4. Mark the bottom curve of the skirt as described for the other two skirts in this post, but this time make sure to leave a 1 cm seam allowance along both straight sides (marked by the gray arrows on the right). Cut this first piece out.
5. Reposition the first piece on the fabric, making sure that the crease is still positioned correctly along the printed design, and cut around it. This is the second piece.
6. Repeat step 5 twice more until you have four pieces. Sew them together along the straight edges, right sides facing, with a 1 cm seam allowance, so as to create the full circle, then continue sewing as with the other skirts.
Seriously, how could you not love wearing a circle skirt? They are just so fun and make every moment more lighthearted and joyful! And now that you know how to make a circle skirt with directional fabric or fabric that isn’t very wide, you have so many options! Yay!
The only tedious part of sewing a circle skirt is the hemming, but I have a fantastic trick to make is faster and easier! Check out how to hem a circle skirt with hidden single fold bias tape!
Or for an even simpler skirt to be made from unused clothing you already have, check out my tutorial for a refashioned skirt made from pants or trousers! It’s perfect for girls and women, and super fast to sew!
I know you love this tutorial, so make sure you Pin it to remember it for later and share with your friends! 🙂