New make: the rite of passage Circle Skirt


I like circle skirts and I’m not sure why I haven’t made one yet, since it seems like a good project for a beginner. Plus I like maths! (I know.) Anyway, after a bit of a struggle with a rayon challis tshirt dress (bad pattern tracing and bad cutting), I decided to step back and make something quick and hopefully easier. There are loads of helpful resources on the web and I used a mix of: What the Craft’s great tutorial, The Snugbug Collective’s equally important info on 1/2, 3/4 and full size circle skirts and the sweet and simple birdee tutorial, which actually simplified things for me.

First, I had a look through my fabric. I considered wovens, but that would involve a zip probably and I wanted FAST. I had a few knits I thought might work, but I discarded my original choice as being a little heavy and instead plumped for a lighter black and white poly knit with a slight waffle effect. It was one of those fabrics I was slightly disappointed with when I received it (the perils of online shopping), but now realised might be perfect for a circle skirt.


Then, not one to ever be totally straightforward, I decided that I would go for a 3/4 circle skirt. The full was a little bit too, well, full, for this fabric and the 1/2 perhaps slightly skimpy. Next, preparing the pattern piece! I quickly realised I would need to stick together around 234 pieces of skinny parchment paper to make a template, and then remembered we had some pretty wide Xmas paper left in the basement. Went to find it and… unbelievably it even had a grid on the back! How amazing! Weird… (who on earth needs that for wrapping gifts?) but amazing.


Next, I duly input my waist measurement, and subtracted a few inches for bias, as suggested on most blogs. One thing that seemed a bit unclear was how big you should actually make the waistband. Some people simply used their waist measurement and had no problem with the skirt going over their hips. Some people did have an issue, however, so used an arbitrary larger measurement and presumably, an elasticated waistband. I guess with a woven fabric, a zip would solve that problem. I basically went for the waist-2 calculation, and ended up putting elastic in, but not too tightly, and it went over my hips fine. I guess it’s all down to the difference between your own waist and hip measurements.


Lengthwise, I like skirts to be either just above the knee, or much lower. On the knee/just below the knee has never been my best look, so I went for 20″ and took two off for a waistband. There are quite a few calculators on the internet, but I found it quite difficult to find somewhere that just gave me the formula. I’ve collected them all now, so here they are for full, 1/2 and 3/4 if you need them. If you ain’t interested in the arithmetic, skip on.

You only need two measurements: 1) your waist measurement where you want the skirt to sit and 2) the length of the skirt as you prefer.

WAIST: In my case, waist measurement was 38″ as I wanted it to sit a bit lower and I took off 2″ for bias = 36″

LENGTH: I wanted a 20″ skirt. I took off 2″ since I was adding a 2″ waistband but then added 1/2″ for seam allowance and 1″ for the hem = 19.5″

Then it’s a matter of plotting these numbers into the relevant formula to find out the radius, or length of the hole you’re going to cut:

FULL CIRCLE: Radius = waist/2 x 3.14

HALF CIRCLE: Radius = waist/3.14

3/4 CIRCLE: Radius = 2 x waist/3 x 3.14

I’m going to stick with the 3/4 numbers and pattern from here:

My radius = 2 x 36/3 x 3.14 = 72/9.42 = 7.64″


r = radius, l = length of skirt, t = terrible drawing skills

The second picture here is my pattern piece which is a quarter circle. I measured 7.64″ along the bottom and up the side. Then at quite a few places from the corner to create points for my curve and joined them up to make a quarter circle, (shaded in on the picture), which I cut out. As before, I had already worked out I needed 19.5″ of length to end up with a 20″ skirt, so I measured another 19.5″ along and repeated the process. I ended up with this, which I used to cut my fabric.


To make a 3/4 circle skirt, you need to create a shape like the first picture on the paper above. It would be HUGE if you used one pattern piece, but I also didn’t want extra unnecessary seams. So I simply traced the pattern once, moved it along, traced again, and then down to end up with the 3/4 doughnut shape on the fabric in a single layer. To put it another way, my pattern piece is one third of the final shape – the crosshatched area. It’s actually the most complicated shape as you can’t take advantage of symmetry: for the full circle skirt you can simply fold your material up into quarters and use a quarter pattern piece to cut through four layers.

Alright, so I finished cutting my fabric and then it was pretty easy construction from there. I used zigzag stitch everywhere and at first it seemed to be getting caught up in the fabric, but I went to bed at that point, and in the morning, it was fine! I imagine that’s some sewing Rule No.743: When tired, go to bed and things will work better in the morning. For no apparent reason. I sewed the side seam and then made a very simple waistband by cutting a 4″ x 38″ rectangle, sewing it along the long end to make a tube, lined one tube edge up right side to right side at the top of the skirt and sewed in on.


I then flipped the waistband up, gave it a wee press and inserted some 1″ elastic through the channel, before testing on my real body :), and sewing up the ends. Finally I just had to hem, which I did pretty much by eye as it was impossible to press this material properly into a hem, It seems to hang okay, so I’m happy.


I’m squinting but it’s the only picture my eyes aren’t completely closed. Gotta work on that.

And that’s pretty much it! It probably took about an hour to sort the pattern, 30 mins to transfer and cut the fabric, and then an hour to sew the skirt. Not bad! I’m quite keen to try a woven with a zipper now – maybe a 1/2 circle skirt with one of the many sweet cottons I have. Hope you have a great rest of the weekend!


4 thoughts on “New make: the rite of passage Circle Skirt

  1. Great post! I love adding circle skirts or 3/4 circle skirts to my dresses. But I must say cheated and download a app to calculate all the measurements. When I made my patterns.


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