How to Sew a Circle Skirt in 30 Mins




About: Army Vet. I love learning & being creative.

A circle skirt is a style trend from the 1950s - a full skirt, flowing and flared. :) Sewing a full circle skirt will create a very full skirt. The 1/2 circle skirt is very similar, a little less full and requires less material. This Instructable will teach you how to sew a 1/2 Circle Skirt. A full circle skirt didn't work for me here because I only had one yard of fabric per skirt (I made a total of 4 for all my nieces). It could have worked if I had wanted to make them knee-length circle skirts, but I wanted these to be long skirts. My nieces just turned 5 (they're triplets) and I wanted to make them beautiful skirts for their birthday party. I didn't want to leave the older sister out, so I made her one too!

This instructable will take you through the process of creating a pattern for your skirt, based on a waist measurement & length you want the skirt to be. It is very easy and once you create the pattern, you should be able to complete the skirt within 30 minutes! The materials needed are based on creating a skirt for a child. I created 4 skirts and the sizes varied as the girls were between a child's size 6-8. I purchased the fabric on sale, so each skirt's cost was about $6. The last step is a quick photo walk through on how to make the grey shirt with ribbon straps, which you can see in many of the photos. It is also fast and easy!

Materials Needed:

  • 1 yard of fabric (I used Glitter Satin from Joann Fabric Store and it was beautiful) - it's best if your fabric is thicker, so you don't need to create a lining
  • Ribbon 5/8 inch thick for the bottom of the skirt (or you can use bias tape)
  • Ruler, fabric or regular
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing supplies, sewing machine

Holly Mann is a participant in the JoAnn Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to them.

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Step 1: How to Make a Pattern for 1/2 Circle Skirt

First, you will need the waist measurement for the person you'll be making the skirt for. You'll then need to do a little math to calculate the radius for your pattern. Please see example below....

1/2 Circle Skirt Radius:
waist + 2 = ___/3.14
25.75+2=27.75/3.14 = 8.8 Radius

Now, you'll need to take a newspaper & tape a few extra newspaper sheets to it to make it pretty large as it will become your skirt pattern piece. Or, you can use wrapping paper or regular paper taped together.

Take your ruler & hold it at the edge of the newspaper and mark a dot on the newspaper at your skirt radius length (ie: 8.8). Continue doing this until you reach the end of both sides and you will have created an arch. You can then use your pen or marker to connect the dots. If you're using a fabric ruler or tape measure, you can put a pin in at the end near the corner (see image below), hold it with one hand and glide it around while marking spots with your other hand.

Figure out the length you want the skirt to be. Be sure to measure your subject from their waist to their ankle or whatever length you want the skirt. Once you know this number, you'll do the same thing with the tape measure but you'll be starting your measuring from the partial circle you just created, rather than from the corner. Before you start marking, add two inches to the total length (just to be safe) and make your marks. It will be trickier than the first time because this will be so much larger. It doesn't need to be perfect!

Cut out your pattern piece.

Step 2: Cutting the Fabric for Circle Skirt

Now, lay out your material. Fold it in half and see if your pattern piece will fit on it. When I did this for one of the skirts I made which was larger, my pattern overlapped the material a little bit. I could have just used it as it wasn't a big deal and wouldn't greatly affect the skirt. But, instead I unfolded the fabric so I had one long layer of fabric. I then place the pattern on it and created an outline of it in chalk. I moved the pattern piece in a way which I could fit it properly and have enough fabric. Then, I cut out the pieces. If your pattern fits fine when your fabric is folded in half - then you can carefully pin your pattern to the fabric and cut them all out at once. This is the fast way to do it!

Step 3: Elastic for Waistband

Now we'll make the waistband! Please be careful with this step as you don't want it to be too tight or too loose! Hopefully your waist measurement is correct. First, take your waist measurement - as an example, let's say I am cutting the elastic for a waist that is 24 inches. Personally, I had issues with this step because I measured my nieces and made the first skirt - and I added an extra inch to the elastic so it was exactly her waist size once sewn into a circle. Well, it wasn't fitted or tight enough - as elastic needs to be a little snug & the skirt has a little weight to it. So, I had to fix her waistband!

For all the other skirts I made after that, I figured I would lose 1 inch from sewing the elastic together, in the seam allowance. So, I cut the elastic either at the exact waist measurement or 1/2 inch smaller & after sewn together into a circle, it ended up being about 1-1 1/2 inches smaller than the subject's waist - which fit my nieces perfectly.
  • Cut out Elastic approximately the same as the waist size
  • Sew the ends of the elastic together, leaving a full 1/2 inch seam allowance
  • Press open & topstitch over both sides of the elastic to flatten that area (see image)
  • I also created iron-on tags for the girls and covered the seam with it
After that is done, your elastic waistband should be 1 inch - 1 1/2 inches smaller than the subject's waist. Try it on her and make sure it fits comfortably before you continue to the next step.

Step 4: Sewing the Skirt

Now, set your elastic aside and take your two fabric pieces for the front and back of the skirt. Iron them if they are wrinkled severely, place them inside out and pin them together along the sides. Then, sew along the sides, preferably with a zigzag stitch or something that will not allow for the fabric to fray. I purchased a "side cutter" presser foot for my sewing machine recently, so it made it easier for me to do a strong zigzag stitch, while it cut the excess fabric for me (similar to a serger). Otherwise, do your stitches and if zigzag, you can then trim off the excess fabric.

Then, I went over the top part of the skirt with zigzag stitches, just to prevent fraying.

Step 5: Attach Elastic & Sew It Onto the Skirt

Next, take your elastic & pins & you will need to pin it onto the skirt at four points. The sides of the skirts are two points and the front middle and back middle are the other two points you need to pin the elastic too. I pinned the skirt fabric onto the bottom portion of the elastic, as I didn't want to cover up the tags I made.

If you've never sewn elastic onto material before, it may seem tricky, but it's actually easy. Start at the back or side of your skirt where you have a pin & place it under your presser foot near there. Make a couple stitches, always doing a few backstitches to reinforce your stitching, then use one hand to hold the elastic/fabric behind the sewing machine. Use your other hand to pull the elastic & fabric that have yet to be sewn (I had my right hand directly on top of the next needle, fabric & elastic). You'll need to be careful with this as I had to pull the elastic, while also guiding (pulling a little) with my hand behind the material and machine as well. I used a straight stitch and once all the way around, the skirt is nearly done!

Step 6: Sewing the Ribbon

This is your last step in making a 1/2 circle skirt! Now, try this skirt on your subject and check to be sure you have the desired length. If too long, now is the time to trim it. Take the ribbon and fold it in half, and press it with the iron. The iron should be on a medium temperature. 

So, I just took my ribbon and my skirt and placed the beginning piece of ribbon at the side of the skirt's seam. I carefully began sewing as close to the edge of the ribbon as possible. I had to guide and readjust the fabric and ribbon every few inches. It is the only time-consuming part of making this beautiful skirt. I did not pin it to the bottom as it was too curvy and didn't help.

When you get to the end, you'll need to line it up so it will cover the beginning piece of ribbon slightly. You may need to stop the stitches a couple inches before the end, go to the iron and fold a small flap at the end of the ribbon and press it under (so you don't have any raw edges exposed). Line it up and sew it onto your skirt - and you are done!!!

Step 7: Bonus - Simple Top

As a bonus for my oldest niece, I quickly made her a top to go with her skirt. It was simpler than I thought and just took a few minutes. I had some stretchy fabric around that matched the skirt nicely.
  • I cut out one piece of material - one was 20 inches by 13 inches (I took her chest measurement +1 inch, then divided it by 2=13 inches)
  • I cut out one more piece of material for the back which was 14 inches by 13 inches
  • I folded the first piece of material down 6 inches & pressed it - then stitched along the top & down the sides (really close to the edge). I did this so it would allow for some thicker material over the chest area, as the material was pretty thin.
  • For the back piece, I ended up cutting a little off the top so there was a slight curve (see image). Then, I pressed the top edge under and sewed it.
  • I put both pieces inside out, pinned them together at the edges and sewed them together along the edges with a zig zag stitch.
  • On the bottom, I did a zig zag stitch to prevent fraying and because it looked nicer.
  • From the scrap material I had, I cut out a heart, ironed on some fusible interfacing and sewed it onto the back.
  • Lastly, I had her try it on and I took two long pieces of ribbon and pinned those in place for straps. I sewed the straps on and it was done!
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    19 Discussions


    3 years ago

    In your example 8.8 is the diameter not the radius which is 4.4


    5 years ago

    I am so excited to try this!!! thank you!!

    1 reply
    pie popper

    6 years ago on Introduction

    I am so excited I found this! I made a circle skirt before, only by sewing about 11 panels together. I love it but it took *forever* to make! I am totally going to try this out, thank you!

    4 replies
    HollyMannpie popper

    Reply 3 years ago

    I hope you like how it turned out...sorry this reply is so late!!!

    do you by any chance have a patten for the 7 panel skirt? I'm plus size but love those skirts. I have one that is now nearly at the rag stage but I love it and need another! Can anyone help? Mine is a maxi!

    I didn't use a pattern... I just remember doing a lot of math. :/

    You should be able to divide the measurement of your waist into as many panels as you want. (ei. 30 inch waist = ten triangle panels 3 inches wide at the top) Add an inch or more to the top of each panel to allow for seams. (So now you would have ten 4-inch wide panels)

    I can't remember how much wider I made the panels at the bottom... it really depends on how many you want and how full you want your skirt! (Or how much fabric you have... )

    I have a length of silky woven nylon lingerie fabric I want to use to make a half-slip. Do you think this method would make a slip that would lay pretty flat under a dress, or does it have gathers at the waist that would show through as wrinkles?


    6 years ago



    6 years ago

    48 a day


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for this. My dad (an engineer) made me a circle skirt when I was a teen (I'm nearly 60 now) for Halloween, simply by measuring my waist. I've always wondered how.

    1 reply

    Thanks for the comment Penolopy! I also fell in love with all the fabric. I wish I had a better pic to share of all the skirts once they were on the girls. The fabric is a really good choice for any girls skirts, dresses or accessories - it is really pretty and shimmery. My little 5 yr old niece picked it out actually! :)