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!
- 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
- Elastic for waistband - I used a 1 inch knit elastic - Joann also has soft waistband elastic (in many colors) that is really cute and comfortable
- 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
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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
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
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
- 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!