These instructions may appear slightly complicated, but making a full circle skirt can be a fairly simple procedure.
What you Need
- 4 x waist to floor measurement. (Only approx. Average is around 4m)
- Thread to match fabric.
- Measuring Tape
- Waist elastic (2 – 2.5cm wide)
- Bias Binding or braiding (optional)
- Waist to Floor
- Hip Width (over widest part)
- Desired length of skirt (eg: hip to ankle)
- Radius for hip cut (optional)
Your skirt can only be as long as the fabric is wide, so unless you’re very short, 90cm fabric won’t work. Most people can make a skirt from 112/115cm wide fabric. If you are tall, or if you have very voluptuous hips, you might want to look for 1.5m wide fabric.
Fold the fabric in half, and then in half again.
You should have four selvedged (the “finished” sides of the fabric) edges running along the top and bottom of your folded piece (see image below) and you should have two folds (ideally, one inside the other) on the left hand side. On the right hand side there should be one edge, one fold and another edge.
Measuring & Marking:
You will need to begin with the hip cut. This is in the top left hand corner. When opened out, this will be your full hip width. As we are cutting a 1/4 circle, we will only use a 1/4 of your hip width (or larger if you want gathering).
Tape Measure Method: Find your 1/4 hip width measurement and lay a tape measure on the fabric, creating an arc (as pictured left). Mark the edges and a couple of points along the arc with chalk or pins.
Mathematical Method: Use the C=2πr equation to discover the radius of the circle. Anchor a tape measure in the top left corner and mark the radius on the edges and a couple of points along the arc with chalk or pins. Depending on how confident (or not confident) you feel with your cutting, you may wish to draw the complete arc (join the dots) on the top layer of fabric.
Working out the Radius
- If C is your Hip Width
- c÷2 = ___
- ___ ÷π = radius
- ___ ÷3.14 = radius
To measure and mark the bottom edge, you can use either of these methods:
Tape Measure & Maths: Add the radius to the desired skirt length, minus the depth of the waistband you plan to attach (estimate 3-4cm). Anchor the tape measure in the top left corner of the fabric then measure and mark from edge to edge. “Join the Dots” with chalk if you wish.
Fabric Width & Cutting: Anchor the tape measure in the top left corner and measure to the shortest edge (generally this is the fabric width. Mark this measurement from edge to edge. “Join the dots” with chalk if desired. You will measure, mark and cut the length after you have added the waistband and dunked the skirt.
Cut along the lines through all four layers of fabric. You should have two half circles when you open the fabric out.
With right sides together. Sew the two side seams of your skirt. If the selvedge edges are rough, you might want to finish with a zigzag stitch or overlocker.
Measure the hip cut (It will have extended a little with the stretch through the bias).
Cut a long rectangle from the remnants to make a waistband. It will need to be the hip cut plus 2-3cm seam allowance long, and 2 x elastic width + seam allowance deep (est. 8-10cm)
Finish the edges by double turning and stitching down. Fold and iron, then pin to the top of the skirt. The ends should just meet or slightly overlap. Sew & finish edges with a zigzag stitch or overlocker.
Stretching the Bias (Dunking):
If you don’t allow the bias to stretch out before you finish your skirt, you will end up with a wavy finish which doesn’t look great, and also increases your chances of stepping on the edges as parts of the skirt become too long.
I prefer to dunk skirts twice using warm water. Fill a bucket or your laundry trough. Dunk and swish the skirt in the water. Make sure all of it gets wet. Don’t wring it out. Hang from the waistband to dry. Repeat.
If you can, iron the skirt so that it falls as neatly as possible and peg the waistband to a hanger. Ensure that the waistband is sitting straight. Hang the skirt over a curtain rod or over-door hanger. Make sure it is level and not leaning to one side or the other.
If you have used the “Tape Measure and Maths” Method, your cutting line will be from seam to seam, as these will not have stretched.
If you have used the “Fabric Width & Cutting” Method you will need to measure from the waistband down and mark your cutting line. NB: If you are folding the waistband over the hanger, lay the skirt on a table first to measure & mark, then hang. Be sure to pull each part of the bottom of the skirt down from the waistband (without making the skirt ‘lean’).
If you have a larger than average bottom, you may want to put the skirt on, adopt your dance position, and then get a friend to mark and cut the bottom edge. Generally, because of the “tucked under” position, and the fact that the skirt fits on the hips, an even measurement all around works well.
Cutting & Finishing:
Cut the bottom of the skirt. You will need to do this a few times, pulling various sections down to get an even cut. Be careful when doing this that you dont pull the hanger to one side – check that it is level before cutting.
When you are done, finish the bottom of the skirt with either:
An Overlocked Edge. This is probably the simplest method and has the added benefit of cutting the edge smoother as you go. You are bound to come across littl bits that stick out as you go.
Bias binding. You will want to lay your skirt on a table and make sure that the edge is even before you begin pinning the bias binding to the skirt. You can use the same colour (pin & sew to the front and fold to the back), or a contrasting colour (pin & sew to the back and fold to the front). A contrasting edge can create a really nice look.
Rolled Hem. You will need to even the edges with this method. It can work well, however because you are working along a curve, they can become “messy”. Using a zigzag stitch can give a nice effect, particularly on a chiffon skirt.
Completing the Waistband:
Thread the elastic through the waistband. Use a safety pin to check for a snug, but not too tight, fit. Join the ends of the elastic with a slight overlap.
If you wish, you can handsew the edges of the waistband together, or leave it open. It will generally be covered by a hip scarf, so won’t be seen.
And … you’re done!