Summer is officially here and has arrived in Indy with sweltering humidity. Last week I whipped up a circle skirt in a few minutes and after some very kind comments decided to write a tutorial. There is nothing really scientific about making circle skirts, they are dead easy and can generally be whipped up on serger in about 25 minutes or less including cutting time.
To make a circle skirt you will need approximately 2.25 – 4.5 yards of fabric, depending on your size how full you want the skirt to be. You can use pretty much any fabric that suits your taste; I have used a knit and two woven fabrics for the three skirts that I made. I also saved time by using a decorative 1″ elastic waistband on one skirt – I just serged it on and voila – waistband done.
The elastic looks like this:
and is available in a variety of widths and colors online.
Measure the length you want the skirt to be. Start at your natural waist (just below your navel) and let the tape measure drop to the floor, then with the aid of a friend, spouse or in my case a full length mirror, determine how long you want the skirt to be. In this example, I am using 30″. Add 6″ and double the amount. So I have 36″ x 2 = 72″. I need another 3″-4″ for the waistband casing. Total yardage needed is 76″ or a little over 2 yards. I buy 2.25 to be on the safe side.
Measure your waist with the elastic . Take a length of elastic, wrap it around your waist and cut it. Next, pinch about 1″ off the ends. Then pull it down over the hips to your thighs to ensure there is enough stretch. The amount of stretch can vary with different types of elastic and if you have decided to use the decorative type, you may be surprised to find it has less stretch than the typical white, no-roll goods one finds at fabric shops. Adjust your piece accordingly, decreasing the 1″ if needed or trimming off any excess.
Based on the measurement in Step 1, I need two 36″ lengths of fabric. I cut these and place them on the cutting table. Both pieces are folded lengthwise as shown (please pardon my cutting mess :)) I cut two skirts at the same time using a rotary cutter so you are actually seeing both skirts cut. On top of my cut circles is the extra yardage needed for the waistband casing.
Measure your hips at the fullest part using a tape measure and add 1″. In my case that adds to 40″. I now need to cut the waist opening 40″ including seam allowance. Since my fabric is folded in half, that means cutting a 20″ semi-oval shape for the waist opening. BTW turkey platters make great templates 🙂 Once the oval is cut, I use my tape measure to mark the 30″ length all the way around the bottom edge of the fabric as above, then cut. Make a notch at the folds to indicate center front and center back. This is a vital step to ensure that the fullness is evenly distributed.
It actually takes less time to serge these together than to cut them! If you want more fullness in your skirt, cut four sections instead of two. Next, using a four thread safety stitch, overlock the side seams together.
FYI: I used a home sewing method called Thread Blending, which I learned eons ago from a Singer Sewing Reference Library book. I mixed up the thread colors allowing me to serge two very different fabrics at the same time. It saves time and money, because you only need a few colors of thread and then blend to match.
Step 6: Three Waistband Options
If you want to use decorative elastic
Butt the ends together and stitch them on a conventional machine. Fold the elastic in half and mark the halfway point with chalk or a pin. Match the seam on the elastic to one of the side seams and the halfway point to the other sideseam. Serge the elastic to the skirt using the notches at center front and center back as a guide to distribute the fullness.
If you wish to make a conventional elastic waistband
Cut the waistband casing from the fabric on the crossgrain about 3″ wide by your hip measurement from Step 4 – in my case that was 40″. Sew the elastic to the casing with a tricot or stretch stitch on one long side only, leaving 1/2″ of seam allowance all around as shown. BTW Ihave used contrasting thread so that you can see what I am doing. Normally I would use a matching thread to blend when sewing. The side with the thread showing (photo 2 below) is now the INSIDE of the waistband so the threads don’t show.
To make it easier you can draw a line to indicate the elastic placement position. I don’t normally do this but if you are a new sewer or just want the assurance that it will be even, it only takes a few seconds to make the lines.
Serge the casing closed. Pin the prepared casing to the skirt matching the side seam to the casing seam as shown. Since I am working on black fabric, the seams are hard to see but one has the pin through it and the other is indicated with my brush tip. Place the band on a flat surface. Make a notch at the natural fold, opposite to the seam. Fold the band in half and make two more notches. Match your notches with the center front and center back notches in your skirt
Crank your differential feed to the max. Using one hand to pull the elastic flat as shown, and the other to ease the fabric in, attach the wasitband to the skirt. This is MUCH easier to do than it is to explain 🙂
If you want to make a High Waist Skirt with an Interlock (soft) Waistband
Finally, if you want to create a dropped waist with a high band effare using a piece of interlock for the waistband, as I did with the knit skirt, cut it the width that you desire, I chose 5″. The length should be your waist measurement but since the stretch value of interlock varies so much, cut your strip generously and then test it by grasping the ends and sliding the band over your hips and thighs. Adjust accordingly. I cut mine at 29″ and it turned out beautifully.
Serge the ends together forming a tube and serge the whole tube to the skirt. To do this, place the band on a flat surface. Make a notch at the natural fold, opposite to the seam. Fold the band in half and make two more notches. Match your notches with the notches in your skirt. Serge your waistband to the skirt.
Step 7: Hemming the skirt
To finish the hems, the cutting instructions have left you with some options. You can used a rolled hem on a conventional machine, do a stitch and turn hem or simply finish off the edges with a rolled hem on the serger, which is what I chose to do for all three skirts. In order to prevent the hemline from rippling, I reduced the differential feed to setting 5 for the Juki. Using the rolled hem you can create a super-fast, clean finish to your skirts and the differential feed takes care of the natural stretch caused by the bias or knit fabric.
So, I have three new skirts for summer and my quest to replace my entire wardrobe with custom sewn clothes continues.
Happy Summer and Happy Sewing! Natalie