We were recently asked by the press to write a sewing tutorial for the Norwich Evening News, inspired by the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee.
Last autumn we hosted a very successful vintage skirt dressmaking workshop and decided to adapt the circle skirt into an easy to make version, suitable for a little girl. Unfortunately my little girl ‘doesn’t do skirts’ but after much bribery and cajoling we eventually persuaded her to model this gorgeous little rose print skirt. Some rather drastic photo cropping by our photographer Boo, ensured that this pretty little garment was not spoilt by a very cross and sulky face!
Circle skirts, with their full folds and swishing movements are great fun to wear, and are super simple to make. They require a little bit of maths and some basic sewing skills, but once you’ve got the idea the possibilities for customising are endless.
This easy pattern has an elasticated waistband so there are no fiddly zips, or button holes to deal with.
You will need:
- Fabric: Measure how long you want the skirt to be, times this by 2 and add 15cm. This will give you the length of fabric you need to buy.Choose a lightweight fabric that hangs and moves nicely, and choose prints and patterns that are not one directional (polka dots and all over florals work well, strong stripes are probably best avoided).
- Elastic: Choose a wide elastic for the waistband. ‘Belting elastic’ comes in a variety of widths and is available from most haberdashery shops. It is also available in different colours so you can match it to your fabric.
- Sewing thread: To match your fabric.
- Fabric and paper scissors
- Tape measure
- A large sheet of paper: This can be any paper including newspaper, wrapping paper, wall paper –
STEP 1: Making your paper pattern.
Here comes the maths!
First take a waist measurement and add between 4-6cms cms. This is the red line in the diagram.
Divide this measurement by 6.28. This will give you the radius you need, which is A-B in the diagram.
Take your sheet of paper and measure this radius out from one corner. Mark it down the 2 straight edges, and at various places in between. Join all your marks together and this will make a good curve for the waist.
Measure down from this curve the length you want the skirt to be,(B-C in the diagram) plus an additional 2-3cms for the waist and hem. Again, make lots of marks that can be joined together to make a good shaped curve for the hem.
Cut along both these curved lines, and you have your paper pattern. It represents one quarter of your skirt.
STEP 2: Cutting out your fabric
Press your fabric, then fold in quarters (once length wise, and once width wise) giving you one right angled corner and two folded edges.
Lay your paper pattern on the folded fabric so that it lines up with the folded edges, then chalk around it.
Cut out your fabric carefully.
STEP 3: Attaching the Elastic
Neaten your top edge with a zig zag (or overlock) stitch all the way round.
Cut a length of elastic to the waist measurement (or very slightly smaller if you want a very snug fit) plus 2cm seam allowance.
Sew the elastic in half with a 1cm seam, open out the seam and sew the edges down flat with a straight stitch. This helps the seam to lay as flat as possible.
Pin the waist edge of the skirt evenly all around the inside of the elastic, with a 1cm hem. The skirt waist measures more than the elastic, so allow for this as you pin. It is best to pin the 4 points at the front, back and sides first.
You will need to stretch the elastic you pin the skirt to it to help ‘ease’ the fabric in. 8 Pins should probably be enough. Put the pins in vertically as you go.
You are now ready to sew it in place!
it will look like this on the inside:
STEP 4: Finishing the Hem
Zig zag around the hem then turn it up by 1cm and give it a good press. Stitch around the hem and – you’re done!
Now find a little girl who will wear it with a big happy smile!