A circle skirt is pretty easy to make. It requires few pieces and basic techniques, making it a good exercise for beginners. If this is your first time I would advise to make a paper pattern first. For experienced sewers this step can be skipped; you are welcome to do the markings straight on the fabric.
Circle skirt math
To make this pattern you will need only two measurements - waist girth and the length of your skirt.
Circle skirts are commonly made in 360°, 270°, 180° or 90°, depending on how many folds you want. There is a formula to calculate the waist radius for each type of circle skirt.
- Full circle Skirt (360°)
- 3/4 circle skirt (270°)
- Half circle skirt (180°)
- Quarter circle skirt (90°)
How to fold the fabric
For the 3/4 circle the fabric is folded and cut the same way as for the full circle. The extra quarter is removed after the skirt is cut, leaving sufficient seam allowances.
- Half circle.
- Quarter circle.
This skirt can be cut on bias.
Cutting the fabric
Lightweight woven fabrics are the most common choice for this skirt.The soft folds along the hem without much bulk around the waist line characterises this skirt fits. It can be made in any length. Though it may be limited by the width of the fabric. However there are ways around this problem. If your fabric is not wide enough, you can make your circle with two halves (don’t forget the seam allowances). If this is not an option you may consider a 6, 8 or 10-wedge skirt, it will give you a similar look.
Finishing the waistline
A circle skirt is usually finished with a waist band. The width and style of it is entirely up to you.Typical methods include:
Comfortable to wear and simple to make; it often used in kids clothing. One thing you should remember though! Leave enough ease along the waist, otherwise how will you put it on? As a general rule add 10-15cm to your waist girth measurement before calculating the radius.
Gives the skirt a more tailored, “grown-up” look. If you go with a welted or exposed zipper, the skirt doesn’t need seams at all.
Waistbands are not the only way to finish a circle skirt. You can cut a facing using the top of your skirt as a guide.
Finishing the hem
The circle skirt has a curved hem, this limits the methods it can be finished with. There are however quite a few hemming techniques you can rely on.
There is one problem with the circle skirt that occurs most often - uneven hemline. This is the result of the way the circle skirt cut. The parts of the skirt cut on straight grain will be the most stable, those that fall onto the cross grain can warp a little. The portion of the skirt that falls on bias will be the least reliable and may stretch significantly after a wash or two. It all depends on the fabric! If you suspect that this will happen to your skirt, I can recommend a small trick. Finish the waistline but leave the hem unfinished. Wet the skirt throughout, peg at the waist and drip-dry it, letting the fibers settle into shape. When the skirt is dry, carefully measure the desired length. Mark and cut the excess fabric where it stretched, evening out the hem. That should do the trick. Your skirt should be the same length now and won’t give you trouble later. Finish the hemline in any way you want.
Other skirt designs based on a circle
The circle skirt math can be used to develop different styles using the same basic geometry.
- Fish-tail skirt
- Skirt with flounce layers
- Hi-low skirt
- Handkerchief skirt
- Circle skirt with a yoke
Measurements for main types of circle skirts
For simplifying your task even further I put together a table that should cover most waist dimensions.