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How to Make a Circle Skirt

Time to cut!

pattern placed on fold
Place your circle skirt pattern on a folded piece of fabric, as show. You'll need to do this twice, so you get both sides of the circle. Cut one of the waistband with the short side on the fold as well. Cut two pockets pieces from any old place.

Time to sew!

On each piece of the skirt, pin one pocket piece to a side seam at the waist. Pin the pocket to the right side of the fabric. Sew the pocket to the skirt piece. Your goal, ultimately, is to get the to pockets to line up in the same side seam when you sew the skirt together.

skirt pieces pinned
With wrong sides together, pin the skirt pieces together at the side seams. On the side without pockets, sew straight up the entire seam at 1/4". On the side with pockets, sew up the side seam to the bottom of the pocket (also at 1/4").

What? No, I got that right. Sew the wrong sides together. You’re about to make a french seam. It’s, like, 2 extra steps, and it’s soooooo much nicer!  It’s also much stronger and washes better and will impress the heck out of your mother.

Trim the seam down so there’s only 1/8 ” past the stitching.  You don’t need to measure – just sort of whack half way between the stitches and the edge.

For those of us working at doll size, the first line of stitch is at 1/8″, and we’re trimming to rrrreeeeeeeaaaaaalllllyyyyyy tiny. We’re using a hairline seam.

Turn the skirt so it’s right side to right side. If you’re in the mood to do everything right, you could take a minute to press the seams so there’s a neat crease along the stitch line. That will make the next bit faster and easier. (I won’t think less of you if you don’t. First off, I won’t know. But I also skip this step a lot myself.)

the completed side seam
On the side without the pocket, sew 1/4" away from the folded edge. On the side with the pocket, fold both pockets out as shown. Sew up the seam at 1/4". Keep sewing to 1" past the bottom of the pocket. Backtack a few times for strength. At 1/2" past the bottom of the pocket, raise your foot, pivot your work, and sew the bottom of the pocket. Keep sewing to about thumb level on the pocket, then backtack a few times.

It’s really important that you not sew the pocket all the way to the top.  That extra bit of opening is what will allow you to get into the skirt.

pinning the waistband to the skirt
Start pinning the waistband to the top of one side of the pocket, and continue to pin along the waistline.
relief cuts in the waist seam allowance
The edge of the skirt waist is much shorter than the waistband. This is because we had to add a seam allowance. To get the skirt to spread on to the waistband, you'll need to make a series of short cuts *almost* all the way through the seam allowance.

That almost is incredibly important! Do not cut past, or even to, the seam allowance. At the end, pin the other side of the pocket folded back, so it lies over the skirt (not between the skirt and waistband!)

many pins in skirt waist
You now have voodoo skirt. Sew carefully, 1/2" from the top of the skirt. (1/4" for dolls.)
The inside of the waist seam
If you're working to doll size, you'll need to trim the seam allowance slightly to reduce bulk.
waistband pinned and ready to finish
Fold the top of the waistband down by 1/2" (dolls- 1/4"), then fold the waistband down like this. Pin. Sew by hand. No, really, by hand.
completed waistband
I've added a hook and eye inside the band to close it. (Between you, me, and the interweb, I'll let you in on a horrible secret - most of my own skirts just have safety pins in them to close the waistbands. Ahem. Nobody's perfect!)
bias bound hem
Bind off the hem with bias tape. (There's a step-by-step in the Skills links of this demo.)
completed, doll sized circle skirt
The finished skirt, worn with a drawstring chemise.


a folded circle
When you look at patterns in period tailor's manuals, you often see something a lot like this. It's not uncommon for it to have more arcs swishing back and forth.
unfolded pattern
Those are patterns for things that are circular. The diagram conveys both the shape of the pieces and how they will need to be laid out on narrow fabric and pieced together.

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