One-Hour Circle Skirt Tutorial

Last week, I bought a cute dress from Target (the coral floral color). I thought the bright pink was so cheery and springy. When the weather was forecasted to hit 68 today, I knew the dress had to come out. I mean, 68 is almost 70. (70 is the point at which I do my giddy spring dance, if you cared to know.)

Sadly, the dress just didn't work. The dress is a teensy bit shorter than I prefer, so I'd gotten a size larger than usual. Problem is, the top was way bigger than I recalled from my quick dressing room eval. I considered taking it in, but the length was still not quite what I wanted - when I pulled it down all the way, the elasticized waistband looked too low and weird, but when I had it at my waist, the dress was too short, and the top seemed even bigger. Alas - back to the store it goes (although maybe now I have an excuse to buy some of those cute colored skinnies they have).

Anyway, while I was lamenting my lost dress and lost springiness, I spied some fabric that my mom gave me a while back. I'm fairly certain it used to be a curtain, but that made it all the better for a Sound of Music obsessee (it's possible that some friends and I once spent an entire 8 hours watching the movie and every bit of the behind-the-scenes stuff). It's a pretty, peachy fabric with a subtle rose print. Perfect for spring.

So I decided to whip up a quick little skirt. I figured, if it didn't turn out, it's not the end of the world (there was TONS of this fabric). And what do you know - an hour later (well, probably an hour and a half including feeding the baby snacks and putting him down for his nap, if we're being honest), I had an adorable, springy skirt. See below for how you can make one, too!

One-Hour Circle Skirt

Step 1: Measure your waist & length.
Using a measuring tape, take the entire circumference of your waist. This should be wherever you want the skirt to sit - at your natural waist, below your waist, at your hips, whatever. You'll also want to measure how long you want your skirt - this will also depend on where you want your skirt to sit, as well as where you want the hem to fall - above your knees? At your knees? Midi length?

Once you have your waist measurement (aka the circumference), you'll want to divide that by 2*pi to get the radius of your waist. Remember high school math? Here's a formula if that works better:

radius = circumference / (2 * pi)

It might actually be easier to work with centimeters here. So say you have a waist circumference of 26 inches (or 66 centimeters). Then r = 66 / (2*pi) = 10.5 cm.

Step 2: Mark and cut your fabric.
Fold your fabric over twice. Then go to the corner where you only see folds (and nothing is "open"). You should see one big fold on one side, and two smaller folds on the other side. Make sense? Starting at that corner, take a tape measure and mark your radius out in several places. I marked at either edge, and a few in the middle. This should give you a semicircle which will be the waist.

Then, starting at the WAIST (the semicircle you just marked, not from the initial corner), measure out the length of your skirt. Again, you'll want to mark it in several places, forming another, concentric semicircle. I left an inch or two extra for seam allowance for the hem.

(See the folds? One fold on the right side, and two folds at the bottom.)
Then, using a good pair of fabric scissors (if you've folded properly, you should be cutting through four layers of fabric), cut along your semicircles. You should be able to see the shape of your circle skirt now (in the above picture, the waist is in the bottom right corner, and the hem is along the top and left).

Step 3: Sew down waistband, leaving room for elastic.
Look, I know it's more professional, yada yada, to do a waistband and zipper and such. But I wanted an easy, springy skirt that I could adjust to hang at different places, and elastic does just that. Plus, with a zipper and waistband, this wouldn't be a one-hour skirt, now would it?

Moving on. So you'll want to fold down the fabric at the top of your skirt and pin it in place to sew it. Be sure to leave enough of a gap between the top and your stitch line for your elastic (this will depend on how thick your elastic is - mine was fairly thin). Then go ahead and sew it in place, leaving a one-inch gap for the elastic.

(Pinned waistband.)

(Sewing the waistband.)

This was probably the trickiest part for me - since circle skirts, by nature, have more fabric as they go down, it was tricky to keep everything even while folding down the fabric, since it didn't all match up perfectly. I usually leave in my pins as I sew (they're the tiny ones), but this time, I pulled them out so that I could kind of rearrange the fabric as I sewed. I just kind of tried to gather it evenly as I went.

Be sure to not sew all the way around! You'll want to leave a gap of about an inch so that you can feed your elastic through. I, of course, forgot to do this and had to pull out my seam ripper. Do as I say, not as I do.
(Mind the gap.)

Step 4: Thread & sew elastic. Sew elastic opening closed.
Feed your elastic all the way through your waistband. The easiest way for me to do this is to attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and kind of jiggle that through. Once you get to the end, cut off your elastic (make sure it's a little smaller than the waistband so that it will fit nice and snug with the stretch - otherwise, when the elastic stretches, it will be too big).
Take both ends of elastic and sew them together. You'll want to go back and forth several times to make sure it's a nice, strong seam.
Remember that one-inch opening through which you threaded your elastic? You can sew that closed now.

Step 5: Hem your skirt.
By now, you should be able to really see your skirt, and all that's left is to hem! Again, this is like the waistband in that there will be some extra fabric here and there, since there's more fabric as you go down the skirt, but this was easier to jiggle than the waistband.

I did a double fold for the hem. I folded the fabric down once (probably about 3/4 of an inch or so - I didn't really measure, but wanted a slightly wider hem), and then folded it down once more right after. I pinned that in place and then stitched it down.
(See fold #1 underneath?)(Both folds folded down and pinned - ignore the one random pin on the left - it should be up high like the one on the right.)(Stitching down the hem.)

Voila! Go dance and twirl and enjoy your new circle skirt! Stay tuned for pictures of me doing the same tomorrow. :)
Pin It

ETA: See pictures of the skirt in action here!


  1. Wow, love that skirt! It turned out so pretty!
    I'll have to save this for some dresses I own...I think they'd make a much better skirt than a dress. Haha, thanks so much for sharing this with us :)

  2. That looks fabulous! I need to practice more on my sewing skills!

    See Me Rwar

  3. Um, contrary to your own statement to me once... you ARE crafty! good job!

  4. So cute! I'm really excited to try this!


Powered by Blogger.