Adding a circle skirt to a dress: How to draw the perfect pattern
Since launching my Hanami pattern, I’ve received quite a few emails asking for instructions on how to replace the gathered skirt with a circle skirt. I can completely understand this question, having experienced myself how circle skirts are the fastest road to become the world’s most popular mom.
This tutorial shows you how to make a pattern for a circle skirt which perfectly fits any bodice, whether it is for children or women. Or small pets.
There are two ways of making a circle skirt. You can cut it in one piece (A), with no seams in the sides. However, if you use a print with an upside and downside, this is not a good idea, as the print will always be upside down in some part of the skirt. So in the latter case, it is better to cut two half circles (B), which you join at the sides. Depending on which option you choose, steps 1 and 7 below will be slightly different.
1. Measure the width of your bodice pattern. Measure it at the bottom, right where the skirt and bodice will be joined (so just above the bottom seam allowance).
A. Cutting a circle skirt in one piece? Then, do not include the side seam allowance when measuring.
B. Cutting two half circles? Then, do include the side seam allowance when measuring.
2. Divide this by 1.5707. Next, subtract from this the seam allowance which you will use to stitch the skirt to the bodice.
Example in inches: I have a bodice with a width of 10″ and will stitch it to the skirt with a 0.5″ seam allowance:
10″ divided by 1.5707 equals 6.37″
6.37″ minus 0.5 = 5.87″
Example in cm: I have a bodice with a width of 25 cm, and will stitch it to the skirt with a 1 cm seam allowance:
25 cm divided by 1,5707 equals 15,92 cm
15,92 minus 1 = 14,92 cm
3. Take a large piece of paper (doesn’t have to be pattern paper; you can also use a newspaper, or wrapping paper), a pencil, and a piece of cord which does not stretch (I used my phone charger cable).
Fold the piece of paper in two diagonally, as shown in the picture, so as to create a 45° angle.
Take the number you calculated in step 2, and measure this distance from the top left corner to the top edge of the paper, and onto the diagonal fold you just made. Mark.
4. Tie the piece of thread around the pencil. Congratulations – you just made your own compass!
5. Next, determine how long you would like the skirt to be. Add to this the seam allowance you will use to stitch skirt to bodice (same number you used in step 2) and also the allowance for the hem of the skirt.
Tip: with a semi-circle skirt, the smaller the hem, the easier to achieve a perfect finish. Use no more than 1 cm (3/8″) – I personally prefer 0,7 cm (1/4″).
Length finished skirt + seam allowance + hem allowance
Example in inches: I would like the skirt to be 8″ long; I’m using a 1/2″ seam allowance; and I will hem the skirt by folding it in by 1/4″ twice (so I’ll need 1/2″ in total).
8″ + 1/2″ + 1/2″ = 9″
Example in cm: I would like the skirt to be 20 cm long; I’m using a 1 cm seam allowance; and I will hem the skirt by folding it in by 0.7 cm twice (so I’ll need 1.4 cm in total).
20 cm + 1 cm + 1.4 cm = 22.4 cm
6. Measure this distance from the marks you made in step 3, onto the top edge and diagonal fold.
Take your poor man’s compass to connect the two new marks.
7. Cut out your pattern…
… and fold it open again. You now have a pattern for a quarter of the circle skirt.
A. Cutting the skirt in one piece? Fold your fabric West to East, and next from North to South, and press the folds (for more precision). Pin the pattern on the fabric as shown in the picture, and cut.
B. Cutting two half circles? Fold your fabric in half (putting selvages together), and cut twice on the fold.
8. A little word about pinning the skirt to the bodice. If you cut the skirt in two pieces (option B), then there is only one way to pin: you just align the side seams of the skirt with the side seams of the bodice.
However, if you cut the skirt in one piece (option A), you will want to take into account the grain line of the fabric. For instance, if you would like to have more flare in the front and back of the skirt, you need to place the bias-cut parts of the skirt in the front and back. If you would like to have more flare at the sides, place the bias-cut parts at the sides.
See? Your math teacher told you that those geometry classes would be useful one day, didn’t s/he?