Instructional video & tutorial showing how to make a circle skirt with a side zipper
Hey y’all, today we’re going to talk about how to sew a circle skirt! I’m going to show you how to make a circle skirt with a waistband and invisible zipper. This is a little more involved than an elastic waistband circle skirt, but it also looks more professional.
Did you know that for 3 years – kindergarten through first grade – I refused to wear pants? Dresses and skirts only, and the twirlier the better. And though I’m grown and wear pants regularly now, the little girl in me comes out when I wear things like this swishy sheer crepe circle skirt in this blush color.
Materials And Supplies
To make this skirt, you’ll need:
- 1 3/4 yards of fabric in 58/60 inch width for an adult skirt that will be around 22-25 inches in length (knee length-ish). For a child’s skirt, double the length you want it to be and add about 8 inches, and that’s how much yardage you’ll need. So if you wanted a finished skirt length of 12 inches, you’d do 12 x 2 = 24, 24 + 8 = 32 and I’d round off to 1 yard since a yard is 26 inches. You can use 44/45 inch width fabric for children’s skirts. If you want to use 44/45 inch fabric for an adult skirt, you may have to add side seams to your skirt.
- One 7-9 inch invisible zipper
- One sew on hook and eye closure
- Tape measure or ruler
- Marking tool – I generally prefer a chalk pen or washable marker
- Optional: fusible interfacing for the waistband. Whether you use interfacing or not depends on the type of fabric you choose. I interfaced the waistband of the skirt I’m wearing in this post.
- Sewing machine, scissors, thread, pins, etc – all your basic sewing supplies
Suggested fabrics – this skirt works best with woven fabrics. The fabric drape is going to affect how close the skirt hangs to your body. Polyester crepe, like I used for this skirt, has a lot of drape. Quilting cotton does not. For more discussion of fabric drape, check this post.
I’ve got a video of making this skirt below, and you can also watch it on YouTube here if the video won’t load for some reason. For a more detailed step by step, scroll below the video.
Creating the Pattern Piece
To start, you need to measure your waist where you want the skirt to sit. This doesn’t have to be at your natural waist; choose the spot you feel is most flattering for you.
Then you need to do a little circle math. Follow the diagram below if you’ve never made a circle skirt.
A suggestion – cut the skirt as long as you can (i.e. make B as long as your fabric will let you). This is because you’ll lose some length when you even out the hem later. And of course the length of the skirt is also limited by the inner circle that is your waist measurement.
I like to make my circle skirt pattern right on my fabric, but if you want to draw it out on paper gift wrap paper on rolls is great to use as pattern paper. It’s especially great if you get it on clearance after Christmas and it has the measurement grid on the back side, as you’ll be drawing on that side.
Cutting Out The Fabric
Fold your fabric so that the selvedges match, then fold the fabric again on the crossgrain. Working from the corner that has 4 folds and no raw edges, mark out a quarter circle that is your waist circumference divided by 6.28. As you are doing your calculations, round numbers down to the closest 1/8 inch. This is because circles have areas on the bias grain and those areas tend to stretch, so if you go up your skirt will be too big. Then measure from the waist marking out in another quarter circle to mark the hem of the skirt.
Cut your skirt on both marks, and unfold to find a big donut. Note: if you want a longer skirt, or you’re working with narrower width fabric, you can cut two half circles and seam them together on the edges. Just remember to add seam allowances to the cut side seams.
Next, with your skirt folded into a half circle on the straight or cross grain, cut open one edge so that we can create a seam and add a zipper to it.
Cut a strip of fabric for the waistband that is at least 1 inch longer than your waist measurement and 2 1/2 inches wide. You want it that long so that you have 1/2 inch overhang at each end of the skirt. Prep the waistband by folding in half, wrong sides together and matching the long edges. Press, making a crease mark. Cut a 3/4 inch wide strip of fusible interfacing, and fuse it onto one side of the waistband, lined up with the crease mark on the wrong side. Finally, press the raw edge of the non-interfaced side of the waistband 1/2 inch to the wrong side.
Adding The Waistband
Follow this tutorial to install an invisible zipper and insert the zipper at the top of the seam.
Unzip the zipper, then attach the interfaced side of the waistband to the skirt with 1/2 inch hanging beyond the skirt on each edge, pinning right sides together. If your skirt has stretched and is longer than the waistband, sew a gathering stitch around the top to gather it very slightly to fit the waistband.
Fold the waistband right sides together on each end, and stitch across the short end next to the zipper. Turn band right side out, and then press the seam allowances up. Fold the inner part of the waistband over the seam, then stitch in the ditch on the right side of the skirt to secure the waistband.
Hemming The Skirt
Because parts of a circle skirt hang on the bias grain, it’s a good idea to hang the skirt overnight before hemming, to make sure you can get an even hem. When you pick the skirt back up later, you’ll need to trim the hem to make it smooth. You can see in the image above that the parts of my skirt that are on the bias grain hang longer than the rest.
To mark the hem, you need to put the skirt on. If you have a friend that can help you mark it, that’s idea, but if you don’t, this trick can work.
Finally, sew a rolled hem on the skirt to finish it, and you’re done!