How-To: Authentic Retro Circle Skirts II: Half-Full

Here is a second tutorial if you, like me, are a female who is shorter and/or a bit curvier. A really full skirt (like the full circle skirt in my previous post) can make me feel stumpy, so I generally prefer skirts with a slimmer profile. Never fear, a circle skirt can still meet your needs, if adjusted a bit. The following steps should get you through making a circle skirt with about half the fullness of the skirt we just went through.

This is what your skirt will look like after you've cut it out.

1. Even though your waist measurement hasn’t changed, your initial radius will. Your waistline is now going to be a half-circle, rather than a full circle, so your circumference actually needs to be twice as big! Take your waist measurement, multiply it times 2, and add 1.25” for your seam allowance. Here’s mine: 34 x 2 + 1.25 = 58.25″

2. Using this larger circumference, calculate the radius just as you did before (divide it by 6.28). My new radius is 11.02- we’ll just call it 11”.

3. Figure out your skirt length just as before (don’t forget to add 1” for your hem). Add that length to your radius and this is the radius for your outer circle (hem). Mine is 11” + 22”= 33”

4. Using this new radius, figure out how much fabric you need. Multiply it times two for your total diameter (mine is 66”). It looks like you need more fabric for this skirt, but remember, we’re just doing a half-circle here, so you will need a piece of fabric that has one side as wide as your outer radius, and one side that is as long as your diameter, so I will need a piece of fabric that is 33” x 66”, or not quite 2 yards of any width fabric, with some extra for the waistband (or lining).

5. Make your pattern. Mine is going to be another quarter circle, but I will only fold the fabric in half, since the finished cut piece is only going to be a half-circle.

6. Construct it just as before. Embellishments. Waistband. Fit check. Zipper. Hem. Embellishments.

I’m going to admit now that I made two versions of this skirt- the first was a TOTAL FAILURE!  The theory was perfect and the skirt fit exactly as intended. I cut a base layer of thin white cotton, and then layered on top of it pie slice-shaped wedges of white lace from my remnants collection. I went wrong in a few places- rather than rounding the hems on the lace pieces I left them straight to preserve the pretty scalloping, then tried to shape them to be round by gathering the long edges. In theory I would have a slightly pouffy, moderately princess-y skirt that would be a cute go-to for summer. In actuality, I had a VERY puffy, very princess-y too-long skirt that made me look kind of like a hobbit in drag for a Vegas wedding. It was bad. I was too ashamed to even take pictures, so please just take my word for it.

So then I scrounged through my remnants again to find a piece big enough to try again, and I came across this chiffon left over from a blouse I made a while ago- very cute, yes? I also found some nude jersey that I could use as a lining. As you can see in the picture above, I used my quarter-circle pattern on my folded-in-half chiffon to make my half-circle. I wanted the finished skirt to look as lean as possible, so rather than making the lining a half-circle as well, I made it much less full by folding in the edges of my half-circle to the mid-point on the hem and I used this as a guide to cut my lining. I used this method because I wanted to preserve the roundness on the hem and maintain some fullness in the lining to ease movement.

I then proceeded as I describe in the steps- I attached the lining to the skirt, checked the fit, installed the zipper, and hemmed the skirt and lining independently. I think it turned out to be really cute. I learned a few things from my finished photos though- mostly, I look a million times better in profile than I do straight-on. I blame this on being short, especially on my freakishly short torso. You can see that this skirt is significantly less full than my first circle skirt, but no less fun.

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6 responses to “How-To: Authentic Retro Circle Skirts II: Half-Full

    • These are an especially great starter project to learn on- if you pick a stretchy fabric to work with, like a cotton jersey, you don’t even have to put in a zipper! And it will feel like pajamas, but be way cuter

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