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This requires a bit of geometry but dont worry, well break it down for you. Ive tried
to keep it as simple as possible with a small diagram and a few definitions:
Circumference = the entire distance around a circle (in this case, your waist length,
plus 2 inches)
Radius = the distance from the center of the circle to the outside of the circle
pi (that funny symbol below) = 3.14 (approximately)
You need to figure out the radius so you can easily draw a circle. If you remember
from math class: Circumference = 2 x pi x r (radius). Ive flipped the equation
around a bit and came up with this diagram:
Let me break it down a little more:
* Measure your waist
* Add two inches to that number. You need these extra two inches so the fabric has
give and will actually stretch when its sewn on to the elastic. It will create a
very subtle gather to the skirt but will make it easier to get the skirt on and off. This
will make more sense as you sew.
* Take your waist + 2 inches measurement and divide it by 6.28, and you have the
* In Lucys case.
Her waist is 19 inches, plus 2 inches = 21 inches divided by 6.28 = 3.3 inch radius.
(NOTE: One method for drawing your circle is to tie string or yarn to a pencil, hold
the string in the corner of your paper and draw, just like you did in grade school with
a compass. For me it was easier to use a ruler, which Ill show you below. So do
what works best for you!)
* You only need to draw 1/4 of a donut circle for your pattern, so.
* Take a piece of paper (or many pieces of paper taped together).
*In the bottom left corner, at
the right angle, place the end of a ruler and measure and mark the radius in various
places. It might be hard to figure out on a ruler where 3.3 inches is, but do your best.
Since the skirt has a small gather to it, you have room for error.
Then connect the dots to
draw 1/4 of a circle! Just free hand it. With enough markings, you can draw it pretty
* Decide how long your want
your skirt to be. Lucys gray skirt hits her about an inch or two above the knee, and
her skirt length is about 9 1/2 inches.. Add an extra inch for the hem and the top
seam (near the elastic). Its always best to make it slightly longer than you think, so
you have room for error. You can always cut length off as you create the hem.
* With your ruler on the edge of the circle just drawn, measure and mark the skirt
length in various spots on your pattern, and
draw another 1/4 circle:
Now you have a donut! (or at
least 1/4 of it). Cut off the center circle and your pattern is ready.
Lets cut the fabric.
* Fold your fabric in 4ths, so you have a right-angled corner to work with. Lay your
1/4 donut pattern on top, so that the edges hit the edges of your fabric. Mark it and
When youre done, it should
look like this (the skirt is folded in half):
First, finish off the top of the
skirt. Serge around the waist. If you dont have a serger, you can zigzag the edge,
leave it raw, or iron the waist down 1/4 of an inch and iron it down another 1/4 of
an inch. It just depends on your preference. Personally I dont like any raw edges in
my garment since it starts to fray as you wash.
When youre done it should
look like this:
Lets sew the elastic
With the elastic folded in half, sew it together, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance:
Next, if you prefer, serge
each seam edge separately to seal off the raw edges. Do not serge the seam
together since youre going to be fanning it out.
Fan the seam out and sew
down each side. This will help the waistband lay flatter on your skirt.
I use the inside of my presser
foot to guide me down, so Im sewing evenly on each side.
When youre done, it should
look like this on the right side:
Add a label if youd like and
youre ready to attach the waistband to your skirt. Its always best to try the elastic
band on your child before sewing on the skirt. I made this mistake and when I tried
the finished skirt on Lucy, the elastic ended up being one inch too big and I had to
take the whole thing apart.
As you can see, the elastic is
slightly smaller than the fabric waist. This is good! If they were exactly the same size
and you sewed the fabric onto the elastic, you would never be able to stretch the
elastic at all (unless you had used stretchy fabric). It would snap the thread as you
tried to stretch the skirt on and off. Thus, the extra fabric length will give a slight
gather to the skirt and create some give.
Start pinning the elastic band
to the skirt. Find the middle of the back of the skirt and pin that first. Pin the elastic so
that it hangs about 1/4 of an inch on top of the skirt.
Like this:
Then flip the skirt over and pin
it in the middle of the front of the skirt:
Then pin the elastic down on
both sides of the skirt.
It should look something like
Then continue cutting the
gaps in half by pinning the elastic down. You can pin as much or as little as you like.
I usually pin down about 8
Now lets sew it on. The
important part here is that you need to stretch the elastic as you go, so that its taut
with the fabric. Use both hands as you go, pulling it straight in the front and the
back and sew from pin to pin, stretching it bits at a time.
Heres a side view. This is how
it looks relaxed:
And heres how it should look
when pulled taut:
Youll need your hand in the
back to help guide everything through.
You can use a zigzag or a
straight stitch. Ive tried both and prefer a straight-stitch because it looks a bit
cleaner. When youre done it should look like this on the outside:
and this on the inside:
Were almost done! We just
need to hem the skirt. Trim any uneven spots around the bottom of the skirt or if you
want it to be shorter, cut off the extra length.
Serge around the bottom of
the skirt. If you dont have a serger, iron the edge over 1/4 of an inch and continue
to the next step.
Iron the edge of the skirt
under. I prefer a very small hem on this skirt so that it bounces and twirls better.
Then sew the hem down,
about 1/8 inch from the fabric edge.
And youre done!
Try it on,
Give it a whirl!
And enjoy a little treat.
Happy spinning!
Tips for making an Adult version:
* I followed the same instructions outlined in this tutorial.
* I recommend sticking to very lightweight fabrics. This skirt was made with a slinky
polyester charmeuse (feels similar to a silky scarf) and it drapes beautifully. I made
another version, which Ill share later, with a thicker wool tweed and it adds a bit
more bulk to the hip area. With Lucy, thats not a problem. With me, Id like to
minimize the padding.
* 60-inch wide fabric works best. Depending on your waist size and the length of
your skirt you can cut an entire circle using 60-inch wide fabric. My circle pattern
just barely made it and took about 1 1/2 yards of fabric (I purchased 2 yards just to
be safe).
* If you have 45-inch wide fabric, or if your circle is bigger than the fabric, you can
cut two semi-circles and have two seams down the sides. Youll have to do a little
math to figure how many yards of fabric you need. Make your pattern first and then
work out the math. I would recommend using fabrics with a pattern to disguise the
* The dimensions of my skirt are:
Elastic waistband 29 inches
Radius 4.75 inches (appx)
Length 22 inches (long enough to hit my knees).
I typically wear a size 4 or 6 in skirts.