Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tutorial for Circle Skirt with Ruffle

Originally written and posted June 5, 2010.

After posting the pictures of my newest skirt, the circle with a ruffle, I was asked about the pattern. I rarely use patterns (although I do enjoy experimenting more with them these days!) and I didn’t use a pattern for this skirt…I designed and then made it. There’s probably already some pattern out there that resembles this…personally, I think it’s too obvious a design for there not to be a pattern already! But you don’t need a paper pattern to make this skirt! It’s so simple; all you need is some math skills! And trust me, if I can do the math, so can you!

I made a diagram of the cuts that you’ll need to make on the fabric. Sometimes it does make all the difference in the world if you can actually see what I’m talking about! I’ll explain the math, and how you figure out your measurements. Then you can just plug in your numbers and figure your own. Keep in mind, you can’t make this skirt any longer without altering the ruffle’s fullness. When I made this skirt, I wanted to have a ton of ruffles, and I knew it would be long enough, if not quite as long as I would usually like it. It turned out plenty long enough, but if your waist is bigger, and you take up more fabric that way, you can alter the ruffle to make up for the fabric lost in the making of the waist.
Here is the diagram of the cuts. I’ll try to explain it the best I can! we go! This piece of fabric is 60 inches wide and 3 yards long. For the circle part, you will go ahead and cut a square off of one end of the fabric, 60 inches long. You’ll then have a piece of fabric left measuring 60 X 48 inches. Put that aside and let’s focus on the circle! Life would be much easier for you if you would fold the large square of fabric into a smaller square. Just fold it twice, in half one way, and then in half the other way. Like…well, you know…just make a smaller square! When you look at this fabric, folded in this way, you’ll only be looking at 1/4 of the circle…just so you don’t go cutting and cutting trying to make it look like a circle right now or anything like that! Now we’ll use some math. You need to find the radius of your waist. It’s not as hard as it sounds! Just get your waist measurment (mine is about 30 inches) and divide that number by 3.14 (so mine is 9.5541401273885350318471337579618 inches…which is SO not on my sewing tape!) and divide THAT number by 2. So if you need a written formula: waist/3.14/2. Waist divided by 3.14, divided by 2. Mine (rounded, of course!) is about 4 1/2 inches. I’ve started cutting a little on the smaller side of my measurment, because the circle you cut for the waist has a tendency to stretch. Ok, so in the top, left hand corner of the smaller, folded square, you need to mark 4 1/2 inches on both sides. You’ll then need to draw an arc connecting the 2 marks, to mark your waist. You can just leave that marked, without cutting it yet, and it will be easier to mark out your hem. I cut the circle as long as possible, so there’s not any measuring to be done for that. If you want to make it shorter, you can change that here. To do that, you’ll need to decided how long you want it, refer to the ruffle section to see how long that part will be, and then adjust this length accordingly. This ended up being 25 1/2 inches long. (the circle part only.) Anyway, if you want to do it the same way I did, here’s how! To make marking the hem a little easier, I tie a marking pencil to one end of a piece of yarn the appropriate length (here it’s 30 inches, measured from the corner, uncut) and tie a knot in the other end of the yarn, through which I stick a pin. Then, I stick the pin (with the yarn attached) through the fabric in the top left corner, and in my case, I also stick it through the carpet, and through the padding underneath the carpet. I don’t have a workspace, so it has to be done in the floor. It works, though, and the pin through all of that holds everything in place! Then, you use the pencil on the other end of the yarn to mark your fabric in that large arc all the way across the fabric. See what we did? We made a compass so your circle would be even! After your 2 arcs are drawn onto your fabric, it should look like this. And hopefully, your arcs will be better than mine…I am horrible at drawing on Paint!!!

Ok, so if you open this baby up, it’ll be a circle! Magic! Well, not really magic, just some math and scissors… However, if you’ll notice, you really won’t be able to get this thing on. (My regular circle skirts are different than this, as they have seams that you can put a zipper in!) That’s pretty unnacceptable, so you’ll need to cut on side of this open. Like so….dotted line is the cut, in case you couldn’t figure that out!!!

Now, you’ll need some sort of waist deal going on. I just put a facing in mine, but you could also sew a waistband on. I think it really depends on the fabric you’re using. To make the facing, all I did was take 2 scraps (from the corner we cut out) and I laid them on top of the waist circle (to get the angle and measuring right,) and cut out the facing. Does that make sense at all? Then I sewed them on, right sides together (2 of the edges of the facing are sewn together, with both open ends where you’ll put the zipper in) and also sewed a line on the facing, through the seam allowance where it was sewn onto the skirt, to keep it from rolling. Well, that’s what it says on the patterns when it tells you to do that… After you get a waist made and attached, you can sew the seam (the one that you cut in the circle) up until the 7 or 9 inches where your zipper will be, and then put the zipper in. If you don’t know about putting zippers in and all, there’s probably other online tutorials dedicated to that…as well as the waistband situation, if you want to Google that. I’m no expert when it comes to those things; usually I decide what kind of waist and closure to use when I work with the fabric.

So now we have a finished circle skirt, just missing the ruffle! If you refer back to the original diagram, You’ll see that remaining 48 inches divided into 4 sections. These are all equal in width, 12 inches each. You need to sew all these together into one enormously long strip. It’s actually 240 inches long, which feels like maybe 2 miles when you’re hemming and gathering it. You’ll see. After these are all sewn together, you need to hem one loooong edge, and put a gathering stitch in the other loooong edge. To make this easier (and since I tend to break gathering stitches, which causes extreme frustration in my case,) I did a new gathering line at each seam, so I had 4 sections. I divided my circle into 4 sections, and pinned a seam of the ruffle at each division. Then I pulled up and adjusted the gathering stitches one section at a time. I pinned it as I went, and went ahead and sewed the ruffle down, when I got to each section division. It was easier to me to do it this way, instead of doing the whole thing at one time. It took forEVER. I’m used to turning out circle skirts in a couple of hours, though, so this probably wasn’t too bad…I am just too impatient when it comes to sewing!

Let me know if you have any questions, or if I forgot to add anything…I’m sure I did! Here’s the finished skirt, which, of course, you’ve already seen! I hope the tutorial is helpful and clear! I’m not used to writing them…yet! :)

And if you missed it, the picture post highlighting can be found here.


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