Friday, December 22, 2017

Sewing a Circle Skirt (Free Tutorial!)

One of my besties ("A") has bought into my mission to build an intentional, sustainable wardrobe and asked me to teach her to sew. I tried not to be TOO eager when I jumped at the chance. 😉  A wanted something she could wear in an office environment, as she's finding that her professional wear wardrobe doesn't really fit her personal style anymore.

We started with tea towels (tutorial here) to get her familiar with using a machine before jumping into a more complicated project. We discussed a couple beginner-friendly skirts and decided that a simple circle skirt is totally her style while also being very forgiving of potential newbie sewist mistakes.

Here's what you need:
  • 1.5-2 yards of fabric. A picked out a lovely forest green, medium weight poly knit from Joann's, but you could use almost anything. Just keep in mind the desired drape/structure of your finished skirt when choosing fabric.
  • Interfacing for the waist band
  • 7-9 inch invisible zipper
  • Matching thread
Here's how you do it:

1. Take measurements: around your waist (W) and from your waist to the desired length (L). To achieve Alyssa's results, measure from your waist to just the very tippy top of your knees. Measure twice—it's important that these measurements are accurate so you don't need to make too many adjustments later.

2. Cut fabric as follows:

I recommend cutting out the larger circle (what will become your hemline) before cutting the smaller circle (which will attach to the waist band) to preserve your center point and making measuring a bit easier. The easiest way I've found to measure out circles is to take a string your desired length, hold one end at the center of your circle and the other end (with marking tool in hand) swivels around the edge of your circle, marking as you go.

3. Interface the wrong side of your waist band to give it a bit more structure and help retain its shape.

4. Fold the waistband in half vertically (hotdog) wrong sides together. Press. Using a basting stitch, sew the layers together using a 3/8" seam allowance. **Full disclosure, we didn't do this, and I think it would've helped A have a guide when she was attaching the waist band. It also helps ensure your waistband doesn't get out of line and ripple.

5. Cut a slit in your skirt piece 7 inches from the waist edge (I found it easiest to slice down the fold line from the cutting stage to keep your cut nice and straight).

6. Pin your waist band to the skirt piece, right sides together and matching openings. If your edges don't match perfectly, you can gather the waist line of your skirt so that it meets. We found that A's hardly needed any gathering at all—the more precise your measurements, the less gathering necessary.

7. Using a zig-zag stitch, attach your waistband to the skirt, following your basting stitch line from step 4.

8. Press your seam allowance down towards the skirt.

9. Iron your opening under 5/8" to prepare for your zipper.

10. Insert the invisible zipper. Though I inserted A's zipper since I thought that would be a bit stressful for someone so green to machine sewing, I am definitely not an expert (yet!) on invisible zips. I recommend you refer to this tutorial if you need help. Don't forget to iron open your zipper!!!! Otherwise, you'll become very cranky spending half an hour picking out practically invisible stitches while your very nice friend sits and watches you struggle when you're supposed to be teaching her (not speaking from experience or anything). That being said, if you are a beginner sewist, don't be hard on yourself if it takes a couple tries! I would recommend using a basting stitch first if you're new to invisible zips, much easier to pick out mistakes that way. 😉

11. Fold your hem under 1", press and pin. If you're using a woven fabric, fold that in half to create a 0.5" double hem, pressing again and pinning there.

12. Sew all around to secure your hem.

13. Put it on and swish and spin to your heart's content! You did it!

Here's what you make:

A was such a champ and it was awesome to see her skills progressing so quickly even with just one project! She was also very gracious when I messed up the invisible zip and cursed under my breath for a little while. 😅  My first me-made garment was completely unwearable, so I'm really proud of A for being incredibly patient with herself and creating such a beautiful, totally "her" piece!

This is a perfect low stakes, high reward project for beginner sewists. What were your first sewing projects? I hope they made you want to smile and swirl like that!

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