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How to cut and sew a circle skirt from multiple panels

This is a post I've been meaning to write for a while. Like pretty much ever since we developed our circle skirt calculator! We've all been there - we're getting ready to cut out a circle skirt, measuring out the radius and length, factoring in the hemming allowance... when we realise we don't have quite enough fabric 😩 or the fabric is simply too narrow 😭

The problem with circle skirts, is that they take up and actually waste a whole lotta fabric. Add to that the fact that it is nigh on impossible to cut a basic full circle, knee length skirt from two panels if you have a waist measurement of more than just 32"! And what about if you wanted to make a floor length circle skirt? Or even a double circle skirt?? Heads have been scratched worldwide, but thankfully there's a beautiful solution: panels!

{The fabric for this skirt was kindly gifted to us by our friends at Sew Essential}

If you divide a full circle up into smaller slithers, like a pizza, you are in turn able to lay out those panels much more efficiently on your fabric, giving you the freedom to make circle skirts no matter your waist measurement or length preference, and getting more out of your fabric. Once you've nailed the circle skirt maths bit - and we have a calculator and a blog post for that - creating a pattern piece for a multi-panelled circle skirt is straightforward, and we're here today to show you how!

What you'll need:

  • Some pattern paper - we like dot & cross or baking paper
  • Pens and pencils
  • A long metal ruler
  • A tape measure

NB: This tutorial will be written assuming you want to make a full circle skirt from eight panels that is 25" long (just on the knee or thereabouts - obviously people of different heights will require varying lengths).

Step 1 - figure out the radius

Using our circle skirt calculator, figure out your radius. Make sure that you select full circle. Don't worry too much about the length option, or if it says that your chosen skirt won't fit onto a 45" or 60" fabric - that's exactly why we're writing this post: to make a circle skirt fit on any width fabric no matter your waist measurement or skirt length preference!

Step 2 - draw it out

On your pattern paper, and using the diagram on the circle skirt calculator, draw out your quarter circle shape. It's important here to note the fact that the circle skirt calculator includes 5/8" seam allowance at the waist and down one side seam, and assumes that the other side will be placed on the fold. 

If you weren't cutting your circle skirt from multiple panels, this quarter circle shape is the pattern you would use to cut your circle skirt from - you'd be placing this quarter circle on a length of fabric folded in half, cutting two half circles and stitching them together at the side seams to create a full circle skirt.

Before you split your quarter circle up into narrower panels, shave off that 5/8" seam allowance down the side seam (leave it at the waistline) and ignore the "place on fold", so you're left with a plain old quarter circle shape with no seam allowance at the side seam.

Step 3 - split your quarter circle in half

Draw a straight line directly through the centre of your quarter circle. This will turn your quarter circle into two eighth circles - which is exactly what we want for a full circle skirt made from eight panels!

If you were wanting to make your panels even narrower and more plentiful, divide your quarter circle in thirds (which would give you 12 panels) or quarters (16 panels).

 

Step 4 - add seam allowance back on

The final thing to do is add 5/8" seam allowance to both side seams of your new narrower panel. 

Remember to add the relevant information to the pattern piece such as: full circle skirt; my waist measurement; cut 4 pairs. The grainline of the pattern piece can either be parallel to one of the side seams (and this will help you get the most out of your fabric), or down the centre of the panel.

Now, when you cut eight of these panels and sew them altogether, you'll have a full circle skirt constructed of eight panels!

Comments on this post (3)

  • Aug 02, 2020

    Thanks for this pattern. I"ve been trying to make it for my granddaughter.

    — Juanita Holder

  • Jul 17, 2020

    Thank you for posting this…..perfect timing! This just popped up in my feed. I am in the process of working on a vintage dress with a gathered ‘dirndl’ skirt. Not wanting extra bulk at the waistline with a gathered lining I was thinking of a circle skirt lining, but what a waste of precious batiste! I will give this a go….

    Thank you!
    Barbara

    — Barbara

  • Jul 03, 2020

    Thank you for this post. I have been looking to find a full circle or make one but couldn’t because of the fabric length. And I had in my mind this idea but didn’t know how to execute it. This was clear and easy to understand

    — Dreah

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