Posted in My Makes

Polka Dot Circle Skirt

A while ago I was given this gorgeous navy blue polka dot fabric by a family friend. I’m not sure exactly what fabric it is but it’s medium weight and it has a lovely drape so I decided I would make a full circle skirt, which works well with drapey fabrics. I broadly followed the instructions in Lisa Comfort’s Sew Over It: Vintage book, which a friend gave me for my birthday, but I replaced the button plackets at the front with a lapped zip in the side seam.

The skirt was the first experience I’ve had with drafting my own pattern – it’s a good one to start with because you only need two measurements (and a calculator with a pi button). After a couple of takes I had a paper pattern which would supposedly fit me perfectly. I then merrily went about cutting out the fabric, but once I had cut one of the two semi-circles, I realised that there was no way I could fit another semi-circle onto the remaining fabric! At this point I had a small but poignant meltdown (just ask my mum), before doing what any good seamstress would have done to start with, and made the best of the situation. So I instead cut two quarter-circles, adding a 1cm seam allowance so they could be sewn together.

Consequently, my first step was to sew a nice centre-back seam to join my two quarter-circles into one semi-circle. I then sewed the two side seams, inserting my lapped zip into the left seam.

My aunt and uncle got me several hundred glass-headed pins for Christmas. Only some of them ended up on the floor

Then it was onto the waistband, which was cut in one long piece and interfaced. I pinned it onto the top of my skirt, realised the waist of the skirt had stretched out of shape and was now too big, and had my second meltdown of the project. All I wanted was a polka dot circle skirt that fit me properly. Was that too much to ask?

Clearly, when your sewing skills are as primitive as mine.

After a lot of fuss and bother and easing and getting stabbed by pins, I finally beat that stubborn waistband into submission, and sewed it onto my skirt.

Nice try, waistband. But I win this round

Then I folded the waistband over and sink-stitched the folded edge down. A pair of hooks and eyes completed the waistband.

Bearing in mind this skirt was made over several days, the red nails aren’t doing too badly

Now all that was left to do was hem the skirt. I pressed under a small, 5mm double turning around the whole bottom edge, and sewed in place. This took a long time – because of the radius of the waistband and the length of the skirt, the bottom hem was getting on for 4m all the way round! Plenty of fabric for twirling though.

Twirling feat. our dodgy college curtains

I’m pretty happy with this skirt. It would be perfect if I hadn’t had the waistband-stretching issue, but that won’t stop me endlessly spinning away to my heart’s content! And it’s already had a few compliments from my friends, which is, after all, what we dressmakers are aiming for!



Hello! I'm Hannah and I'm a Classics undergrad at Cambridge. I spend most of the time which I should be spending on my degree crocheting and sewing instead.

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