October 20, 2014

Och aye the circle skirt

This is another garment that social media built!
I saw this blue, brown and orange plaid on Sunni’s A Fashionable Stitch Instagram, and instantly knew it would have to be mine. Although my accent sadly lets me down, I am, actually, from Scotland, and can prove this by my love of haggis (not kidding, it’s delicious), deep fried mars bars and tartan. All that said, I’ve yet to make anything from tartan fabric, and this cried out to me to be the first. Then I saw on the listing page that Sunni wanted to make a circle skirt from it… and lo it was decided (incidentally, there is an abundance of absolutely awesome wool on Sunni’s website – you must check it out before I go on a one-woman buying spree).

Funnily enough I’ve never actually made a circle skirt before, despite the fact it’s many people’s first garment. They are indeed easy to make, and even more so using By Hand London’s handy circle skirt calculator – just plug in your waist measurement and desired length and you’re sorted. I wanted mine to be a bit longer but was constrained the width of my fabric and not wanting too many seams.

The benefit of a plaid circle skirt is that you can also serve as a picnic blanket in emergency picnic situations:


I made a very simple straight waistband… (yes yes yes I should have moved the waistband over a inch – I only noticed once it was too late!)


… and I used a side invisible zipper, with a little waistband overlap, secured on the inside with an internal button and a hook and eye ( my new favourite waistband fastening approach).
On the inside, I used pre-made turquoise binding to finish the seams neatly (I felt like such beautiful wool deserved more than the savagery of my serger), and then, after hanging it for 24 hours to let the bias stretch out, I finished the hem with seam binding and hand blind stitching. Yes, it takes a long while. No, it’s not too bad if you watch Scandal when you’re doing it.
And check out this pattern matching if you will…


And there you go! Sometimes the simplest patterns are the best for showcasing special fabrics. And I would thoroughly encourage any beginner to give it a go – it’s a fantastic way to make a garment without following a pattern and to get your head around the fact that once you have the basics down, it’s quite easy to make your very own skirt from scratch.


What do you think of circle skirt Cashmerette readers? Do you prefer 3/4 circles a la Mary? (I must say her fabric seems to have been chosen by someone with *exceptional* taste..) I myself am lacking in the hip & bum department so welcome any help in that area… I can’t wait for bustles to get back in fashion!


45 thoughts on “Och aye the circle skirt

  1. Sam says:

    I love this! The colours in the tartan are gorgeous and your pattern matching is superb. Must make myself a circle skirt one of these days.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Sam! The colours are definitely what attracted me in the first place… That Sunni has good taste!

  2. Wow! this is fantastic! I actually had a skirt made for me (long before I started sewing) almost exactly the same as this for a highland dancing show… I think my sewing plans have just been dealt a sideways blow!

    1. Jenny says:

      Oh I think I may have to enter a Highland dancing show now! I did briefly do highland dancing as a wee nipper and can do a half hearted attempt when drunk

  3. Smashing! Speaking of bustles I went to a V&A exhibition on the history of underwear on the weekend that is touring through australia. Not only was it amazing but had the most marvellous convertible metal bustle that folded up, concertina style, when the wearer sat down. Hilarious.

    1. Jenny says:

      Oh my! That sounds amazing but I’d be scared my bits would get trapped…!

  4. Jane says:

    Lovely! It really is the perfect garment to showcase such beautiful fabric. I’ve just made a half circle skirt, which sadly I’m not in love with – I think they suit some people much better than others. In your case it REALLY suits you, you look fab! x

    1. Jenny says:

      That’s a shame about your skirt – what is it that you don’t like? I wondered how full I should make mine but decided to go the whole hog given I’m fine with skirts that make my hips look bigger!

  5. cidell says:

    This is awesome sauce. I love love love plaids. But, am always scared to sew them up. Also, my mother’s maiden name is apparently Scottish. So, I’ve decided that’s why I love the tartan so much. Great job. That waistband is the business.

    1. Jenny says:

      They’re not actually that scary compared to stripes – a lot less matching up to do, at least on skirts (I don’t think I’m brave enough yet to do a plaid blazer like Sunni). The key is lots and lots of pins and a walking foot – and also knowing that even if it isn’t perfect no one will notice 🙂

  6. Katy Patzel says:

    Boom on that plaid matching! This skirt is so fall. I loves it! Now I want a wool circle skirt and I already have one hanging in my closet.

    1. Jenny says:

      The question dear Katy is do you have ENOUGH wool circle skirts? And the answer is no, you do not.

  7. Andie L. says:

    Gorgeous! I love the fabric and am a sucker for a circle skirt. Twirl, girl! 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      I’m a-twirling!

  8. i love circle skirts…in theory. i’ve made several & the problem is that they really know how to catch a gust of wind. i’ve tried wearing cut-off leggings & tights under them, but since so much of my life involves walking around pushing a stroller (ie, no hands free to adjust my skirt), it’s really maybe just not worth it to me.

    that said, your skirt is really beautiful, & if you have any tips on wearing one without getting arrested for flashing, i am all ears.

    1. Jenny says:

      I think my solution to that is tights + being shameless 😉

  9. joen says:

    Great job! love the way your finished the seams!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Joen! It takes a little longer than serging but looks a lot more polished I think

  10. Beautiful! That plaid is so freaking gorgeous. I may be a total copycat and order some, for a 3/4 version of your lovely. You rock a full circle so, so well!

    1. Jenny says:

      DO IT! Then we can be twins, and you should probably then come to Boston so you have somewhere cold enough to justify wearing it.

  11. Gorgeous! I want to make one. (As soon as I finish my four WIPs.)

  12. You inspired me…I ordered the purple plaid for a circle. 😉

    1. Jenny says:

      AWESOMESAUCE. I was totally checking out the purple plaid too…

  13. Marjie says:

    I have some floral full circle skirts. They are so much fun! I love your plaid version.

    1. Jenny says:

      Fun is definitely the word! So swooshy.

  14. Fabulous skirt! Lovely colour on you. I think I wouldn’t stop twirling if I wore such a great skirt. 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      Twirling twirling twirling… (and hopefully everyone doesn’t see my knickers)

  15. This is so gorgeous! Sunni’s IG feed has been a real source of temptation lately- there’s some horribly nice fabric listed right now!!! I love this on you! It’s gorgeous! Would you believe I’ve never made any kind of circle skirt? Crazy, huh?

    1. Jenny says:

      OMG I have to physically restrain myself

  16. Margo B says:

    Beautiful! Yummy fall plaid!!

  17. Mel says:

    It is a beautiful skirt and you have every reason to be proud.

    Just a friendly note: Don’t be surprised if you have to re-hem it in the future, maybe more than once. In my experience circle skirt hems hang out during the wear and tear of normal garment life, even hanging in the closet(!). It has nothing to do with your skills as a seamstress and everything to do with the way the fabric responds to hanging on the bias. (But maybe you’ll get lucky and the woolen yarns in your fabric have a lot of texture and won’t slip easily. That could happen.)

    1. Jenny says:

      Ah yes, I’ve heard about that happening – I will keep and eye out!

  18. OH MY GOD, I’M FLYING TO BOSTON AND STEALING THIS FROM YOU. Seriously, I love it. Circle skirts are one of my favorite things ever, and I love how easy they are to make. It really does make you want to make the garment flawless with bound seams and hand-sewn hem and whatnot.

  19. You have inspired me yet again lady. I could not find such a bold tartan unfortunatly. Here’s mine


  20. hilde says:

    Beautiful skirt; the fabric really pops! Might be tempted to make similar skirt 😉

  21. Michelle Roberts says:

    OMGish! I love this! I’ve never heard of a circle skirt! I want it, lol! Do you make clothes for other people?

  22. Zarndra says:

    Looks great, I do wonder how you made the side button part? Tute?

    1. Zarndra says:

      Oh dramas of being a larger girl you cannot make a full circle midi skirt off any 45-60″ width fabric… How did you do it? Or any other suggestions?

      1. I think I ended up making the longest skirt I could given my waist measurement – but like you, I can’t make a midi length one. That said, you can always do it panels/gores – that’s one reason I really like Butterick B5929 – it gives you a circle skirt sort of look, but you don’t need huge fabric.

  23. Abby says:

    Beautiful skirt! I love the plaid fabric you used.

    P.S. Your link to Mary’s blog is unfortunately broken.

  24. Andrea Letourneau says:

    Lovely skirt and fabulous pattern matching along the side seams. The only thing I’d change is to add pockets on the side seams so I’d have a place to stash stuff.

Let me know what you think!