March 4, 2017

Skirt tutorial!

When I posted some pictures of my blue skirt on the We Sew Retro Facebook group, some commenters asked about the pattern... 

I usually mention that my clothes are self-drafted but I forgot to add that this time. Of course, like all full skirts, half-circle skirts are easy to draft. And splitting the skirt pattern into gores and adding a pocket aren't exactly rocket science either.

The starting point for this skirt is simple (and very similar to drafting a circle skirt). You only need one measurement: the waist (with any ease you may want added to it. If you want your skirt to sit below the natural waist, use the measurement of that point on your body. Just keep in mind that a straight waistband might not work so well in that case).
To find the radius of your half circle, use this formula: (waist measurement x 2): 6.28
It's the formula you use to calculate a circle skirt, times two. Use this number to draw the waistline of your skirt.
Measure from the waistline down to determine the length of the skirt

If, like me, you have used the corner of a piece of paper as your starting point, you now have a pattern which will give you a custom-sized half circle skirt if you cut it on the fold and add seam allowance at the open edge. 
I usually don't cut skirts like this in one piece, it's not very economical. I normally split the pattern in half and cut one half on the fold and the other half in the other direction along the selvedge (which gives me a skirt with sides seams and a center back seam). 
Using this fabric, I had the nap to think of though (and piecing skirts which are segments of circles changes the grainline which influences the drape of the skirt) so I halved those to pieces again.
Four pattern pieces, for a skirt made up of eight gores.

And then, there is the pocket. Adding pockets to a gored skirt is simple: Just take one of the gores (which now becomes the side front) and draw a line where you want the top of the pocket to be. I like to place it at an angle. Also determine how deep you want the pocket to be and draw its bottom edge.

To make the fold-back flap, first draw it in where you want it to be in the finished product (the blue lines). Then, mirror it over the pocket top edge.

If you have done this, you just have to cut the pieces correctly: You should end up with a top piece/back of the pocket (top of the gore, down to the bottom edge of the inside of the pocket, to be cut from your fashion fabric), a bottom piece with flap (lower part of the skirt with what will become the underside of the pocket flap, fashion fabric) and a piece for the inside of the pocket and the flap (I usually split this piece. I cut the flap and a little bit more from the fashion fabric and interface that. The rest of the inside of the pocket is cut from a lining material) 

When sewing the skirt, you will have to decide whether or not you want to sew the flap into the seams (I did this on the front seams). In that case, you only have to sew the bottom edges of the flaps. If you want free-hanging corners, you also have to sew to side. Sew it to the exact point where the flap ends and clip the seam allowances to that point. That will allow you to turn the flap right-side-out while still having normal sides for your skirt seam.

And of course, you will need to finish the waistline. For a skirt which is worn at the natural waist, I like a straight waistband of about 4 cm high. If you want to wear the skirt lower, that might not work so well. In that case, you could also finish the top edge with a binding or make a shaped waistband.

I hope this description helps if you want to make a skirt like this. As usual, if you have any questions, just ask (just remember to give me a way to reply to you directly or you'll have to check the comments to this post regularly) and if you make something using this tutorial, I'd love to see the result! 


  1. Good job! Skirt is very beautiful.

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  3. I was at least one of the askers. Thanks for explaining!

  4. I love this skirt and thanks for the explanations---I know it's simple but it's also nice to see it spelled out. ;) I would like to try some half-circle long skirts this summer so I will be thinking about this!