By Hand London Circle Skirt Experience – Drafting a Quarter Maxi Skirt

Have you ever just wanted to grab a piece of fabric from your stash and just MAKE something?  Like – without having to print and tape (or trace) a pattern and adjust it to your unique body measurements?  I have been feeling that way lately (having a super busy new job may be the highest contributing factor) – and when I was looking for the perfect, 30-minute project, this quarter circle maxi skirt was the chicken soup for my seamstress soul!

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the By Hand London Circle Skirt Calculator – but if you aren’t, you should check it out!  It was the perfect tool for helping me to get my head around how to self-draft a skirt!  This make is actually my second test run using the calculator app, and I will share a couple observations, that will (hopefully) be helpful to you in case you decide to give it a try:

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Quarter Circle Skirt Maxi (self-drafted) – with Pockets!

1. You can use this calculator to make a skirt of any hem length

The circle skirt calculator has three lengths (mini, midi, and maxi – each with its own defined length) – but these are just estimates – once you know your radius to calculate your waist circumference, you can easily measure from that height to the hem length you want and cut your skirt accordingly.

2. You can use knit or woven to draft your skirt

I used this double brushed poly knit from So Sew English Fabrics, but any knit or woven will do.  This particular fabric is like wearing pajamas outside – like seriously – you should all be jealous…  Or better yet, go pick up some of your own!

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3. For the quarter and half circle skirts – the calculator assumes you will only use one seam, but the full circle skirt assumes you will have two (which is necessary for adding pockets)

This is a really important distinction, because you do NOT want to cut two of these pieces otherwise your waist will be 2x larger than it should be!

4. The most important measurement that the calculator gives you is the radius (which will form your waist circumference) – the length you can calculate/measure on your own

For my maxi length, I have used ~36″ to go from high-hip to floor length, but could add more for knit waistband seam allowance and hem allowance.

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5. If you are making a knit skirt, you can easily draft a band using this tutorial from Melly Sews

I LOVE a nice yoga waistband, though for this skirt, I actually used 2″ soft elastic and cut it 1-2 inches shy of my waist measurement and serged it onto the top of the skirt.  I then folded the serged elastic over to the inside of the skirt so its not visible.  The benefit of this is that there is no visible stitching from the outside, but its nice and secure and can withstand the weight of me placing my cellphone in my pocket.

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6. If you need to – you can split your waist measurement in half and use the calculator to create two panels for the quarter or half circle skirts – which will obviously use more fabric – but will also allow you to add pockets!

See this tutorial for how to add pockets to your skirt.  Note: I would HIGHLY recommend that you understitch your pockets – mine had some pretty horrific gaping, but I will worry about that in my next version — I’m way too busy enjoying my good enough skirt to worry about such details!

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7. Last but not least – hem tape can be your best friend when sewing circle skirts.

Fusible hem tape can both make the process easier (aka – you may not even need to stitch it down afterwards) – AND add weight/structure to the hemline, which can help with improving the drape.  Do as I say and not as I do – this skirt is not hemmed, and I love it anyway!

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If you haven’t given the process of self drafting a maxi skirt a go – I would highly recommend it!  While I doubt this will replace all my skirt sewing needs – it is nice to have the option to quickly make a skirt without gathers around my waistline – which I have found to be horribly unflattering for my figure.

Drop me a line or share your link below if you give this a try; I would love to see your version!

11 thoughts

  1. I’m totally surprised that this wasn’t some mustard colour variant 😉
    Yeah I’m totes agreeing on the usefulness of the circle skirt calculator and have been using it since BHL posted it. I seem to have a thing for full circle maxi skirts. Love this fabric too!

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    1. Wow – would love to know how you are making them – are you making two pieces or more – tag me in a picture of your maxi full circle – I’m still trying to get my head around the differences in drape…

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      1. You know, I was looking for pics from the time I read your post and realised that I don’t have any at all. Only the half circle dresses, but none of the full circle skirts. Oddest thing ever. Must remedy this soon. Will tag you on IG when I get the pics done. But I have only made knit versions and do the half circle with 1 fold and the full circle as two pieces. I guess if I was adding a zip, the back of the full circle would be 2 pieces or maybe just add a side zip.

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  2. I am unsure how to factor in negative ease, since I *think* the calculator doesn’t distinguish between knits & wovens. So, since you used the elastic at (waist circumference – 2″), that basically means you didn’t worry about it?

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  3. This is a gorgeous skirt! Thanks for linking to the calculator; what a help that is! Since you used a knit and elastic at the waist, I’m assuming you didn’t need a zipper. Is that correct?

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