Making your own clothes is the best. Once you get a hang of it (and I promise you that it’s not hard, I’m an entirely self-taught sewer – thank you, YouTube tutorials!), you get total control over the design and structure of your clothes.
You’ll own a completely unique piece of clothing and best yet, if someone compliments you on it, you can say that you made it yourself!
Things you will need:
- Fabric – I recommend polyester over cotton (it is less crumply – so no ironing needed) at least 1m wide by 1.5m long
- A 10 – 20cm zipper
- A pen
- A sewing machine (not entirely necessary – you could hand sew this but it would take quite a long time!) and thread
- A ruler and measuring tape
1. PUT ON SOME SEWING TUNES
Before you even begin. Seriously. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cloud Control & Birdee Mixtapes are particularly great to listen to while sewing. Just saying.
2. CUTTING OUT YOUR SKIRT
You need to start with a square of fabric at least 1m x 1m (I started with a 1.10m x 1.10m piece of fabric. The size will depend on how long you want your skirt to be – I wanted a roughly 55cm long skirt – but it’s best to start off with more than you think you’ll need, just in case).
Fold it in half, and then in half again.
Make sure the “right” side of the fabric is on the inside of this fold.
You then need to make a simple calculation. Measure right around your waist. Then divide this measurement by 2 x Pi (Pi = 3.14).
For example, my waist measurement is 69cm. I simply divided this by 2 x Pi, and got the above number. Let’s round this up to 11cm to make things easy.
Take a ruler and place it along the edge of the folded-up square on the corner with no raw edges.
Using a pen or chalk, draw a quarter-circle with an 11cm radius all the way around like so (if you remember from maths at school, a radius is simply half of a circle’s width).
Then cut this out!
Now you just need to do the same thing again, but bigger. I wanted my skirt to be about 55cm in length, so I drew another quarter-circle with a radius of 55cm this time.
Then simply cut it out again!
Unfold the whole thing… and hopefully you should have something that resembles a CD:
Believe it or not, you’re basically halfway there!
3. ATTACHING A WAISTBAND
Before you attach your waistband, you’re going to make room for a zipper.
Inside the smaller circle, simply make a slit that’s the same length as your zipper.
To make a waistband, take your waist measurement, add a couple of centimetres to this, and cut out a rectangle of fabric.
For example, my waistband is 73cm x 15cm, but you would alter these measurements depending on your waist size, and how wide you want your waistband to be (my waistband will end up roughly 7.5cm wide using these measurements).
Now the actual sewing starts!
Fold this rectangle in half lengthways (wrong side up) and, using the longest “straight stitch” on your sewing machine, sew straight down the length of the fabric. Make sure that the edges of the fabric meet up the whole way, so that you are sewing them together.
You will now have a long, inside-out tube of fabric. Turn it inside out, so the “nice” side of the fabric is on the outside.
Starting at the split you made for the zip, carefully pin the waistband to the front of the fabric like so:
Pin the waistband all the way around the smaller circle’s edge, on the “nice” side of the fabric. The top of the waistband should match up with the raw edge of the small circle.
If your waistband is a little bit too short to go all the way around, gather the fabric of the skirt slightly on the smaller circle (just like making a little “pleat”). If the waistband ends up a little bit too long – don’t worry. That’s why you added a little bit extra to your waist measurement!
Once you’ve pinned the waistband onto the skirt all the way around, secure it like this using a straight stitch:
Hopefully, you’ll end up with a pretty seam like this, with the waistband successfully attached to the skirt part:
4. INSERTING THE ZIPPER
This might seem like the most daunting part of the whole project, but I promise that it isn’t too difficult to master. As long as you pin your zipper very carefully, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Line your zipper up with the slit you made earlier, fold the raw edge underneath a few centimetres, and pin your fabric onto the zipper (with the “nice” side of the fabric on top of the zipper):
(If you have a keen eye, you may notice that I changed my mind about the zip colour from the previous steps, but it’s still the same length.)
Undo the zipper all the way. Then all you need to do is slowly sew the fabric to the zipper, taking care to remove the pins just before you reach them, and keeping the foot of the sewing machine quite close to the zipper.
When you get to the bottom where the zip is, lift the foot and carefully do the zip back up, then continue on sewing. Do the same for the other side.
You’re very nearly done. And if your fabric doesn’t fray easily, then you don’t even need to bother with the next step!
5. MAKING A HEM
If your fabric frays, you will need to hem the bottom of your skirt. Hemming a circle skirt takes a bit of patience and practice!
Fold the bottom edge of the skirt up a few centimetres, and keeping the fabric very taut, sew slowly along. You will need to stop and readjust the fabric every 10 centimetres or so – because it is a circle shape, it will try and slip away from you! It will probably bunch up a little bit, but don’t worry about that – just try and keep the fabric folded over the same distance all the way around.
Guess what – you’re done! Enjoy swishing around in your new circle skirt and the satisfying feeling that comes from making your own clothes.
Want more? Check out some of Annika’s other DIY tutorials:
Annika Victoria is both a science student and a fashion-blogger from Sydney. She has great aspirations of curing all disease and one day winning the Nobel Prize, but also gets great pleasure from wearing a pretty dress and making her own clothes. She wants to be the next Brian Cox, and is super passionate about getting young women interested in science. She blogs about fashion alongside science in an attempt to dismantle stereotypes about both on her blog The Pineneedle Collective.