Making a Circle Skirt Without a Pattern – Technique

Aug 17, 2021 | Theatrical Costumes

When making stage costumes for dancers, a circle skirt is a good choice. Circle skirt patterns are easy to draft and the shape of the skirt makes it move nicely on stage, and especially on dancers.

Select the fabric

  1.  Select a knit fabric with significant stretch in at least one direction. For best results, use a fabric with at least 4% spandex content. Ask at your fabric store, or check the website description of the fabric. Here is an example of an ideal fabric for this project. 
  2. For a 24” long skirt for an actress with an average waist measurement (24” – 30”), you will need approximately 2 yards of 60” wide fabric. This is a standard fabric width for spandex knit fabric.
Diagram of self-drafted circle skirt pattern

Draft the pattern

  1. Measure the actor’s waist. Measurement should be taken at the natural waistline where the actor usually wears pants or skirts. This is usually 2-3 inches below the navel.
  2. Measure the length from the waistline to the point where you want the skirt to end.
  3. On a large piece of tissue paper or kraft paper, trace around ½ of a circular dinner plate or other disc-shaped object (frisbee, etc.). Enlarge or shrink this circle to match ½ of the waist measurement. 
  4. Using a ruler or other straight edge, draw a straight line along the edge of the ½ circle. Extend the line on each side of the ½ circle by the desired finished length of the skirt.
Waistband diagram for self-drafted circle skirt
  1. prefDraw a rectangle pattern piece with these dimensions; 
    • Width = 2x the desired width of the waistband + 1”. I usually prefer to make my waistbands 2” wide finished. This means that I cut the rectangle 5″ wide.
    • Length = Waist measurement minus 1”

    Cut the fabric skirt

      1. Cut 2 of the skirt pattern from your fabric OR place the skirt pattern with the straight edge on the fold of the fabric and cut 1 doubled skirt piece on the fold.
      2. Using the waistband pattern, place the pattern on your fabric with the longest pattern edge along the fabric direction with the greatest amount of stretch. Cut 1 waistband piece from your fabric. 

        Sew the skirt

        1. If you opted to cut 2 skirt pieces in Step 1 above, sew the 2 pieces right sides together along the straight edges to make one skirt. If you cut 1 skirt piece on the fold, you can skip this step.
        2. Fold the waistband piece end-to-end, right sides together, and seam the ends together with a ½” seam along the short edge, forming the waistband into a circle
        3. Fold the circular waistband piece in half, wrong sides together, and seam the long sides with a zig-zag machine stitch.
        4. Divide the circular waistband piece into ¼’s, placing a straight pin to mark each quarter.
        5. Divide the skirt piece into ¼’s, placing a straight pin to mark each quarter.
        6. Pin the skirt to the waistband, matching quarter marks, right sldes together.
        7. Sew the waistband to the skirt as pinned, stretching the waistband as needed to fit the skirt.
        8. If desired, serge the seams to finish the skirt.
        9. No hem should be needed for skirts made from spandex fabric