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Sewing Tutorial: A Little Girl’s Circle Skirt

We were recently asked by the press to write a sewing tutorial for the Norwich Evening News, inspired by the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee.

Last autumn we hosted a very successful vintage skirt dressmaking workshop and decided to adapt the circle skirt into an  easy to make version, suitable for a little girl. Unfortunately my little girl ‘doesn’t do skirts’ but after much bribery and cajoling we eventually persuaded her to model this gorgeous little rose print skirt. Some rather drastic photo cropping by our photographer Boo, ensured that this pretty little garment was not spoilt by a very cross and sulky face!

Circle skirts, with their full folds and swishing movements are great fun to wear, and are super simple to make. They require a little bit of maths and some basic sewing skills, but once you’ve got the idea the possibilities for customising are endless.

This easy pattern has an elasticated waistband so there are no fiddly zips, or button holes to deal with.

You will need: 

Circle Skirt Equipment

  • Fabric: Measure how long you want the skirt to be, times this by 2 and add 15cm. This will give you the length of fabric you need to buy.Choose a lightweight fabric that hangs and moves nicely, and choose prints and patterns that are not one directional (polka dots and all over florals work well, strong stripes are probably best avoided).
  •  Elastic: Choose a wide elastic for the waistband. ‘Belting elastic’ comes in a variety of widths and is available from most haberdashery shops. It is also available in different colours so you can match it to your fabric.
  •  Sewing thread: To match your fabric.
  •  Pins
  •  Fabric and paper scissors
  •  Tape measure
  •  Ruler
  •  Calculater
  •  A large sheet of paper: This can be any paper including newspaper, wrapping paper, wall paper –

STEP 1: Making your paper pattern.

Here comes the maths!

Circle Skirt Diagram

First take a waist measurement and add  between 4-6cms cms. This is the red line in the diagram.

Divide this measurement by 6.28. This will give you the radius you need, which is A-B in the diagram.

Take your sheet of paper and measure this radius out from one corner. Mark it down the 2 straight edges, and at various places in between. Join all your marks together and this will make a good curve for the waist.

Drawing the Paper Pattern

Measure down from this curve the length you want the skirt to be,(B-C in the diagram) plus an additional 2-3cms for the waist and hem. Again, make lots of marks that can be joined together to make a good shaped curve for the hem. 

Drawing the Paper Pattern

Cut along both these curved lines, and you have your paper pattern. It represents one quarter of your skirt.

STEP 2: Cutting out your fabric

 Press your fabric, then fold in quarters (once length wise, and once width wise) giving you one right angled corner and two folded edges.

Lay your paper pattern on the folded fabric so that it lines up with the folded edges, then chalk around it.

Laying on the Paper Pattern

Cut out your fabric carefully.

Cutting out the Fabric

STEP 3: Attaching the Elastic

 Neaten your top edge with a zig zag (or overlock) stitch all the way round.

Cut a length of elastic to the waist measurement (or very slightly smaller if you want a very snug fit) plus 2cm seam allowance.

Sew the elastic in half with a 1cm seam, open out the seam and sew the edges down flat with a straight stitch. This helps the seam to lay as flat as possible. 

Stitched Elastic Seam

Pin the waist edge of the skirt evenly all around the inside of the elastic, with a 1cm hem. The skirt waist measures more than the elastic, so allow for this as you pin. It is best to pin the 4 points at the front, back and sides first.

You will need to stretch the elastic you pin the skirt to it to help ‘ease’ the fabric in. 8 Pins should probably be enough. Put the pins in vertically as you go. 

Pinning on the Elastic


You are now ready to sew it in place!

Stretch the elastic as you work, removing each pin as you reach it, and stitching a couple of mms close to the edge.Sewing on the Elastic Waistband

it will look like this on the inside:

Attaching the Waistband

STEP 4: Finishing the Hem

Zig zag around the hem then turn it up by 1cm and give it a good press. Stitch around the hem and  – you’re done!

Now find a little girl who will wear it with a big happy smile!

grumpy girl



This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Sew simple! I used this pattern to make a Minnie Mouse skirt for my niece. From start to finish this skirt has taken approx 1hr…Brilliant thank you

    1. Hi Clare – thank you for your feedback. It’s always great to know others find this pattern so easy to do. I hope your niece liked her Minnie Mouse skirt!

  2. Thanks for these great instructions! Just made this skirt for my daughter. Even better, she used the circle that I cut out of the middle of her skirt to make a matching one for her teddy! We love sewing together and this was a great project for both of us. We are relative beginners and your instructions are straightforward and simple to follow. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Lin
      thank you for your message. I’m delighted to hear you used my tutorial to make a skirt for your daughter – and teddy- that’s a brilliant idea!

      best wishes

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