Sunday, August 19, 2012

Half-Circle Skirt Tutorial

I made up this skirt the other day, a Circle Skirt with an elastic waist band.

I ended up being really happy with how it came out, but I had originally planned to make it a 1/2 circle skirt. Then I went on auto-pilot and cut it out for a full circle. You might think you can just chop it in half and call it good, but it doesn't work like that. A friend asked how to make a 1/2 circle skirt and I tried explaining, but I decided it'd be easier with pictures, so here is how to make a 1/2 circle skirt!

Your measurements will determine how much fabric you need.  For a 40 inch waist I needed a little bit more than 1.5 yards.

The first step is to measure around where you want the skirt to lay.  Mine ended up being 41 inches, we'll call it W.  Take that measurement and divide it by 3.14.  41/3.14=13.05, I just round to 13. This is the measurement you will need for the inner arc, we'll call it X. Then determine the length you want your skirt to be.  I wanted my to hit right above the knee, which ended up being 17 inches.  We'll call it L.  Now add X to L, and this is the measurement you want for the outer arc.  13+17=30.  Double this to determine how much fabric you'll need, plus a little bit more just to be safe, so I needed a little bit more than 60 inches of fabric .

So to recap.....

X= inner arc radius
X+L= outer arc radius.
Outer arc radius x2 (plus a little bit)= total amount of fabric to buy.

Now lets get started with putting it together.

Lay out your fabric and unfold it so it is only one layer thick.  Make a compass with your measuring tape, a pin, and a marker.  Place a pin at your outer arc radius, mine was 30, and pin it at the bottom edge of the fabric.  Then use a marker to draw a big half circle.

^Fabric laid out, measuring tape pinned at the bottom edge.

Now making sure to place your pin in the same place, do the same thing with your inner arc measurement, X.

Take a break to pet the kitty that comes and lays down right in the middle of where you're working.

Now you should have two arcs, one inside the other.  Cut along the lines you drew.

I forgot to take pictures of these parts, but to simplify things later on, finish the edge of the inner arc, either by hemming, pinking shears, or a zig zag stitch. Then line the flat edges up, wrong sides together, and sew along the flat edge only.

Now it is time to get started on the waist band.  I have found that subtracting 3 inches from my waist measurement gives me a pretty perfect fit, so I cut my elastic 38 inches long.  I am using the widest elastic that was available at my local Joann's, I believe it is 3 inches.  Finish the raw edges.

Then line them up, and sew them together along the short sides, forming a tube of elastic.

Now sew the loose flaps down.

 You should end up with something like this.

 Now place pins at equal intervals on the inner circle (not arc, because we sewed it together into a circle) and the waist band.  I usually pin at the 0, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 points.

Now line up the pins, and pin the the waist band on top of the skirt, overlapping a little bit.

What it should look like when you have it pinned together at all four points...

Now sew along the bottom edge of the waist band, making sure to catch the top edge of the skirt in your stitching.  Stretch the waistband gently as you go.  I found this part incredibly frustrating the first couple times I did it.  But it gets easier, it just takes a little practice.

Go all the way around, this is what you should end up with.

 Now all that is left is to finish the bottom hem.  I prefer a rolled hem.

The finished product!  This skirt is seriously so quick and easy to sew.  It took me an hour to sew, and that is including stopping to do the dinner dishes! 

Thanks for reading, let me know if there are any questions!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Twirly Top Tutorial

Nothing like a little bit of alliteration to make a good title!

I sewed up a shirt for my daughter the other day and was asked about a tutorial, so here it is!
This is the original one....

I originally decided to make it because she has a cute polka dot one we bought and I loved it so much I decided to make it. Then in the process of making it I realized it was exactly like the little dresses I made her way back when I first started sewing. It comes together so quickly, I think it usually takes me an hour to an hour and a half. In fact, it'll probably take you longer to read this tutorial than it will to actually make it.

First we need to draft the bodice piece.  You can get the rough shape from a shirt that fits your kid.  This is what I use for my girl who wears a 2T/3T.

Once you have  your bodice piece cut out 4 pieces with the tall side (the left side in this picture) on the fold, making sure the fabric stretches side to side.

Set those aside.  My straps measure 6.5"x2", cut two straps.

 For the bottom of the shirt, measure around your child's chest, mine is 20".  Divide that number by 3.14 (20/3.14=6.37) Then divide that number by 2 (6.37/2=3.18) When using a knit fabric I round down, so my final number is 3. This will be the radius of the inner circle.  Determine the length you want the bottom part to be.  Mine is 9". Add the radius of the first circle to this number, (9+3=12).  This is the radius of the outer circle.

Take your fabric and lay it out, folded in half.  I make a compass using my measuring tape, a pin, and a marker. Draw your outer circle by placing a pin and the measurement of your outer circle, and pin it down.  You want the flat part of the circle along the fold.  Take a marker and draw the outer half circle (half because it's on the fold).

Now do the same for the smaller circle.  Make sure you pin it in the same place so the inner circle is centered.  I usually make a little dot.

Cut along the lines, and unfold.  This is the bottom of the shirt.

Here's all the pieces cut out, 4 bodice pieces, 2 straps, and the bottom.

 Take one of the straps and fold it in half lengthwise wrong sides together, then sew down the long edge.

Turn it right side out and topstitch down both long sides.

Repeat with the other strap.

Now take one bodice piece and lay it right side up. Position the traps so they are lined up with the top edge, and just a little bit in from the side so they don't get caught in the stitching.

 Take another bodice piece and lay it right side down on top of the other one, sandwiching the straps in between.  Pin the straps to keep them from shifting.

Now we're going to sew along the curves and across the top.

Start where my fingers are, don't sew the short sides or the bottom.  After you sew up one curve, across the top, and down the other curve, turn it right side out and top stitch, again skipping the short sides and the bottom.

Now take one of the other bodice pieces and lay it right side up, and place the loose ends of the straps like you did the first ones.

 Put the last bodice piece on top, sandwiching the straps again.

And repeat the sewing and top stitching.

Now decided which side is going to be the "wrong side" of the shirt, and which will be the right side.  With wrong sides facing out, sew the short sides together.

Now to attach the bottom to the bodice.  Take both the skirt and the shirt and place pins equally spaced on both.  I usually do it quarters, so 4 pins.  Take the skirt and turn it inside out.  Place the bodice upside down inside the skirt, with the bodice's right side against the skirt's right side. Line up the pins, and pin them together.  Then sew all the way around the circle, attaching the bodice to the bottom part.  Make sure you are catching all three layers (the two bodice layers and the skirt layer) when you are sewing around.

This is the wrong side of the skirt on top, pinned to the bodice.

Once you finish sewing pull the bodice of the shirt out of the top of the bottom skirt part. 


Turn it right side out and all that is left to do is finish the bottom edge of the skirt.  I prefer a rolled hem because it's quick and easy. You could also leave it raw if you are using a knit.

Now admire your fancy new top! I hope the tutorial was clear, let me know if you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Paneled Circle Skirt Tutorial

Back with another tutorial!  Someone commented on a sewing forum I'm a part of the other day asking about sewing a paneled skirt and I figured since I've made 'em before (they were actually one of the first types of skirts I've made) that I'd do a tutorial for anybody else who might be wondering about it. 

Oh and as a side note, I wanted to make sure I was spelling "paneled" correctly, and while looking it up I found out that both "panelled" and "paneled" are acceptable.

Spelling lesson aside, lets get started!  The skirt I'm making in this tutorial is going to be an 8 paneled circle skirt.  First step is making the template. I use this site to figure out the measurements I need, but there are other sites out there that give you the formula if you want to figure it out yourself.  The measurements for the skirt I'm making (for my 2T sized daughter) were 3.5 inches for A, and 10 inches for B.

Get your pattern paper ready. I'm making my pattern on freezer paper because I like being able to iron it down on the fabric to cut instead of having to trace it.  Add your A and B measurements together, and put a pin in your measuring tape at that mark.  So for me that was 13.5 inches. Then push that pin down at the corner of the paper and into the carpet.  What we are doing is essentially making a compass, like in geometry class.

Pull the tape so it is straight out but don't pull it so tight that it pulls it up off the floor and pulls up the pin. Take a marker  and put it at the 1" end of the tape.  I just poke mine through the little hole in the metal tip. Then draw an arc across the paper, making sure to keep the tape straight.

Then take the pin out, and place it in the tape at the mark of your A measurement, for me that was 3.5", pin in back in the corner of paper, in the same spot as before, and draw another arc.

Now you have a paper, with two arcs, the smaller one inside the larger one.

^Ignore my ugly lines.

Cut along the outer line.

Now fold it in half, bringing the two straight edges together.

^The blue line is the fold.

Now cut along the small arc, unfold your piece, and cut on the fold. This will give you two pieces like this.

Each piece is 1/8 of your skirt.  If you wanted to add more panels, you could fold a piece in half again and cut on the fold and that would give you a 16 paneled skirt.  You could do any number of panels you want if you just figure out the measurements of the angle and whatnot.  I don't like geometry that much though, so I prefer to stick to simple ones like 8 or 16.   Essentially what we did was drafted the pattern for 1/4 of the skirt, then cut it in half.

Moving on though.  Take your pattern piece and trace it onto your fabric and cut it out. You'll need 8 pieces total.

Arrange your 8 pieces in the order you want them.


Take two of the panels, and put them right sides together and sew along one of the straight edges. Make sure you finish the edge either by serging, with a zig-zag stitch, or pinking shears.

Take your next panel place it right-sides together with one of the pieces and sew along the straight edge.  Repeat til all the pieces are sewn together.

Here are all the panels sewn together.  Now to close it up and complete the circle, line up the two raw edges left, wrong sides together and sew that seam.  For a more professional appearance iron and top stitch each seam.

The last step is to hem the bottom and attach the waist band. I wanted to add a contrast band at the bottom so I factored that in when I calculated my measurements in the beginning.  You can also hem it using bias tape, rolled-hem, zig-zag stitch, or folding over and stitching down. 

For the waist band,  I opted to just sew a wide elastic band to the top. There are tons of tutorials out there for different waist bands and how to attach them, so I'll go ahead and just let you google and use whatever method you prefer.

Here is the final product.....

Now go forth and craft!
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