Donna: Pattern Diagram for Half Circle Skirt

Please see “How To Take Measurements” in preparation for drafting your pattern. You will need your waist circumference, waist to hip and front skirt length measurements.

Instructions for the waistband will appear in the next posting because I want to discuss how to select the right width waistband for your figure type.

The pattern drafted represents the complete pattern piece for front and back of the half circle skirt. A fabric of 58-60″ width will enable you to cut one piece each for the front and back. The resulting skirt will have a lovely series of flares across the front and back. To make the most of them, it’s best to place the zipper in the side seam using a lapped application.

If your fabric is less than 58-60″ wide, fold the pattern in half and cut four pieces to make the skirt.

The type of fabric used will determine how pronounced the flares will be. The toile for the half circle skirt was made in a lightweight plisse so the flares were very soft. The fashion fabric is a 6 ounce denim that has a soft drape but more body. These qualities will make the denim half circle skirt have a different appearance.
The following diagram does not include seam allowances. You may add them after completing the draft or when cutting the fabric.

The measurements used as an example are for a Standard Misses Size 4. Substitute your own measurements when doing the calculations and drafting the pattern.

The extra amount added to your waistline measurement will provide enough ease for a comfortable fit with about 1″ more or less for the waistline style ease. I recommend making a toile first and cutting the seams about 1″ wide just to ensure that the fit is comfortable enough. It is always easier to let out a little extra room from a wider side seam.

Measurements Needed
Waist Circumference…..For Size 4 24″

Waist to Hip Length….For Size 4 8″

Front Skirt Length…..For Size 4 24″ + 2″ for hem=26″

Waistline + Ease Calculation

Calculate one fourth of your Waist Circumference. For Misses Size 4 it is 6″.
Next, depending on your total Waist Circumference add the following amount to 1/4 of your waist circumference:
-1 3/4″ for waist circumferences 22 to 26″
-2″ for waist circumferences 26 to 30″
–2 1/4″ for waist circumferences 30 to 34″
-2 1/2 for waist circumferences 34 to 38″

For Misses Size 4 the result of 1/4 the waistline measurement 6 plus 1 3/4 gives a measurement of 7 3/4″.

Note: If your waistline is larger than 38′ try increasing the range of measurements in increments of 1/4″ until you reach your waistline circumference. For example from 38 to 42″ try adding 2 3/4″.

Completed pattern diagram for half circle skirt.

1. Use the L-square ruler to draw a right angle. Make the right angle about 30″ each side.

2. Label the corner of the right angle “A”.

3. From A measure and mark down the result from the waistline+ease calculation you first did. These become Points B and C. For Misses Size 4 the distance of A-B and A-c is 7 3/4″.

4. The length for this circle skirt is the Front Skirt Length (to the floor) less the height from the floor. To this is added 2″ more for the hem For a 1950s style the length of 24′ works out well for a woman about 5’4′ to 5′ 6″. With the addition of 2″ for the hem the total length for the pattern is 26″

From Points B and C measure and mark the Front Skirt Length. For Size 4 I have used 26″. The skirt should fall about 1-2″ below the knee but not much longer. The new points will be C-E and B-D

5. From Point A rays that are equidistant at the waistline must be drawn in. Rather than do intricate calculations I will show you the way I learned how to place the rays onto the pattern.

6. Fold the pattern paper so that the A-C-E line meets the A-B-D line. Make a crease.

7. Fold the pattern again towards the A-B-D line.

8. Open out the pattern. The rays are now in place. Draw lines along the creases and label the rays A-K, A-J and A-I.

9. Fold the pattern along the rays again so that the waistline curve can be drawn in and cut out. Measure the distance down from A-B or A-C using the same measurement resulting from the calculation of Waist Circumference Plus East. For Misses Size 4 it will be 7 3/4″. You can use a curved ruler if needed. Then cut out the waist. Open the pattern and label the rays at the waistline (from left to right) H, G, and F.

10. On a tape measure mark the Front Skirt Length (26″ for Misses Size 4) with a pin. Then from the waist measure down at intervals and mark the length along the skirt bottom marking at the rays as well.

Cut along the hemline and fold again to ensure the hem is evenly cut.

11. Open out the pattern. At the side seams mark the Waistline to Hip Measurement (Misses Size 4 is 8″) on each side seam. This marks the length of the zipper or placket used at the side seam. It is not necessary to mark the hip line on this pattern but I did it to check how the bias settled after the toile hung for 48 hours. Due to the stretch the side seams will “grow” a little and the hip line dip at that point.

Please note, that no seams lines have been added. Add them when you cut the pattern using tailor’s chalk and a clear plastic ruler. I use 3/4-1″ wide side seams and 1/2″ at the waistline.

The center grain for the skirt toile I made ran along the G-J ray which is also the center front and back of the skirt. Mark the grainline at this ray.

The side seams A-B-D and A-C-E will fall on the bias when the grain is at Center Front and Back.

The other rays may be used as grain lines with varied degrees of change in the flares and drape of the skirt.

No hemline is marked on the diagram because the skirt must hang at least 48 hours to let gravity pull the grain of the fabric downward.

A 1-2″ hem is marked upward after that ensuring an even flow to the flares at the hemline. I will show how to do this when I am ready to hem my skirt.

It is worth the time to let the bias set into the fabric. Hemming the circle or any kind of flared skirt without allowing the bias to settle results in a crooked and uneven hemline, which will mar the lovely way the skirt will flow over the hips and move when you walk.

This pattern for Misses Size 4 plus the instructions for drafting may be freely used.

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6 thoughts on “Donna: Pattern Diagram for Half Circle Skirt

    • I’m so happy you’ll put it to use. Between now and New Year’s I should finish mine and have the tutorials up.

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  1. Very nice tutorial. Just have one question…do I place the center front line and center back line on the fold? If not which side is placed on the fold or does it matter?

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    • Hi Julie. If the fabric is 58-60″ wide the pattern piece is not folded but left open. This represents one full skirt piece and the center front line is the lengthwise grain. So you’d lay out the fabric with the full width open and then double it in length. The open pattern piece is then placed on top of both layers. Add seam allowances and cut. Mark one piece Front and the other Back.

      When the fabric is less than 50-60″ wide you’ll have to experiment with the layout. This is when the pattern piece can be folded in half along the Center Front/Center Back line. It now represents half of the cut skirt. It can be placed on the fold so long as the width of the fabric will accommodate the pattern piece. If the fabric is too narrow to cut the front and back as one piece, use the center front/center back line as a seam line. With the skirt pattern folded along this line, add a seam allowance from it and cut along it. The skirt will have 4 pieces.

      From my personal experience, I have found that having a center front and center back seam on a half or full circle skirt affects the flares in ways that are sometimes not attractive. For this reason I recommend using 58-60″ wide fabric.

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      • Thanks so much. I made this skirt years ago and loved it. I have not sewn for quite some time and thought this would be a fun project to start with. So I was delighted to find you! For some reason I thought I folded the fabric on the bias. Does this make sense?
        Thanks again, Julie

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  2. Julie, there are some circle skirts that are cut on the bias. I’ve seen it done when there are tiers to the skirt. But knowing how the bias stretches I think it’d be very difficult to sew. Circle, half-circle and flared skirts can be cut on the bias using different grain lines. For example, the side seam can be cut on the bias, or the center seam. There are even lengthwise grain lines placed in the center of a skirt panel and that is then used to create a bias line. I have a draping book that illustrates how all these different placement of grain lines changes the skirt’s appearance. I will put it up when there’s time. I don’t see that many skirts like this today. In the 1970s my Mom had 4 gored skirts that were very flared and sometimes made of striped fabric. The chevrons the stripes created were very pretty.

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