Why do circle skirts take so much fabric?

by LadyD

in 1950s,Skirts

I have 2 metres of retro looking fabric which I can just imagine as a circle skirt but….it’s only 45″ wide. So the pattern peice won’t fit on the fabric.

I have an idea which is to fold the pattern peice in half and make it shorter (kneelength) in order for it to fit the fabric.

(Not to scale)
Would this work? How should I alter the waistline?

Will it spoil the retro feel and make it too ‘modern’ by taking up the length so much?

Additional info. My waist is 71cm, I’m 5ft1″.

My original pattern only fits on fabric when the fabric isn’t folded.

The fabric is a woven 100% cotton.

This post was written by...

– who has written 33 posts on WeSewRetro.com.

I've always hand sewn but never created garments until recently. I love the retro/vintage style. Its so much more stylish and flattering than modern stuff. For my dancing escapades and folk music http://thelearningtoclogblog.blogspot.co.uk/ For sewing, craft and general blog http://stitchintimeandspace.blogspot.co.uk/

LadyD's posts / LadyD's website

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephani June 26, 2012 at 11:09 am

Make a mock-up first!

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Louise June 26, 2012 at 11:17 am

Circle skirts certainly aren’t economical to make. I agree, try a mock up first.

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Dust Bunny June 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Do a mock-up, or settle for a half- (or at least partial-)circle skirt. I can make a covers-the-knees skirt out of two yards of fabric if I don’t put pockets in it, or make pockets out of something else.

And, yes–shortening a hemline is one of the fastest ways to de-retro a circle skirt. Sorry. But you can still make a very fine skirt if you don’t have your heart set on it looking 1950′s.

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Penn June 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Or find a co-ordinating fabric with which to make a contrast band around the bottom. If it needs to be several inches wide, all the better – make sure it looks like a choice. You can also make a virtue of it by decorating the join with braid or ribbon.

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LadyD June 27, 2012 at 7:00 am

I haven’t got anything that would match in my stash… :(

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Liz June 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I would measure the waist to ensure it is big enough to fit and then draw a line from the outside point to the widest point in your fabric and then shape the skirt pattern. This way you will get it as full as possible with the fabric you have. Hope my description makes sense!

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Holly June 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I like maths a lot so I worked out. I found that with your fabric dimensions, you could only get a max length of 42 cm for your circle skirt. That’s way too short. I worked it out using geometry and if you cut 2 skirt halves or 4 skirt quarters, you still end up with a max length of 42cm (assuming that your waist is around 75cm and you use a 1.5cm seam allowance).
Perhaps you could make a dirndl style skirt instead, you will have plenty of fabric for that:
http://www.blogforbettersewing.com/2009/08/sew-full-gathered-skirt-part-one-make.html

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LadyD June 27, 2012 at 6:57 am

my natural waist is 71cm and I’m 5ft1″ (I know mixing metric and imperial measures…lol!)

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Jamie June 27, 2012 at 2:06 am

It looks like you have a very specific waist shaping to the skirt – so to keep this in tact and make into a half circle skirt do the following ‘slash and close method’ to you current full circle skirt pattern:
1. Copy the skirt pattern by tracing over it onto another piece of paper.
2. Using a pencil and ruler, divide the skirt into approx 10 equal sections from hem to waist so that you have a sun-ray design drawn around the skirt pattern.
3. Using your drawn lines as guides, cut the pattern through from the hem to just before the waistlines edge so that the pattern is kept intact just at the waist edge. (Now your pattern should looked slashed with equal strips graduating down to the hemline).
4. On a clean piece of paper, lay the slashed pattern over it, equally closing each slashed section until you have the width of the hem you desire.
5. Re-draw around the altered pattern, take the hemline up to your desired length and you have a pattern with the extra fullness taken out and without altering the shape of the waistline.

I hope I have explain this clearly enough – it sort of needs illustrations really. Please e-mail me if you need further info.

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LadyD June 27, 2012 at 6:58 am

I think I understand. How does a half circle skirt register in swishability factor?

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LadyD June 28, 2012 at 3:48 am

Ok…I was just laying fabric pattern out to get an idea. (And I’ve googled for tutorials)
I know its an obvious question but….
If I use my original pattern its made to be cut on the fold so would I need to alter the waist shape anyway? So it cam lower down/was bigger?

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Sarah June 27, 2012 at 7:31 am

I actually like shorter circle skirts as yes, they don’t look as vintage but for me they are more wearable every day.

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Jessamyn June 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

I agree that no skirt that fails to cover the knee is going to look really ’50s. I would definitely go with less volume (still plenty of swish!) rather than less length.

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