Easy Hi-Low Half-Circle Skirt

Circle skirts are so swirly and swingy.  And circle-y.  It's pretty much essential for any girl or woman's wardrobe.  You can achieve more or less fullness by making it half circle or a full circle skirt.   This went from a simple tutorial to an in-depth explanation and how to make both with regular and asymmetrical hems... and back to simple again.  Mostly I want to show off this cute hi-low skirt I made for my daughter, and the hi-low pertains to the short-in-the-front-long-in-the-back-hemline of course.   I'm so pleased with how it came out.  Make one today!  My model won't cooperate which is why I hung the skirt in a tree, one of the more rustic and country looking parts of my yard (except for the neighbor's house in the background, of course).

I found this small flower print rayon challis in the 50% off Red Tag sale at JoAnn and it is so soft and hangs so nicely.  It's really more of a summer fabric but she can wear it with leggings, and the whole point of the skirt is to go with the teal cowboy boots she got for Christmas :)  Thanks Nonni!

First of all, here is a great visual to help you understand bias and drape - check out the site for more:

First I will show you how I laid out the fabric.  I folded the fabric "widthwise" so the selvages stay on their own separate sides ("with the grain" I think may be the right terminology).  Imagine the fabric is still on the bolt and just fold the end in towards the bolt.  The fold will be the front of the skirt and the selvage will be the back seam.  The corner will be the waist opening -- I copied CutiefulChristina and made a newspaper template for the waist.  You want to fold the fabric over enough that the selvage edge is long enough for both the waist opening (radius which we will calculate next) + the length of the back of the skirt.  So do your math first.  It's not that hard, I promise.

With the fabric folded, you are ready to cut out the waist opening.  The radius is the magic number to cut out a perfect circle, and we will find the radius using your waist measurement.  Just plug in your waist measurement and go with it!  I'm going to show how the equation is simplified but you can jump right to the end and use that one.  Since we are making a HALF CIRCLE skirt, you have to double the waist measurement (W), so watch out for that.  Here is the magic equation, are you ready?  

2W = 2PiR 

We know what W and Pi are, so we are solving for the radius, R.  Since we know that (2xPi) = 6.28,  you could simplify and look at it like this:

2W = 6.28R

You could simplify it even further and read it like this (this is the simplest form and you can just use this to find your R):

*** 2W/6.28=R ***

My daughter's waist is 28" and since I made an elastic waist, I added a couple inches so it would pull on over her booty easily, so I'm using 30" for "W" which, in my world, stands for Waist and replaces the too-mathy-sounding "C=circumference" which might be confusing if you are used to W standing for width.  You can use X or ? or whatever makes sense to you.   

So using my daughter as an example:
 2W = 2PiR becomes (2 x 30) = (2 x 3.14) R... or 60=6.28R... and then 60/6.28=R so R=9.55"

Hate math?  Go visit this nice lady at PattyTheSnugBug who has shared a plug-in circle skirt calculator so you don't have to crunch numbers!

OK Now we know our radius, now let's use it!  This is where you want to add your "R" and your desired back length to make sure you've allowed enough fabric in the fold-over.  Measure from the corner that is your waist opening (or corner of whatever you are using as a template) and measure whatever your R is at various points creating an arc like in the next photo.

In case you hadn't thought it through, you want the waist to be circular like the hem so that it hangs the same length all around.  If you just cut a slit for the waist opening, it would be longer and shorter in all directions so it would hang funny.  Plus, the circular waist gives it nice stretch and drape.

Now for the hem.  I wanted the skirt 12" in the front (the fold) and 18" in the back (the selvage).  I added an inch for seams.  Then, with the fabric still folded,  I measured from the newly cut waist opening (NOT from the original corner) and made marks 13" down the front, and 19" down the back, and evenly spaced the gradation as I showed in the photo.  I'm sorry, I am at a total loss for words as how to describe this but I think the picture sums it up just right!

If you didn't want a hi-low hem, you would just measure the length you want all the way around, like we did for the waist.  Here's a shot showing the grade from the side.  In hindsight, I would probably do a 4" difference instead of 6".  This view shows the ripples really well too:

I didn't do the elastic waist the proper way, where you attach the waistband to the top of the skirt, sew up the back seam and then fold over the waistband to make the casing and feed the elastic through.  Wow,  that was, like, a whole tutorial in that one sentence.  No, I did things the wrong way.

I made a band the length of the waist and double width of the elastic, folded it lengthwise and sewed it to the top of the skirt to attach the casing.  Then I fed the elastic through and stitch both ends of the elastic down.  THEN I sewed up the back seam and hemmed.  This creates a little bump where the elastic joins.  Like I said, "the wrong way".

By the way, do you hate hemming as much as I do?  I wish I had bought or made some cute contrasting bias tape because hemming with bias tape is my absolute fave.  I did the old press and fold and hated every minute of it, but not really because I was so excited about how it was coming along.

The whole project took less time than it took me to write this post.

The hi-low is a modern trend, but with the '90s coming back you could make lots of regular (not hi-low) circle skirts to wear with tights and watch F*R*I*E*N*D*S re-runs if you want to relive my generation.  After I made this skirt and I was catching up on True Blood, I noticed Sookie wearing a short circle skirt in a light-weight fabric with knee-highs -- totally '90s.  I remember wearing that style in college, wish I could find a picture to post!  Thanks for the trip down memory lane...

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