Reversible Double Layer Wrap Half Circle Skirt Tutorial

Say that ten times fast!

I wanted to put together a short tutorial on how I made the wrap skirt (you know, before I forget and then decide to make another and have to do all the maths again–aaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!).  So mostly, this is for my own (future) peace of mind, but feel free to try it out yourself if you’re so inclined!  Keep in mind, as this will be a wrap skirt, and thus infinitely adjustable, perfect accuracy is not a huge deal.

(Not my image, but this is an example of this type of skirt).

Step 1 – Determine your “wrapped waist measurement”.

The first thing you need to do is figure out how big to cut your skirt pieces, right?  So find your waist measurement (wherever you want the waist to hit, not necessarily your true waist), then figure out how far across your body you want the skirt to overlap.  I’d suggest 10″ for size S, 12″ for size M, 14″ for size L, and 16″ for an XL.  But this is just a guideline based on a guesstimate.  This is a pretty good amount of wrappage (i.e. from hip to hip at least), so if you’re short on fabric, or don’t want that much overlap, adjust accordingly.

Alternately, you can also determine how much overlap you’re comfortable with by measuring the front of your body where you’d like the overlap to land…I’d go with this method, personally.

Now take your overlap and double it, then add to your waist measurement.  So for a person with a 30″ waist who’s adding 14″ of overlap, that means your wrapped waist measurement is now 58″.

STEP 2 – Determine your “waist radius” based on the wrapped measurement.

Prepare for a modern marvel, seriously.  OK, kids, go to Google.  Type in “circle calculator” and BAM!  A handy dandy widget pops up and–get this–someone will now do the math for you!  Make sure it’s set to solve for the radius, plug in your circumference (that’s your wrapped waist measurement), and BOOM!  The calculator will give you a radius measurement…now since this is a half circle skirt, you’ll need to double that number to get your waist radius for pattern-making purposes.  So for our example, the calculator gives us a radius of 9.23 inches, which I doubled to  18.5 (as it’s a wrap skirt, I rounded up a smidge for simplicity).

STEP 3 – Determine the skirt length.

I went with a standard 24″ length on the longest layer, and 20″ on the shorter layer.  You can also measure from your waist to where you’d like the skirt to hit, subtract 2″ (for the waistband width), then add 1″ (for seam allowance & hemming). On the skirt I made, the longest length to cut was 25″ (24 -2 + 1), but since I ended up doing a very narrow hem, it could probably have been a little shorter…just remember you can always make it shorter, so measure conservatively.

Also determine how long you want the shorter layer to be.  I went with 20″ finished (so 21″ to cut), so it was only about 4″ difference between layers.

STEP 4 – Draw your pattern on paper.

Here’s where having a couple rolls of crap wrapping paper really comes in handy!  You need to make yourself a big ol’ compass before you start drawing (that way you can make a proper circle, easy peasy).  Take a length of string/twine/ribbon–anything that doesn’t stretch–and clip a safety pin to one end.  Measure the string to be the length you need for your waist radius and tie a knot to mark the stopping point.  Now take your wrapping paper and lay it out–if it’s not quite wide enough for the whole pattern, tape a couple pieces together.

Starting at the top corner (make sure both edges are squared off), hold the knot down at the corner.  Insert a pencil tip into the little ring on the safety pin and draw a quarter circle from one edge to the next.  (Red line below.)  The distance from the corner to the line (at any point) should be your waist radius.  Double check before moving on.

Now, measure along the string from the first knot (away from the safety pin) till you reach the length of your short layer.  Re-knot your string and repeat–draw another quarter circle.  (Green line below.)  The distance from the corner to the line (at any point) should be your waist radius + the short layer length (including seam allowances).  Double check before moving on.

And finally, measure from the second knot along the string till you’ve added in the additional length for the longer layer (in this case, 4 inches).  Re-knot your string and draw a final quarter circle.  (Blue line below.)  The distance from the corner to the line (at any point) should be your waist radius + long layer length (including seam allowances).  Double check before moving on.

Cut the pattern out along the red and blue lines and viola!  Pattern complete!

STEP 5 – cut out your fabric.

Now, I used a really floaty, chiffon-style fabric and it was a pain to work with.  If you’re using similar fabric, buy some spray on stabilizer and apply liberally before cutting…make your life easier!

STEP 5.1 – Cut out your long layer.

To cut out your fabric, start with whichever fabric will be your longest layer.  Fold it into a square just a little bit bigger than your pattern.  Set one edge of your pattern along the fold (doesn’t really matter which unless your fabric has a directional pattern), and trace or pin, then cut.  You should end up with a half circle of fabric.

STEP 5.2 – Cut out your short layer.

For the shorter layer, trim the pattern piece back to the green line, then repeat the step above.  You should now have a half circle of fabric about 4 inches shorter than the first one you cut.  (To re-use this pattern, keep track of both pieces and just lay them out together for future long layers.)

STEP 5.3 – Cut out your waistband and ties.

When all is said and done, you will have a single continuous piece for your waistband and ties, so this needs to be about twice the length of your wrapped waist measurement (so it can wrap all the way around and still have enough length to tie off).  For our example skirt, that’s 116″, or a little over 3 yards.  If your yardage isn’t long enough, you can sew strips together to achieve the length you need.  For the waistband/ties, cut from each fabric a rectangle 5″ wide by however long you need it (I went with 108″, which was a little shorter than twice the waist, but that was all I had fabric for, and it worked just fine).

STEP 6 – Assemble the skirt.

Now you get to put it all together!

STEP 6.1 – Hem the skirt pieces.

There’s a loooooooooot of hemming on this puppy (circle skirt, you know?), so let’s get that out of the way, shall we?  Especially since every edge but the top waist will be exposed.  I tried a few options and didn’t particularly like the machine finished (either serging or using my shiny new rolled hem foot).  So I hand sewed that little beast.  All.The. Way. Around.  (Yes, both layers).  It took me about 6 hours (thankfully, Netflix exists).  There’s a great tutorial on hand sewed rolled hems here.  She’ll even walk you through getting around the corners.  However you do it, hem the sides and bottom edges of both skirt pieces.

STEP 6.2 – Create the waist band/ties.

Take your reeeeeaaaaaaallllly long strips of waist band (one from each fabric).  Working with one at a time, fold in half, wrong sides together, and press.

Now lay the two strips on top of each other, raw edges on opposite sides. (I did this so there would be a selvage edge reinforcing the inside of the waistband along both the top and bottom edges once it was assembled.  If you don’t care about that or don’t have selvage edges, lay them however you’d like.)  Find the center of the waistband on one side and mark it with a pin (green mark below).  Now measure half the distance of your wrapped waist measurement on either side of the pin and mark those ends (red marks).  Do not sew between the pins, this is the part where you’ll attach the waistband to the skirt.

Starting a few inches past one marker pin and sew your waistband pieces together all the way around to just before the other side of the pins (basically in a giant, partly-open-sided rectangle, see blue line above).  I used a half-inch seam allowance, which means my waistband turned out 1-1/2″ wide in the end.  If you want a wider or narrower band, adjust the width you cut above in step 5.3.  If your fabric is likely to fray, go back and overcast the edges to finish them.

Turn your waistband piece right side out (clip corners to reduce bulk) and press.  When you get to the bit you didn’t sew shut, turn raw edges up 1/2″ toward the inside of the waistband (as though it were sewn together anyway) to create a clean fold–this’ll help when you’re attaching the skirt.

STEP 6.3 – Attach skirt to waistband/ties.

If your fabric is likely to fray, overcast the top edges of your skirt to finish them.  Lay your skirt pieces out so the top edges line up.  Make sure you like the arrangement of the layers (is the “right” side where you’d expect it to be?).  If your fabric is really slippery, baste the layers together along the top edge.

Slip the top edges of the skirt pieces up into the waistband (where you left the gap).  Make sure there is about 1/2″ of skirt up inside the waistband, and make sure the waistband edges are folded to the inside by 1/2″ (or whatever seam allowance you used in step 6.2) where they meet the skirt (this is the “fake” seam you pressed after the rest of the waistband was sewn together).  Basically, you should see no raw edges.

Pin skirt/waistband securely, then topstitch all along the top skirt edge (about 1/8″ to 1/4″ from the folded edge of the waistband piece (orange line below).  Backtack at each edge of the skirt for extra security.  When you reach the far edge of the skirt piece, continue topstitching all the way around the waistband/ties.

STEP 7 – Final touches.

If you used a fabric stabilizer, be sure you wash it out before wearing!  Clip any loose threads, and go wear your fabulous new skirt!

* And, like the lazy blogger you know I am, I didn’t think to take a photo of the skirt before I mailed it off to my sis-in-law.  So while you have zero proof this actually works, I promise it does!

**Oh, and a note about fabric.  Circle skirts are fabric hogs.  For this skirt, I started with about 3 yards of each fabric, and I didn’t have a lot left over.  I used fabric that was 54″ wide and folded it in half cut edge to cut edge (not selvage to selvage as is usual) because then I got 54″ by 1.5 yards to work with, and the skirt pattern fit fine.  I took the strips for the waistband from a selvage edge after I’d cut out the main skirt pieces.  If you’re using narrower fabric, ymmv.


3 thoughts on “Reversible Double Layer Wrap Half Circle Skirt Tutorial

  1. I have been trying to wrap my head around this, and fear there is either an omission or error. I have gotten to the point where i cut one of the pieces and test-fit it (this is a half-circle piece cut as patterned above) and it does not go all the way around my waist, let alone overlap.
    From hours of research, i believe it could be one of two things:

    either this is designed as a full circle skirt, not a half-circle skirt, and there should be 2 of each cut and seamed together

    or this is a half circle skirt, and there is a maths error: The waist number should in fact be diameter (2r) not radius. if so, then a single half-circle would wrap as you have said it should.

    Hopefully you get this and are willing to respond.

    Thank you.

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