June 15, 2014

Circle Skirt for Baby

Once I found out I was pregnant with a baby girl, I couldn't wait to try sewing tiny little girl things.  I pinned this tutorial for a reversible circle skirt, along with some others for leggings and dresses.  The skirt seemed the most basic for me to start with, especially when also following the embedded link to instructions for a basic circle skirt.  A friend of mine who knows what she's doing (seriously, check out her blog) and I planned a "baby girl sewing day" so she could come over and keep a watchful eye on me as I butchered this process and she put me to shame by whipping up a whole dress in the time I struggled through one skirt.  :)  That said, once I had one skirt done and learned some things, the second went much more smoothly!  And the second is what I used for these pics to walk you through it bit by bit with me.  I am ALL ABOUT getting tips on how to do things more easily, avoid mistakes, and/or how to go about this kind of thing in the future, so please share away!

Skirt #1!  Lookin good, but if you are inspecting the seam on the grey band at the bottom, you go "well, it was a good effort."  ;)


  • 1/2 yard patterned cotton fabric
  • 1/2 yard solid cotton fabric for lining
  • 1/2" elastic- approximately 12" or less for newborn/0-3 month size?
  • Safety pin
  • Bias tape

So, how did I go about this?  I started with measurements, as directed by a link within the instructions I pinned.  She did a great job listing it out, so I'm just pasting in her directions:

* Measure your waist
* Add two inches to that number. You need these extra two inches so the fabric has “give” and will actually “stretch” when it’s sewn on to the elastic. It will create a very subtle gather to the skirt but will make it easier to get the skirt on and off. This will make more sense as you sew.
* Take your “waist + 2 inches” measurement and divide it by 6.28, and you have the radius!

I used a newborn onesie to get a waist measurement as instructed, added 2", and then divided by 6.28.  The radius for baby girl's skirt was 2.14 I believe.

As for how long I wanted the skirt to be, I had no idea.  My guru friend suggested just using a dinner plate as a starting point for the circle skirt, and that idea seemed very reasonable to me!

I placed my plate in the center of the fabric I was using for this skirt...

Then I measured out 3" from the plate's edge to get a good-size skirt going.  I used a washable fabric pen to mark along the way (below).  With skirt #1 I just traced the plate, but I worried the skirt was a bit short in the end.  I figured the extra few inches would either be just right, or bump the skirt into the 3-month range, but either way I was happy.

Cut the fabric leaving behind a big square with your circle in the middle of it.  Fold in half, then half again.

Next, this is where that radius measurement comes in!  Measure out the radius distance from the folded corner of your fabric.

Measured and marked.

Then cut!  This is the middle of your skirt, to go around baby girl's waist.

Next up, we're going to cut the edge of the skirt- the plate + 3" we traced earlier.

Wee!  Wasn't that fun?

Unfold, and you have a large donut.  I swear it's the perspective that makes this look off-center...  Yes.

Now here's where it helped to have a friend on hand!  Sneaky sneaky, I followed her advice and folded my plain white lining fabric into quarters, then simply laid my folded circle on top to use as a guide.

Skirt traced, ready to cut!

After cutting, you've got your two skirts to sew together.  At this point, flip the patterned fabric upside down so that the good side is facing the "good" side of your lining fabric.  If your lining is like mine, both sides were identical.  But either way, my big lesson learned was that if you just start zipping these donuts through your sewing machine without paying attention to your good side of the patterned fabric, you'll reach a point where you go "oh crap..." because your skirt is not cute, but instead looks sad and faded because you have the wrong side of the patterned fabric facing out.  BOO.

So what do we do?  Flip the fabric so the nice side is down!

Pin your circles together at the middle, and sew!  I used white thread which coordinated really nicely with everything and matched the lining.  Try to sew close to the edge, but at least 1/4" from the edge so it doesn't shred and not "take."  These are my very educated sewing terms, people.

Ok, sewn!  I'm not sweating where the circles aren't perfectly aligned, because next we're going to flip inside out.

Aaaand flip!  This was where I went "oh crap..." with skirt #1 but not with skirt #2.  Take that!

Press your beautiful inner seam.

Next, we're going to mark off where we'll sew a second circle, to hold the elastic.  Rather than fuss with measuring tape, I just used the elastic as my guide to mark off the circle about 1/2" from my clean pressed edge.  Also?  This is where white lining came in nicely!  Easy to see my marks.

When marking this circle, make sure to leave a gap about 2" wide because you'll need an opening to thread the elastic through.  If you sew it all the way around, then you have no way to get that elastic in!  I drew a couple vertical lines to remind myself to stop.  :)

Ok, now sew that circle, minding your gap.  Oh I'm so funny with random British references.  ;)  Here we see where my sewing went nicely around, leaving my space to thread in the elastic.  Again, helpful friend helped by advising to run the safety pin through one end of the elastic, to help in nudging it through the little housing I just made.  After doing this a couple times, I can see how useful this tip is.  Without the safety pin to grab and nudge along, I have no idea how you'd finagle that elastic all the way through.

Ok elastic, get in your home!  Quoting Happy Gilmore is also a strong suit of mine.

If you had x-ray vision, you'd see that this is me holding the safety pin in the little pocket and nudging it on its way.  I also first wrote that as "If you had 3-D vision" and something seemed off about that.  Ohhhh to be 8 months pregnant with an oxygen-deprived brain.  It's good times.

Puuuulll that elastic along.  I tried smoothing it out a bit as I went on this skirt.

At a certain point, the elastic has its own schemes in mind and starts to naturally bunch.  Don't fight it.

In the end you pull that end through victoriously, and will have two ends to sew together.  Trim the tailing end of the elastic so that you'll have 1-2" of overlapping elastic to sew together.  Take a minute to be happy for your victory because the elastic is no fun to sew.

I honestly have no advice for this stage, other than to just start and do your best to sew a nice x or crazy boxes or something secure on that overlapped portion of the elastic and then call it a day.  Once sewn together, flip your skirt back to be all nice and tidy and sew off the opening you'd left earlier.

Next, it's on to the bias tape to create a nice edge to your skirt hem!  This was another crucial time to have my friend on hand because I was staring at that bias tape like it was a mythical beast, no idea how to sew it properly in place even after a couple Google searches.  Basically, you'll lay the bias tape along the edge of the skirt, and sew inside the seam closest to the edge.  Once that's sewn, you fold the tape over the bottom of the skirt and then sew again.

Let's start with pinning.  That's the easy, fun part right?

Pin pin pin.  Overlap an inch or two of bias tape at the end, then cut.

Sew inside that bottom seam.

I really dislike sewing that overlapping portion.  Eew.

Anyway, next you've folded the bias tape to go around the bottom of the skirt, and now it's time to sew that teeny tiny little edge in place.  Omg this is tricky for a newbie like me, but I did it!

Now, just because I succeeded in sewing down that grey bias tape edge doesn't mean that my fabric was all nicely secured and not flapping out like some unruly loose edge to tell the world "I'm an adorable skirt for a baby but I'm rotten on the inside, and I will DIIIIE if ever machine washed- muahahaha!"  With skirt #1, this caused me stress and I had lots of silly sewn lines trying to remedy the problem one patch to the next.  With skirt #2, I told those little hellion loose edges they weren't going to get the best of me or make my work look sloppy, so what I did was sew a THIRD circle in between my two bias tape sewing marvels.  This third line worked wonderfully because it made sure that all fabric was sewn down, and when the skirt was flipped over, it looked intentional and nice!

Ta da!  Skirt is done, and this time if you inspect the hem you won't be all "that poor girl..." as you look.  HAH!  Don't ask me why sewing is so competitive in my head, but it is and I own that about myself.

Anyway, there you go.  Wonderfully detailed instructions with all the right terms, resulting in a flawless product.  You're welcome, Internet.  ;)

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