How to draft a circle skirt


This circle skirt tutorial (and circle skirt calculator!) shows you how to draft a pattern piece for a full circle skirt.  

Circle skirts are one of the easiest skirt shapes to make. They're also super flattering, an easy way to reduce bulk at the waist, and a great way to give a dress a completely different look.

If you're here to turn the Sweetheart Dress into a Favorite Dress, you're in the right place! :)

To draft a circle skirt pattern, you'll need:

  • A ruler (I use a clear dressmaker's ruler, but you can use any ruler)
  • A tape measure
  • A very large piece of paper (36" x 36" or so) and some tape. If you don't have giant paper, you can just tape together a bunch of smaller pieces. 
  • A tiny bit of math

First, figure out your waist and length measurements.

Waist: If you're working with a pattern, measure the waist seam on the pattern. Exclude any seam allowances. This is your waist measurement. 

If you're just making a skirt, measure your waist and hold the tape measure as tight as you want your waistband to be. That's your waist measurement. 

Length: Figure out how long you'd like your skirt to be and add an inch for the hem. You can either measure a skirt you already have (easier) or measure yourself from the waist (harder.) I'm 5'4" and 24" hits me right about at knee length, so I use 25" for my circle skirt length.

Next, find the radius of your waist measurement.

Your waist is a circle. You need to find the radius of that circle so you can draw the curve of your waistband. Remember learning about π in school? Yeah. This is one of those times when all that math you thought was pointless is actually really useful. ;) (And if you hate math, don't worry - I've got you covered below the image.)

The formula that connects the circumference of the circle with its radius is

C = 2πr

C stands for circumference, which is your waist measurement. I'm using 26" here, so I subbed in 26 for C, but you should put in your own waist measurement. π is basically just a fancy way of writing 22/7, so I'm using 3.1415 for π. As you can see below, you get to use a little algebra to find r, your radius. 

For a waist measurement of 26 inches, the radius of the circle is about 4.14.

Not into doing math by hand? Try the calculator!

Circle Skirt Calculator

Your waist measurement:

Your radius is:  


Round your radius to the nearest hundredth of an inch (or tenth of a centimeter) and you're good to go!

Now you can draw your waistband.

Get your very large piece of paper. I have a big roll of drafting paper, but when I first started, I just taped together pieces of computer paper. That's totally legit.

Start at one corner of the paper and use your ruler to mark the length of the radius along the edge. Keep one end of the ruler at the corner of the paper, and mark the length of the radius across the paper until you reach the other edge.

Connect the dots. You have a waistband!

Make the rest of the pattern.

Use your tape measure to measure and mark your skirt length from the waistband. Remember that your skirt length is the length you want it to be plus 1" for the hem. 

Connect the dots. Cut along this line. 

Add a 5/8" seam allowance to your skirt's waistband. Use your ruler to mark 5/8" above the waistline. Cut along the seam allowance line.

Add 5/8" seam allowances to the sides of your pattern. I do this by taping strips of paper to the edges of my pattern and then trimming them to 5/8". Very high tech, I know.

Label your pattern and cut along the seam allowances.

And voila! You have a pattern!

Cut out four of these puppies and you'll have yourself the beginnings of a mighty fine circle skirt.

If you're here to turn your Sweetheart Dress into a Favorite Dress, click here to head back to the main tutorial.

Happy sewing!


1 comment

  • Thank you for sharing this 😁 The calculator . . . Indespensible for I hate math.


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