Heather from Sewing on Pins left a comment on the Terra Incognita dress asking for a how-to for my octagonal skirt pattern. It’s not difficult, though it may be a slightly different approach to making a pattern than many people use.
I suggest using it anywhere you need a skirt pattern but want something a little different. Play with the shape of the hem, use your favorite waistband to make a skirt, or use this skirt with a favorite dress bodice.
My Opinion: A circle skirt is incredibly flowy and feminine, flattering to a variety of body shapes. I like to pretend it makes its own breeze on breathlessly hot days. Heavier frames may find that a long, flowing, full skirt that doesn’t have gathers at the waist helps balance and elongate their figures. Try a below the knee to mid-calf length for a modest and cool casual skirt.
I used the guidelines in The Equator Collection because it made sense to my brain.
This shape is a square with a quarter circle inside. I folded a piece of polytrace (the medium I use to make patterns, use swedish tracing paper or butcher’s paper or whatever) in half to make a square shape like this, which results in a half circle shaped pattern piece. I found it simpler to work with that shape, I could try it in several positions on the fabric I had available. The fold was on the left hand side.
I’m quoting the original because I simply can’t improve upon it:
“Step 1: Draw a right-angle.
Step 4: Length of skirt is from the beginning of the smaller quarter circle. Draw a larger quarter circle for the length. Although the smaller quarter circle segment is not part of the skirt, you can still start off marking points with your tape measure from the same corner as in step 3. But this time, add A to the actual length you want your skirt to be, when marking your points.”
When that’s done, I folded my circle shape as if I were cutting a very large paper snowflake:
The edge I’m holding with my hand is the side seam. I have the waistline marked but not cut. I squared off the bottom edge after folding my piece a few times. This isn’t a “rocket science” type of pattern, more an intuitive “let’s fold and cut and play” exercise.
This is how I laid it out. It might have shifted during cutting a bit, but this gives the idea. That’s 54″ wide hemp and the skirt pattern just fit. If I needed to, I could trim the skirt a little along one edge to fit them better.
I added a wide waistband and I’m in the process of embroidering Indian shisha mirrors scattered over the fabric.
For Terra Incognita, I achieved the “short in the front” effect by allowing part of the octagon to hang off the fabric. Again, this is intuitive pattern making and relies on actually playing with the fabric- see what develops!
Caveat: If you cut it correctly, the skirt edge of the waist won’t immediately match up to the waistband. Harriet Pepin assures me this is normal, and the gentle stretching of the bias seems to “open up” the ripples beneath. I pin my bodices to bias skirts by matching up all seams, then the centers front and back. This helps, just gently relax the material between your fingertips as you pin. You shouldn’t need to yank, always gentle persuasion. I find the bodice edge is often 1/2″ – 1″ longer than the skirt. If it’s more than that, it’s too much. I can let out a skirt seam to fix it, or sometimes deepen a bodice seam. Usually this doesn’t come up.
I’m up to my ears in sewing this weekend, it’s fantastic. I finally cut into that charcoal tropical wool!
I’m planning to make a new Pattern Alterations post tomorrow. If no one has another more pressing issue, I might show you the way I perform an ordinary FBA. I find I have similar proportions issues to plus-sized figures, and I have several ways to play with the problem of big curves. Why not share?