2 Ways to Lengthen A Half-Circle Skirt

In the days since the Tiramisu Knit Dress Pattern shipped, y’all have been so kind as to let me know when the pattern arrives.  I hadn’t foreseen that, and it’s such fun!  So far as I know, no one in Europe has received their pattern yet, nor Western Australia.  Let me know, it’s so interesting!

Over the weekend, I buried myself away from the world to tame the sewingcake.com site into the useful resource I can see in my head.  I also fielded some very intelligent questions about the Tiramisu pattern.  This one from Carole in Bowling Green was particularly delightful:

Picture 17I “nested” the skirt pattern for the Tiramisu to allow for lazy lengthening, that’s why it looks a bit different:

Picture 20This seemed most correct to me, as it preserves the length and volume of the half-circle.  I don’t have anything against “slash and spread” lengthening except it’s a bit time consuming, so I responded:

Picture 18

Then, as I was typing (and feeling like I’d seen altogether too much of my laptop screen lately), I got the itch to experiment.  I was sure I’d accurately told Carol what her options are (I really don’t like to make decisions for others), and I was just as sure I’d hear this question again.  I wanted to see the difference between the two alterations.

So I made up two half-circle skirt pattern pieces, altered for length both ways.

Half Circle Drape Experiment | Alteration 1 | Step 1 | 3 Hours PastThe Tiramisu skirt pattern piece is 24″ long.  I added ~6.5″ (16.5cm) in length using both methods Carole and I discussed.  Some time ago, I decided the “slash and spread” method of lengthening a pattern was kind of messy and cumbersome, so I started doing “trace and slide.”  It achieves precisely the same result, with less mess.  You can see the full pictutorial on sewingcake.com.  This method works for pretty much any pattern piece that needs to be lengthened.

Skirt Drape Experiment | Lengthening Alteration 2 | 3 Hours Past

Then I lengthened another Tiramisu Skirt piece by simply tracing off the hem that was ~6.5″ below the hem marked for my size.  That’s all.

Skirt Drape Experiment | Comparison Shot 2 | 3 Hours PastAnd of course, I compared the two.  Isn’t that interesting?  Like I said, the second method created a somewhat wider and fuller skirt.  So which one is more enchanting on the body and in motion?

I grabbed some lightweight, fluid, freebie “friends’ destash” fabric to test it- but before I post the results, I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on this.

What do you think?  Which way would you do it?  Do you think the difference will negligible or pronounced?  Which will look better?



  1. I love pattern piece comparison! ;) of course the first (slash ‘n spread) alteration won’t give a full half-circle skirt at the new length. So curious to see how they stitch up. :D

    • I think that the “pronounced” nature of the difference will depend entirely upon how much extra length is added! Me, myself, and I would go for the Add to the Diameter to Increase Circumference All Around approach, because I do lub me a circle skirt. Extry fullness at the bottom is to be desired for extry twirlability.

      Slash ‘n’ Spread will help control the weight of the added length of fabric, while maintaining a relatively large ratio between waist and hem circumference. As you say, it all depends on the fabric, because the fabric will always remain She Who Must Be Obeyed.

      • This is also useful to know if you’re a bit tight on fabric…the slash and spread method will be awfully useful in a tight spot, no?

      • Yes, LIn… I love the rippling that happens on a half or full circle skirt. Definitely my favorite skirts to wear. They just feel so graceful… And you’re exactly right, at the end of the day, it’s up to the fabric. :)

    • Thanks, Karin.

      My grandparents were in that region in the 80s, I grew up seeing their video footage and listening to them talk about it…

  2. Love the new website!
    As for lengthening, if I was feeling lazy I would probably just trace the larger size, especially for a summery skirt where extra fullness would be fun.
    Eventually I would probably do the trace and slide, (I do that too so I don’t cut my pattern). It would allow me to eke the skirt out of a skinnier piece of fabric and winters are cold and windy here so a longer length with most of the fullness pushed to the bottom of the skirt helps you not get totally exposed when a gust of wind comes by.
    I don’t think the change will be too noticeable on this one but if us taller girls pushed it even closer to the floor I think it would end up with more of a trumpet skirt look… just a guess really since I am not a knit expert.

    • Thanks, Em… I need to keep filling it up with these notes and photos I’ve been sitting on…

      Yeah, tracing the longer hem is a lot quicker… And good point about winter skirts. :)

      I’d love to see this floor length.. I just stuck to mid-calf.

  3. If you’re trying to preserve the geometry of the skirt, I think just tacking on length at the bottom- extending the side seam & center front- would be the best way to go. Even though the radius would be bigger, the degrees in the 1/2 circle would remain the same. By slashing & spreading the bottom of the skirt down along the center front line I think that would make the 1/2 circle a little less than 180 degrees. The way I see it, the 1st & last examples can be alterations that change the degrees in the skirt but don’t have to involve a length change because they just amount to changing the angle of the side seam, i.e. just because you change the angle of the side seam doesn’t mean you have to change the length of the radius.

  4. At 5ft 11 I’ll probably need to lengthen the skirt too, so I’m really curious to see how different the two methods look.. my instinct would be to just lengthen both lines to keep the angles the same, but given the amount of fabric it could take up, I may try the other way.

  5. Got my pattern today in Christchurch New Zealand, now I just have to find some time to get cracking on sewing it. What fun to look forward to. Thank you

  6. My pattern arrived today (northern California)! I’m in the midst of a super busy week so won’t have time to dive into sewing until Saturday — but do have 2 lengths of striped jersey all prewashed and ready to go! One for my niece (yeah, I’m an awesome aunt LOL) and one for myself in the immediate Tiramisu queue :D

    • What’s up, California?

      Do make the first bodice in meh fabric, and let me know if that underbust seam needs a hand. :) Sounds great!

  7. I am looking forward to sewing again (although I might have to see how well Tiramisu works as a maternity dress…). The website design for Cake is great, and I am happy to hear that you will keep this blog as well. There’s a link about bust sizing and FBA for Tiramisu that does not work (yet). I will happily wait for the official launch, but wanted to let you know just in case it should be working already.

  8. Been enjoying poking around your new website (even found a piece of cake)! I want to explore more, but it’ll have to be another time. Gotta stop procrastinating on sewing blogs and sites and get out the door (but it’s -30C outside! D:).

    I’ve never made a circle skirt before, but the one time I made a skirt with rounded pedals in the front, I lengthened it by cutting and sliding, which is essentially the same effect as the slash and spread (just more lazy). It narrowed the skirt a bit, but it wasn’t really much of an issue with such a small amount of length and because it was only the two front curved pieces. I really like the pattern comparison you did here, it really shows the difference it’d make in the skirt. Can’t wait to see those differences in fabric!

  9. Pingback: Results: 2 Ways to Lengthen a Half-Circle Skirt « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  10. My pattern arrived yesterday in France!! I’d love to start working on it now but it probably won’t happen until after Christmas when I have a few days off and various deadlines are met. I love the period just after Christmas: selfish knitting and sewing when everything has calmed down. I’ll probably be reading all posts on alterations at that time, it seems that my brain isn’t available at the moment, so thanks for posting all this info, I’m bookmarking it!

  11. First, This has been very helpful! Did you keep the grain line and the centerline of the pattern piece lined up in the slash and spread method? I am trying to but it is not working!

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