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Circle skirt

Panta Rei Cicrle Skirts

Three-panel Circle Skirt

       You need:
  • Fabric
  • Wide elastic
  • Matching thread
  • Pattern paper
  • Piece of string
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Calculator
  • Clamp-type skirthanger
  • Sewing machine

1. Pattern

  (a)  Pattern size
    First, you make a paper pattern. Take a piece of paper of 2 metres long and 1.2 metres wide. On this pattern, you'll need to draw two half-circles, a small one and a large one.
    After you've finished drawing the two half-circles, the pattern should look like the one above on the right-hand side. Let's see how we draw these half-circles.
  (b)  Drawing the small half-circle

  • Hip-measurement - measure all around your hips at the widest part. Don't take the hip-measurement too tight! The skirt will have to be loose-fitted, i.e. you must be able to easily put it on and take it off.

    Example: Your hip-measurement may be, say, 96 cm.

  • Seams - for a three-panel circle skirt, you'll need six seams. The panels will be sewed together at the straight edges, so you'll have two seams for each panel. If you take seams of 1.5 cm each, you'll need to add 9 cm to your hip-measurement to get the amount of fabric you'll need for the skirt at the top.

    Seams  =  6  x  1.5 cm =  9 cm
    Example: If your hip-measurement is 96 cm, adding 9 cm will give you 105 cm. That's what you'll need for the skirt at the top.

  • The radius of the small half-circle is calculated as follows:

    (Hip-measurement  +  9 cm) : 9.42

    Example: If your hip-measurement is 96 cm, you add 9 cm to get 105 cm. Divide this by 9.42 and you'll get a radius of 11.15 cm.

  • Drawing the small half-circle - To draw the half-circle, tie up a piece of string to a pin and a pencil. The distance between pen and pin is the radius of the circle, i.e. one of the two red lines on the picture below. Make sure that you have sufficient length of string to include the parts you need to tie a knot around the pin and the pencil.

    Pin down a piece of string in the center of the small semi-circle, i.e. midway the length of the paper (the x on the picture). To find the center, simply fold the paper in two and attach the pin to the edge of the fold. Now go round with the pencil to draw the small semi-circle on the pattern.

    Example: If your pattern is two metres long, then pin the string down at the edge of the fold, i.e. one metre from the side.

The Radius
(only for those interested in the math)

Calculate how much fabric you need around the top of the skirt. This will be your hip-measurement plus 6 times what you need for one seam.

Divide this total by three, because you will use three panels. This will give you the top round edge for one panel. This top edge will be drawn on the pattern as a small half-circle.

Half-circle  =  Hip-measurement  +  Seams

Example: if the total amount of fabric you need at the top is 105 cm, divide this 105 cm by three, to end up with a 35 cm top edge for each piece of fabric.

The circumference of the full circle will be twice that top edge, since a full circle is twice a half-circle.

Circumference  =  2 x half-circle
Example: if the half-circle on the pattern is 35 cm, the circumference of the full circle will be twice that, i.e. 70 cm.

To calculate the diameter, you take the circumference of the full circle and divide this by pi.

Diameter  =  circle circumference
pi (3.14)

Example: if the circumference of the full circle is 70 cm, the diameter will be 70 cm (i.e. 2 x 35 cm) divided by pi (3.14) = 22.3

Radius (small semi-circle)  =  diameter

Example: If your diameter is 22.3 cm, the radius will be 22.3 cm : 2 = 11.15 cm

The formula thus is:
Radius  = Hip-measurement  +  Seams
Number of panels  x  Pi


  (c)  Drawing the large half-circle

  • To draw the large half-circle, you'll need to calculate its radius, which will be the distance between pin and the pencil. First, you'll need to decide where you want to wear the skirt. Bellydancers will typically want to wear the skirt around the hips, just above the widest part of your hips. Others may want to wear the skirt a bit higher, closer to the waist. To let the skirt flow out wide when turning, the skirt should be long, so measure from where you want to wear the skirt at the top to just underneath the ankle. Note that if you want to hem the lower edge, you'll need to add 2 cm. To get the radius of the large half-circle, add the radius of the small half-circle to the length of the skirt.

    Radius (of large half-circle)  =  hip-to-ankle measurement  +  radius (of small semi-circle)

  • Now go round with the pencil to draw the large half-circle on the pattern.

2. Fabric

  (a)  Before you start cutting...

  • Buy a piece of fabric. The Panta Rei color for circle-skirts is Plain Black Charmeuse. This makes the bright-colored scarves, belts and veils look good, while the faces also come out brighter on photographs and video.

    On the drawings here, the width of the fabric is 1.20 metres, but if the fabric you buy is 1.12 wide, that is fine as well. The half-circles should easily fit in either width. You'll need a length of fabric that is three times as long as your pattern. If you buy 6 metres, you should have enough. Note the yellow box below if you want to save a bit on fabric.

  • Pre-wash the fabric if you think it might shrink or run. If you take the Plain Black Charmeuse, as recommended, you don't have to pre-wash.
  • Spread out the fabric on the floor, folded into three equal layers. You should now have three layers of fabric on top of each other.
  • Pin all three layers with the pattern on top together. Pinning everything together may prevent the material from slipping around while you are cutting.
  • Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut through all three layers, following the circles of the pattern.

For the more adventurous only!

Alternatively, you can cut out the pieces one by one. This will save you a bit on fabric, but it's more tricky. If you cut the pieces one by one, as on the picture below, you should be able to fit the three pieces in 5 metres of fabric.

In this case, pin the pattern at the edge of the fabric and cut out the first piece following the outline of the pattern with your scissors. Then, pin the pattern to the fabric at the edge on the other end and cut out the second piece. Finally, pin the pattern in the middle and cut out the third piece.

  (b)  Sewing the panels together

  • Whatever way you cut the fabric, you should end up with three identical half-circles. Sew these three half-circles together at the straight edge (1.5 cm seams) to form one big circle.
  • Gather upper edge.
  • Sew the upper edge to wide elastic or to a casing where you later thread elastic through.
  • Hang the skirt on a hanger for at least one week. The fabric is sewed together at the self-edge, so there will not be much change there. Elsewhere, the fabric may stretch out a bit, so have another look after one week and, where necessary, cut off parts that are too long.
  • Overlock lower edge. Alternatively, you can hem the lower edge, but in that case, you'll need to add 2 cm to the hip-to-ankle measurement, as mentioned above.
  • Tell me how things went, e.g. by posting a message at the
    Belly-dancing group at Yahoo!

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