cssa: supplies

NOTE: I am currently unable to check my email or respond to comments due to an internet connection problem (and my dratted ISP is dragging their heels about fixing it!). So I’ll get back to questions as soon as I can. My apologies—but I want the “show to go on" with this sew-along anyway!

Circle skirts are one of my favorites simply because they have very few fabric restrictions. Unlike most garments, you can construct a circle skirt from the finest silk organza (layered and lined, of course) or a heavy wool, and just about everything in between. They can be cut from one piece of fabric, or pieced, which will be something you’ll want to consider as you plan. Generally the shorter the skirt and smaller the size, the less fabric you’ll need and more likely you’ll be able to cut from one piece (so if you’re sewing for a little girl this will be perfect!). I’ll share the formula further down.

First let’s talk about fabrics that won’t work for a circle skirt. Namely knits. Stretch fabrics will droop and skew in ways that throw the line and fit of the circle skirt off. This style is meant to sit at and be fitted to the waist, so a stretch material isn’t needed. Just avoid them for this project. Now that’ we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about fabrics that will work!

As I mentioned, just about any material will work. For sheer fabrics you’ll probably want to account for layering them and lining. For heavier materials, you can do away with a lining or opt to underline or create a free standing lining (meaning it is only attached to the skirt at the waistband). Quilting cottons work for this style skirt as well, which opens up a whole world of exciting print and color possibilities! Here’s a short list of fabrics that I think are best suited:

Cottons: twill, denim, quilting/medium weight, corduroy, velveteen

Rayons: velvet, medium weight suitings

Polyesters: organza/crisp sheers, chiffon/georgette, medium weight, velvet (note: avoid fabrics with stretch content such as Lycra/Spandex)

Wools: medium suitings, melton, felt

Silks: medium weight, dupioni, shantung, taffeta, organza/organdy, chiffon, gauze, heavy weight suitings

Linen: all weights

Decorator Fabrics: suitable as long as they are not treated (such as oilcloth/outdoor fabrics) and not stiff to the point of not draping.

Keep in mind that some of these fabric choices are probably better suited to adventuresome or advanced sewers (silk gauze springs to mind… it has a mind of it’s own!). So if you’re not up for a challenge, stick with fabrics you enjoy working with or know will not cause too much of a headache.

Also keep in mind that if you piece your skirt, you’ll need to finish the seams. Some materials will need more of a seam finish than others, especially depending on if it’s machine washable (such as cotton) or not (silk organza).

To determine your yardage requirements:

Generally 4 yards of 60” wide fabric should be safe for most (adult) sizes. (Yes these skirts eat fabric!) Just don’t expect to be able to cut the skirt from one piece, unless you’re making a mini or above the knee skirt. Most like you’ll need to seam it along the sides to create the full circle.

If you’re planning on cutting your skirt with just two side seams (basically your pattern will look like a half donut!), use this formula to determine how much fabric to buy:

Waist circumference divided by 3.14 (pi)= the diameter (ex: 30”/3.14=9.55”).

Take the length and multiply by two. Add the waist diameter. This will give you the half-width of the pattern (we’ll be making these seamed). So if you’re waist is 30” and you want your finished skirt to be 30” long, the final edge-to-edge length will be 69.55” (approximately 2 yards). Since the front length (length + radius) for this example skirt (finished front length is 34.25”) won’t allow for the skirt to be cut on the fold of 60” fabric, you’ll need to double that yardage amount. Thus the amount needed would be 4 yards of 60” fabric. (This would work for 45” too; as long as that front length measure is narrower than the fabric, you’re fine!)

Additionally, you can squeeze a skirt out of less fabric, depending on your finished length and if you’re willing to piece the skirt (you can cut four separate sections which allow for better usage of fabric). I’d recommend checking out the original article this sew-along is based on here. This shows how to cut out with a 1/4 circle pattern piece, as well as giving an idea of how much fabric you’d need (though I always recommend a bit more just in case!).

Hopefully I haven’t made everyone get headaches from this. Math has never been, nor ever will be, my strong point. Thus I’ve probably approached it from the wrong way, but after researching this seems relatively sound. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask me!

Other Supplies:

1-9” zipper

thread to match your fabric

waistband interfacing: fusible interfacing compatible with your fashion fabric, silk organza for light to medium fabrics, Petersham ribbon (most fabrics), or horsehair canvas (heavy fabrics only) are options.

lining or underlining (purely optional; I’d advise only for sheer fabrics or things like wool. Purchase the same amount for the skirt fabric.)

pattern paper, banner paper, Swedish Tracing Paper, newsprint: we’ll be drafting the pattern pieces on paper so you can reuse them. You’ll most likely need to tape pieces together, so don’t worry if it isn’t super-wide.

pins, sewing shears, paper scissors, pen, string, marker/pencil, rulers/yardstick, sewing machine, iron (usual sewing tools).

You may have also noticed there is a bonus project in this sew-along for a petticoat. While there are good instructions online, this version will be my take on how to make your own. Essentially it’s just a fitted hip yoke with an elastic waist, and then rows of tiered ruffles..

Basic a-line skirt pattern: I’m using the Ginger skirt, but any a-line will do

1 yard nylon tricot (for the hip yoke)

Lingerie elastic (enough to go around your waist plus a few inches)

3-5 yards 72” wide netting (towards 5 yds. if you want a very full, poufy petticoat)

thread to match

ribbon (optional)

Don’t want to make a petticoat, but want to keep the swingy hem? A great alternative to the bulk of a petticoat (or to even add an extra bit of body to the skirt hem if you are planning a petticoat) is to add horsehair braid to the hem. Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch has recently started stocking horsehair braid, and Gertie has a thorough tutorial on using it to finish a hem here. I won’t be going over this step-by-step, but will try to include a note and appropriate links in the hemming post.

August 30, 2011 · 60 lovely thoughts
posted in sewing · tags: ,

Brandy Layton August 30, 2011 at 07:24

I think it is great, that you are keeping this going even though your ISP are dragging their heels. I will have to remember the petticoat. When you get back to your normal blogging conditions I have a question for you. I have extremely sensitive skin, most netting doesn’t agree with me, is there a cotton option to get that fullness. I was thinking a cotton crinoline. Thanks, Bran


Tanya September 3, 2011 at 14:15

I sewed a petticoat of cotton and I starch it after washing


Brandy Layton September 4, 2011 at 12:14

Thank you Tanya! I have never starched something like this do you have any suggestions?


Tanya September 5, 2011 at 15:32

I use potato starch (powder), but you can use spray or liquid starch. I can tell you how to use potato starch. do you want?


Brandy Layton September 6, 2011 at 12:55

That sounds interesting and I would love to know.


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:34

I would concur with Tanya’s suggestion for starching a petticoat. Other options would include silk organza (or synthetic if you want) or cotton organdy. Organdy is fairly hard to find (check heirloom sewing suppliers like Martha Pullen, Farmhouse Fabrics and Baltazor), but has some body to it. Organza is probably the easiest to source. :)

♥ Casey


Olivia August 30, 2011 at 07:25

This is so exciting! I can’t wait to go fabric/ supplies shopping :)


Esz August 30, 2011 at 08:02

I wasn’t planning on joining in but I think this sewalong is timely for the petticoat I want to make.
I’m planning one base layer of soft cotton and 2 layers of tulle on top. All the pattern pieces I will be a circle skirt and then attach to a ribbon casing for the waist tie.

My reasonings being:
I don’t like those tiered petticoats as they dont give much puff right from the waist.
And I’m hoping the ribbon tie will be slightly more comfortable than elastic which not only scratches but gets loose over time. Annoying!

I already have two regular tiered petticoats so I want to try something different.
This Ebay seller is what gave me the idea ages ago.
What do you think?


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:35

Good idea! :) I love how sewing allows us to problem-solve for things like this, don’t you? ;) Keep me updated on how your petticoat variation goes; I’d love to see it!

♥ Casey


Vicki Kate August 30, 2011 at 08:19

Yay! I’ve done measurements and ordered my fabric. Quick question though, tricot seems to be difficult to find in the UK and whilst I don’t mind ordering from the US does anyone have any ideas as what could be used as an alternative?

I also found this rather fab blog post which has a spread sheet for doing the waist maths…


It may help some of you out? I’ve done it the long way with a calculator, and use the spreadsheet and they both come out with the same number, which is great! It’s also got the maths for 3/4 and 1/2 circle skirts.

It does suggest taking account of the bias stretch though in the waist measurements?

And on a completely different note. THANK YOU for introducing me to Grip-Tuth combs via your Belle Blossoms post. They keep my hair in a french twist all day… Nothing has been able to do that before!


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:40

I love Patty’s “cheat sheet” for circle skirts! I’m going to link that in the pattern drafting post later this week. Unfortunately, I don’t have any bright ideas about UK sources for tricot. Though really any lightweight (semi-sheer?) knit would do. The basic premise is that we’re eliminating the need for a closure by using a knit and elastic waistband (just like some of the vintage petticoats I own).

♥ Casey


Tanya August 30, 2011 at 08:35

for example: fabric width 140 cm. skirt length = 68 cm. Inner radius (not drawn) 10cm + allowances for seam (2cm). Obtain external radius = 80 cm. Adds 2 external radius get 160cm. This – the hypotenuse. One leg (b) known to us is the width of the fabric. It remains to find a leg (a). According to the formula in the figure we can calculate the length of the leg. The rest is clear from the drawing. I got two radius + length of leg (a). 160 +77.5 + allowances for all kinds of surprises (approx 10-20 ….)= 2.5 m approx.


Lenora Jane August 30, 2011 at 09:06

As someone taking full advantage of the university library because of her own home-internet problems…I hope it ends soon!


Lauren August 30, 2011 at 10:18

well my fabric is only 2 yards (60″ wide) so i will be piecing. guess i need to go ahead & order my lining! eee so excited! hope your internet gets up & running soon :)


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:40

You might be able to squeeze a skirt out of 2 yards, if you cut the skirt in quarters instead of two half pieces! :)

♥ Casey


Halias August 30, 2011 at 10:24

As soon as it’s payday, I’ll be scurrying off to the fabric store. The stuff I’ve picked out is only 45″ wide, if I remember, but since I’ve decided on an above-the-knee length I hope it’ll work. The petticoat also looks like it will be a lot of fun. More froof = more awesome (it’s science!)


Liss August 30, 2011 at 11:31

I know you can’t get to comments right now, but perhaps you can in the future…I was just curious if you had any tips on figuring out how much I would need to add for a plaid skirt. Thanks!


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:42

It depends on the plaid. A smaller, even plaid will need less in order to match it, while a larger or uneven plaid will need more. I generally tend to buy about 1/2 to 1 yard more with plaids–just to be safe. I’d rather have more than not enough! However, be sure that your plaid is on-grain before buying! I bought some cute plaid fabric (online) for this sew-along, and ended up having to not use it because the plaid isn’t on-grain and can’t be pieced correctly. Go with a woven–not printed–plaid if you can! :)

♥ Casey


Carla August 30, 2011 at 13:36

Thank you for the supplies list! I’ll convince someone to go fabric shopping with me soon.
I hope your internet issues get situated =(


Brenda August 30, 2011 at 18:38

I am going to join. I have a green corduroy that I am hoping is enough yardage. I will be checking later tonight. I am also excited for the petticoat. I have been looking at them since you posted about the circle skirt last time.


Rachel W. August 30, 2011 at 22:23

Oooer. I think I’m going to use the bright, lemon-y yellow medium-weight linen that I’ve been hoarding for such an occasion. Wisdom tells me that I should pick a lighter fabric for still-sweltering Florida; longing for fall encourages me to do otherwise!

You’re so grand for keeping up with this despite internet troubles! Three cheers for Casey!


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:44

hehe! You’re just like me! I’m making one skirt of cotton broadcloth (the bee skirt) and another of a slightly heavier material. But I knew I needed to keep one light so I could wear it now! ;) Drat the Florida weather for not being compatible with my desire for fall fabrics… rofl!

♥ Casey


Stephanie J August 31, 2011 at 08:33

As a newbie, would anyone recommend against a directional pattern? I’d really like to use a plaid or something similar and want to know if this is disaster waiting to happen or if it’s totally doable even if I’m not the most experienced.


Littlefoot August 31, 2011 at 13:34

Hi Stephanie, I’m a newbie sewer too! I’ve fallen in love with a plaid/check fabric and am also concerned about how it will turn out… But think I’m going to give it a shot anyway! I haven’t ordered yet, but this is the one I’m thinking of using: http://www.abakhan.co.uk/check-red-147cm.html

Good luck with your skirt! x


Stephanie J August 31, 2011 at 15:48

LF – ohmigosh that plaid is to die for! It brings to mind a black and white check skirt outfit that Vera Ellen wore in White Christmas. I think she wore it with a turtleneck (can’t find a picture) but the additon of red to the B&W color scheme is perfect.

I responded to @Bethany below… I think I’ll let my pattern do the talking for me once I find it. If there’s one I love as much as your plaid, I will definitely go for it! I’ll keep an eye out for your comments – can’t wait to hear about your progress.


Littlefoot August 31, 2011 at 22:45

Hi Stephanie, I know which one you mean, I was thinking I could wear mine with a sweater or cardigan too :D Unfortunately went to order the fabric and they didn’t have enough in stock… gutted! :( But I’ve been searching round and have found this one: http://www.calicolaine.co.uk/Dress-Making-Fabric-Tartan-Fabrics-c566_580/Menzie-Tartan-p2834.html I don’t love it as much as the other, but I think it will be more versatile in the end and also possibly easier to match up the pattern?? It’s ordered now, so no more disappointments… fingers crossed!! I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone does! :D


Stephanie J August 31, 2011 at 23:09

I’m so glad you knew what I was talking about! Tell me you at least got some of the other for a different project that doesn’t require as much yardage?

However, the new pattern is equally as wonderful! I really like the scale of that plaid and I think it will look really fantastic. I plan on making a trip to the fabric shop tomorrow so if I get something I’ll post it… Still, can’t wait to see your finished product.


Littlefoot September 1, 2011 at 08:50

You’ll never guess what I just stumbled on! http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_eIy06EPSalw/SxCyZjWjIGI/AAAAAAAABI4/GABoBSia6Y4/s1600/cocker+spaniel.jpg
I was searching for ideas for the other fabric! I haven’t bought it yet… YET! lol


Couture Allure September 5, 2011 at 06:55

Keep in mind if you’re using a stripe or plaid for a circle skirt that the stripes will be straight at the center front and back, but on the diagonal at the sides. This can look pretty with some plaids, but may look odd with others.


the fabled needle (jen) August 31, 2011 at 15:40

I’m using a small scale check that is also low contrast so I think it’ll work fine. Plus, since I’m making mine above the knee I’m able to make this skirt in a single piece (no seams). I think if yours just had 2 seams it would be OK as long as the pattern lined up.


Stephanie J August 31, 2011 at 23:11

Yah…mine is falling at the knee so maybe I’ll have enough? I haven’t worked up the math just yet but cross your fingers!


Faith September 1, 2011 at 12:49

I think one of the first things I ever sewed was a circle skirt in a plaid taffeta. I think you’re okay with directional patterns in a circle skirt because you essentially only have two seams, the side ones, and that’s only if it’s too long to need two pieces. I actually think plaid looks really striking on a circle skirt! I went for plain this time because I couldn’t find a plaid to suit my existing petticoat but I think I will make it up more than once, heheh.


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:47

Thanks for everyone who put their two cents in about using plaid for a circle skirt! :) I think it should be fine–especially if you’re just seaming at the sides (cutting your skirt out in two pieces). Although a four-piece circle skirt would work too; you’d just need to make sure that the plaids matched perfectly at the seams so it wasn’t too obvious. :) I’d say go for it! I originally was going to use a plaid for one of my skirts, but the dratted fabric was printed off grain, which makes it nearly impossible to piece it correctly. :p

♥ Casey


Charlene Therien August 31, 2011 at 12:12

Oh this sounds like so much fun! I’d love to participate in the sew-along but I’ve got a deadline project that will be taking up my sewing time. I’ll participate virtually though! And I’d love to come back and follow the directions for a petticoat.


Bethany August 31, 2011 at 12:24

@Stephanie J: Plaids and stripes can be super lovely for a circle skirt. If you piece it you can have a chevron effect (where the stripes form a V at the seam), which can be lovely. BUT you will need extra fabric so you can match the pattern up and the whole matching thing can make for a really frustrating sewing experience depending on your personality. So judge for yourself. Would you be perfectly satisfied with stripes that look like this? http://etsy.me/pEk2Wx Or will you swear at your shears and spend hours tearing seams out and resewing because your stripes are off by a milimeter? Will you go slowly and relish the precision and get it *just* *so* the very first time? Was that helpful? Or just terrifying? — I hope not!


Stephanie J August 31, 2011 at 15:39

Bethany – This is so super helpful! I could never live with a mis-matched stripe. That being said, I tend to get into the nitty gritty details of things so I don’t think I’d want to chuck my machine across the room. And yet…I’d hoped not to need much piecing so I still need to give this a bit of thought. Hmm. Maybe I’ll let the fabric dictate how far I go. How much do I love the fabric? What am I willing to do for it? ;)


Bethany September 1, 2011 at 10:23

Well, you don’t *have* to go for chevrons.. here’s an example (of a half circle skirt) where there are just the side seams, to give you an idea what it would look like: http://etsy.me/qAYvSY … I have a vintage plaid half-circle skirt that’s been my absolute favorite thing to wear this summer. I bought it for contra dancing years ago in college and never touched it until this summer. Funny how tastes change!


Littlefoot August 31, 2011 at 13:51

Yikes! I was not prepared for maths today! :O

Think I’ve got it all figured out now though. Thanks to Vicki Kate and Tanya for the additional links, they really helped me out!

Just got to order all my supplies now… super excited! Just a quick question, does anyone know what kind of lingerie elastic I’ll need? I found loads of different widths, etc. Any recommendations? Thank you!


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:48

I’m using a narrow, 3/8″ lingerie elastic. 1/2″ would be fine too! :)

♥ Casey


Littlefoot September 7, 2011 at 13:40

Thanks Casey :)


Jesslyn August 31, 2011 at 14:55

I also would like to know if anyone knows how much to add to make plaids match?!


Danielle August 31, 2011 at 16:58

Thanks, Casey. How do you think pre-quilted fabric would work on this? I love the idea of a quilted skirt, but I’m not sure I have the patience to do the quilting myself!


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:49

I do think a pre-quilted fabric would be lovely! Many 50s era patterns do recommend quilted material as an option. Just make sure you take into account the extra bulk quilting will add to the waistline (so add a smidgen extra when drafting for pattern into the waistline and waistband). I eventually want to make a quilted circle skirt, but just can’t justify it right now because the weather here doesn’t really allow for something that heavy! lol.

♥ Casey


angie.a September 2, 2011 at 07:59

Oh gosh, I’ve been “off” the net for a few weeks myself with the beginning of school trappings. I can’t believe I almost missed this sewalong! I’ve been waiting for it! :D I’ve got the perfect fabric (I think…if there’s enough!): A vintage kitchen-y print cotton in deep turquoise & lime on white.


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:53

Oooh!!! That sounds like a lovely fabric–I can’t wait to see it! ;) I know exactly what you mean about getting caught up in school stuff and not being able to get online… My sister does a disappearing act at the start of every semester. hehe!

♥ Casey


Nisse September 2, 2011 at 10:09

I’m joining!

Not sure yet if I’ll join in on the pettycoat as well. I have been planning to make one for a while, but I’ll see if I can find the time.

I think I’m either going to go for denim (allready have that) or buy me something new. Not to little inspiration, just to much ;)


KatyDidStitches September 3, 2011 at 13:57

Hello, Casey…

I hope you are sorting out your technical issues. I admire you for keeping this going in spite of everything.

I’m excited to say I’ve just completed my first post about this Sew-Along…and I’m ready to start cutting! I’m looking forward to hearing about all the fabulous ideas out there…and it will be so much fun to watch everyone’s progress!

Happy Sewing to All!



Elissa September 4, 2011 at 14:51

Ah…I think I’ll be piecing. I don’t mind making it into 4 sections as it is a dark solid. I only got 3 yards…oops! O-o

Excited to start! :) I have my own petticoat, but it may be too full. I shall see when I am finished!


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:56

The picture I’m referring to is on the fourth consecutive page, bottom left-hand corner. It shows a quarter skirt with a long piece of fabric extending to the right. I’ll also be going over this layout when we get to cutting the skirts out! :)

♥ Casey


Elissa September 4, 2011 at 15:14

Though…I do have a question…that circle skirt “pattern” link you posted–you said it shows how to cut 4 pieces? All I see is how to cut it one piece. Am I missing something?


Couture Allure September 5, 2011 at 06:50

Horsehair braid will help to add fullness to lighter weight fabrics, but it just won’t hold up medium and heavy weight fabrics they way you want. Another alternative is to completely line your skirt in a stiff Pellon interfacing. Many vintage 50s full skirted dresses use this technique for added fullness without a petticoat. If you want that full, full look though, you’ll have to use a crinoline…..or two!


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:57

Thanks for the tip!!! You’re such a wealth of information!

♥ Casey


Letty September 6, 2011 at 01:22

I am sorry to hear about having problems in your internet connection…Anyway, you still have a good post…


Amy September 6, 2011 at 10:27

I’m currently still searching for fabric, but my plan is to join in. Thanks for putting together such a detailed list of supplies. Good luck working things out with your internet provider!


Hanne September 6, 2011 at 10:57

well i understand that sometime i am having a problem with my connection and its like gonna freaking me out if i don’t have connection,


NoirGirl September 6, 2011 at 13:25

Count me in! I have all my supplies except the tricot for the petticoat. Would it be possible to use swimsuit lining as an alternative for that? Or maybe they are the same thing? I’m quite new to the world of lingerie fabrics! And may I say how happy I am that your internet troubles are solved!


Casey September 6, 2011 at 15:59

Yep–it certainly would be workable with swimsuit lining! The tricot I have is very similar to the lining used on swimwear. The real key is just having a lightweight knit that stretches so we don’t have to add an additional closure to the waistline of the petticoat (a couple of my vintage petticoats are knit hip yokes with elastic–it just makes things easier!). :)

You and me both (being happy about the internet woes ending!)–it was getting ridiculous after day five!!! :p (Not to mention my bank account was not happy about all the Starbucks trips… haha!)

♥ Casey


Emily September 12, 2011 at 02:51

I am also having problems with my internet connection and It really makes me so sad…


Care to comment? Thank you ever so much for taking time to share your comment! Although I try to answer questions, I am not always able to respond to each comment individually. But please know that I appreciate from the bottom of my heart every comment I receive!

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