Gather up your drafting supplies: a large sheet of paper, pencil/marker, a compass, ruler and perhaps a bit of scratch paper or calculator for the math we need to do.
Begin by finding the diameter of your waist from the circumference (waist measure you took):
C ÷ 3.14 = D
For example, if your waist measures 30”, this is what the equation will be:
30” ÷ 3.14 = 9 1/2” (approximate)
Next divide that number by 2 for the radius. For our example waist, that would be 4 3/4”.
If you want to draft just a quarter pattern, then skip folding the paper in half. However, if you plan on drafting a half skirt, then fold the sheet of paper in half (lengthwise is best); the fold becomes the center front/back line. (Note: all examples will be showing the half circle pattern draft; modify accordingly for a quarter draft.) If you have a drafting compass, this part is really easy because you can set the compass to the radius length, position it in the corner of the paper and draw your quarter-waist measure. If not, here’s how to do it:
Mark the length of the radius from the corner of the paper along one edge. Do so on the other edge connecting to that corner. Connect the two points with a curved line. A curved ruler or drafting compass makes this easy.
You can use this template to draft your skirt directly on the fabric. But if you prefer to have a full paper pattern (especially a good idea if you are doing something like a scalloped hem), it’s easy to do. You’ll probably need to tape together a few large sheets of paper (banner paper, non-fusible interfacing, or my favorite “pattern” paper are options).
Trace your 1/2 waist pattern along one long edge of the paper. From the center front, measure down the desired length plus 5/8” for a hem. Do the same from the side edges. I like to also make length marks in between the center front and side edges as well.
If your hip-to-hem or back-to-hem measurement tends to be longer (e.g. your skirts tend to “hike up” over the hip or rear), then go with that measurement for your length, rather than the center front-to-hem length. You can even the length around the hem according to your needs when the skirt is hemmed later during construction. It’s better to have too much than not enough!
Connect all the marks along the hem with a smooth curve.
If you’d like to create a flatter drape along the center front and back waistline, you can modify the pattern slightly by drawing a shallow, straight line along the waistline to “flatten” the circle a bit. Just make sure that you don’t make the waistline smaller. (Modification not shown in following diagrams.)
Add a 5/8” seam allowance to the waistline seam. Mark a 5/8” seam allowance along the side edges (unless you plan on cutting your skirt on the fold; note this is only workable for shorter length skirts using wide fabric).
Last we need to make a waistband pattern. Again, this is something you could draft directly on your fabric, but I like to have a “hard copy” of since I’ll also cut out interfacing.
Using your waistline length, mark that on a piece of the pattern paper plus 2 1/4” (1” is for overlap). Measure the waistband height, times two, plus 1 1/4” along either end of the long line. Draw another long line parallel to the first. Connect the short ends; you should have a long rectangle as shown below:
Mark the grainline along the length and center front point (center of length).
We’re done! That was easy, wasn’t it? Do let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try and get back to you as soon as I can!
Note: A handful asked about drafting a half circle skirt pattern, which I decided not to cover here for the sake of length and focus to this sew-along. However, if you’d like to draft a half circle skirt, Patty has a great “cheat sheet” here with directions!