Hot! The “Initiation Circle” Skirt

The Facts
Fabric: handwoven Indian cotton and 3 yards Imperial Batiste for the lining, $12
Pattern: made my own using Casey’s tutorial
Year: now (and then)
Notions: a bit of interfacing, invisible zip
Time to complete: longer than it should have, I blame the hem, machine-rolled (many steps) on two layers
First worn: 4/22
Wear again: sure
Total cost:  about $14

Never would I have undertaken a full circle skirt were it not for this challenge!  And it won’t be my last.

I bought this fabric to hang on a very white wall in my first apartment when I moved out of the college dorm with three friends in 1993.  I remember thinking it was really expensive at the time, but that was coming off making 2-something an hour as a lifeguard, frozen yogurt server, etc.  I’m calling it free here.  I’m not in love with it or even sentimentally attached to it anymore, but somehow it has stuck around all these years, serving at times as a throw for the couch or bed, lately a picnic blanket.  Anyways, it was my only choice for a full circle skirt; I don’t have any tablecloths or other large pieces.

As the fabric is woven on the loose side and a little thin and worn, a lining was definitely called for.  I used a cotton batiste that I would ordinarily disqualify had it not been specifically recommended by Gertie, as there’s a fair bit of polyester in the blend.  Yep, I avoid polyester altogether.  I don’t find it objectionable in this lining fabric, though, so maybe I should reconsider.  I used the patch method to slash an opening in the center back following Casey’s tutorial and an invisible zipper all the way to the top of the waistband.  I think the patch method is more suited to a regular zipper and hook and eye, but it worked out fine.  The biggest challenge was marking the hem.  I’ve asked my husband to help me out with hem marking a grand total of two times.  He did it ever so patiently and thoroughly this time (with only slight prodding) and then sweetly suggested that I buy a dress form so he’d never have to do it again.  Um, okay.  Guess he doesn’t mind the permanent sewing set-up in the living room.

We have made some recent improvements in my sewing area, a work in progress, visible here in the photos.  We had to stay inside since it was pouring down rain all day.  I blatantly copied this photo of Sarai’s studio at Colette Patterns.  I took one look at that hanging rod and hooks and instantly thought “Ikea”.  Sure enough we found this piece there and also picked up an Expedit bookshelf for my patterns and various sundry sewing items.  The space is looking pretty good, nice and contained, thanks as well to the large luxurious closet where my stash lives.

I’m not sure this skirt is a total success– the waistband seems to have stretched out unflatteringly after wearing it few hours.  I should have underlined the waistband with the batiste, but I thought interfacing would be enough.  But now I know that I like a circle skirt on me and how to make one.  I win.



Lee is a highly educated stay at home mom with a lot of projects. She lives in New York City.


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  1. This looks fabulous! I love the fabric you chose, and I say yes, definitely grab a dress form for your fabulous sewing space!

  2. i love it with the boots. cute!

  3. How cool are your photos and I love the the sewing room set-up! My waistband stretch out at well, I interfaced as well but next time I think I’m going to use a ribbon and non-stretch fabric.

  4. I love the circle skirt at this length, it looks great. The sewing space looks fab and I’d love to get my hands on a rack like the one you have there for your cotton reels – any advice where to buy, or did you make?

    • Thanks, I like the length too! I recently bought the thread rack online from a seller on Amazon for about $50.

  5. I envy your sewing space! I have a table in my bedroom for pattern work (also from IKEA) but I have to set up my machine in the kitchen when I want to sew.

    OK-the skirt is lovely and I hope we get to see future circle skirts here. Love the hat!

    • Thank you! I worked like that for years, but I wasn’t sewing as much as you are. The hat is from Goorin Bros.– we have a new (well, new to me) store here.

  6. I’m envious of your sewing space. I should really clean mine up but we’re planning a move in a few months.
    How nice to finally be able to use your long carted-around fabric! Great job!

  7. Cute mother and daughter shot of twirling! It’s great to see your circle skirt in action. Interesting process that you went through to construct it. I would have never have thought to line it. That must have been a challenge to hem. Love your sewing space.

    • Barbara, when I read your post I was thinking about how haphazardly I did the patch at the center back without worrying much about the grain! Casey mentions lining a short skirt as an option, so I figured is wasn’t too crazy, and necessary for this fabric, but man the hemming was not fun. Next time I’ll know better!

  8. I love fabric with memories/history. Love your sewing area (and a hubby who doesn’t mind you getting serious so needing serious space). I’ve 3 circle skirts now and the first 2 the waist band went baggy, so this time I interfaced it and sewed vertical lines underneath 6 belt loops…..oh and added a sturdy belt. I have no idea if this will work, but I’m hoping. Get a dressform, it makes life so much easier. Well worth the investment.

  9. Cute matching twirlers! I like the boho print combined with a classic shape.
    (I have one of those Indian cotton wall hangings left over from my university days too, and it’s languishing in my stash to be reused…..someday….)

    I second the vote for a dress form too. I didn’t think I would get my money’s worth, but now I use it all the time.

  10. Looking good, Lee!!! This fabric is gorgeous in person guys! I’m love your sewing space and your husband’s suggestion, lol.

  11. Thank you, thank you! If you have any advice about dress forms, please send me a message. I’m leaning toward one of the sturdier looking ones that only come in standard sizes (PGM, Family Sew), and then I’d have to pad out the bottom half.

  12. Fab skirt Lee love the print and synchronised mum and daughter twirls. Your sewing space is perfect. You definitely need a dress form so you can admire your awesome sewing skills and talk to it LOL!

  13. I love your circle skirt and the twirling pics! Oh and totally envious of your sewing room!