Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 1: Circle Skirt with Tulle Ruffle

I love circle skirts! The twirly bounce and swish of all that fabric makes me want to spin instead of walk. My daughters also love them, so this is the perfect way to start the week of skirts. The sparkly tulle trim and contrast top stitching gives it a little extra pizazz, and this type of skirt is easy and quick to make.

Lightweight fabric (cotton and poly work best), between 1 and 2 yards depending on size of skirt and width of fabric (more on this later)
1/2 yard fine-weave tulle
1-inch elastic for waistband
Thread to match fabric
Thread for contrast topstitching (optional)

I began by using this tutorial by Dana (she's my sewing guru!). You can't mess with perfection, so use her instructions to get the basic circle for your skirt. She discusses fabric amounts, fabric choices, and everything else you need to know.

Then, cut strips of tulle. I used 2" wide strips. Length doesn't really matter because you can add as many as you need, but mine were about 60" long. I ended up using 4 1/2 strips. You can be very flexible with this step, using wider strips or even a double layer, so use your imagination.

Serge or zig zag around the bottom edge of the circle. Next, with the skirt turned inside out, fold over the serged edge toward the inside of the skirt. Place the folded edge under your pressed foot and put down a few stitches. Then, grab a strip of tulle. With your needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot and lay the top section of a long edge on top of the fold. Bunch the tulle up to make irregular pleats and gathers and sew over it. If you go slowly and work in sections about five inches long, you can save loads of time by not having to iron down the curved hem (ugh) and gathering your tulle separately (ugh again) before you sew the ruffle to the skirt.

When you have about four inches of tulle left in the first strip, grab another piece of tulle and overlap the top edge with the remaining tail by a few inches. Continue gathering and sewing until you've gone all the way around the circle. Be sure to overlap your starting point by a few inches to hide the seam. Backstitch and trim threads.

To add the decorative topstitching, you can use a double needle or go around twice with a single needle, using the edge of your presser foot as a guide to keep the rows of stitching straight. I like to add a pop of contrasting color, so I used hot pink and a darker turquoise. Using a thread color that matches your fabric will give a polished look.

Cut a piece of elastic to fit the waist of your skirt wearer. Stack the ends up and sew a seam down the width (be sure the elastic isn't twisted).

Open the ends and push them out. Sew each end down to make a nice, flat waistband.

Serge or zig zag around the inner circle of the skirt (the waist opening).

With the skirt turned inside out, pull the waistband down over the skirt about an inch (or enough to cover your elastic plus 1/8 of an inch). Stitch along the edge of the elastic to make a casing, all the while pulling on the elastic to stretch it as much as possible.

Continue all the way around the waist. Don't worry if the skirt doesn't lay completely flat under the elastic. It will gather once the elastic relaxes and you won't be able to see any puckers. Clip your threads and even out the gathers by sliding them around the waistband.

Iron the hem, being careful not to melt the tulle (I've done it's not pretty on the skirt or the iron!) and press the waistband just to make everything look nice and crisp.

Try the skirt on your little model and watch her twirl away. Chances are she won't stop anytime soon!

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