31 Days of Shut Up and Sew: Circle Skirt with Elastic Casing

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Day 26 of...

Even though I ran into some problems which I'll get to in a second, I love this circle skirt.  Actually, I'm kind of glad I had problems because it made me learn a new skill... how to sew a casing for elastic directly onto a skirt.  Earlier this week I made a couple of skirts where I made the elastic casing and then attached it to the skirts, but with this one, it's all one piece of fabric.  So let's get down to business, shall we?

The original tutorial came from Dana at Made.

2 yards of a beautiful printed fabric (You may need 3 depending on how long you want your skirt.  Do the math before you head out to the fabric store!)
Knit elastic (the wider the better.  My HobLob only has 1.5")
Fabric dye (optional)
Matching thread

~6 hours

If you want your elastic to be a pretty color (fabric stores usually only sell white or black), then you can attempt to dye it.  I attempted it and it was a complete and utter failure!  Maybe it was the fact that I was dying it such a dark color?

So, if you try it, do so at your own risk!  Get a bowl and spoon that you don't care about staining, fill the bowl with hot water from the tap, empty in the dye packet, drop the elastic in and give it a good stir.  Let it sit for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.  The longer you leave it in, the better.

You can throw it in the washer or just rinse it in the sink like I did (maybe that's where I went wrong?).  Let it air dry in your bathtub.  No need to waste energy running the dryer.

If you're lucky, you'll end up with a beautiful piece of elastic that you want the whole world to see!  If you're unlucky, you'll end up with a grayish purple splotchy mess.

At this point, I had to come up with plan B:  making a waistband casing to hide this monstrosity.  I honestly had no idea how it was going to turn out, but I couldn't just walk away!  I had two yards of beautiful floral fabric that I wanted to use!

So, I followed Dana's instructions on how to figure out the radius and make a 1/4 donut template.

Waist measurement + 2 / 6.28

My radius was 4.5" so, starting from the corner of my sheet of paper, I measured 4.5" multiple times until I had a semicircle.

I wanted my skirt to be knee length so I measured from my waist to my knee and made another semicircle at that measurement.

My skirt was too long to fold the fabric in fourths, so I had to just fold it in half and cut out the template twice.  I had just enough fabric... whew!  I folded it in half from one side, cut the template out on the fold, then folded the fabric from the other direction and cut it out again.

When I had both halves cut out, I had this!  That hole in the middle looked entirely too small for my waist, but surprisingly, it wasn't.

Now you'll need to sew both halves together.  Pin them right sides together and sew along each straight edge where the meet.

Then iron the seams flat.  You could zig zag or serge these seams to prevent fraying if you wanted to.  In fact, you probably should, but I didn't.

Here's where I had to just make it up as I went along - the waistband.  I had 1.5" elastic so I needed a 2" casing.  Depending on how wide your elastic is, you'll have to figure out how wide your casing needs to be.  Usually 1/2" larger will do.  After trying and failing to fold down the center circle 2 inches all the way around, I came up with this method.  The reason just folding it down and ironing wouldn't work is because the interior circle is smaller than the point you would be folding it down to, so there would be extra fabric that wouldn't have anywhere to go.  My solution: creating a gather that would make the bottom of the waistband the same circumference as the interior circle.  Does that make sense?  Hopefully the photos will make it clearer.

First, you need to mark the line where you have to stitch.  For me, I needed to stitch 4" away from the interior circle (2" casing times 2).  I attached a piece of yarn to a pencil, measured 4" and cut it.  Then I lined up the end of the yarn with the interior circle, pulled tight and made a mark.  Do this all the way around.  Make sure it's dark enough that you'll be able to see it when you get to your sewing machine.

Now, with your sewing machine set to its longest straight stitch, sew along the pencil marks you just made.  Make sure not to backstitch because we'll be gathering it!

Pull the bobbin threads (the ones on the right side of your fabric) and scooch the fabric down until it is sufficiently gathered.  You'll be able to tell when the stitched line is the same circumference as the interior circle.

Fold the inner circle down to meet the gathered line and pin in place all the way around.

Take it back to your machine and sew the waistband casing down using 1/4" seam allowance and regular stitch length.  Make sure you're not sewing over the gathered stitches!  Leave a 3" opening and insert the elastic using a safety pin to help you guide it through.  When it's fully inserted, sew the two ends of the elastic together and then sew the opening closed.

At this point, you should have two parallel lines of stitching:  the top one for your waistband casing, the bottom one from where you gathered the fabric.  The bottom one isn't serving a purpose anymore since we have our waistband in place, so take your seam ripper and rip it out!

Hem the bottom of the skirt and...


I love the fullness of it!

And the print... ooh la la!

Twirling is so fun, just make sure you're wearing a slip or at the very least, matching underwear.

What I Learned:
While it's frustrating to have to come up with a plan B, sometimes it's a blessing in disguise!  I think I like this waistband better than I would have liked exposed elastic anyway.

I hope you guys have a great weekend and come back for some skirt round-ups!  On the agenda for next week:  home decor!


  1. Oh wow this turned out so cute! You are way ahead of me when it comes to sewing! I can't sew clothing :) Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Your skirt is darling! I like the look with the elastic showing, but I like how you did it even better! Let's hear it for plan b!