Saturday, June 11, 2011

Circle Pocket Skirt Tutorial/Pattern/How-To

Welcome to my skirt tutorial!

Here is a HOW-TO for this cute skirt with half-circle pockets:

It features a visible zipper in the back and satin tape finishings:

You will be surprised how simple it is to make this skirt. You can use your own measurements very easily and have a tailored fit - it is well worth the little bit of calculation needed...
However, I also included my measurements for you to have a reference. I wear a European size 34 or 36, a Small, usually.
If there are any questions, please feel free to let me know! I am still learning the art of writing tutorials without too many, yet just enough words!

Materials needed:
  • Shell fabric at least 100 x 120 cm (or 140), better a bit more in length (a little over a yard)
  • lining fabric same amount as shell
  • fusible lining for the waist band
  • a zipper (22cm / 8,5 in)
  • 145 cm (57 in) of wide satin tape (mine is 7 cm / almost 3 in)
  • 220 cm (86 in) narrower satin tape (mine is 2,7 cm / 1 in)
  • 2 x 26 cm (2 x 10 in) BIAS satin tape - I made it myself, it needs to be 5 cm / 2 in total width before the folding
  • matching thread

Take Measurements:

For your reference, I included my measurements in parenthesis

The exact length of the skirt can be decided at a later point, if needed.
  1. Measure your waist (mine: 66 cm/ 26 in)
  2. Decide how wide you want the waist band to be (suggestion: 10 cm/ 4 in)
  3. Measure the width of your hips at the level you have decided for the bottom of the waistband (80cm/32 in)
  4. Measure the widest point of your hips. You need this only as a reference - it should be below the bottom-waistband-measurement! (92 cm/ 36 1/4 in)
  5. Decide how long you want your skirt - you can decide this at a later point, just cut the piece long enough (mine: 44 cm/7 1/4 in, NOT including waist band!)

Make the waist band pattern pieces:

Divide the waist measurement and bottom of waistband measurement into 4 and draw a rhombus like this:

tape together two pieces of paper, line the two pattern pieces up with the taped sides like this:

Trace the two pattern pieces. Now round off the sharp angles and straight lines, maintaining the width of the waistband along the whole width! Theoretically, you only need to do this on one side, but it is easier to make a nice shape if you go over both sides. Then choose which side looks nicer, fold the paper along the taped edges and cut out on the better side (this way, you will have a symmetrical shape).

You should now walk the new shape to be sure the measurements have not changed dramatically. It will have gotten just a tiny little bit longer, due to the curve. I admit: I forgot to walk it and got lucky - it fits perfectly anyway... If you should have a big difference from your original measurement, you made the curve too wide. Either change the curve and make it flatter, or add/subtract from the waistband side.
The taped line is the grainline. This is the pattern for the front waistband. For the back, you need two separate halves, so you just fold it in half along the taped sides and voilà, your back waist band pattern is finished!

This does NOT include seam allowances.

Cut fusible lining for all the waist pieces, NOT using an allowance at the top, but on the sides and bottom. (I used a slightly narrower one at the bottom (1 cm instead of 1,5 cm, which is about 3/8 in), so that I can later stitch exactly along that line when I fold the satin tape around it):

Iron the fusible lining pieces to the lining fabric as well as the fashion fabric and cut out. It makes a nice, stable waist band and a good base for your visible zipper.

Make the skirt pattern piece:

Next you will make the skirt piece. It is a rectangle, simple as that! I decided that I want my skirt to be 140 cm (56 in.) total width at the hem (all the way around the hem). We will draw a fourth of the skirt piece, so it has to be 35 cm (14 in.) wide. Now you look at your bottom waist-band measurement. Mine was 80 cm (32 in), take a fourth of that: 20 cm (8 in). So now you know that the top of your skirt piece rectangle has to be taken in 15 cm (6 in) - per each fourth of the skirt - to fit the waistband. Since this divides so well into three, I decided to make three pleats of 5 cm (2 in) PER QUARTER skirt piece. I distributed them evenly over the width - remember that this is half of the front, you will cut it on the fold, so the measurement from the edge to the pleat should only be half the measurement between the pleats. It looks like this:

NOTE: I would probably not make pleats as close to the pockets again next time - they distort them a little bit. So on the front skirt part, maybe only make 4 pleats, or distribute them differently...

The length for my skirt piece is 44 cm (17,5 in), this is only the skirt part, not including the waistband, and also does not yet include seam allowances.

Lay this pattern ON THE FOLD for the front piece, include about 4 cm (1-2 in.) seam allowance for the hem, and a normal allowance for the side and top. I actually just calculated the new numbers including seam allowances and didn't even make a real size paper pattern. It is after all just a rectangle! Don't forget: The back skirt is made of two separate quarters, so include the seam allowance on both sides instead of cutting it on the fold.

This resulted in the following rectangle measurements:
Front piece: a rectangle of 50 cm x 73 cm (19,5 in x 29 in - if you are using 1/2 in seam allowances)
Back pieces: two rectangles of 50 cm x 38 cm (19,5 in x 15 in - if you are using 1/2 in seam allowances).

Then I clipped the markings for the pleats into the fabric (not forgetting to clip the center of each pleat, too, and not forgetting where you added seam allowances on the side seams):

I distributed my pleats evenly over the width, but feel free to play around with it!
 Cut these pieces also in your lining fabric, but only use a normal seam allowance for the hem.

Make the pocket pieces:

Now for the pockets, measure the width of your hand.

 Draw a half circle:
Using the bottom point of the smaller half circle as the new center, draw a second half circle which has to reach OVER the top from the last one by at least one seam allowance:

Cut two pocket pieces like this, and keep the little cut-out half circle, too:

Remember, there is no allowance included yet! Use the little half circle to cut the pocket openings out of your shell front skirt piece on each side, about 7 cm (3 in) below the top. Remember the allowance on the side seam, otherwise there is no allowance needed, you cut right along the half circle:

Cut the pocket lining pieces with seam allowance, again except along the inner half circle, like this:

Cut the two pocket pieces from the shell fabric, or use another fabric to create a special effect! You need to add a seam allowance around the whole piece:

Iron and pin the pleats on all front and back skirt pieces (lining and shell fabric). Make sure the top of the skirt pieces are now the same width as the waist band pieces.

Here are all my pieces cut out:

Shell fabric:
1 front piece with pockets cut out
2 back pieces
2 pocket pieces
1 front waist band - with fusible lining!
2 back waist bands - with fusible lining!

1 front piece NO pockets cut out
2 back pieces
2 pocket pieces with the little circles cut out
1 front waist band - with fusible lining!
2 back waist bands - with fusible lining!

Now we are ready to sew it all together!

First, baste the pleats on lining and shell pieces - you can do it directly along the seam allowance, it will get more precise that way and I promise this seam won't show later! That is why I have two stitching lines, I realized this fact too late and had to stitch it again:

Baste the pocket lining pieces to the front skirt piece - careful here to stitch well within the seam allowance around the curve so that these stitches won't show anymore afterwards:

If you are making your own bias tape, iron it so that one side is a bit wider than the other:

Sew the narrower side along the pocket circle openings on the front along the seam allowance (and outside the basting stitches you just made), then fold the tape around, pin and stitch in the ditch from the front. Because you made one side of the bias tape wider, you should catch it nicely on the back:

Sew the pocket shell pieces to the pocket lining pieces. If you have a serger, you could use it here. Otherwise, zigzag the pockets afterwards:

Now baste them to the side seams:

Sew together the skirt pieces, one back skirt piece on each side of the front skirt piece, leaving the back seam open. Do the same for the lining skirt pieces (they don't have pockets).

Sew together the waist band pieces, again with the front piece in the middle, the back pieces to each side of the front piece, leaving the back seam open. Same for the lining pieces.

Iron the narrow satin tape so that one side is a bit wider just as we did with the satin bias tape. Fold it around the raw edge of the waist pieces (shell fabric):

You will of course start at the very edge, this is just to show you how it folds around, the wider piece will be in the back...
Now pin the wrong side of the waist band piece - with the satin tape folded around it - to the right side of the skirt pieces, as weird as that might seem. Line up the seam allowances (remember what widths you have used!) - the stitching lines are exactly on top of each other. Be a good seamstress and use a lot of pins. It looks like this:

Sew. Carefully. Slowly. Nicely.

Sew the back seams on shell and lining from the hem  up to where the bottom of the zipper will be. This means leaving open a slit about the length of your zipper. Backstitch the end of that seam.

Now make the hem. If you haven't fully decided how long you want your skirt, try it on. There is no seam allowance along the top of the waistband, so you can hold it up to your waist exactly where it will sit.
The sides are not curved, so you can just fold up the hem twice and stitch - make sure the stitching line is at a height that will be covered by the wide satin tape you'll use for the hem.
Make sure the hem of the lining is a bit higher.

Now sew your wide satin tape along the hem of the shell skirt. I sewed mine to a few inches before the back seam, then sewed the satin tape together (right sides together), then finished the last bit. Do it however you think it will be most precise.

This gap was almost too small, leave a wider one to make it easier on yourself

Line up the slits of the back seams from lining and shell right sides together from the top to where the slits end. Don't sew around the bottom, do each side separately:

Fold inside out, and here is what you get:

IRON the slit.

Oooh, you're almost done!
Baste the top of the skirt - lining and shell - together. Also include the satin tape, wider side pinned to the back like this and folded around the edge of the back slit:

Now fold the satin tape around the top and sew from the outside:

This is what you have now, you are only missing the zipper:

Sew some satin tape around your zipper, if desired. Do it nicer than me:

Pin it along the slit, line it up precisely on the top, sew carefully and - again - nicer than me. Don't be impatient. Breathe, drink a glass of water. I always make ugly seams at the end, which is annoying, because those are usually the most visible ones.

Sew along the bottom of the zipper twice. I actually made two seams all along the zipper, one close to the edge, one further in. 


Now you know why they tell you not to wear red when doing on-camera work. It is just too strong for cameras.... Sorry about that. Next tutorial will be no-red!

Feedback is highly welcome. It always sounds more complicated than it is... This is a super simple, very fast project. I'll concentrate on learning how to write these tutorials so they actually reflect that...
I hope you understood it anyway, I hope you like your skirt! I'd be thrilled to see some, so if you have made it, send me the links to your blogs or BurdaStyle studios, prettyplease!


  1. Hallo Katja

    Vielen Dank für das tutorial.
    Dein Rock gefällt mir richtig gut, genau mein Stil und meine Farbe!
    Was für einen Stoff / Material hast du verwendet?
    Ich würde mir auch gerne einige unifarbenen Teile nähen, aber ich habe echt Mühe brauchbare und vor allem auch bezahlbare Stoffe zu finden.

    Liebe Grüsse

  2. Liebe Bettina - habe Dir auf Deinem Blog eine Antwort geschrieben. Für alle auch interessierten: es ist ein Jean-Stoff, und da man wirklich nur einen Meter braucht, auch in besseren Qualitäten durchaus leistbar. Das viele Satin-Band und der tolle Metallreissverschluss schlagen dann allerdings noch etwas auf's Konto :-)

  3. how AWESOME!!! this is on my list for when i get back home!

  4. Wow, danke Katja für Deine Mühe! Wirklich ein tolles Tutorial! Die Taschen sind echt klasse und auch die Idee mit den unterschiedlichen Stoffen in der gleichen Farbe ...


  5. Vielleicht habe ich mich wegen den brauchbaren Stoffen vorher nicht so klar ausgedrückt.
    Ich würde mir zum Beispiel sehr gerne ein rotes Kleid, oder einen türkisfarbenen Rock nähen, aber die Auswahl an unifarbenen Stoffen in den wenigen Stoffgeschäften die es hier noch gibt ist in dieser Hinsicht wirklich bescheiden.
    Die meisten Stoffe sind gemustert, weil die sich vermutlich besser verkaufen. Unifarben gibt es eigentlich nur diese leicht brettigen Baumwollstoffe, die sich zum Nähen leider nicht eignen oder evtl. noch ein paar Leinenstoffe. Da ich aber den zerknitterten Look und auch die Steifheit von Leinen an mir nicht wirklich mag, bleibt mir eigentlich nur noch das Internet um geeignete Stoffe zu finden. Aber leider weiss man da, nie so genau was man bekommt.
    Liebe Grüsse

  6. a great tutorial, a lovely skirt.x x x

  7. beautiful skirt in one of my favourite colours, & a really easy to follow tutorial:)

  8. Ein ganz toller Rock - und Dein Tutorial ist nicht weniger toll!
    Ich glaube, der wäre was für mich; ich denke mal ernsthaft darüber nach... ;)

  9. Das tutorial muss ich mir merken. Es bauen sich auch schon fleißig Bilder in meinem Kopf, bei welchem Rock/Kleid man Bestandteile einbauen könnte (gerade die Taschen oder der Hohe Rockbund). Vielen , vielen Dank. Ein wunderbares Beispiel dafür, dass nähen häufig garnicht sooo komoliziert ist, wie man immer dachte!

  10. Oooh this was you! I found this ages ago and forgot to bookmark it. Then I remembered it later and searched everywhere and couldn't find it. Just found it today while trawling your archives! That top is pretty hot on you btw.

  11. Super, vielen Dank für die Schöne Anleitung. Ich könnte mir den Rock in dunklem Stoff mit farbigen Bändern vorstellen! LG Ottilie