These ‘Twirly Skirts’ are an absolute FAVORITE I’ve made with many girls now here at my Sunroom Sewing Studio. They start to teach the girls how to handle knit fabric. Learning to sew on knits is all-important, as they WEAR almost exclusively knits and just don’t seem happy in cotton woven clothing. The 2″ wide soft elastic can be found in many colors at JoAnn’s.
I first posted this in December of 2016 – but now almost 2 years later, I’m adding some additional hints and how-to’s, and encouraging you to use these directions for both teaching young girls in your life to sew, AND to make as simple gifts. For a gift, all you really need to know are these 2 measurements:
1. WAIST measurement – meaning measurement WHERE they consider their waist to be (which you and I both know is well-below their waist!)
2. LENGTH – shortest length that they (and mom) will be comfortable with – down from that waist level.
Below are photos of my first skirts made for my niece, Alyssa and her doll, MaryEllen back for Christmas, 2016.
I had the waist measurement and longest desired length for Alyssa, and googled for the same measurements on an American Girl Doll.
Alyssa’s skirt turned out to be a bit short – so with the ‘cut edge hemline finish’, I recommend cutting LONGER rather than shorter.
Mary Ellen’s skirt turned out to be a Maxi Skirt. My sis says it could be 1.5-2″ shorter.
I had seen the photo of the idea on Pinterest, but the link didn’t really take me to directions. What I knew to start is then the length and the waist measurement. I seamed the elastic which I cut to the waist measurement of 22″ in a 1/2″ seam – which makes it 1″ smaller which should be good – tight enough to keep it up, but yet comfy. When I stood this elastic circle up on the fabric to figure out then the circle I needed to cut from the large square, it should have all made sense to me – but that didn’t really happen til laying in bed awake a night later. At any rate, I ‘winged it’ for Alyssa’s skirt (she is in Kindergarten by the way), but then really worked the math and directions when I made the doll version just now. Those are the directions I’ll be sharing. This would work for any size skirt, given those measurements: waist circumference, and longest you want the skirt to be at the points, from waist to point.
AS I said, this is all really just Flounce Math – which I teach and then apply in many different ways in my Talking Pattern™: Flirty Flounces. The only difference is that you don’t cut the larger arc, but rather leave it squared off. A tad more – but follow along below.
Do the Math to Create the Pattern
The math is SEW Simple!!! Measurement (in this case for the doll): 11.5″. Subtract 1″ = 10.5″. Divide by 6 = 1.75″. that then, 1.75″ in this case, is the RADIUS of the circle. So, I took some of my favorite pattern paper, Medical Pattern Paper, folded a large piece in half then in half again to make a large square. From the corner of the folds, (center of the circle), I measured out 1.75″ along both sides, and straight out from the point at an angle, and a few marks in between. Then, I drew the arc as you see. That is the waist SEAM line. Any distance FROM that line would be a length on the skirt. See that at the lower left corner of the left photo above.
Next, I needed to establish a length for the skirt. The measurement I found online for length of skirt on an 18″ doll was 7.25″ which put it at just below the knee the chart said. See then that I measured that and cut it along the bottom and left folded edges. See then that the length of the skirt at the longest point would be 11″. Once finished, that really looked too long, so I cut it down 1″ so then the square was really just 14″ square,
and the longest point was 10″. (There’s probably some math to figure that out, but I don’t know what it might be.) I went ahead and cut this of the fabric as you see below.
A 12″ square would make it a shorter skirt, as we found out after Mary Ellen tried her skirt on!)
For fun, I used the WAVE CUTTING Blade on my Rotary Cutter. I love that thing! I’ve even used it on my own clothing in this top I made – and have worn – ALOT. The flounces at hem and sleeve were all made with this system, and cut with this blade. Full directions for this top are in my Up-Cycle Memento Tops Talking Pattern™.
Out of 60″ fabric then, to cut two 22″ squares would require just 5/8 yard. AND AND AND, the Doll skirt then takes a 14″ square for a total of 36″ = 1 yard you can get BOTH skirts!!! And some leftover fabric to trim up some tops as well! On with the directions for construction…..
I need to EMPHASIZE that you do NOT cut on the arc you first drew – as that is the SEAM LINE. Cut back your seam allowance depth towards the point to allow for a seam allowance. I used 1/2″ on the child’s skirt, and 1/4″ on the doll skirt. Open up the square and you have the full pattern piece.
After cutting 2 squares for the skirt (using the Wave Blade) for the straight edges, and the center circle for the waist, you are ready to SEW. Oh – and I cut them separately, as cutting a double thickness with the Wave Cutter really doesn’t work well.
Seam the elastic with a 1/2″ seam Then, angle cut the seam allowance as shown above, and open it up and topstitch the seam allowances down as you can see inside the band at the left. At JoAnn’s they have several different colors of elastic that is 1 1/2″ wide, and I used the 5/8″ fold-over Elastic for the doll skirt waistband, but opened up, not folded (though that would work too I guess).
Mark quarter points on the elastic circle for matching to the fabric waistline.
Lay the skirt pieces as shown below: Pin together at the waist and stitch (1/2″ for the child, or yourself, and 1/4″ for the doll). Now, divide this into quarter with pins, making sure that one of the pins is straight up from a point. That will put a point at the center back and front of the skirt, and at each side if the elastic seam is worn at the center back. Pin together, matching the elastic pins to the skirt pins, just lapping the edge of the elastic over the straight stitching at the skirt waist. I chose to stitch using a zigzag of about 3 stitch width and 3 stitch length. After stitching, I trimmed the excess close from the inside.
That’s it! Hands down So So EASY. The girls I have in my classes right now at the Sunroom sewing Studio just loved them – so this will definitely be in the curriculum I’m developing for Fashion Design & Sewing for Girls starting in January.
11-18 update: Many gals have made this skirt in my classes – all huge successes. In general, they seem to like longer skirts, and in calculating, 2 5/8 yard of 60″ fabric is what I have them purchase. The ‘shortest’ length for these gals (average 10 years old) is 18″ . I figure – if it is too long, they can ALWAYS cut it off shorter!
When my niece, Alyssa opened her gift in Dec., 2016 she sent me a video Thank You. She has been gifted with several of these skirts since then and making one for her has become almost a Christmas tradition. Here’s her video ‘Thank You’. The joy of making a gift is indescribable!
to view the video posted below, just click on the ‘thank you’. It will download to your computer. Then click on to view.
For a change, this year (2018 I added 4″ to the original waist calculation (the circumference of the inside of the circle). Then, I rounded the entire skirt instead of leaving points, and curved it up as shown in the photo below. You can also see a cut about 3.5″ from the outer edge. I cut that off to cut the top layer. Notice in the photo of the skirt, that I actually used the wrong (non-shiny) side of the fabric for the longest layer, and then the 2nd, shorter layer, is the shiny side of the fabric.
Double Layer Rounded Hem Twirly Skirt