You will absolutely love learning how to make a square circle skirt.
Confession: I do not love circle skirts. Hemming on the bias is not my favorite task and the hems are so long.
But the circle skirt is a classic style and super easy for beginners to tackle. So how do we make a circle skirt better?
Make it a square. A squircle if you want. Square circle skirts give you all the volume and drama of a circle skirt, but they’re:
- easy to hem
- quicker to make
- You get cool draped points that hang down at the corners of the hem for some visual interest.
In this post, I’ll show you how make a square circle skirt without a pattern. We’ll add miters on the hem for a polished look, and a comfortable elastic waistband. I just bet by the end of this project, you’ll have a skirt you want to wear with everything.
So grab a ruler and let’s make a square circle skirt.
Circle skirts vs. square circle skirts vs. handkerchief hem skirt
A couple of definitions for you before we get into this project:
- Circle skirt: skirt made by cutting a circle out of fabric. In a circle skirt there is a circular hole in the center for a waistband. Depending on the type of fabric used and how the circle is cut, there may or may not be a zipper to get in and out of the skirt.
- Square circle skirt: similar to a circle skirt except the outer skirt edges are a square.
- Handkerchief hem skirt: A handkerchief hem skirt is a square circle skirt since the edges of the square hang down at points like a handkerchief. Often handkerchief hem skirts and handkerchief hem dresses have a couple layers of lightweight fabrics at angles to each other to make for many points that fall at the hem.
What type of fabric should I use to make a handkerchief hem skirt?
For this project, we’ll be using knit fabric. You can make a square circle skirt from woven fabrics, though you’ll have to use a zipper. With knits, there’s enough stretch that you won’t need any seams in the skirt body. The stretch of the fabric also makes so that you can simply pull the skirt on. Choose knits with a good amount of stretch and a lot of drape such as:
- Rayon jersey
- ITY jersey
For my square circle skirt, I’m using a slinky knit. It has spectacular drape and it definitely makes for a skirt that twirls for days.
How to make a square circle skirt
Square circle skirt supplies
- large quilting ruler
- measuring tape
- gridded cardboard cutting mat
- Hem pressing guide like Clover Hot Hemmer
- fabric marker
- sewing pins or sewing clips
- 1″ knit elastic
- 2 yards drapey, 4 way stretch knit fabric such as rayon jersey, ITY, or slinky
- 75/11 stretch needle
- stretch double needle (optional) for hemming
How to measure for a square circle skirt
You’ll need 2 measurements to make a square circle skirt without a pattern:
- Waist: wrap the measuring tape around your waist (where you want the skirt to sit). Write down this number.
- Waist to knee: use your measuring tape to measure vertically from your waist down to your knee. Add 1.5″ for hemming. Write down the waist to knee measurement with the added 1.5″.
Can I make my handkerchief hem skirt longer than knee length?
Knee length is a great length for a square circle skirt. You can cut a full square for most sizes out of a typical 60″ wide knit fabric without a problem.
Of course you can make your square circle skirt tea length or maxi skirt length. Just know that you’ll need more fabric and you might need to add extra seams to make a full square. And if your fabric is narrower and you need to piece one side of your square, you can do that too. I’ve done it before and never had anyone notice.
Make a paper waist template for cutting
Divide your waist measurement by 6.28. Round up to the nearest 1/8″.
This measurement is the waist radius.
Line up your ruler in the corner of a piece of notebook or typing paper. Measure along each edge the waist radius distance. From there measure along an arc from edge to edge the distance of the waist radius. It’ll make a 1/4 circle.
Cut out your waist template with paper scissors.
Prep the fabric
After you’ve washed and dried your fabric, it’s time to make the folds to cut the square.
Fold selvage to selvage, lining up the edges on your cardboard cutting mat. Fold again along the folded edge. You now have 4 layers of fabric.
Smooth everything out and line up the folds in the corner of the mat.
Cutting the pieces for your square circle skirt
From here, line up the waist template in the corner along the two double folds. Pin the template in place.
Cut along the arc around the template. With your fabric marker, mark all the edges of the folds (there will be 4). These will be the quarter points on the waist which you’ll use later when you add the waistband.
For the skirt, measure along the folds the waist to knee measurement. Use your ruler to draw a straight line up and across that’ll connect the two waist to knee measurements.
Cut along the marked lines.
Cut the waistband
From the rest of your fabric, cut a piece of fabric that is 5″tall x your waist measurement.
You don’t need to worry about adding extra seam allowance because your chosen knit has plenty extra stretch.
Cut elastic for the waist
The last thing to cut is a piece of elastic that is the waist measurement -1″. Be sure to subtract that extra inch for the best fitting elastic waistband.
Now that everything is cut, it’s time to sew a square circle skirt.
Press the hem
Press up 1.5″ along the square edges.
When you get to the corners, fold one side on top of the other. That will set you up for mitering the corners in the next step.
Miter the hem corners
Don’t skip this step. A mitered corner looks professional and they’re not that hard to sew. You can do this!
Press the corner in on itself at a 45 degree angle right at the point where the two pressed lines intersect. Unfold the corner then cut 1/4″ past the angled pressed line.
From here, bring the angle right sides together from edge to edge.
Set your machine for a narrow zigzag stitch (0.5mm width, 2.5mm length), then stitch right along the press line. Fold the corner right side out and admire your gorgeous miter. Repeat for the other 3 corners.
Finish sewing the hem
**Note that you can press the hem allowance again to conceal the raw edge if you’d like. On my particular knit, I didn’t want any extra bulk and since knits rarely fray, I went with the raw edge on the inside. You choose though!
Sew down the hem close to the raw edge. You can do this with a single or double needle, using the same narrow zigzag stitch. I used my coverstitch machine, but it’s not necessary for making a beautiful square circle skirt!
When you get to a corner, stop at the miter, pivot and keep stitching.
Construct the waistband
Sew the waistband and prep it for elastic
For the waistband, fold the waistband in half widthwise. Press along the fold.
Next, bring the short ends of the waistband right sides together. Sew down the short side with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Press open the seam.
Lay the waistband flat with the seam on one side. Mark the opposite side with your fabric marker on the wrong side of the fabric right on the middle press line. Fold the mark to the seam line, then mark the opposite folds.
Now your waistband is divided into quarters and ready for elastic.
Sew on the elastic
Grab a small scrap of fabric. I try to use a lightweight woven fabric, but whatever you have on hand will work.
Butt the ends of the elastic together over the fabric scrap. Set your machine to its widest zigzag setting with a 0.7mm length. Stitch down the elastic ends on top of the fabric, going back and forth a couple times with your backstitch button/lever.
Trim off the excess fabric close to the stitching.
Mark the quarter points on the elastic band just like you did for the waistband.
Sew the elastic to the waistband
Slip the elastic over the waistband, lining up the top edge to the press line. Match one of the waistband quarter points to a quarter point on the elastic.
Lengthen your stitch to 2.0mm but keeping the wide zigzag width, start stitching near the quarter point to anchor the elastic.
From here, stretch the elastic to the next quarter point as you stitch, keeping the elastic edge lined up with the press line.
Continue stitching and stretching the elastic to the next quarter point all the way around the waistband.
Finish off the waistband by bringing the raw edges of the waistband together and zigzagging close to the edge all the way around.
Quarter the waistband just like you’ve been doing this whole time, but with pins.
Sew the waistband to the skirt
Note that the side of the waistband with the zigzagged elastic is the wrong side of the waistband.
Match the quarter points of the waistband to the quarter points on the skirt’s waist with right sides facing.
Change back to a narrow zigzag stitch (0.5mm width, 2.5mm length) and stitch the waistband to the skirt with a 3/8″ seam allowance.
And that’s how easy it is to make a square circle skirt. You will love wearing this skirt. It passes all the twirl tests and it’s so comfortable to wear in any season.
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Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.