A Quilted Circle Skirt: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME

I think by this point, it’s become fairly apparent that I’m quite the fan of a good old-fashioned circle skirt. I mean, what’s not to love? Easy to sew, easy to wear, they’re super flattering and they look classically 50s. As the weather turned colder down here in the Southern Hemisphere, I started to wonder how I’d style my gorgeous summery cotton circle skirts for winter. I tell you, it requires some creativity. But then the thought struck: why not make a winter one?

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I was a very lucky birthday girl this year: my sister gave me a beautiful black long-sleeve top with a lace collar, and my parents gave my both of Gertie‘s books: Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing and Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. As I was flicking through the books, and wondering what I’d wear with my gorgeous new top, I landed on the quilted variation of the half-circle skirt and inspiration struck. But pshhhh, I wasn’t going to bother with a half-circle skirt. Weak, WEAK I say! I don’t do things by half. It would be a full circle or nothing. This, this would be my downfall, dear readers.

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I saw an absolutely stunning floral-printed linen online at Darn Cheap Fabrics, and I knew I absolutely needed it. Fortuitously enough, I was able to get the last 1.6 metres, at 75% off as a remnant. This is going to be easy, I naively thought. Then I hit the first stumbling block: I had originally intended to line and quilt the skirt with flannelette, as per the variation in GSVC. However, the selection of flannelettes available to me was pitifully limited in terms of colour. So I decided to follow instead what Gertie had done on her blog: use three layers: the fashion fabric, a coordinating lining, and wadding in between. A second mistake. So I bought a nice magenta cotton to line, and a packet of polyester wadding, and set to work.

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As per usual, I used By Hand London’s circle skirt app to calculate the appropriate measurements. I cut my three pieces – two back and one front – from all three fabrics. I prepared a little quilting sample to make sure I was happy with my thread selections (light grey on the outside, a contrast black for the inside) and quilting square size. Then I carefully ruled out all my quilting lines on the lining fabric. It was at this point that I realised just how much work lay before me. It probably didn’t help that I was doing this with a thirty centimetre ruler – but it happened to be the perfect width for the squares so I just went with it. That alone probably took two hours all up. I could then pin my layers together and start the laborious process of stitching down them all.

Behold and weep. I don't even want to know how many lines or how many metres. THERE WERE MANY.

Behold and weep. I don’t even want to know how many lines or how many metres. THERE WERE MANY.

It wasn’t just the length or number of the lines – although that was a lot of it – but there is a hell of a lot of fabric in even just a half circle of radius seventy five centimetres. I was constantly wrestling to get it through the machine. It was in my lap, on the table, wedged in the gap between needle and body of the machine; the process of sewing is normally something I adore, but I can’t say that this was a particularly satisfying part of the journey – and itΒ took about four hours. Then I could move onto the construction proper, which was reasonably straightforward, and much the same as other skirts I’ve made in the past; the only real difference was the way I finished the seams by turning them over and stitching them down, to make sure none of the wadding was exposed. I inserted my zip and applied my waistband, hemmed the whole skirt (all five metres of it) the same way I finished the seams. Add a button and hey presto! – done!

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…except for the part where the zip was a bit dodgy, and kept pulling open under the weight of the skirt (which is considerable, let me tell you), but I came up with an ingenious little fix for that: I sewed a little hook and eye right near the top of the zip, which fastens under the zip pull when it’s done up and stops it from slipping down. Now, actually done!

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Okay, I won’t lie; despite the good twelve hours of work that went into this skirt, I absolutely adore it. It has the most glorious shape, and I love how it sticks out without the need for a petticoat. It’s also kinda fun to fold it around me like a blanket when I’m sitting down, haha. I’m also really proud of the construction; the seam finishes and hem are really neat, some of the best work I’ve done, and it really is one of the most labour-intensive and structured garments I’ve done to date. I may now understand, perhaps, why Gertie wisely chose a less full design – but do I regret my choices? NOPE. Would I make another, is the real question – and the answer is potentially, yes. I really do adore the way it looks and feels, and I think that it was a labour of love, after all. So some more quilting may be on the horizon! I do have some wadding left over…enough for a bomber jacket, perhaps? I don’t think I’ll be attempting another skirt just yet; the memories of wrestling acres of fabric through my machine will have to fade a little first.

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Until next time,

Miss Maddy x

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34 comments

  1. Samantha · July 16, 2015

    This skirt is beautiful! I never would have thought to quilt a circle skirt but yours looks fabulous! And it hangs so well πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Miss Maddy · July 17, 2015

      Thank you! It’s a struggle not to wear it every day, I love it so much πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. colormusing · July 16, 2015

    Well, I think it’s brilliant– a summery print in a wintery fabric! Trans-seasonal, thy name is Maddy. πŸ˜‰

    Like

    • Miss Maddy · July 17, 2015

      Haha thank you! As much as I love warm winter clothes, it’s nice to bring a bit of colour and fun into them too

      Liked by 1 person

  3. coolarama · July 16, 2015

    I love your blog. All the stuff you make is so pretty. I really envy your patience.

    Like

    • Miss Maddy · July 17, 2015

      Thank you! Yes, patience is definitely a virtue…especially when like me, you’re determined to take on such complicated projects!

      Like

  4. jennystitched · July 16, 2015

    This is lovely! And it looks cosy and cute

    Like

    • Miss Maddy · July 17, 2015

      Thank you! It’s very cosy…just like wearing a blanket really πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. SofΓ­a · July 16, 2015

    That’s gorgeous, Maddy!! I really love the print! And the fullness of the skirt provides a truly vintage silhouette! The combination of the top and the skirt is so adorable πŸ™‚ All hard work has a good reward! (although I don’t think I’ll ever try to quilt a skirt like this: just the thought of stitching all those lines makes me sweat! You’re brave, girl! πŸ˜‰ )

    Like

    • Miss Maddy · July 17, 2015

      The print is one of my favourite things about it! I was so glad I was able to snatch up the last bit of that fabric. I started all the quilting just as I was coming down with an awful cold – it’s a miracle I didn’t abandon it! I am glad I persevered though πŸ™‚

      Like

  6. Elizsews · July 16, 2015

    Hi Maddy, love the way each garment you choose, MUST, bring you knew challenges and rewards. Hope you make a half circle skirt soon…….. using a woollen fabric would make a great addition to your winter wardrobe…..I can visualise it! boots and all!
    Great persistence MaddyπŸ‘πŸ˜ƒ

    Like

    • Miss Maddy · July 17, 2015

      I was just thinking about making a woollen skirt! I just need to settle on the design – half-circle sounds good though! I’m sure it’ll be in the works soon enough πŸ˜‰

      Like

  7. AFI · July 16, 2015

    It’s gorgeous! Circle skirts look so good on you! Circle skirt for cold season – so clever!

    Like

    • Miss Maddy · July 17, 2015

      Thanks! I thought so too – because not wearing circle skirts because it’s winter was not an option πŸ˜›

      Like

  8. jennifer4 · July 17, 2015

    I love that you don’t do things “half way” :). That skirt is adorable and wouldn’t be anywhere near as cute if it was only a half circle.

    Like

    • Miss Maddy · July 17, 2015

      That’s what I thought – so I’m glad you agree! πŸ™‚

      Like

  9. Demi · July 17, 2015

    So good! I love how it turned out. I would never do it because even the most simple of projects means I can be sewing at the machine for hours on end, so I don’t know how I’d be able to handle ACTUAL hard work..

    About that zipper though–on the zip pull, is there a hole in it? WHY, you ask? Because you can use the hole to secure the zip up while you’re wearing it, without needing the hook and eye on the outside. Just put a loop of elastic through the hole in the zipper and when you zip it up, slip the elasticated loop over the button, then do the button up.

    I did this many times with jeans zippers that would keep falling down and embarrassing me in public, sometimes having to resort to threading the elastic through the head of the zip (that connects to the pull) where no hole existed in the pull. Works like a charm!

    Like

    • Miss Maddy · July 17, 2015

      Haha, my problem is that I’m a speedy sewer, but not a careful one – half the time is usually spent undoing my mistakes!

      That’s such a good idea! Unfortunately the zip pull is decorative (might explain why it’s a bit dodgy, haha) and doesn’t have a hole. I’ll have to keep it in mind for future though (maybe for a couple of pairs of jeans I’m already wearing…) so thanks for the tip!

      Like

  10. sharon · July 20, 2015

    Truly a work of art. And I wouldn’t hesitate to lift it up and show off the underside!
    Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · July 22, 2015

      Thanks Sharon! And I’m with you there, I’ve been flashing the lining everywhere I go! πŸ™‚

      Like

  11. Bernie33 · July 21, 2015

    It’s really a very nice skirt and it suits you perfectly. If you want to make it again, why not quilting before cutting? It’s easier but not very shorter…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · July 22, 2015

      That did occur to me! I didn’t try it this time as I wanted the offcuts to be unquilted so I could use them for other things, and I wanted to keep as much of the batting as possible…maybe next time though πŸ™‚

      Like

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  13. Stina Pettersson · July 22, 2015

    It’s really lovely! And I know the feeling of having masses of fabric to handle (a certain coat of mine springs to mind…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · July 23, 2015

      Thank you! And yes, I just went and had a look at your coat…definitely a lot of fabric going on there! (Also, it’s a lovely coat πŸ™‚ )

      Like

  14. Klara · July 22, 2015

    What crazy amount of work went into this beauty! But the result is amazing and you look fantastic. This is a piece that will stand the test of time, for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · July 23, 2015

      It was a bit crazy! But one I’m looking forward to wearing for years πŸ™‚ thanks so much!

      Like

  15. Missy Hartman · July 25, 2015

    Maddy! This is darling on you! Such a great idea to quilt it! I know this is a bit late, but if you have a quilting bar for your machine, you could have marked just one line in each direction, then adjusted the quilt bar for the distance for the next line. Then you could have just have lined the quilt bar up on the last line you stitched and saved yourself all that marking. Maybe next time though it will help you. I would have marked the skirt pattern with a washout pen on the fabric without cutting out and done the quilting maybe just a tiny bit past the marked lines in case it distorted or pulled in a bit..then cut it out after. The scraps still would remain unquilted so you could save them.

    Like

  16. sianhannahthomas · October 27, 2015

    I am so late to comment on this, but wow!! Despite the obvious amounts of time and very hard work that clearly went into this, I’m definitely tempted because it looks so gorgeous on you! I love the idea of having basically a blanket for a skirt that holds its own shape. Looks like I’ve got a rather large project on my hands coming up now…!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · October 27, 2015

      Thanks so much Sian! It was a pretty mammoth undertaking, but well worth the effort πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

      Like

  17. Pingback: Time to Play | Miss Maddy Sews
  18. Emma · January 23, 2016

    Wow, this is amazing! I just discovered your blog and after reading quite a few posts decided this is my favourite thing you have made so far. I am just getting into circle skirts myself and made one from a dress pattern I adjusted but I’d love to find a professional pattern as I’m still quite new to sewing.

    Like

    • Miss Maddy · January 24, 2016

      Thank you so much! I’m very fond of this skirt too, I can’t wait till it cools down a bit more and I can wear it again πŸ™‚ for circle skirts, I think the quickest and easiest way to draft them is with maths – all you need is your waist radius and desired length and you’re good to go! I highly recommend trying the circle skirt app linked in this post too, it’s what I’ve used to make all mine so far πŸ™‚

      Like

  19. Karen Blackburn · 24 Days Ago

    Like you I prefer to sew my own clothes but I admit to preferring to wear ankle length dresses or skirts. I was wondering whether it would be practical to make my usual long dress pattern but with a quilted skirt. I live in Ireland where it gets nippy and I prefer to wear thicker clothes than put on the heater in winter. It would also be practical to wear out needing only a shorter jacket instead of an ankle length one for warmth. Have you any thoughts as to how practical it would be, you are the first person I’ve found to actually make a quilted skirt, and ones in the shops are a) short and I never wear short (grew up in the 1970s and still have my first maxi dress from when I was about 8yrs old) and b) made out of the nylon used for jackets while I prefer to wear cotton. I know I would probably need to use a polyester batting although I know cotton batting is also available. Your advice would be invaluable and much appreciated.

    Like

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