My children are very particular about the clothing they wear. A kind of tear-my-hair-out-at-the-store particular. My eldest is unusually so. Especially with regards to pants or skirts. Loose and soft are the two keywords.
Needless to say, this makes shopping for her impossible. Just when I have found a pair of pants I think she would like, she says the fabric is too scratchy, or the inseam is too high, or the overall fit is too tight. This has caused me to resort to the only alternative I knew of that could clothe my child - make it myself.
Luckily, the first time I did this, she already had a pair of pants she LOVED (to death - literally they were in tatters with holes in inappropriate places). They were a very soft knit fabric - very bouncy, like a rayon-blend knit. I took her with me to a fabric store and we found a similar fabric. I got a yard of that, some 3/4 inch elastic, and crossed my fingers that I could reverse-engineer these pants to make something she would wear.
Finding the time to do this while homeschooling my girls was difficult, but it got to the point of necessity and once I was finished, it was an unequivocal success! She loved these new pants and wore them all the time.
The point being, now the only way I can get my eldest into any bottoms is if I make them myself, and I don't always have the time. Also, she is growing, so my 8th grade home ec skills (thank you Mrs. Vakoc, wherever you may be!) are being stretched as I attempt to modify and create patterns from scratch.
Being able to change and create patterns does have some nice consequences. Now I can modify specific parts of the clothing to match her requests (i.e. a low inseam rise so pants don't ride up).
So we find ourselves, late-winter, with too few bottoms, and I am forced to go back to the sewing table (a.k.a. our dining room table) to create something she will hopefully, after all the work I put in, wear! With the coming of Spring, and because I had already bought some thin denim fabric, I decided (with the blessing of my eldest) a circle skirt was going to be the next thing I attempt.
Sew What! Skirts and this tutorial for a circle skirt on the blog Dana Made It are the two places I found information on how to successfully put this together. The book didn't mention using a ribbed waistband. The MADE tutorial is for an elastic waistband (which is cool, but I knew would be too stiff for my daughter's liking). I was inspired to use ribbing on the waist because this matched the type of waistbands I created in the pants she loves so much.
The fabric my daughter chose was what I think is called a chambray. Light and flowy, but with some denim-like qualities. I found some ribbing in a complimentary dark-blue (I think this ribbing is typically used for the cuffs of sweatshirt sleeves).
I prewashed my fabric, ironed it, folded it selvage-to-selvage, then folded it again to make a square that I measured to be big enough for a quarter of a circle. I LOVE that I got to use a math equation I learned in junior high to figure out what radius to use for the waistband. I measured the largest part of my daughter's hips and added 1 inch to that (so I knew it would fit when she pulled it up and over her waist). I took that measurement and plugged it into the equation: circumference=2πradius. Simplified a bit, that would be: circumference=2*3.14*radius, or circumference=6.18*radius. Since I'm trying to figure out the radius, I need to get that alone on it's side of the equation, thereby making the final equation: circumference/6.18=radius.
All that math gave me a waist radius of 4.16 inches, which I dutifully measured out on paper then placed onto my fabric (in the corner of the folds) and traced. I then added that number to the length I wanted the skirt to be, plus an inch for seam allowance, and used a yardstick to measure this total distance from the corner of the fabric along various points, which I then connected with my chalk pencil.
My cutting mat and rotary cutter are my new favorite loves. It made cutting the fabric so quick and precise!
I then cut my ribbing to be 6 inches wide and 1 inch longer than I needed it to be for the waist measurement (for seam allowance). I stitched the two ends of the ribbing together so I had a loop, which I folded over (with the seam stitching hidden on the inside and folded flat).
Next, I took the band and pinned it to the waist of the skirt, making sure that the seam stitching would be hidden on the wrong side of the skirt fabric. Because I had ironed the fabric when I folded it into the quarter circle, I was able to use those fold marks as my initial pinning points, lining up the waistband seam with the fold I wanted to be the back one, lining up the front fold with the exact opposite point on the waistband, and the two side folds with the exact quarter points on the waistband. Four points in all. I then worked around the skirt again to stretch the waistband and evenly pin the halfway points between the pins already in place.
You can see in the above picture that the chambray won't lie flat against the ribbing because there is more of it than the ribbing. As I stitched, I needed to pull the ribbing taut so both were flat as they were stitched together. You can see this in the next picture:
The last thing was figure out the hem. I had thought I'd sew a thicker hem for a bit of weight at the end, but folding in such a curved edge causes problems with the hem lying flat... so I opted to use my rolled hem foot and am very happy with how it turned out:
Once I actually sat down to get this skirt done (and deal with the pre-washing and ironing part which takes time), I was able to whip it up very quickly (1/2 an hour or so). I think I have just found my go-to pattern for Spring/Summer wear. I can mix it up with various bottom fabrics and change the length to add variety.