diy: circle skirt sew-along - inspiration

I am so excited about how many are planning on joining in this sew-along! I cannot wait to see the skirts that each of you make--it's going to be so much fun!

Circle skirts are perhaps best known for their heyday in the 1950s, even though variations of the circle-idea had been around for quite some time. The one we’ll be making is based on those full-circle styles, and I suspect probably more than a few people will be making iconic versions based on 50s designs. But even if that look isn’t your style, the circle skirt remains a wardrobe classic and something that lends itself well to modern interpretation. You can capture different aesthetic looks just through choice of fabric and trims; try a richly-printed and bright modern quilting fabric for a thoroughly 2011 look. Or perhaps a soft green with darker soutache loops along the hem for something that speaks more of the 1950s. Below are some inspiration images I gathered to get the ideas flowing!

image credits (clockwise): Vintage Pattern Wiki | vintage handpainted skirt @thespectrum on Etsy | Vintage Pattern Wiki | Solanah showing off a fabulous vintage skirt.

image credits (clockwise): Vintage Pattern Wiki | Harriet from Bright Young Twins |50s applique skirt @ thespectrum on Etsy | Vintage Pattern Wiki.

image credits (clockwise): Vintage Pattern Wiki | Vintage Pattern Wiki | Solanah in a beautiful quilted circle skirt | Vintage Pattern Wiki.

Applique fanciful motifs on your skirt?

Playing with directional patterns such as plaids or stripes?

For more directional-play, try a border print?

Add rows of quilting (good tips here and here) or use a pre-quilted fabric?

Make it short and lined for style perfect for winter sports (or modern wear)?

Add oversized pockets (or more demurely sized) for stashing your belongings?

For drama add a shaped waistband?

Use a sheer or lace for a different look? (Create a opaque lining from the pattern and attach at the waistband.)

Sew on strips or individual sequins and beads for glamor?

Hand paint a single (or repeating) design or motif on the front or around the hem?

Use a vintage or modern embroidery design to add some additional flair?

I decided that embroidery would be the perfect thing to dress up one of my skirts—and quite apropos for the era! I based the bees off of a vintage skirt I had seen on Etsy some months before, and just freehanded the design. If you’re looking for vintage embroidery designs (free too!), I’d recommend checking out Hoop Love. There are several methods for transferring the design (to see suggestions I’d recommend reading the comments in this post); tracing and iron-transfer pen are my favorites. I opted for the latter in this instance since my fabric was a bit dense to use the tracing method (I used a Sulky iron-on transfer pen). I wanted the designs randomly placed, but did plot out the spacing and direction before transferring the design—using pins to mark the location of each.

08.18.11 | bee in my bonnet

To work my design I used fairly simple stitches: stem stitch for outlining, a satin stitch for the bee’s stripes, and backstitches to outline each of those stripes. The embroidery was time consuming (considering each bee is about 5” long and I had 9 bees on the skirt!), but well worth it. To finish the bees I added sequins and beads (the original had rhinestones, but those were a little out of my budget).

As long as your fabric is tightly woven and medium weight or greater, you shouldn’t need a stabilizer. If you do for the stitching process, consider a tear-away or wash-away stabilizer that can be removed post-stitching.

Are you planning any fun embellishment for your circle skirt?


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