TUTORIAL + VIDEO: Circle Skirt with Enclosed Waistband

We’ve sewn A LOT of circle skirts together over the years.
Looking back at the original tutorial it’s crazy to compare little Lucy twirling around in a plaid flannel skirt, with older Lucy today (almost 15 years-old) twirling around in another flannel skirt….in front of a white wall. Haah. So many pictures in front of white walls.
Life is flying by! The kids are growing up! I guess that’s why I’ve made a lot of circle skirts. They keep growing out of them.

CIRCLE SKIRTs we’ve made:
Kid skirts
Adult Skirts
BABY Skirts — with downloadable pattern piece
Double-Layer Skirts + Double-Layer BABY Skirts
Costume Skirts
Poodle Skirts!
How to Hem a Circle Skirt
How to Cut Curved Lines

One of the most frequent questions I get is:
You’ve come to the right place!
Let’s do it.

If you’re a VIDEO person, you can watch this project by clicking the play button below (or watch it on my channel here.)

And you can watch the original circle skirt video here:

If you prefer step-by-step photos, here you go!


• 1-2 yards of fabric (cotton, flannel, chambray, lightweight denim, knits)
• 1-inch-wide elastic (I prefer braid elastic–similar to this)

PATTERN: You need to create a “1/4 of circle pattern piece” to fit your waist size (or hip size). See the graphic below for figuring out your measurements. For additional detailed info, watch my video here and tutorial here.

For kids – I would go with the waist measurement. The extra 2-5 inches depends on how gathered you’d like the waistband to be.
For adults – I would go with the hip measurement. Or try the waist measurement + 2 inches. It’s a bit of trial and error since everyone has a different hip/waist ratio.
Fabric Width – It can be hard to find fabric wide enough to make a full circle for adult sizes. If you can find 60″ wide fabric, that’s a good option. If not, you can cut 2 semi-circles and sew them together with side seams. Bonus to that, is that you can add side seam pockets! Check out my detailed video here.

1. Cut out your fabric. Fold your fabric in fourths (fold it in half, and in half again). Place your 1/4 circle pattern piece on the folds, and cut around the curved areas. If you’ve folded properly, you have a full circle when you’re done! For more help see my detailed video.
2. Cut out your elastic, the same size as your waist measurement. You do not need to add any extra length for seam allowance. I find that the elastic tends to stretch just a bit as it holds up the weight of the fabric.

3. Cut out your Waistband Piece: 3.25″ wide x (the waistband circle + about 5 inches of tail) long We need to add a separate piece of fabric for the waistband, rather than simply folding the skirt fabric under (as we’ve done with a simple skirt). If you remember from math class, convex and concave lines won’t lay flat when folded over like that. So….
• Length: Measure around the inner circle of your skirt—the waistband circle—then add about 5 inches to that length. This is how long we want to cut the strip of fabric. We don’t need to be precise with the length right now.
• Width: If you’re using 1-inch-wide elastic, cut your strip 3.25″ wide. How did I get that number? The elastic is 1 inch wide and the fabric will go around it on both sides (it will be folded in half). So let’s give some wiggle room there and say 1.25″ +1.25″ for the elastic areas. We’re at 2.5″. Then add a .25″ seam allowance for each side. Now we’re at 3″. Then add one more .25″ for extra wiggle room as we’re sewing. 3.25″
If you’re using 2-inch-wide elastic, you’ll need to make adjustments.

• Press the two long edges of the strip over 1/4″ to the wrong side of the fabric, then fold the whole thing in half, length-wise. And your waistband piece is ready to go!

4. Attach the waistband piece. Start with the WRONG side of the skirt fabric, and the RIGHT side of the waistband fabric together (I know that sounds wrong in your head, but the waistband will eventually fold over to the right side of the skirt. Note: my fabric does not have a technical wrong or right side. But if yours does, pay attention to that detail)
• Start in the middle back of the skirt, leaving a 2-3 inch tail on the skirt, with the raw edges of the fabric aligned together (unfold the previous creases made with the iron). Pin the strip of fabric around the waistband circle, pinning all the way around:

• Sew the ends of the waistband piece together. When the two ends of the fabric join back up, there will be a tail of fabric on each side. Match the pieces together and mark a line where we need to sew the waistband together (you can use a fabric marker, or place a line of straight pins to guide you). This will enclose our waistband piece for a nice precise fit. You can see this in-action in my video above.

5. Sew the waistband to the skirt with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Sew right along the previous crease that we made, which gives you a 1/4″ seam allowance.
6. Fold the waistband in half (along the previous crease) so it folds over to the RIGHT side of the skirt and pin it in place. Make sure the final creased 1/4″ edge is tucked under as well, so all the raw edges are enclosed.
7. Sew the waistband in place, leaving a 2 inch opening in the waistband. I like to mark this with double-pins so I don’t accidentally sew it closed.

8. String elastic through the skirt. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and push it through the waistband opening. Attach the other end of the elastic to the skirt with another safety pin. Push the elastic around the casing (careful not to twist the elastic) till it comes out the other side of the opening.
9. Overlap the ends of the elastic 1 to 1.5 inches and sew them together with a zigzag stitch.
10. Sew the opening closed. Pull the waistband taut, and sew along the same the stitch line from earlier, sewing the gap closed.

11. Hem the skirt. Fold and press the edge under 1/4″, all the way around. Then fold it over another 1/4″. And sew it in place! If you’re having trouble with this step, watch my How to Hem a Circle Skirt video here.

And you’re done! 
One gathered up circle skirt, with an enclosed waistband.
It kind of looks like a giant scrunchie!

Enjoy your twirl!

  1. 1) Dara

    SO CUTE, Dana. Thank you sew much!Your daughter is Beautiful just like her Mama!

    • 2) Dana

      Thanks Dara! It’s fun to sew for her :)…when it’s not too overly involved. Haha

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  3. 4) Mary

    This is a great tutorial! I can’t wait to break out my machine again.

    Also, do you know where your daughter’s shirt is from? I have been looking for a non-see through white shirt for ages and can’t find one!

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  6. 7) Roxanne ford

    I am working with a knit fabric. Cotton with 5% spandex. Should I use the same math to come up with the circumference, since it’s a stretch fabric?

  7. 8) Bt

    Never made a circle skirt before but reading this, I can tell you that you don’t need to measure your inner skirt circle for the waistband. It literally is the circumference of the circle which is the waist measurement you used to calculate the radius to cut that inner circle. So basically, just add 5 in to your waist /hip measurements!

  8. 9) Darcy

    So I measured my waist/hips and I use your equation to make a pattern but it’s very large around my waist before I add the elastic-will the elastic shrink it enough or did I measure wrong?

  9. 10) LKC


    I have used this tutorial so many times and love the detail in attaching the waistband. I didn’t get it at first and then it clicked. Thank you! Any special considerations I need for 60 inch fabric with diagonal stripes? Can I still use one piece? Will it look weird?

  10. 11) vicki

    I am wanting to make an adult style pinafore dress. I have watched various videos of different strategies with circle skirts adding a bib top with two cross over straps at the back with a button closure or zip closure. I was wondering if a circle skirt or half circle skirt could be made with a flat front waist with an elastic back waist, so that there is only elastic at the back of the skirt, then I would add the bib and straps. Do you think this is possible? I prefer elastic because of my shape but I don’t like the look of elastic at the front of my clothing as it make me look and feel uncomfortable. I was wondering if you may even be able to do a video with a half circle skirt with a half elastic waist?

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  12. 13) Bettie

    “I’m so grateful for this tutorial! “designing clothes online” has always been a dream of mine, and this circle skirt with an enclosed waistband is a fantastic starting point. Your explanations and tips make it feel approachable. Time to get sewing!

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