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Using that leftover fabric

Now that most fabric stores have closed, quality fabric is only available online (my favorites:, or The options for purchase by length are generally limited to 1/2 yard. So if you previously needed 1-3/4 yd you will need to purchase 2 yds etc.

What to do with that leftover fabric? If you have complementary fabrics, whether of similar colors or interesting contrasting patterns, consider combining pieces.

The dark olive is from a dress below, the print from a jumpsuit, the peach ruffles from an underskirt that did not work out. 

Or make kids' clothes!

A skirt that twirls but doesn’t make you look fat

A skirt that is fitted near the waist and flares out below is more flattering and less revealing than one with fullness starting from the waist.


To make or alter a skirt select the distance from the waist to the top of the fullness. I usually take this as 9” (20cm), a good distance for my 5’5” height. (I sew in cm because it’s easier but I’ll use both measurements here.)


Make a pattern for the top section with nearly identical front and back pieces that when sewn together fit your hips with about 3-4cm (1-1/2”) of ease. Taper toward the waistband, add 2 front and 2 back darts, a side zipper and a 2cm (3/4") waistband.

The skirt fullness can come from the addition of a circle section (A), gathers (B) or gores (C). (These ideas apply for either a skirt or a dress.) A gathered skirt is the simplest: The amount of fabric needed to gather is about 1-1/2 to 2 times the skirt circumference at the hips H.


A circle skirt requires some careful measurements (right). Cut a donut shape (D) which may have to be done in pieces, depending on the fabric width. The inner circle radius r is H/(2 pi) (minus 1.5 cm for the seam allowance).The outer circle measurement R is the sum of inner radius plus the skirt length L (plus seam and hem allowances). 


A gore is a roughly triangular piece of fabric inserted into a seam to increase the fullness (E). I usually use 6 gores: 2 in front, 2 in back and a gore in each side seam. Note that this construction requires 6 seams in the top section (or dress), so good for princess seams. The top of the gore (in my case) begins 20cm below the waist. 

Creative modifications: skirt layers of different fabrics (A), gores of contrasting fabric, a lower waist for a latin look (F), or wrap layers of varying length or fabric (G).






circle skirt.jpg






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