What Is A Gathered Circle Skirt And How To Draft It?

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I have already written blog posts about circle skirts and gathered skirts. I came across a ‘gathered circle skirt’ when I was draping a Jalisco skirt for my Halloween costume last year. I have to say it is my favourite type of skirt, although it is quite fabric consuming.

In this tutorial, you will learn:

What is a gathered circle skirt?

Basically, it is a circle skirt made of 6 panels with a waist circumference that is 1.5 times larger than your actual waist circumference. The large waist will be gathered to fit your waist with added ease. The number of panels can be altered.

A gathered circle skirt combines properties of both types of skirts. At the waist there are gathers (as on a gathered skirt) followed by flounces and the skirt twists in the air when you spin* (as a circle skirt) and also can be nicely lifted by your hands (see the images below).

You can finish and decorate skirt hem by applying a bias tape binding to it.

A red gathered circle skirt with gathers and flounces.
Gathered circle skirt made of six panels.
A red gathered circle skirt with sides held in the air.
Holding the skirt side up in the air.

How to draft a gathered circle skirt?

First, measure your waist circumference and decide the length of the skirt. Also determine the amount of ease at the waist you would like. Use the following formula to calculate the radius at the waist and at the hem to draft the skirt. Do not forget to add seam allowances and hem before cutting the fabric pieces.

radius at waist = (waist circumference * 1.5 + ease) / (2 * π)
radius at hem = radius at waist + skirt length

Gathered circle skirt pattern as a whole.

Now the skirt has to be divided into 6 panels (see the images below).

Gathered circle skirt scheme of dividing the pattern into six panels.
Gathered circle skirt pattern divided into six panels.
Gathered circle skirt panel pattern. One sixth of a skirt.

One whole panel.

Gathered circle skirt panel pattern half.

As the panel is symmetrical, it is enough to draft its half only.

Now you can draw one panel and use it to trace all six panels of the skirt.

Before sewing the skirt itself, consider the type of waistband and closure of the skirt. To achieve eye-pleasing and even gathers of the skirt, you can follow this tutorial. Make sure to gather the waist to the circumference that fits your waist + ease.

waist after gathering = actual waist circumference + ease

Will this type of skirt twist in the air?

Keep in mind that the ability of the skirt to be lifted to air while spinning is affected by the fabric weight as well as the size and length of the skirt. A long skirt for a small child will spin in the air, whereas a long women’s skirt will not because of the skirt weight.

How to change number of panels?

You do not have to make your skirt from six panels. You can use four or even two panels for small (girls´) short skirts. Just make sure, that you are able to fit the panels into your fabric.

You can also use as many panels as you wish; there is no upper limit. Just keep in mind that the higher the amount of panels, the more time you will spend cutting the fabric, finishing seams and sewing.

The following calculation will help you to draft the pattern for any number of panels:

For one whole panelangle = 360 / number of panels
For one half of panel angle = 180 / number of panels

In the example below I will show you how to draft a skirt with 8 panels.

For one whole panelangle = 360 / 8 = 45°
For one half of panel angle = 180 / 8 = 22.5°
Gathered circle skirt pattern as a whole.
Gathered circle skirt scheme of dividing the pattern into eight panels.
Gathered circle skirt panel pattern. One eighth of a skirt.

One whole panel.

Gathered circle skirt panel pattern half.

As the panel is symmetrical, it is enough to draft its half only.

Conclusion:

Although this type of skirt may be fabric consuming, it is really an attractive and easy variation on the classic full circle skirt. Why not give it a try?

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