Gifts I've made, Me & My Brood, Tutorials
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Tartan Half Circle Skirt – a bit of a tutorial…My First!

Today’s my niece’s 16th birthday. She asked me to make her a tartan skater skirt. After lots of googling we went shopping to Fabworks in Dewsbury on a fabric hunt. As soon as she saw this fabric it was love at first sight. It was also the most expensive one we saw at £10/metre. It was a wool mix, but was machine washable. My sister would hate me if I made something that was dry clean only. 

Silver.JPGOriginally I intended to make her a 3/4 circle skirt but I wasn’t sure how the seam would match up to I chickened out and made a 1/2 circle. I had a trial run in my size as I’d never made one before. I made mine in a thick silver fabric which ended up being a nightmare to work with, it just curled up at every stage. 


After pressing the living daylight out of it it eventually behaved, but alas, I have produced another UFO. I’ve not idea when I’ll ever where it so can’t bring myself justify the time needed to hand stitch it. 





So, with lessons learned from making the UFO, armed with a calculcular I set to and worked out the radius of Lucy’s waist. I was so glad I enjoyed maths at school as this was the easy bit!!


It took me ages to work out which was the right side of the fabric, and even then I wasn’t entirely convinced, but I was going to stick with my decision so marked the right side to stop me changing my mind and moved swiftly on. 


I cut the lining (bottle green poly) tho no picture of that – I just traced around the tartan fabric. 


I found when I made the silver skirt the waist edge stretched as it was mostly on the bias, despite stay stitching. To prevent this with the tartan I stitched a 5mm cotton stay tape along the waist edge on the main fabric and the lining. 


Then I added green satin bias binding to the hem so the finish would be really neat when I hand stitched it. I also overlocked the side seams before stitching together. 



I added the zip, a normal dress zip about 8 inches (the only one they had in green!) with no pins. I went with my sewing intuition and despite reading millions of tutorials and watching Craftsy lessons in inserting zips where no one mentioned this method, it worked! I just thought if the worst comes to the worst – I have a stitch ripper!! 



I then used waist band interfacing (not sure of its shop name) which I find makes the waist band so much easier and quicker:



When I “stitched in the ditch” on the right side I didn’t tuck under the back part, instead I edged it with bias binding. I thought that with the fabric being quite thick, the back part wouldn’t be long enough to cover everything when I stitch in the ditch and also the contrasting colour made a neat finish. (Hope this make sense!). 

At this point I hit a brick wall. Although I had  Lucy’s measurements I need her to try it before I finished it completely. 




It was 3 inches too long!!! Oh well, better than 3 inches too short. 


I’d no green bias left. I had some black satin bias binding, but decided against this and called to Boyes. I bought some navy blue satin, red satin and some red cotton tartan. She’d decided she liked the binding showing – no hand stitching of the hem……YIPPEEEEEEEE!!! 


I carefully measured 3 inches from the bottom, but just hacked roughly away at the lining. It’s ended up a little bit wonky but only I know. 


After applying binding to the outer and inner layer it was looking good…….!



After hand sewing to neaten everything up (which I found surprisingly therapeutic), I just need to make a couple of button holes and sew on the buttons. 


My auto button hole wasn’t working as I’d have liked, so I practised a few millions of unautomatic ones until I was happy. I also found it easier to cut the holes first, then stitch. 


I remember reading somewhere that you can buy something for your machine so the button stands off from the fabric when you sew but as I only had 2 to stitch I was doing them by hand. I used a match stick between the fabric and the button to create a bit of looseness for the button. 



Don’t you just love them heart buttons!! 


All finished! Just need gifting wrapping and a ride to my sisters………

And here’s a very happy birthday Girl!! 


She is happy really….just felt a bit self conscious as she knew the pix were going on my blog! 

Oh, and one last one…….

 My favourite pic of Lucy, her brother Alfie with me and my hubby. This is Alfie’s christening – I’d made him a suit to match his dads! Probably the last thing I made up until June this year! 

This was taken about a week after I found out I was pregnant with Harrison, think that’s why I’m looking radiant – not my usual look!





  1. Try the gelatin soak on the silver skirt to see if that gives it enough body and stiffness to finish it. Then wash and gelatin will come right out. 2 tablespoons of gelatin, the plain clear stuff. Put in two cups cold water and let ait 15 minutes to dissolve. Add two more cups hot water and stir well. Add fabric and let sit for 15 minutes. Take out gently wring out water, place on towel and roll up and squeeze outs best you can, then hang up to dry. Finish sewing, wash and wala!

    • The fabric had lots of body, so don’t think it needs gelatin, but I definitely will try your tip on some chiffon which I haven’t dare sew yet.
      Thank you! šŸ˜€āœ‚ļøšŸ˜€

    • Thank you.
      I bought 1 metre and have enough left to make a small bag. I think the radius of my circle was 71cm but then I was 3 inches too long (sorry for the change in units, I use both!) so it depends on how long you want your skirt as to how much to buy. Unless you want to make a long one 1 metre should be enough.
      Hope that helps šŸ˜€āœ‚ļøšŸ˜€

  2. Pingback: Thank you By Hand, London « Thimberlina ... my creative journey

  3. Cute skirt! A suggestion for the 3/4 skirt – if you make it in 2 pieces instead of one you can match the pattern in a chevron on the seams.

  4. Pingback: Sewing Dahlias « Thimberlina ... my creative journey

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