Drafting Circle Skirt

Circle skirt is one of my favorite skirt styles. With the full hem swishing around the ankles in glorious fabric like chiffon or satin, one can't help but feel like a princess.




There are many variations to the circle skirt. In fact, any sector of a circle can be made into a skirt; you do not always require a full circle. Let's look at some of the more common ones.


Quarter Skirt

This quarter skirt has the least amount of flare, or fullness at the hem, compared to the other quarter skirts (namely ½ circle and ¾ circle skirts). However, it does require less fabric and it may be able to fit within the width of tha fabric so you could get away with just one seam (usually the centre back seam).


One thing to note, this skirt may not have sufficient room around the hips so it's important to check the measurements at the hip level before cutting the pattern.


The drafting of the skirt block is straightforward. Referring to the figure below,

¼ pi (2 * XY) = waist circumference

XY = 2 * waist circumference / pi

Round XY to the nearest whole number.


With this XY value, mark from one corner X of the paper and measurement the length XY. Continue to plot more points from X in this manner until you are able to connect and draw a quarter of a circle. This is the waist circumference.


From Y, measure the desired skirt length to Z. Continue to do so until you have sufficient points to connect and draw the outer quarter. This is the skirt hem or sweep.


Check that its smaller quarter measurement is the same as the desired finished waist circumference. You can increase or decrease the draft measurement by extending a line parallel to YZ to achieve the body measurement.


Lastly, do verify that the skirt block at hip level can accommodate the body hip circumference.


Half Circle Skirt

The skirt is a semicircle when laid flat. This has more fullness in the hem than the quarter circle skirt. The hips should have sufficient room in this case. It is unlikely for the semicircle to fit within the width of the fabric so that is a need to introduce more seams to accommodate fabric layout and pattern cutting.


The formula is similar to the quarter circle skirt.

½ pi (2 * XY) = waist circumference

XY = waist circumference / pi

The inner radius for the half circle skirt is ½ that for the quarter circle skirt.

Round XY to the nearest whole number.



With this XY value, mark from one corner X of the paper the measurement of XY. Continue to plot points from X until you have sufficient points to connect and draw a semicircle. This is the waist circumference.



Following this semicircle, measure and mark the desired skirt length until there's sufficient points to connect and draw the skirt hem. Check the waist measurement as what we have done for the quarter circle skirt and make adjustments, if necessary.


There is a line of symmetry to this full block. Hence, for efficiency, we usually develop only half the block, which is essentially a quarter circle. You can choose to proceed with a full block; for instance, if you want to have an unusual placement of seam(s), the full block gives you better visual for good placement of cutting line.








Three Quarter Skirt

This skirt has fullness in the hem that is in between a half and full circle skirt. When laid flat, the pattern piece resembles three quarters of a circle.


Crewneck Circle Skirt Dress by Alice Walk

¾ * 2 pi * XY = waist circumference

XY = ⅔ waist circumference / pi

The inner radius for the half circle skirt is ⅓ of the quarter circle skirt and ⅔ of the half circle skirt.

Round XY to the nearest whole number.


With this XY value, mark from one corner X of the paper the measurement of XY. Continue to plot points from X until you have sufficient points to connect and draw three quarters of a circle. This is the waist circumference.


Following this sector, measure and mark the desired skirt length until there's sufficient points to connect and draw the skirt hem. Check the waist measurement as what we have done for the other circle skirts and make adjustments, if necessary.




Three Quarter Circle Skirt Block


Full Circle Skirt

The skirt is a full circle when laid flat.

2 pi * XY = waist circumference

XY = ½ waist circumference / pi

The inner radius for the full circle skirt is ½ that for the half circle skirt and ¼ of the quarter circle skirt.

Round XY to the nearest whole number.


With this XY value, mark from one corner X of the paper the measurement of XY. Continue to plot points from X until you have sufficient points to connect and draw a full circle. This is the waist circumference.


Following this circle, measure and mark the desired skirt length until there's sufficient points to connect and draw the skirt hem.


There are two lines of symmetry in this full block, namely down the side seams and centre of the skirt. We could choose to develop a quarter of the block for efficiency. That said, there is a need to introduce seam(s) to the block in order to accommodate it on the fabric. If asymmetrical design lines are desired, the use of the full block is recommended.


Going Beyond A Circle

We can do so much more with our circle skirt blocks.


A Square Circle Skirt

A circle skirt need not be curved at the hem. A handkerchief skirt is actually a circle skirt but with a square hem, where the corners are simply not rounded off.


Handkerchief Skirt by Dan Munier and Asymmetric Midi Skirt by Roksanda

High-Low Asymmetrical Hem

We can also choose to do asymmetrical high-low hem line in a circle skirt. Proceed as usual for any of the circle skirt block. Where you desire a longer hem, for example at centre back, extend the block accordingly. We have used a full circle skirt block for illustration. You can see that now we have an elliptical circle block, it being longest at the back. You can also choose for the hem to be longest at the side for a different look.




Elliptical Skirt Block

More Than One Circle

It's possible to make a circle skirt with more than one full circle, especially when you require lots of flare and fullness at hem. Due to the high usage of fabric, this is not really seen in ready to wear garments, but more likely in couture or bridal wear.


Last Words

The skirt will drape due to its weight, and for a circle skirt, the drape will extend different amounts around the hem as the fabric stretches differently along the various grainlines. It is a typical practice to place the skirt on a dressform for a day to let the skirt hang. Thereafter, trim the skirt hem to level it out.


In the above demonstrations, in order to keep things simple, we assumed the front and back waist curves are the same. This is usually not the case. To fit the waist better, lower the curve by 1 - 1.5cm at the centre back and redraw the back waist curve.


Lastly, it has not been mentioned explicitly, but there is a need to provide access, either in the form of a zipper or buttoned placket, into the skirt if the circle skirt is made to fit the waist snugly. Alternatively, the circle skirt can be made with a elasticised waist. In this case, the waist circumference used for the above calculations has to be the fully expanded waist measurement.


Useful Tools & Information

Circle Skirt Fabric Calculator by Mood Fabrics





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