Saturday, January 28, 2012

Orange Leopard 1/2 circle skirt

One of my favourite pastimes is shopping with Jess - checking out the fashion and gasping at the prices.  This day Jess tried on this 1/2 circle skirt "Peeky Skirt" and it looked great on her.  My usual saying: "I can make that!!"  Needless to say, didn't buy it.

Jess was now on a mission to purchase some fabric for this skirt. She found this orange leopard print from designer Zimmerman at the Fabric Store.  Wasn't sure at first but on second reflection thought it was interesting.  Jess decided that she would sew this skirt as her first sewing project with a pattern.

Pattern:  didn't have one but thought it was such a simple skirt why would you need to buy one.   I referred to my favourite book "Patternmaking for Fashion Design" for the formula to make a 1/2 circle skirt.  This book is fantastic - has everything you would need in pattern-making - well worth the money.

Formula for the radius

It gives you the radius for 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full circle skirts.   Fantastic!! 


How to diagrams
Prior to cutting the main fabric, Jess tested the pattern to ensure correct measurements on a muslin.  It was a perfect fit, so quite confident to proceed.

Pattern placement

Fabric folded in half and placed one side of the pattern on the fold. This skirt will only have a centre back seam, with an exposed zip (Jeans Zipper).

Disregard the waistband placement - wasn't really correct.  Too curvy - Jess cut a 10cm wide strip for a 4cm finished waistband.

Exposed zipper

Jess wanted an exposed zipper, so searched the internet for a tutorial but it was really hard to find the method I wanted - square at the bottom of the zip.  Found this website which is an excellent resource for sewing and this is where I found this exposed zipper tutorial.  

Waistband being pinned to skirt

Interlining the skirt
Since the skirt was to have an exposed zipper, it was better to interline the skirt - to make the fabric and lining as one.  I have to admit this is my favourite method of lining - so easy to do.  This lining is silk/cotton (70% silk 30% cotton) purchased at Tessuti, and what a great colour.

Centre back seam

Sew the centre back seam and stop at the zipper end point and back sew to secure.   Then sew 4.0 stitch length the rest of the way (where the zipper is to be positioned) - this will be unpicked later. 

Fabric stay for zipper

Cut a length of fabric for the stay which is to be used for the exposed zipper.  You need to measure the finished length and the desired width of zip exposure.  This is very important because the width of the opening (the square bit at the bottom of the zip) can't be changed - you are committed to sew the zip in that space.  If you download the PDF it will explain it properly.   Press and fold in half.  The fold line should be placed on the centre back seam, where the zip is to be positioned.

With right sides of fabric facing place the stay on the zipper line - pin ready to sew.

Sewing the stay over zipper area of skirt

Jess positioned the edge of the foot on that CB seam as a guide for the width.  Of course you need to determine if that is how much of the zipper you want exposed before sewing.  

After having sewn the stay, you need to cut down the centre of the stay then cut diagonally into the corners.  Unpick the basting stitches.  Then turn the stay inside the skirt, as shown below.   Press.

Zipper opening

Now you can place your zipper inside the opening ready to sew.  You can see from the width of the fabric square that this can't be changed, so when you place your zipper underneath it should exceed the width of the opening or else you can't sew it in place.

Sewing zipper in place

Finished zipper

Now this is what I call an exposed zipper!!   Jess hand stitched the waistband and hem.  Hooray, mission accomplished - 1/2 circle made by Jess!!

 Zipper view

A bit of a swirl to show off the lining

Jess is really happy with her skirt and proud to wear it.  Needless to say,  I'm very proud of her achievement.  She is well on the way to sewing for herself.

This is a great first project - excluding the challenge when it came to the zip.   Definitely a pattern which will be repeated.   Have some black jacquard fabric which is perfect for this pattern.   Jess can now learn how to sew an invisible zip.  There's no stopping her now!!!   


  1. Cool! Looks like she did a great job! Thanks a million for the reference and instructions for the exposed zipper - I've been wanting to try this for quite a while now. I actually really like the fabric too. Lovely colours and pattern but not too animal-y. I still haven't been to the Fabric Store, as it's completely out of the way for me... this totally makes me want to make the hike!

  2. Thanks Melissa, it's a great place for NZ merino wool. Join their mailing list and you get special discounts. Two weeks ago rec'd one for 40% off. From your end of the city might be a 'day off' trip. Cheers!!

  3. Hooray for Jess! And, I love that you turned Jess's lesson into a lesson for all of your blog readers. The book you used is one of the two sewing books I own. I've gotten a lot out of it, but I always mean to sit down and study it like the text book it's meant to be. Instead, I tend to read the section I need and get back to sewing. Will Jess keep sewing? I hope so!

    1. Thanks Amy, yes, I tend to do the same with this book. But what a great resource it is!!! Sewing for Jess - yes, she will be making the next one with an invisible zip. She gets a real buzz from sewing. I didn't intend in making it a lesson for blog readers as I'm sure they're pretty advanced but if it helped a little I'm glad, especially with the zipper. Most RTW garments don't have this zipper, as far as I've been able to gather.

  4. Looks fantastic and so polished. I think the exposed zipper, fabric and dramatic lining lends itself to the simple pattern design.

    1. Thanks Suellen, this fabric is loud - doesn't need complications just, as you say, a simple pattern.

  5. Fantastic! Love the fabric and the exposed zipper. Great work Jess, i look forward to seeing more creations made by you :)

    1. Thanks Nic, another on the cutting board. She just needs to fit it in with work and Uni.

  6. This looks fantastic!!! The colours are beautiful and so is the model. Well done Jessie.

    1. Thanks Louise!! Happy Birthday for tomorrow..

  7. Just testing the system re: comments and word verification.

  8. Hi again Evelyn! I've nominated you for a Leibster Blog award :) Love your work!

    1. Thanks Melissa - have to admit my ignorance re: Leibster Blog award. Thank you for your comment.

  9. Nice work with the zipper! Great, fun skirt, too.