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How to Make a Swirl Skirt

Updated February 21, 2019

A swirl skirt, or spiral skirt, is a flattering and whimsical addition to any girl's wardrobe, regardless of age. By drafting your own swirl skirt pattern, you can choose how full the skirt is, as well as how extreme the spiralling is. A swirl skirt is constructed much like any gored skirt; however, the gores are a J or a spiral shape instead of trapezoidal. This bias cut flatters the body and allows for a great twirly skirt factor.

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  1. Use a tape measure to determine the wearer's waist and hip measurements. Most of the fullness in this skirt comes toward the hemline, but do add approximately 10 inches to the needed width for wearing ease and seam allowances. If you are making a swirl skirt for a little girl, the waist measurement is usually an appropriate basis for the pattern, but do use the hip measurement for an adult or teen. Determine the desired final length as well. For a child's swirl skirt, you will need one or two yards of fabric that is 58 to 60 inches wide.

  2. Divide your desired overall measurement by the number of gores planned. Five is ideal for a young girl's skirt, but a larger size may look better with six to eight gores. This measurement will form the top of your spiral skirt pattern piece. Using a straight edge, draw a line on your butcher paper or newspaper to this length. Bring each corner down at 90 degrees.

  3. Continue your lines, bringing them down straight to within approximately 6 inches of your desired length. Curve upwards, wrapping your curve into a spiral. For an adult size, the spiral should only cover the lower portion of the skirt, but in a young child's skirt, you can overlap the straight section of the patten piece. See Resources for pictures and illustrations of these skirts and the spiral patterns.

  4. Cut out your pattern piece, dividing it into two separate pieces, if needed. Cut as many swirls as are needed for your swirl skirt. If you have made an extreme spiral, you will need to seam each spiral before assembling the whole of your swirl skirt. Stitch the spirals together, carefully pinning your seams before sewing. Work slowly and carefully over the curves.

  5. Press the top edge under 1/4 inch and again at 1 inch. Stitch the casing into place, leaving a small gap to insert the elastic. Thread 3/4-inch elastic through the casing and stitch together before sewing the gap in the casing closed. Finish the hem with a narrow rolled hem or serger, working carefully over the curves.

  6. Tip

    Drop seam allowances to 1/4 inch and sew the entire twirly skirt on a serger, if desired, but be sure to practice on curves first. Add flounces to the seam line for a fun spiral skirt.

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Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Butcher paper or newspaper
  • Straight edge
  • Fabric
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine and coordinating thread
  • Elastic

About the Author

Michelle Powell-Smith

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.

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