Holiday Tutorial: DIY Full Circle Skirt with Tulle Overlay

DIY tulle circle skirt tutorial header
H&M shirt (this season's version), DIY skirt (tutorial below); buy similar here or here

Tulle isn't too practical for my everyday wardrobe, but I do love how fanciful it looks for special occasions (like NYE parties!). These skirts cost me just ~$10 each in materials, plus the basic circle pattern and elastic waist can be applied to skirts of all types of materials. The only tricky part if you're a beginner might be sewing on the elastic waistband in step #13. If you're not big on tulle and want a regular swingy circle skirt, do just steps 1 through 3 using a fabric of your choice, then skip to step #9! I can't wait to make another one with just a fun printed fabric. The plaid, pearls + tulle trifecta above was inspired by Blair, who has shown several stylish ways over the years to wear her tulle skirts.
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LOFT scarf, Accessory Concierge necklace, J.Crew shirt (similar) + shoes (old)

I initially made one of these as an inner "petticoat" as shown in this post, then realized how easy it was to make them into presentable skirts that can also be worn on the outside. As suggested in my post on how to re-style a bridesmaid dress, tulle also looks soft and romantic for engagement photoshoots (or bridal activities which I might use this white one for). Yes I'm freezing my toes here again but the snow was so pretty, I couldn't resist jumping outside for a pic.

H&M plaid shirt (borrowed from cousin), DIY skirt, Manolo Blahnik BB heels
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Ready to begin?  : )

Materials needed:
- stretchy, elastic band at least 1" in width and long enough to fit around your waist. I used 1.5" for a wider waistband.
- Base / lining fabric. Otherwise the tulle will be sheer. I like the weight of polyester crepe since it will hold some fullness without looking too poofy, plus it's often on sale or you could print a 40% off coupon for JoAnns.  You need a square piece of fabric measuring this along each side:

Length of each side of square fabric = [A + B] * 2

A = (your desired skirt length)
B = (circumference of your hips divided by 3.14 divided by 2)

For example, if I want a 20" long skirt, and my hips are 33" wide, then the calculation goes:
A = 20"
B = (33" / 3.14 / 2) = 5.25"

[A + B]* 2 = [20" + 5.25"] * 2 = 50.5"

So, I would need a square piece of fabric measuring 50.5 inches, aka 1.4 yards on each side. Please remember most fabric sold in the store on bolts are folded in half lengthwise, and you can look at the label to quickly find out the width in inches when unfolded. A common width for fabric is 54" which would work for my skirt with room to spare. If you need wider material than that, consider sewing together two halves of semicircles to form your circle.

- Optional: tulle fabric, depending on how many layers you want. You need the same amount as your lining, per layer. I wanted 3 layers, so I needed 3 x 50.5 inches, or 4.2 yards.
- sewing machine, scissors, pins, and some sort of fabric marker or chalk
- paper or mulsin for your pattern
DIY tulle circle skirt tutorial materials
For my skirt, for reference, I bought a piece of wide elastic, 1.5 yards of lining fabric, and 5 yards of tulle (rounded up to be safe) for a total of $10. If you live in Boston, I went to Winmil fabrics and also love Sewfisticated. JoAnns has a bigger selection so is good with coupon in hand, but none really close to the city.

1. Make your pattern. I used some packaging paper lying around with a right angle edge. At this edge, measure out a small quarter circle. The radius of this circle should be "B" that we measured above, or 5.25" for me. Make sure to measure around your hips at the widest point, since this hole needs to fit comfortably over that!
DIY tulle circle skirt tutorial 1
2. Draw a larger quarter circle, but measuring out length from the smaller one in Step 1. The length here should be your desired skirt length (or "A" from above), plus a few centimeters of allowance for seam allowance if desired. I wanted a 20" skirt, but my paper wasn't big enough (nor was my lining fabric) so I just made sure to cut my tulle a little bigger than the pattern. Cut along both curved lines that you drew.
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3. Fold and cut lining fabric. As mentioned above, fabric at the store usually comes folded in half lengthwise. Fold your piece of liner material lengthwise if it isn't already, then fold once again from left to right. You should now have a piece of material that is one quarter the size of the original piece.
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Place your pattern with the small quarter circle over the folded corner of the fabric, so that after you cut the pattern you will unfold the piece to get one continuous donut. Please be careful here and don't mis-position the pattern, otherwise you'll end up with a very strange cutout shape!

4. Fold and cut tulle. If you want a tulle overlay, repeat step 3 over tulle material that has been similarly folded into quarters. I cut out 3 donuts of tulle to get the desired fullness once layered.
DIY tulle circle skirt tutorial 4
5. Organize + pin together your layers. Tulle gets static-y and troublesome to manage real quick, so one way to keep everything organized is to find a cylindrical object to act as your "waist" and layer your cutout donuts one by one on top of each other. In the photo above with the cute red pot, my lining material is on the bottom, with three layers of tulle on top.

6. Sew layers of donuts together. After pinning all your layers together, sew along the inner circle to secure them in place, leaving about a centimeter of seam allowance. Be very careful to remove pins before they reach the sewing machine needle, and also not to stab yourself! Safety pins are a little more time-consuming to attach and remove than these open-ended pins, but the chances of self-stabbing would be much lower for beginners.
DIY tulle circle skirt tutorial 4a
You'll end up with this - a skirt without the elastic waistband:
tulle skirt DIY steps17. Try it on over your hips. At this point you should be able to step in and out of this skirt with the inner circle gliding just over your hips. If the hole is too loose or impossibly tight, you may have measured your pattern wrong or cut too off the mark.

8. Finish raw edge (optional). Once you confirm the skirt can glide over your hips, finish the raw edge with a serger if desired to avoid the tulle unraveling, or use a zig zag stitch like I did below since I don't have a serger:
tulle skirt DIY steps2
9. Measure and stitch together elastic waistband. Wrap a piece of elastic around your natural waist and cut to that length. When measuring around your waist, don't "stretch" it out per se, but do pull it fairly taut so it's a snug fit. Use nice and stretchy elastic that will fit at your natural waist when taut, but can extend when fully stretched out to fit comfortably around your hips. Next, stitch the two ends together, going back and forth over the same line a few times to make it extra secure. Quickly try the waistband on to make sure it fits snug on your waist, and stretches enough to fit over your hips.
DIY tulle circle skirt tutorial 5
10. Reinforce the waistband raw edges. If you have a serger, you can use that. I pressed the edges down flat, then stitched them down to reinforce:
DIY tulle circle skirt tutorial 6Now we are tasked with "aligning" an elastic waistband the size of your waist, to a hole in the skirt fabric the size of your hips. Since more often than not your waist measurement will be a lot smaller than your hips, we have some organized stretching to do. The attachment of a smaller elastic band to a wider piece of fabric creates the pretty "gathering" and "fullness" in this type of skirt.
tulle skirt DIY steps3
11. Mark a few "guides" on the waistband and skirt opening. To help guide us in organized stretching, I like to mark both the waistband and the waist "hole" of the skirt in quarters, as shown below using fabric chalk:
tulle skirt DIY steps4
I added more guideline marks, to technically 1/8ths of a circle. Each mark on the waistband will soon be pinned to the corresponding mark on the skirt material. The guides help ensure that the waistband gets evenly stretched across the circumference of the skirt opening, so there isn't too much bunching in any one place.
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12. Pin the waistband to the skirt opening, one guide at a time. Lay the waistband over the top surface of the skirt, so that the edge of the waistband is flush against the zig-zag stitched or serged edge of the skirt opening. Match up two guidelines and pin down, close to the outer edge. Repeat all around, pinning at each chalk marking we made.
tulle skirt DIY steps6
When you've matched up each chalk mark from the waist band to the skirt opening, you'll get something that looks like this: tulle skirt DIY steps7
13. Sew waistband to the skirt. This part can be tricky for beginners who have never worked with elastic so please pay attention to the below.

Start by setting up everything in place. Your skirt should be the bottom layer, with the lining on the very bottom and the tulle sandwiched between the lining and the pinned-down waistband. To start, turn the wheel on the side of your sewing machine to manually lower the needle into the materials, to hold materials in place. Stitch a little forward, and then backstitch to secure.
tulle skirt elastic waist DIY1
Notice the "pockets" of extra fabric that form in between each pin, due to the skirt opening circumference being a bigger circle than the elastic waistband, as mentioned before. We will need to stretch the waistband out one small section at a time, while simultaneously sewing it to the skirt.

Notice where my thumb is in the picture above. I'm going to put my index finger beneath the lining, and use my thumb to pinch that "pocket" to the waistband elastic that was directly above it:
tulle skirt elastic waist DIY2
Do not release that pinch! Next, use your other hand and firmly grab waistband + material behind your sewing machine needle, as shown below. Once you have a good grip, slowly pull your pinched hand towards you, stretching out the elastic until it is long enough to lie flat on top of the skirt material. Notice in the photo below there are no pockets of extra material between my right thumb and the machine needle anymore. Do not move your hand that is behind the sewing machine needle (my left hand) during this process. Lock in this distance between both hands.tulle skirt elastic waist DIY3
Next, keeping both hands in place, slowly pedal your sewing machine to stitch the waistband to the skirt, while simultaneously gently guiding the stretched waistband forward using both hands. The distance between your two hands (my right is pushing forward, while my left is pulling slightly so that the elastic being sewn remains pulled taut) should consistently be the same and move at the pace of your machine.

Once your hand that is doing the stretching (my right hand) gets close to the sewing machine needle, stop peddling. Always lower the needle back into the material (vs. leaving it raised) when you stop stitching and move your hands to the next section of fabric. This will help keep everything in place while you repeat the entire process of stretching and guiding once again.
tulle skirt elastic waist DIY4
My next step here would be to repeat everything. 1) "pinch" again where the blue pin is with my right hand, 2) remove the pin carefully with my left hand, 3) firmly place my left hand behind the needle, 4) pull the elastic towards me with right hand until it lies flat against the skirt, and 5) pedal the machine while guiding everything forward with both hands, always keeping the same distance locked between both hands. This sounds like a lot, but I promise once you get the hang of it, working with elastic will be a breeze! Repeat until you have sewn around the entire waistband and it is fully attached to the skirt.

Voila! Dust off any remaining fabric chalk and hem the lining material if necessary.
tulle skirt elastic waist DIY5
Wear happily and festively!
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50 comments:

  1. Thanks a lot for this wonderful tutorial! Although I have to admit that I'm for sure the worst sewer I hope I will be able to sew such a skirt as I adore it how those skirts look on you!
    Lovely greetings from Bavaria, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  2. I love this tutorial! I haven't used my sewing machines in ages, but I may have to take it out of storage now. Thank you for sharing your chalk tip on how to align the elastic with the skirt -- I've always had trouble with that in similar projects. The skirt looks beautiful and perfect for the holidays.

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  3. Love how you match the tulle skirts with shirts to create a more wearable look for everday! Thanks for the tutorial too, definitely useful for anyone who love DIY projects!

    Prudence
    www.prudencepetitestyle.wordpress.com

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  4. I wish I still had a sewing machine...

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  5. Great DIY tip! Thank you for sharing, it looks great on you.
    X
    Miri
    http://currentlywearing.com

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  6. This looks like a really fun DIY project! Thank you so much for sharing it.

    xx
    Yvonne
    http://tellmeyblog.com

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  7. I wish I was good at sewing because this is such a cute skirt.

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  8. Love the tutorial, thanks so much for sharing! Tulle skirts are quite expensive so I love this affordable option. I also love your snow pic with the white tulle. Everything about it is so perfect!

    Characters & Carry-ons

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  9. You are amazing! Very useful tutorial for making tulle skirt. Thanks for sharing!

    Holiday statement jewelry: www.helenscollection.com

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  10. Um this is fabulous! I need to do it ASAP! Love this thank you so much for sharing!

    xxJustine

    www.sobeanie.com

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  11. Great Idea Jean! Thank you for sharing this.

    http:/www.racheldinh.com

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  12. Beautiful tutorial, I love the white skirt

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  13. wow, this is awesome! Thank you for sharing<3


    Shall We Sasa

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  14. Thank you so much for posting! I have been wanting to make one of these for a while, and even pinned another tutorial on Pinterest, but they all seemed so complicated. This looks a lot easier and is definitely going on my to-do list!

    Natalie // Sprinkled with Pearls

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  15. Super cute, love your DIY tutorials www.kblossoms.etsy.com

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  16. You make this look SO easy, Jean! Let's see if I can muster up the courage to try this! :) Thank you!

    www.eversojenny.com

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  17. What a great tutorial! I love how you styled the skirts. I'm always afraid tulle will make me look like a child. (You're brave for shooting in the snow in those shoes!)

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  18. Beautiful skirt! Love this idea!

    http://www.bluelabelsboutique.com

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  19. This is so helpful! Definitely added to my list of projects :)

    Connie from theconbonz

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  20. you're so pretty!! I love a good DIY, theres something about tulle skirts that are so magical! great idea

    www.formemag.com
    www.kkathleenn.blogspot.ca
    @formemageditor

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  21. Such a simple yet fun DIY! SO cool! xo

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  22. Amazing skirt, you look lovely!

    http://bellemelange.net/blog

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  23. hello Jean, do you know anywhere has the Hunter rain boots with wedge like the one you scored from Nordstrom rack? I need some rain boots just like that

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  24. Jean, I love how you lip color pops against the background! What color is it?

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  25. This is so pretty and perfect for holiday parties.. You give great and in depth details, really helpful..

    xo
    Hems

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  26. Great tutorial, Jean! I love how romantic the tulle looks! This looks like something I could actually pull off, though I'm not sure where I would wear it.

    Style by Joules

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  27. Scandinavian petiteFriday, December 12, 2014

    Hi Jane.
    I have been following your blog since I found it a year ago when I in desperation googled "petite fashion". Your sense of style, tips and reviews are very helpful. Altough, most of your tips regarding brands etc. are aimed towards an american market and the taxes and shipping to europe is unfortunatly terrible expensive. Therefore I'd like to request one or a few posts about petite brands/bloggers in Europe.:)
    Thank you for your great blog!

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    Replies
    1. I would love to hear this as well. I lived in Belgium for a few years and enjoyed shopping in Europe because the sizes always fit better than any American brands. Some brands I loved were: Vila, Zara, H&M, Mango, Esprit, and Vero Moda. Perhaps you can take a shopping holiday to Spain ;)

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  28. wowwwwwww. you are an artist!!!! you are fantastic ;) amazing reallyyyyyy. congratulation ;)
    If you want come to visit the new post on my fashion blog, here: http://honeyandcotton.org/random-photo-instagram/
    Kiss from Italy.
    Nunù.

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  29. Hello Jean! I love this skirt! Do you think it's possible to add a tulle layer to a black skirt which I already have?

    Shenu

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  30. Awesome tutorial, Jean! I just bought a sewing machine, and I think this might be easy for a detail oriented (or rather patient) new beginner. Do you think the weight of the fabric (polycrepe) you chose will not flip up awkwardly in wind? I have an unlined circle skirt in a light cotton that flips up when it, ahem, catches wind. Thanks! Neeli

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  31. You are THE very best! Love your blog and I sm not even 'petite' ... Lol

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  32. check out @nilisal- upcoming fashion makeup artist- future fashion icon --> @nilisal

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  33. I love your sewing tutorials! I hope you continue to share more of your DIY projects.

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  34. You make this DIY so easy! The two skirts look lovely and perfect for the holidays! Thanks for sharing. xx

    Cynthia
    www.pinchofchic.com

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  35. This is so perfect!! I've been wanting to make a tulle skirt for some time. Thanks for all the details, I'm going to have to try this myself soon!

    Kristie
    kristiemay.wordpress.com

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  36. I love this tutorial Jean! I've wanted a tulle skirt for years...can't wait to try this out over the holiday break!

    xoxo,
    Andrea

    www.andreaeveryday.com

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  37. I dunno how to sew but Anthropologie has a midi tulu in Black and white. I think it looks great with a chambray shirt or a burgundy or red sweater www.kblossoms.etsy.com

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  38. My mom and I sewed this together as our Christmas break project and had a really great time doing it! Most importantly, the skirts turned out really well. Thanks for the easy tutorial!

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  39. Hi, I want a really poofy look for a wedding I'm attending. Would ten layers be okay.

    Furthermore, I would really like a gather effect. How would I do that?

    Please and thank you
    x

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  40. I love this! You made it look so easy and fun! Thank you

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  41. I made a version of this skirt for my art a-level exam yesterday, the instructions were easy to follow and the result looks great! Thank you x

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  42. That's a walking foot on your sewing machine, right? Would you say that it makes a big difference when working with elastic?

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    Replies
    1. I made it without the walking foot and it was fine!!!

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  43. Your tutorial was SPOT ON! I am a beginner at best and my skirt turned out beautiful!! I am so excited to wear it for a company Christmas party! Your directions were truly great! I appreciate it! YEAH!! Thank you! I may make more!

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  44. Thank you so much for the great tutorial! I only hand sew, but I can manage this!! I'm making a similar tulle skirt for the holidays. :-)

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  45. The best tutorial i have found but hoped that there were videos too. Starting to follow the process will let you know what happens. And is there anyway to ask for more help if needed?

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  46. @Sarah there are many tutorials available if on YouTube you can even get all the stitching classes from there. And i have made mine circle skirt, which i wont say is perfect but will someday be. but thanks the author for bring the tutorial as it gave me the courage and motivation to try.

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  47. Hi very thorough! Cant wait to try this!! Is the tulle fabric a bit longer vs. the base fabric? I like that the tulle seems to fall a bit lower on your pictures. thanks

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