Fifties fever is part of my fall wardrobe plan and I’ve finally finished my version of the menswear-fabric full-circle skirt and bustier look that’s popping up in blogs and the September issue of Vogue.


While my version is perhaps not as bustier-ish as it could be, after seeing the photos side-by-side, I’m more pleasantly surprised than I thought I’d be. I’m sure I have some brown velvet ribbon that will complete the look!

I used Butterick 5333 for the shirt, and blogged about it a few weeks ago. Even though a full circle skirt is relatively easy to draft without a pattern AND I have a few dress patterns with this type of skirt, I still wanted to find a commercial pattern specifically meant to be a skirt. I wanted a waistband and wasn’t confident to draft it on my own. I found McCall’s 5811, a full circle skirt cut in two pieces with a side zip. The pattern was OK, although I graded up a bit and am not completely happy with how the skirt drapes (more on that below…)

I used a silk/wool blend for the shirt and skirt that was relatively easy to work with. A little messy with bits of threads all over the house. The multi-colored weave made hiding stitches a breeze! I used horsehair braid on the hem, using Gertie’s tutorial. While she used the wider variety, mine was only about an inch wide. Horsehair braid is expensive! I needed about 7 yards for the hem. The effect was a bit more subtle than I expected, but worth the expense. I machine stitched the horsehair braid to the right side of the skirt, then turned to the inside and pressed. I hemmed by hand using a blind catchstitch. In addition to adding a little body to the hem, I love how easy it is to ease the fullness into the hem using this method.

I used a rather icky poly anti-static lining from Joann’s to line the skirt. I love the extra weight and luxurious feel of a lined full circle skirt. I did a quick and easy hem treatment by just sewing the wider lace hem facing (the kind sold by the bias tape at sewing stores) to the lower edge of the lining with a 2.5 mm wide zigzag stitch. Then I pinked close to the stitchline. I sewed so the unfinished/pinked edge faces the inside of the skirt and the finished side faces my skin.

A little of the horsehair braid peeking out under the lace-edged lining

So now for the weird draping. I graded the pattern up, adding about four inches of width to the entire length of the skirt (from the waist to the hem) by extended the two pattern pieces by one inch along the side (each half of the skirt was cut on the fold, so I added to the cut edge. The skirt is intended to fasten with a side zip, but when I tried on the finished skirt as drafted, there was a lot of fullness along the front and the back. The skirt looks much better, at least with my body type, when I rotate it so that the ‘side zip’ turns into a ‘back zip’. I also like the small interest of having a center front seam.

Here’s a photo showing the zip to the side and at the center back. The difference is even more striking from the side, but the photos I took are so blurry they made me seasick! The light was fading fast!

I love how flattering the full-circle skirt is, with all the volume at the hem, and a less fabric around the waist. For my particular body type, I just want as little volume as possible in the front and back, as I carry more weight in those areas versus on the ‘side’ of my hips (I’m not sure if that makes sense!!)

You can see in these photos how narrow the waistband is. The finished width is about one inch, and I think it would be more flattering on me between two and three inches. The black belt in the photo below is two and a half inches wide.

Here’s the skirt a few different ways**! I love this style and already have some goofy quilting fabric all washed and ready for cutting to make another one!

**also a few glamour shots of the normally elusive and camera-shy basset hound, Lucy

My full review of the pattern can be found here!

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