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Ask the Costume Goddess

Dina Lydia, the Costume Goddess

Ask the Costume Goddess:

Circle Skirt Hem Problems

by Dina Lydia



The Question

Dear Costume Goddess:

I cut out the circle skirt and put it together exactly as instructed but when hanging, the front of the hemline is longer than the sides. It appears really uneven while hanging — when I lay it down on the floor and straighten all the hemlines, it is even all the way around! Is it supposed to be like that?

--Goofy Hemline



The Costume Goddess Responds

Dear Goofy,

A circle skirt always hangs unevenly at first, due to the nature of a circular pattern. The parts where the straight grain of the fabric is parallel to the floor will remain at the original length, while the parts where the grain is diagonal (bias) to the floor will stretch out, sometimes several inches. That's why beginning, or even experienced, sewers struggle with hemming the circle skirt, although the original concept seems so simple.

This must be corrected, because you could trip on parts of the hem that drag on the floor. The skirt must hang out on a hanger for a day or two, to allow maximum stretch on the bias parts.

Then, try it on. The hemline will appear different again, because your hips will raise it. Make sure you mark where the center front of the skirt is, with a piece of hem tape or a small safety pin, so you will always wear it the same way, and not rotated. Have someone mark the correct hemline, about an inch from the floor, as you stand in the skirt. It's almost impossible to do this without help.

Turn under and edge-stitch just below the marked hemline, trim closely, then stitch again to complete the narrow hem.

It's possible that after several wearings, the skirt will become slightly uneven once again, and need to be adjusted.

--The Costume Goddess



Additional Comments from Shira

Here are some additional thoughts on why you experienced the problem you described and how to avoid it. On my article that describes how to make a circle skirt (which might be the instructions you used), I state:

Now, using either pins or basting stitches, attach the top edge of the skirt piece to a wire hanger. Hang it in an out-of-the-way place for at least one month. The longer, the better. This is very important. Many fabrics will stretch along the bias, which is the diagonal. If you don't hang your skirt to let the stretching happen before you hem it and put trim on the bottom edge, then it will stretch later when you store your skirt or wear it. The result will be an ugly, uneven lower edge, which will be a real nuisance to remedy after you have hemmed and decorated it. So hang it. Clip clothespins about every 6-8 inches along the lower edge to give added weight and encourage the stretching to happen.

I too have noticed that even though the hem is very uneven while you're wearing it or hanging it, the silly thing looks perfectly fine when you lay it down flat and compare it to the original pattern you used to cut it out! The uneven hem occurs only when the weight of the fabric is suspended from the top edge - which, of course, it does when you're wearing it. For additional comments about hanging the skirt and letting it stretch, click here to read the full article.



Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to dealing with the hem of a circle skirt include:



About the Costume Goddess

Dina has been sewing for more than twenty-five years (yes, she started as a toddler!)

She's also an artist (Maryland Institute of Art) and perfected her sewing techniques apprenticed to various designers, freelancing for small theaters, restyling vintage garments, and altering wedding gowns.

Dina fell in love with belly dancing costumes upon her very first lesson. Now the pleasure of wearing her own designs, and seeing others wear them, offers as much pleasure as dancing. She's become expert as well in altering those troublesome ready-made Egyptian costumes, and modifying designs to flatter individual figures.

She holds workshops in Seattle to teach design and construction of cabaret costumes, and analysis of figure characteristics. She will also give private lessons, or resize or repair a secondhand costume. She's thus earned her Costume Goddess title.

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The Costume Goddess Tells All Costuming Books

Dina has published six books of her own on belly dance costuming as well as writing nearly all the costuming section for The Belly Dance Book. For information on her series of books, The Costume Goddess Tells All, see her web site at For reviews here on of some of her books, see:

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Costume Goddess Photos

To view a photo gallery featuring pictures of Dina, costumes she has designed, and her friends, either click on the choices below or visit her web site:


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The contents of this page are copyrighted 2009 by Dina Lydia. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is forbidden.



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