- 2.5 yds matte satin (our blog post contains satin sources!)
- Contrasting thread for basting
- Matching thread for hem
- Measuring tape
- Tailor’s chalk
- Optional: 7 yds 1/2″ horsehair braid
To start, we’re going to draft 2 full circle skirts to your high hip measurements. We use a skirt length of 12-15” for drafting, but you may want to lengthen or shorten this based on your height. We also draft these to our high hip measurements rather than the true waist for maximum skirt fullness. A side benefit of doing this is that most of us can step into the base fuku rather than pulling it on overhead.
To cut your pieces, grab a tape measure and a heavy object to hold it in place. Go ahead and figure out your waist radius, using a circle skirt calculator. There are several available online, but one of our favorites is Mood’s. Once you’ve figured out your skirt radius, fold your fabric into fourths (once in half following the grain, and once again following the cross grain). Place your tape measure in the corner of your fabric and weigh it down. Use your tape measure like a compass, marking each along the length of your fabric – and be sure to mark your waist radius, too.
Once your fabric is marked, cut it out. Cut a second full skirt using the same method.
Cut 1 straight line through each of your skirt pieces. Stitch the skirt pieces together to create a giant circle skirt. Be careful not to twist the skirt pieces! You can attach them with a standard straight stitch (make sure to finish your seams!) or use a French seam for an extra clean finish.
Once your skirt pieces are attached, you’ll have a giant circle skirt. Now it’s time to start pleating! We use 3” box pleats all the way around the skirt. Use tailor’s chalk or pins and mark every three inches around the waist of your giant skirt. Every other 3″ mark will be a pleat. To form the pleats, bring the edge of your designated pleats in to meet at the center 3″ mark between pleats (so each side of the pleat will have a 3/4″ return). See the diagram below for further clarification.
We typically start from the center front pleat, go to the seam on each side of the skirt, and then finish in the back.
You might find that your skirt doesn’t quite have 3″ increments all the way around (unless you’re incredibly lucky lol). If you get to the side seam and you have a bit of excess fabric or be a bit short on creating a full pleat. We recommend playing with the fold as necessary to tuck the seam into the pleat for a smooth appearance all the way around. This might mean folding the fabric so that you have an extra large return on your pleat, or making the return a bit smaller. The critical element to keep in mind here is that your visible pleats should all be even!
Your back pleat will most likely have a bit of excess fabric, so fold as necessary to create a clean finish, as mentioned above.
Once your pins are in place, baste all the way around the skirt to hold the pleats. No ironing necessary for those flowy pleats! Double check the skirt circumference to make sure it still matches up with your high hip. If it does not, seam rip and adjust accordingly.
After your skirt waist is basted, mark where you want the V of your skirt to hit. Mark the center of your front pleat and measure the legs of the V. Baste the V for the center front, and carefully clip out the excess fabric, leaving enough seam allowance to attach the the leotard pieces together.
Once your fuku base is assembled, let your skirt hang for 24-48 hours. Circle skirts have several large chunks of bias built into them, and these pieces stretch out over time. Letting your skirt hang for a day or two helps these pieces stretch out so that you can level your hem and not worry about your costume stretching out in unwanted ways later on.
Finishing the Hem:
Note: We typically wait to finish the hems until the entire base leotard is assembled, but in the interest of keeping like information together, we’re mentioning this here. This information is also available under the Assembling the Base tutorial.
Time to finish up the skirt! Using your wall, dress form, or a friend, level your hem. Our skirts typically hit 10” from the point of the V to the hem of the skirt and 13” at the center back, but you may want to alter this for modesty or height.
Trim your excess skirt fabric and finish the edge of your skirt if desired (we serge ours). Remember to leave an extra half inch of fabric for your hem!
It’s now time to add the horsehair braid for extra magical girl flounce! Attach your braid to the right side of the fabric (yes, it’s counter-intuitive, but bear with us). Baste this in place. Turn the braid to the wrong side of the fabric, pulling the fabric taut without distorting it. Turn the braid up, again making sure the fabric is taut, and press well.
Stitch this into place with a regular straight stitch. You may turn the braid up an additional time to completely enclose the braid, but this is optional. Press your final seam and admire your work! For a video of this technique, see this tutorial by DayDreamer Nessa (jump to 4:22).