Monday, December 5, 2011

Tablecloth Skirt - Hexagonal Edition

This is a long-ish post. Here are some quick links:

Why a Hexagon?

When I posted the review for my Tablecloth skirt on Pattern Review, one of the comments I received was from one of my favorite sewists, rivergum. Rivergum thought that the inspiration skirt was possibly based on a hexagonal shape, rather than a square shape.

I found myself wondering what the skirt would be like when created with a 6-sided polygon, 6 rectangular extensions, and 6 corners. I couldn't let it go, so I finally decided to try it out myself.

Obviously, creating a large hexagon is a bit more complex than creating a square, but it's really not hard. I love math, but you don't need to know math to make this work, so don't let that intimidate you.

If you have not read the basic Tablecloth Skirt tutorial, please familiarize yourself with the basic version, based on a square.

Creating a Large Hexagon Pattern

I made my hexagon using a circle with a 23" radius. Note that I felt that the completed skirt was short. I would have preferred a circle with a 25" or 26" radius, but I didn't know that until the end, since I didn't muslin this. :) (In my photos, I pulled the skirt down a tad, since the tunic is long enough.)


  • A ruler or yardstick the length (or longer) of your desired radius.
  • A piece of paper that is large enough for a circle with your desired radius. So, if you are making a circle with a 25" radius, you need at least a 50" by 50" piece of paper. I used pattern paper, pieced together. In the past, I have used the back side of wrapping paper, newspaper, etc. Just tape it together to make it big enough.
  • Writing implement. I used a Sharpie permanent marker.
  • A large surface to work on. I used the kitchen floor.
  • Making the circle: If you have a giant protractor, wonderful. I've never seen one this size, so I used my 24" Olfa ruler. You can use a yardstick to measure out increments, or you can tie string (the length of the circle's radius) between a writing implement and a nail, or a pushpin, etc. Whatever works. (I just now googled "making a large circle" and found many useful links, including some youtube videos.)


  • Tape your paper together to make a piece large enough. Set it on your surface.
  • Mark the center point.
  • Use your preferred technique to make a circle. I put the eraser from an unsharpened pencil into the hole in the Olfa ruler intended for hanging it on the wall. (I turned the pencil around for the picture - I used the eraser end which provides more traction.) I then held the marker in the center of the other end of the ruler (for a total length of 23"). I then rotated the ruler around the pencil, holding the marker in place, and walked around the center point. Voila, a 46" circle. (Again, in hindsight, I would have preferred a 50" circle.)
  • This next step marks the corners of the hexagon: Make a starting mark anywhere on the circle. Measure from that mark, the length of your radius (in my case, 23"), to the next point on the circle that intersects that distance. So, I measured from the first mark 23". Where 23" hit the circle, I made a second mark. (You are measuring straight across, not along the circle's curve.) Move the ruler to the next mark and measure another 23" to the next mark. And so on. If you have done this right, you will end up exactly at the same mark where you started, after creating 6 marks, total. Isn't math great? :)
  • Connect up the marks with straight lines. You now have a hexagon! Cut it out on the straight lines and you now have your basic pattern piece.
  • Note that I do not cut the waist circle out at this time. I do that directly into the fabric.

Creating the Rest of the Pattern

Since the hexagon has 6 sides, you will need 6 identical rectangles - one to sew to each side. The width of the rectangle will be the radius of your original circle. In my case, the rectangle was 23" by 15" (I used the same length as I used on the square skirt.) You can rip these rectangles, if your fabric allows that. My fabric, a cotton lycra, did not like to be ripped, so I rotary cut the rectangles directly into the fabric using measurements (no pattern pieces).

Again, I leave the waist construction up to you. Some folks do better with a zipper, other folks sew the skirt to knit ribbing. I prefer an elastic waist casing. Refer to the original post on the square skirt for my tips on calculating the waist hole. I used the same waist hole that I used for the square skirt.

Cutting Out the Skirt

  • For this skirt, I used a cotton lycra woven from Fabric Mart in a giant polka dot pattern. It was a wide fabric and I used less than 3 yards for the total skirt. (My hexagon measured 40" by 46".)
  • Elastic for waist. I used 1.5" waistband elastic from Pamela's Patterns.

I first cut the hexagon from the fabric. I then removed the paper pattern and folded the hexagon into quarters - the corner point is the center of the hexagon. I laid my waist hole pattern onto the corner, pinned, and cut it out.

I cut the 6 rectangles and the waistband, another rectangle, from the remaining fabric.

Constructing the Skirt

I used the same construction as for the square skirt. To summarize:

  • Complete the waistband.
  • Hem the long edges of the six rectangles.
  • Sew the six rectangles to the hexagon. The stitching for each seam begins in by the width of the seam allowance (I used 3/8") and ends before the end by the width of the seam allowance.
  • After all the six rectangles are sewed on, press the seam allowances open.
  • Sew the short edges of the rectangles together, again, starting the seam exactly at the point where the other seams begin and sewing all the way to the hem.
  • Press the short seam allowances open. I then serged the edges of all the seams, but you can finish them how you prefer.

Voila! Skirt completed.



As you can infer from looking at the diagram of the square skirt versus the hexagonal skirt, this creates a skirt with more fullness at the hem. I think I like the lesser fullness of the square skirt better. Also, the corners are less pronounced in the hexagonal version. Of course, the busy print of my skirt hides the detail a bit, but I think I prefer the square skirt version - it is a bit more dramatic, or at least more "funky" and I prefer the funkitude. :) But this creates a nice skirt too. Next time I will add paper strips around the hexagon pattern to create a larger overall hexagon.

If you create either version of this skirt, please let me know so I can include your pictures in the Tablecloth Skirt Gallery. I have gotten a big kick out of watching the creative versions that have been produced.