Some fashion looks never go out of style, and the classic pleated skirt is one of them. Check out the pic above: pleats make for a timeless look that turns a plain skirt from bland to bravo!
While they can come in many shapes and forms, all pleats share a basic structure and construction. The good news is that making pleats for a skirt is not as complicated as you might think. In fact, with some practice and a good guide, it’s a skill a novice or beginning sewers can easily pick up.
Today we’ll show you how to do just that.
Video Source: YouTube/Professor Pincushion
What Are Pleats?
Pleats are essentially clever folds that take in fullness, add volume, reduce fabric width, and generally give wow-factor to your garment’s silhouette. They provide gentle shaping while still allowing the shirt to bellow out as you move.
The box pleat is second most common type of pleat (just behind the accordion pleat and ahead of the inverted pleat) and that’s what we’ll be working with today.
A Word About Fabric
Because of the folds, you’ll need more fabric than making a non-pleated skirt, so start with a piece of fabric that will fit around your waist three times. Accurately measuring the fabric is important here, and that’s something you might want to do while you’re in the store.
The color or type of fabric you use is completely up to you. Cotton and wool are always reliable in making pleats for a skirt, but silks, satin, or other lighter fabrics can pose a problem.
The Beginning Steps
- Get your tools together: As well as a sewing machine, you’ll need most of the usual sewing suspects, like chalk, scissors, measuring tape, one 7” zipper, thread, and pins.
Click here if you need a primer on how to choose the right thread.
- Measure waist and skirt length: Using a measuring tape, get your waist and skirt length measurements. If measuring yourself, measure around wherever you plan to wear the skirt on your waist. Most people go with the natural waist, but again, that’s a personal preference. Then, measure from that spot down to where you want the skirt to end.
- Cut fabric to your measurements: Start cutting your fabric. Important tip! Cut the fabric so that it is three times your waist size and 2” longer than what the finished piece will be. With this concept in mind, if you want the skirt to be 35” long and your waist measurement is 30”, cut your fabric to be 90” and 37” long.
- Decide on pleat width: Here’s another design decision that’s up to you, experimenting with pleat widths is fun. But no matter what width you decide on, remember that all of your pleats must be the same size. Also remember: wider pleats means fewer pleats so go with a smaller pleat width if you want a multi-pleated skirt.
- Mark your fabric: Mark the wrong side your fabric with twice the measurement that you want each of your pleats to be. This way, the pleats will be the desired width when the fabric is folded over. So if a pleat’s width measures 2 ¼”, your fabric should be marked every 4 ½”.
Make the Pleats
- Fold, pin, and stich the pleats: Bring the fabric together at your markings and lay the folded fabric out to one side. Fold all of the fabric in the same direction, pinning the pleats in place as you go. Secure the pleats by sewing a baste stitch across the top of the fabric. Why? A baste stitch can be undone if you’re not happy with how the pleats look after sewing them.
- Check your measurements: After securing the pleats, measure the length of the top edge of the skirt, which should be the same as your waist measurement. If this measurement is a few inches too long, simply cut off some of the fabric to adjust. Your options aren’t quite as simple if it’s too short: make up for the missing length by sewing a panel onto the edge of the skirt or simply start over.
- Working with waistbands: Cut out a strip of fabric that is the same length as your pleats and about 4” wide. Fold this piece in half lengthwise with the wrong sides aligned. Sew the waistband to the top of the skirt.
Align the raw edges of the waistband piece and the top of your pleated fabric. Next, secure the folded waistband piece to the pleated fabric by sewing a straight stitch a 1/2” from the raw edges of the waistband and the fabric. A zipper will hide any raw edges you might see on the short ends of your waistband.
Finish the Skirt
- Hem the bottom of your skirt: This should happen before closing up the back of your skirt. Fold the fabric under by about 1/2” and pin the hem in place. Secure the hem by sewing a straight stitch near the raw edge of your fabric, removing pins as you go. As you sew the hem, tug gently to flatten out the fabric. Do not sew the pleats into place.
- Add a zipper: Pin the edges of a zipper to the right side of the fabric that will make up the back area of the skirt. Start pinning at the top of the waistband and work your way down. When you’re happy with the zipper arrangement, sew along the pinned edges to secure it into place. Sew about 1/4” from the edge of the fabric and zipper, removing pins as you sew.
- Close the back seam of your skirt: You’re almost there! To finish, close up the back seam of your skirt by aligning the remaining open edges of your fabric so they are even, and the right sides are facing each other. Sew a straight stitch about 1/2” from the edges of the fabric. Sew from the bottom of the zipper to the bottom of the skirt. Sew the zipper into place and your first pleated skirt is done!
- Iron your pleats: While optional, ironing your pleats flat after finishing your skirt will give them a crisp, obvious look. Iron each pleat individually, starting from the top of your skirt and moving downwards.
Need some style tips on how to best wear a pleated skirt? The video gives you 20 of them!
Video Source: The Latest