easy skirt tutorial, sewing tutorial, Tutorials

Pleated Skirt Tutorial

Hi everyone! Today I’ve got another skirt tutorial for you; this one’s a pleated skirt with elasticated waist, as modeled below:

I hope you find it useful – it’s a really easy skirt, very quick to make, and can be dressed up or down depending on what fabric or accessories you use. Wardrobe staple, I think that’s called. (Whenever I hear that phrase I always imagine a HUGE metal staple holding all of my clothes together, which really isn’t very useful at all.)

Ok, for your pattern, follow this link. Remember that since we’re doing an elasticated waist, the skirt’s waist measurement will be the same as your hip measurement because the skirt needs to go over your hips when you put it on. That’s why you need elastic. NB: Once again I followed the Sew What! Skirts instructions and ended up with a skirt that was almost twice my size, so either I’m an idiot or the pattern calls for way too much ‘ease’ – so next time, here’s how I will make my pattern – you can follow either:

  • On the Waist measurements, I will give myself only 1 inch of ‘ease’ – otherwise the damn thing falls off.
  • On the Hip measurements, I will do the same: 1 inch. NOT 2-4″! It’s not a muumuu!

What you need:

  • If your hips are smaller than 40ish, you only need one length of fabric.  If you’re bigger, like me, you’ll probably need 2 lengths. Either way, remember to factor in your pleated panels.  For the skirt panels, decide how long you want them to be (say, 20 inches), then add about 2.5-3 inches for casing and bottom seam allowance (so, 23 inches long total).
  • 1 inch (25mm) elastic – your waist measurement plus 1 inch
  • matching thread
  • any trimmings you might want
  • basic sewing kit

For the Pleated Panels: Cut desired length plus 1″ from selvedge to selvedge. So you got lots to play with. (so, 4 inch long panels = cut 5 inches by 45 inches)
Cut 2 skirt panels and 2 pleated panels.

Seam Allowance is 1/2″ unless otherwise noted.

Lay out one of the skirt panel pieces so the bottom of it is right above where you’ll be doing your pleating, so you can make the pleated piece the same length as the bottom of your skirt.

the pin magnet is sitting on the bottom edge of the skirt panel.

Pleat, then Topstitch: Play around with it – you can have all of your pleats facing right, left, or you can do what I did, having the middle one face both ways with the other pleats following. That’s not explained very well, but you can see what I did in the picture, right? Then topstitch it at 1/4″ seam allowance so it stays together.

Attach pleated bits to bottom of skirt panels: right sides together

For some reason I fell asleep at the wheel and hemmed my pleated panels – I don’t recommend it.  Wait and do that last.

Iron with seam directed up:

Attach front panel to back panel: make sure to match the seams at the sides!

Try it on and make adjustments: I had to make tons:

not sure if you can see that, but I kept making it smaller and smaller in 1 cm increments.
Then I had to make it shorter too. Harumph.

Make casing for elastic: Fold over 1 inch, then fold over another inch (ish). Stitch at the edge you’ve just created, leaving a 2-3″ opening for the elastic. Then thread elastic through using a safety pin:

Stitch that opening closed and hem the bottom:

Optional: use an ‘elastic zigzag’ stitch on the elastic so it doesn’t roll during wear (here in the UK we don’t have non-roll elastic like you N. Americans do)

Add trimmings if desired:


BTW, those grey things I’m wearing are my new wrist warmers from More Tea Vicar 1‘s etsy shop. I LOVE them! I have low thyroid so I’m cold all the time, but I can sew and type and read in bed at night while wearing these and my fingers no longer turn into mean little icicles! Miracle!
© Copyright J C Excell, 2011
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4 thoughts on “Pleated Skirt Tutorial

  1. The skirt's gorgeous, I really have to get on with some sewing, you're always making lovely things! The wristwarmers are lovely too! 🙂 x

  2. Gonna have to break out my sewing machine. I think the problem with the pattern measurement might be units, she's writing in cm, you are measuring in inches…anyway…love the skirt!

  3. cute skirt. I like the fabric you chose too. don't know when I'll get around to trying this, but I'm adding it to the list.

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