Pleated Skirt Tutorial

A couple of weeks ago I was playing about with a bit of fabric and ended up making this:

Its a simple pleated skirt make from a very long rectangle of fabric ('Inked Girls' - Alexander Henry - tattooed half naked ladies all over it - if anyone wants some I have tons left!) with an exposed zipper at the back:

Want to make one?! Here we go:

You will need:
  • Fabric  - I'm using a fantastic fabric called 'Bright and Buzzy Bees on Sky by Robert Kaufman, bought from the fantastic PlushAddict
  • Zip
  • Thread

Reptile optional - he was trying to help out
Step 1 - Measure out your fabric

The width of the fabric =  approx. 3 x your waist measurement plus seam allowance for the zip. The length = length you want your skirt plus allowance for hem and waistband (mine was 55cm). My fabric had a print that was one directional, so I actually had to stitch 3 pieces together for it to be about 250cm. To ensure the finished skirt was going to fit I actually did more than 3 x waist measurement and just kept pleating! Feel free to do the same!

Massive rectangle
Step 2 - Hem!

Do the hemming now. Its far easier to hem a giant straight line than a crazy folder skirt at the end. Neaten the bottom edge, turn it up and hem in place.
Hem the bottom edge
Step 3 - Pleat and keep pleating

There are many ways to pleat - there's a whole list here. I'm just doing regular, straight forward side pleats about 5cm in length. Not forgetting to leave 1.5cm at the left edge of the fabric for seam allowance, pick up the fabric about 10cm in, and fold it back on itself 5cm, creating your pleat. Pin the pleat in place both at the top and bottom so it hold shape. Where the pleat ends, pick up again a further 10cm away, fold back on itself 5cm and pi the pleat - they should be sitting neatly side by side, neither overlapping nor having gaps between them.
A side pleat - start at the left edge of fabric
Pin in place

Trying to help - not helping.
Keep pleating until you reach your waist measurement plus seam allowance
Step 4 - Iron it big time

You want those fold to stay put and be nice and sharp - use a steam iron to really flatten in the creases

Step 5 - secure the pleats

Sew the top edge of the skirt all the way along the pleats securing them together

Stitching the pleats in place
Step 6 - Optional extra

I don't like my skirts too 'poofy' or sticking out that much, I'm not a very 'girlie' sort of person so I decided to sew about 7cm down each place to keep the skirt sitting a little straighter. It kept the pleats in place and held them flat to my middle before sticking out a bit.

Step 7 - create a waistband

You will need a strip of fabric 10cm in length x your waist measurement plus seam allowance in width.

You may also want to strengthen the waistband by ironing fusible interfacing to the wrong side - his will toughen the material up a bit to be more durable.

Create the waistband by folding it in half across the length and pressing with an iron. Then fold 1.5cm of the length inwards on either side.

Step 7 - Add the waistband to the skirt

Right side to right side, pin the waist band across the top edge of the skirt. Then sew it in place.
If you flip the waistband up now its sewn on, you can see it taking shape!

Step 8 - Insert the zip

Now join your rectangle of pleats together, right side to right side pin up the centre back seam. Leaving enough room for your zip, sew up the skirt from the bottom hem up to where your zip will start. I'm doing an exposed zip as I found a nice blue one that matched my fabric. You might also want to try a concealed zip - tutorial here!

Neaten the raw edges, pin and sew seam together leaving gap the length of zip
Pin your zip in place along the zip tape and make sure its all secure before sewing in place. The top of the zip should sit at the halfway fold on the waistband. Sew it in place!

Top of zip sits at halfway fold on waistband

Sew zip in place
Step 9 - Finish the waistband

Fold the waistband over onto the wrong side of the fabric, trapping all the raw edges in there. Sew the waistband down keeping the stitched straight and neat :-)

Not the best example of neat stitching ever - finished waistband none the less!
Step 10 - wear it!

Enjoy your new skirt. I chose the windiest day ever to try and take these pics, was blowing around all over the show!

As always please do feel free to get in contact by comments below, Facebook or Twitter :-)
Happy sewing! x

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