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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Wonderful pleated skirt instructions part 1


A couple of people asked me what pattern I used for my pleated skirt, so I thought I would post DIY instructions.

The basic construction is simple but the planning can be a little tricky, so I'll break the instructions into two parts:

Part 1
  • What measurements do I need?
  • What fabric should I buy and how much?
  • How do I figure out these pleats?
  • How do I mark the pleats on the fabric?
  • How do I sew the pleats?
  • How do I finish the skirt (zipper, waistband, hemming)?

OK, let's get started with Part 1!

What measurements do I need?

You only need three measurements!

  • Waist
  • Hip
  • Finished skirt length
(you can measure an RTW skirt to find the finished length you want)

What fabric should I buy and how much?

This skirt is a great project for showing off gorgeous fabric! I would recommend something with some body, but not too much. I used a silk twill from They've had this fabric available at least twice, so keep your eyes peeled if you're lusting after it.

To make the skirt, all you need is a rectangle (plus whatever you need for the waist band. What technique you use is up to you. You can choose to use the same fabric as the skirt or something contrasting)

To find the length of fabric you'll need, add your hip measurement plus twice your waist measurement. The width of the fabric must be greater than the finished length of the skirt, plus hem and seam allowance.

How do I figure out these pleats?

Start by figuring out layout and number of pleats you want.

This is the layout I used. 13 pleat spaces and 12 pleat underlays (the folded under part of the pleat). The centre back is the zipper.

OK, now we have to figure out the measurements for the pleats. We'll start by finding the width of each pleat at the hip (measurement A), then find the suppression for the waist (measurement B) and then the amount that we want for underlay (measurement C). We'll make a diagram of a single pleat, which you can then use to make all of your pleats.

Find measurement A
Divide your hip measurement by the number of spaces. (example - hip measurement = 40 inches, number of spaces = 13. 40 divided by 13= 3.07. Therefore measurement A=3 inches)

Now draw two vertical, parallel lines that distance apart.

Find measurement B
Subtract waist measurement from hip measurement to find the difference and divide by the number of spaces. (Example - waist measurement = 28 inches. 40-28=12. Divide by 13. Therefore measurement B = .923 inches.)

Mark half of B from each of the lines you drew before and taper to the original lines 4 1/2 inches down from the waist.

This is your pleat space!

Find Measurement C
Measure the width of your pleat space at the waist. (Example - 2.07. You can round this to 2 inches)

Then draw parallel vertical lines on either side of the pleat space, as shown. These are the underlay part of your pleat.

The  very last thing is to decide how far down your pleats you want to sew. Some box pleats only meet at the waistband like this.

And others are stitched down from the waistband like this.

You can see the pleats of the second skirt are stitched for a couple of inches down from the waistband. Decide how far you want to stitch the pleats of your skirt and mark on your pleat diagram. I stitched mine 2 1/4 inches.

So that's the end of the tricky stuff. Part 2 of the instructions coming soon!


  1. Your pleat skirt inspired me to make my own, so I'm appreciating the tutorial rather than having to nut it all out myself. Thankyou!

    1. You're welcome! Part two should be up this weekend. I can't wait to see your result!


  2. Featured on Sassy Sewing Bees ❀