How To Sew Your Own Pleated Skirt

Hello Stitchers!

I hope this blog post finds you all safe and well given the current circumstances. I have been struggling with my sewjo at the moment so when Harriet asked me to make a tutorial for a skirt using this beaut of a fabric it was the perfect excuse to get my sewing machine whirring!

To make this skirt I used 1m as I worked out a pattern based on my measurements, if you need to make a bigger size or wanted a longer skirt you'll need more fabric than I used. I've hopefully made a very simple formula so you can work this out for yourself.

To make the pattern pieces for your skirt, you will need your waist measurement - mine is 79cm and this is what I'm going to be working with for this tutorial

We’ll be making a pattern for a quarter of the skirt because you’ll be cutting both skirt pieces on the fold you will need to divide your measurement into four.

79 divided by 4 = 19.75 ( to make it easier we’re going to round up to 20 ) 

Next you’ll need to add seam allowance, we’re going to be working with a seam allowance of 1.5cm. So that’ll bring our measurement to 21.5cm.

The next step is to work out how much fabric you want to add in to make the skirt gathered. I’m going to go with 40cm overall. Remember that your pattern piece is a quarter of your skirt so you’ll be adding 10cm on to your pattern piece. Our waist measurement for our pattern piece is now 31.5. You can add in as much or as little as you like, just bear in mind that you'll need to stretch the elastic on to the skirt so the more you add in the trickier this will be, also if you wish to use less fabric you may want to add in less. Just remember whatever amount you add in you'll need to divide it by 4.

If it’s easier you can use the below calculation to work out your waist measurement for your skirt.

Waist Measurement + 40cm + 6cm (seam allowance) divide by 4 = your waist measurement for your pattern piece.

We are using half of the width of the fabric for our skirt length so it’ll be 70cm.

Draw out your rectangle as shown below to get your pattern piece.


You’ll need to cut your skirt out on the cross grain so that the stripes and pleats are running vertically rather than horizontally. You may find it easier to use pattern weights to cut out your skirt pieces. We have some lovely ones in stock if you feel like treating yourself.

Use the fabric layout below to help you.


Before we start sewing let’s work out how much elastic we need, I am using a piece that’s 90% of my waist measurement plus 3cm for seam allowance. The easiest way to work this out is to x your waist measurement by 0.9.

79cm x 0.9 = 71.1 cm( again round this off to make it easier) 71cm + 3cm for you seam allowance = 74cm.  It’s best to mark your elastic before cutting it and pin it on to yourself so you can check it’s comfortable before continuing.

Now it's time to start sewing!

Pin your skirt pieces together at the side seams and sew with a 1.5cm seam allowance. This fabric doesn’t fray so there’s no need to finish off your seams if you don’t wish to. Press the seam allowances towards the back of the skirt.

Firstly we’re going to sew the elastic together to form the tube for the waistband, we’re going to make a faux flat felled seam to encase the edges and make them neat. Overlock or zig zag one of the short ends of the elastic.

Next pin the short edges of the elastic together and sew using a 1.5cm seam allowance and a zig zag stitch.

Trim the unfinished edge of the elastic down to 1cm, then press the finished edge of the elastic over this edge to encase the seam.

Edgestitch this in place with a zig zag stitch.

Before we stitch the waist band in place we need to mark both the skirt and the waistband at every quarter so that we can distribute the skirt evenly onto the waistband.

Start by marking the halfway points on your elastic, you'll already gave one on these points at the seam you've just sewn.


Fold this in half again to mark the quarter points

Once you unfold your elastic you should have it marked like this.

Repeat this process for your skirt.

Pin the waistband in place matching up the points you’ve made on the skirt and the waistband. I prefer to stretch as I sew but you can of course stretch the waistband and pin it to the skirt before you sew it in place.


Sew the waistband on using a zig zag stitch and a 1.5cm seam allowance. I find it easier to sew with the elastic on top and the skirt on the bottom.


Take your time with this and be careful not to stretch the skirt fabric as you sew and just stretch the elastic. You will have to stretch both ends of the elastic to guide it through as you're sewing, don't worry if your stitches aren't the neatest, no one is going to see it! Once you get the hang of it you'll have the waistband on in no time, if you're really struggling, stop and pin the elastic in place at more points to help you attach it.

Give the waistband a quick press at a low heat and you’re ready to swish about in your fancy pants new skirt! 


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