Pleated skirts are super fun! They’re even more fun when they’re multi-colored. This tutorial is based off of my Lup skirt, but it can be used for a ton of things.
- Front Waistband
- Back Waistband
- Zipper Pleat
- Main Pleat
- 1 yd Main Fabric
- 1 yd Secondary Fabric
- Invisible Zipper
- (Optional) Bias Tape for Hemming
- (Optional) Interfacing
- Waist Measurement
- Skirt Length
- Waist Band Height
Making Your Pattern
Making Piece #1: Take your waist measurement and add 1 in (The in is for ease of wear, if you want it super tight don’t add this) and divide that number by 4. If your measurement was 32, you now have 8. Add your seam allowance to this measurement. I usually add a 1/4 in to each side, but some people prefer adding 1/2 in to each side. Now decide how wide you want the band to be. I made Lup’s 2 inches at the narrowest part and 4 inches at the widest part. You can also just make the waistband flat, it is entirely up to you. Either way, you need to add your seam allowances to your measurement.
For #1 you want to cut 2 on the fold out of whatever fabric you want to be your waistband. As an added note, I usually add about 1/4 in to the bottom of whichever piece I am designating as the “inside” pieces. I also add interfacing to one piece to help the band maintain its shape. This is optional.
If you made your piece flat, skip making #2 and just cut out 4 total of your waist band. Or 6 if you want the zipper to be in the back (2 on the fold and 4 not on the fold)
Making Piece #2: Take piece #1 and make it into a flat rectangle.
For #2 you want to cut out 4 of your waistband fabric. Or if you want the zipper on the side, just cut 2 on the fold. Again, I add more to two of the pieces and I put interfacing on two of them.
Making Piece #4: Take your waist measurement and add 1 inch. Then decide how many pleats you want. For Lup, I went with 8 pleats. Take your measurement and divide that by 8. So if your measurement was 32 and you want 8 pleats, then your pleats need to be 4 in wide. Then you need to add seam allowance. I usually add a 1/4 in to each side, but some people prefer adding 1/2 in to each side. The length of the pattern is the length of your skirt + hem allowance. For Lup, I used bias tape so I had no hem allowance, but it is whatever you want to do.
For #4 you want to cut out 7 (or your number of pleats – 1) out of your main fabric and 8 out of your secondary fabric. Your main fabric is whichever one you want to see more prominently.
Making Piece #3: Take you pattern for piece #4 and cut it in half lengthwise. Add 1/2 in to one side to accommodate your zipper.
For #3 you want to cut 2 out of your main fabric.
Putting it Together
Sew the front piece to the two back pieces (or 1 back piece if you cut both on the fold). Do this for both sets of pieces. You should have two waistbands. Press open seams and iron.
Line up the tops of the waistbands, and sew them together. Turn and iron. You make need to clip some corners or trim seams to get them to properly turn and be smooth.
Starting with your zipper pleat, sew all of your rectangles together, alternating between your main and secondary fabrics. It should resemble the pattern above. End with you zipper pleat.
If you want to finish your seams, you can do so however you choose. I used french seams on Lup.
Once you have finished your seams, now its time to pleat. This tutorial is based off of using box pleats. There are lots of tutorials on pleats. When you fold the top of your pleats, your secondary fabric should basically disappear. This is vaguely represented by the image below. Pin your pieces down and sew all the way around starting about 3/4 in away from the edges of your zipper pleats, this is because you’ll need to be able to move the bottom pleat of of the way so it doesn’t get caught in the zipper.
Waistband & Skirt
Sew the bottom (without the added 1/4 in) to the top of the skirt right sides together. The tricky part is that you will need to move the bottom pleat on the sides out of the way. Move it however you can so that the edge does not get caught up on this sandwich of seams. You don’t want it to be a part of the zipper seam (it adds too much bulk and will catch the zipper). Fold the waistband up and iron.
Sew on your invisible zipper following the directions on the packaging. If you mess up and have to resew it, that is okay. I have been sewing invisible zippers for years and I still mess up sometimes.
You want to start the invisible zipper at the seam where the two waistbands meet at the top.
Finish your side or back seam.
Finish the Waistband
Fold over the edges of the waist band connected to the zipper. This should happen semi-naturally because the zipper already folded them half way. Now fold over and iron the bottom edge of the inside waist band. Only fold it that 1/4 in we added earlier. You want to fold it towards the wrong side of the fabric.
Now turn the whole band over so that wrong sides are facing and the inside band covers the sewn edge of the skirt and outside band. Tack down the inside band either by hand or stitch in the ditch from the outside.
How you hem your skirt is up to you. It is a regular pleated skirt so therefore it can have a double-folded hem, a rolled hem, a tape hem, etc.
You could even put some lace on it to make it look like there is a petty coat under it.
Congrats on finishing your skirt!
As always, thank you for following this tutorial. If you have any questions please email me at Liz@mariellisdesign.com. And if you enjoyed this tutorial and want us to keep making more, consider buying us a coffee!