Image by Amelia Barlett

Pleated Skirt

Welcome to the tutorial where you will learn how to make the pleated skirt and add the yellow stripe to the bottom of the skirt.

Materials Needed

  • Scissors
  • Draft paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric
  • Muslin (if you want to make a test version first)
  • Ruler
  • Module Image
  • Sewing machine
  • Tape
  • Pins
  • Zipper
  • Tailor’s Chalk
  • Iron and ironing board
  • 1/2in seam allowance


The very first thing you want to do is get some measurements. You want to measure where the skirt is going to sit on your body. For me, this is typically my waistline or my hip/pelvic bone depending on my personal preference at the time. Write this measurement down on a piece of paper to keep track of it. You’re going to need it again. 

Measure the length of your skirt. This is how far down you want it to go. I generally go with about 14in to 15in so that it stops a little bit more than halfway down my thighs. Make sure the length of the skirt is something your comfortable with and able to bend over in. 

Now take a measurement for the yellow stripe at the bottom of the skirt. It needs to be as long as your waist or hip measurement. For the width, I would only give it a couple of inches, about 2in.

Since you have these 2 numbers now, add 2 inches to your desired skirt length. Then you want to multiply your waist or hip length times 3. So for example if your waistline is 20in you’ll need 60in total because 20×3=60, and if you want your skirt length to be 15in, you need a total of 17in because 15+2=17. You will use these numbers to make the pleats and hem of the skirt. 

Skirt Construction

  1. Take your measurements and transfer them to your fabric. Make sure you cut in a straight line so that you don’t end up short on the fabric. 
  2. Cut out the yellow stripe. Remember to keep your seam allowance in mind. I’d go with a 1/2in seam allowance.
  3. Sew the yellow strip to the skirt making sure the right sides together. You can do a finishing stitch for the raw edges on the inside of the fabric now or wait to do it last. Whatever is your preference.
  4. Decide on the size you want your pleats to be. This can be any size you’d like, but the larger the number, the less pleats you will have.
  5. Mark your skirt by doubling the size you want for your pleats. Example: 2in pleats desired x 2=4in per pleat, and therefore you would mark every 4in on the wrong side of your fabric using your chalk. If you don’t have chalk, you can use a washable marker or pen.
  6. Fold your pleats. To fold your pleats, bring the piece of fabric together in the places you’ve marked. Pin the piece together at this marking and continue to the next fold. When you do this, make sure that all of the folds are facing in the same direction. If you fold to the right, then fold all of the folds to the right. The same goes for folding to the left.
  7. Baste stitch the top of the skirt. Now this is typically optional. If you’re pretty good with your sewing skills and confident you don’t necessarily need to. However, in the event that you happen to not like the skirt after you’ve stitched it, then it’ll be easier to remove the stitches if you do baste it. 
  8. Measure the top of your skirt. It should be about the same length as your waist measurement you took earlier. If it’s more than a couple inches longer, then you need to cut it. If for some reason your skirt length is too small, then you need to sew a panel onto the skirt to make it fit.

Creating the waistband

  1. This portion is pretty simple. Take the measurement of the skirt across the top of the pleats.
  2. Cut a piece of fabric that is said length and wide enough for you to make your band. You can choose the size of your waistband, but keep in mind you need to fold it in half to stitch it together. I like my waistbands to be a bit smaller so I go with about 2in wide total for a 1in wide waistband in the end.
  3. Fold this piece of fabric in half with the wrong sides together. 

Combining the waistband and skirt

  1. Place the raw edges of the waistband and the skirt together.
  2. Using a straight stitch, sew the pieces together with about a 1/2in seam allowance. You will now have your waistband properly attached to your skirt. You can see this as you flip the band up. 

Bottom skirt edge

  1. Before you decide to close the back of your skirt, fold the bottom edge of the skirt up about 1/2in and stitch it into place using a straight stich. Make sure you don’t sew the pleats into place. You need to give the fabric a small tug as you go so that the pleats don’t end up stuck. 
  2. Cut the excess threads, and there you have it.


  1. Now it’s time for the zipper. You’re almost there so keep up the good work. It’s time to pin the zipper into place after you’ve found the back of your skirt. Pin the zipper edges to the right side of the fabric this time going downwards from the top.
  2. Sew the zipper into place using a seam allowance that’s about 1/4in. 

Finishing your skirt

Close all of your raw edges with a 1/2in seam allowance and finishing stitch. You can use a straight stitch if you like. Just make sure to seal it. That’s the end of it. You’ve made your pleated skirt!


I like crispy pleats. You can choose to leave the pleats without being ironed or you can do the opposite. Iron the pleats one at a time to make sure that they’re super crisp especially if you’re going for the schoolgirl look. As I said, this is optional, and if you don’t want to do this, then that’s fine.

You’re all done! Sounds like a lot right? Try not to overthink it. When I first started sewing, I overthought everything literally. Once I stopped, sewing got so much easier. Now, have a happy time creating the rest of the outfit, and of course if you have questions, feel free to ask anytime.

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