If you don’t have a lot of experience with patterning and sewing clothing, a skirt is one of the easiest items to make. This pleated skirt is a great basic that you can make out of almost any woven fabric that you like– from lightweight cottons to heavier wools. You can also play around with pleating patterns to really make it your own style.
I chose a rich emerald green medium weight wool for my skirt. The fabric was a little pricey, but I just loved the color and texture of the fabric. Here’s how I made it:
Materials: 1.5 yards of woven fabric, coordinating zipper and thread, fusible interfacing, pattern paper, patternmaking rulers, pencil
1. Making the pattern:
-The easiest way to make a pattern for your skirt is to copy the waistband out of a skirt you already have. (Don’t tell your favorite clothing stores that I told you this..). If you have a skirt that fits well, use pattern paper and carefully trace the shape of it. You’ll only need to pattern half of the front and half of the back.
-Once you’ve traced the waistband shape, you’ll need to add a 0.5″ seam allowance around it.
-The center front of the waistband will be on a fold, so you will not need to add the seam allowance around it.
-The back waistband will be 2 separate pieces and will need a seam allowance all the way around it.
2. Cutting the waistband:
-You’ll need to cut 2 layers of the front waistband in you fabric and 1 layer in a fusible interfacing. The interfacing provides more stability and stiffness to your waistband. Since my skirt is in a heavier weight wool, I used a horse hair fusible interfacing, but if you are using a lighter weight fabric, you can use a much lighter interfacing.
-Make sure the patterns follow the grain of the fabric when you cut them. The center front and center back should run parallel to the yarns in the fabric. When applying the interfacing, make sure the glue side is facing down onto the back side of your waistband fabric and use a medium heat iron to fuse the layers together.
-In a similar manner, cut 2 layers of the back waistband and 1 layer of fusible interfacing. Since the back of the skirt is 2 separate pieces, you’ll end up with 4 waistband pieces and 2 interfacing pieces. Match up the interfacing pieces to the back sides of the fabric and fuse them.
3.Sewing the waistband:
-The interfaced pieces will become the inside of your waistband, while the other pieces will become the outside. Sew the side seams of the interfaced waistband and the side seams of the outside of the waistband. Don’t forget to press open the seams as you go.
-Next, put the face sides of the waistbands together and sew the top seam. Once you press open the seam, and flip it the right direction, your waistband will be complete for now.
4. Making the pleats:
-The easiest way that I’ve found to make pleats is to mark out 1″ lines along the edge of your fabric and decide your pleating pattern from there. You could do knife pleats in different increments, or box pleats like I did. For my skirt, I did a box pleat with 1″ of fabric in each tuck at center front, and then another box pleat every 5″. I liked this layout because it added fullness to the skirt without getting too bulky.
-Be sure to walk the bottom edge of your waistband along the pleats as you are experimenting to see where the front, side seams, and back zipper will fall. You don’t want to end up with a pleat right on the zipper, or may not like how a pleat will stick out along your hip.
-Once you’ve found a pleating pattern that you like, pin it in place and then baste the pleats closed with a loose stitch. You’ll want to recheck your waistband, and cut off any excess fabric on the sides of the pleated skirt fabric so that it fits the waistband correctly.
5. Sewing the Skirt:
-Pin the bottom edge of the waistband face to the face of the pleated skirt fabric. Only pin and sew the front layer of the waistband. Press the seam open, but then press the seam up toward the top of the waistband.
6. Adding the Zipper:
– With the waistband folded open, place the right side of the zipper face down on the right side of the skirt opening at the waistband seam and pin into place. Sew the zipper along the teeth.
-Repeat with the left size of the zipper ensuring they line up perfect.
-Finish sewing the back seam of the skirt.
7. Finishing the Waistband
-Press the seam allowance of the bottom edge of the waistband. You will then hand stitch the waistband closed, hiding the waistband seam inside.
7. Hemming the Skirt:
-Determine the length you want the skirt to be, and add seam allowance for the hem. I decided to have a 0.75″ hem (plus 0.25″ folded over). Instead of using a machine to hem, I blind-stitched it closed.
8. Give it a good steam, and enjoy your skirt!