Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Basic Pleated Skirt Tutorial

I originally posted this on my old Accessory Addict blog, but I thought it would be a nice way to kick off this new blog! I hope you enjoy making it if you give it a try and you can let me know how you get on!

I've never written a tutorial before, I think this mostly because I tend to use commercial patterns when I'm making clothing, but recently I've been adapting patterns I've got and have worked out ways to make things without a pattern. So let me present me with my first tutorial (if we don't count the Mandors quilt blog)...a Basic Pleated Skirt.
1m of 60" wide heavy weight cotton or similar
1 7"or8" zip
Rotary Cutter and/or Scissors
Zipper foot
Matching thread and bobbin
You'll also need to know your waist measurements

Cut 7" off bottom of both layers of fabric along grain-line, I've used my rotary cutter as it provides a neat straight line, however this can be done with scissors after marking a line on the fabric. Then cut the metre of fabric down to your waist size, plus 1”, to give you your final panels. Making the skirt double the size of your waist allows for more options when pleating. If your fabric was folded on a bale, use the fold line to split the fabric, giving you front and back panels. If not, simply fold fabric in half and press in a line, then cut.

Using your 7" offcuts, you'll make your waistband. Add an inch to your waist measurements (for seam allowances) and then divide this by two. If you want to play it safe, add a little more as you can always make the skirt smaller! I chose to have a fairly narrow waistband so cut it 3" wide (which I'll later half) wide but it's up to you. Cut 2 pieces of your half waist by whatever width you decide.

For the front of the skirt, I wanted a large centre box pleat and 2 smaller pleats on the sides. To make these, you'll need to mark the quarters on the fabric (I find the easiest way to do this is to fold the fabric in half, mark with a pin and then again, it's only a rough guide but it's most effective!) Mark halfway between these pins (again just fold and pin, simple!). These will be your markers for the pleat folds. By using the pins you'll find easier to match them than pen/pencil marks.

Bring the two pins nearest the centre pin towards the centre so they meet, securely pin these and also at the other end of the pleat so it won't move. This creates the large box pleat. To make the other pleats, it is a bit of trial and error as it depends on your waist size. Use your pins to pull the fabric in or out until the fabric length matches that of your waistband, which is why we cut this earlier in the process. This part does take time, but it ensures a good fit. Stitch the pleats in place within your seam allowance.

For the back of the skirt, you can repeat this process of experiment with pleats. I've chosen to do the same as the front, only in reverse. So instead of the box pleat showing it's inside and the join shows. Again pleat in until the skirt matches the length of the waistband. Stitch pleats in place.

Now stitch front and back skirt panels together, I always tend to use a narrow seam allowance and use the edge of my presser foot as my guide. Once stitched, press out seam allowance and I always find top pressing gives a crisp finish.

Now the waistband is to be attached. I've just realised that I didn't take pictures putting the waist band in, but its quite simple. Stitch your two waistband pieces together. I changed my mind at this point as to how I was going to put it in, so I halved my 3"wide pieces. I figured this would my zip insertion easier. Match the edges and centre seams of both the waistband and main skirt, pin and stitch. Its worth top pressing out the waistband at this point as well. The part you have just halved will be used soon so keep it handy.

It's time to put in the zip. I know this is the point most beginner sewers panic and think nk they're going to mess up, but like most things practice makes perfect. I am by no means anywhere near perfect at putting a zip in but each time I do, I see an improvement and I'm gradually getting more confident.

Take your zip and place it right in the top corner of the fabric on the waistband, then follow down the zip and pop a pin in the fabric just above where the teeth end. Stitch sides of skirt together from bottom to this marker. Press. Pin the right side of the zip along the right side of the fabric, along the edge, keeping it behind your seams at the end. You'll need to change to your zipper foot at this point. Stitch in zip as close to the teeth as you feel comfortable. Repeat for the other side of the zip. I like the colour and the teeth of the zip I used, so I kept it quite exposed.

Normally in a waistband you would interface one half, however as I'm using a heavy weight cotton, I've decided not to. It's up to you if you would rather use some anyway. If you're using anything lighter than canvas weight I wouldn't make the waistband without strengthening it somehow. Pin and stitch your other half of the waistband in place, making sure the ends of the zip are inside for a neat finish. Press inside.

Finally the skirt needs to be hemmed. I'm using this amazing little device I picked up in Canada, it's called the ezy-hemmer and it's made my life so much easier! Just fold the fabric up to the line you want to hem and press! Simple as that! I'm assuming few, if any, of you will have one of these, so to hem just measure around the amount you want to take up and press. I've been converted to double turning up my hem to stop any stray threads so I just fold my already pressed fold and press again containing the raw edge. Just stitch a straight line along the bottom to hem, or if you have a hemming stitch use that.

And voila! You have your skirt! I think this skirts looks at bit more sophisticated than an elastic waist banded skirt, and once you've tried it a couple times, it becomes just as easy!


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  2. amazing tutorial :)
    I really love that you give so many details :)
    I'm gonna try it!!

    Bubble my Licorice


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