Pleated skirts are a classic style that flatters many types of figures. The pleats will show a lot if you use a plain, solid color fabric for the skirt, and they’ll look more subtle with a print or floral skirt. For a perfect pleated skirt, you can buy a pattern, and even buy a device made especially for folding pleats that are exactly even. If all you want is a simple pleated skirt that’s easy to sew, however, here’s how to make a one without much fuss. Depending on your height, this skirt will be about knee length, but you can cut the fabric shorter to suit the style you want.
Make the Pleats
Cut a strip of fabric 4 inches wide off the lower (long) edge of the fabric. This will be used for the waistband.
Cut the fabric in half, parallel to the selvages. (The selvages are the finished edges that are often white and have the name of the fabric printed on them.)
Place the two sections of fabric right sides together and stitch them together along one short edge. Press the seam open.
Hem the lower edge of the fabric by folding the edge 1/4 inch toward the wrong side and pressing the fold flat. Fold the edge over 1/2 inch toward the wrong side and press it flat. Topstitch along the edge of the fold.
Decide how wide you want the pleats (you may need to experiment with different folds to see what looks good). Fold the fabric over the width you want the pleat, starting with the area around the seam, to make sure the seam gets hidden underneath a pleat. Measure each fold for exact pleats, or judge them by eye for simpler, but less perfect pleats.
Press each pleat firmly using a hot iron and a damp press cloth.
Pin the pleats in place along the top of the fabric. Set the sewing machine to the longest stitch length. Baste across the pleats, 1/4 inch from the top of the fabric.
Sew the Skirt
Measure the fullest part of your hips. Trim the pleated fabric so that it’s about 3 inches wider than this measurement.
Fold each end under about 1/2 inch (if it isn’t already folded in a pleat) and press the fold flat. Topstitch along each fold.
Cut a waistband from the strip of fabric that’s 3 1/2 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches longer than your waist. Fold each short end of the waistband 1/2 inch toward the wrong side of the fabric and press the folds flat.
Fold the waistband in half wrong sides together and press it flat. Topstitch across the short ends of the waistband.
Place the waistband face down on the top of the skirt, lining up the raw edge of the waistband with the top of the skirt.
Pin the waistband in place. If the skirt is wider than the waistband, you can ease in the extra fabric by making tiny little folds between each pleat.
Stitch the waistband to the skirt using 1/2 inch seam allowance.
Add buttonholes to one end of the skirt and buttons to the other, making sure to line up the buttons and buttonholes. To wear the skirt, overlap the open edges and button them in place.
A press cloth can be a handkerchief or any piece of scrap cotton. Soak the press cloth with water, then lay the press cloth flat on top of the fabric. Iron the press cloth to create steam, and to protect the fabric from scorching. Soak the press cloth again when it gets dry.