DIY // Simple pleated skirt

Although it’s almost winter in these parts, I’m still craving skirts and dresses. I love a simple skirt you can mix and match with colorful tights and cute boots. So, the moment I saw this gorgeous navy blue fabric at the discount section of a local fabric store, I knew it was meant to be my new skirt. The pleated skirt is a classic, and, thankfully, very easy to make, which makes it perfect for seamstresses of all skill levels.

This is what you need:

  • Fabric – measure your hip circumference, multiply that by 1.5, and add seam allowances to get your skirt width (look at the diagram below).
  • Wide elastic – the length of the elastic equals your waist measurement.
  • Zipper – I left my zipper exposed and used a metallic one, but you could also use an invisible or a normal zipper.
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread, pins, tailor’s chalk or a chip of soap, ruler, scissors

Amazon picks for this project:

DIY // Simple pleated skirt


pleated skirt diagram

There’s a little bit of math involved, so brace yourself. Before you start, you’ll need to calculate how much fabric you need. The width of the fabric is your skirt width and the length of your fabric is your skirt length. Intuitively enough, isn’t it! If you’re skirt width exceeds your fabric width you’ll just need to buy 2 skirt length of fabric. Don’t forget to take seam and hem allowances into account!  

//1. Basically, you need to cut a rectangle. The hight of the rectangle equals the desired length of your dress pluss hem allowance (4 cm) and seam allowance for the elastic (2cm). You can calculate the width of the rectangle using the formula on the diagram above. If the width exceeds your fabric length, divide it by 4 and cut 2/4 as the front piece, and two times ¼ as the two back pieces. Don’t forget to add side seam allowances to those panels as well!

// 2. Once you’ve cut your rectangle, it’s time to get sewing! First, zig-zag or serge all raw edges.

// 3. If you have 3 pieces, sew the side seams first. Then press the hem of the skirt down and sew. You can do this step last as well, but I prefer to do the hem first.

// 4. Start marking the pleats. First, mark the center (of the front piece if you have 3 pieces) and then the 15cm of straigth fabric that will remain in the center. Then mark the 5 cm of straight on both sides of the back zipper. Then make marks on the pleated section after 4cm, after 3cm, after 4 cm, after 3 cm …. as many times as fits.

// 5. Fold your pleats. The pleats are those 4cm sections you marked down. Just fold them in half (2+2) and then fold it down on the 3cm section that will remain inbetween pleats. Pin in place! (You can see my pleated section pinned on the picture below)

pleated skirt tutorial

// 6. Once the pleats have been pinned, take a ruler and draw a straight line 2cm from the top skirt edge (number 2 on the picture above). This will be your guideline for sewing the elastic in place.

// 7. Sew the elastic onto the skirt with straight stitch, making sure you remove the pins as you go.

// 8. Once the elastic is in place, sew the back seam making sure to leave an opening for the zipper at the top (number 3 on the picture above).

// 9. Press the zipper seam allowance down, and pin in the zipper (number 4 on the picture above). Sew the zipper in place (see picture below).

putting in the zipper

// 10. This step is completely optional, but you could add some button on the front straight section for visual interest.

navy skirt close up navy pleated skirt collage

I’m totally in love with my new skirt! It’s just what was missing in my winter wardrobe. Now, all I need are some colorful tights, and I’m all set. I hope to create your own version will be a lot of creative fun.

Happy sewing!

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  1. Hey i love the tutorial for this skirt but i was wondering do you have to include a zipper or do you think it would work with just the elastic ?

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