Wednesday, May 4

Tutorial: Pleated skirts!

After my last post featuring my most recent remade skirt, I had some interest from others in a tutorial for the skirt. Whilst I didn't take enough details to make an in depth tutorial for the skirt, I thought I would nonetheless share those I had, and give a few tips about remaking items on a budget.

This skirt began life as a £1 skirt I found in a local charity shop. Here's the original skirt:
It had a fitted waist (far too small for me!), but a very very full skirt, and enough length for me to be able to construct another skirt after chopped the waistband off the original. This particularly skirt had a button up front and pockets, both of which I sewed up before starting. If you're just starting off remaking an item, I wouldn't recommend starting with a skirt with pockets or a pocket up front - instead just look for a long-ish skirt with a waist that can easily be removed, and a very full skirt (I find old granny skirts with gathered or pleated waists to be good for this, and they're always on a £1 rail!).

I make my skirts using this tutorial, originally penned by DIY Couture (who publish an amazing series of books, without sized patterns - check them out!). Before I go on, please do have a look through this guide for a more detailed guide to planning the size of your pleats and waistband pieces. For reference, I tend to use either six or eight pleats on either side of my skirts.

Begin by cutting the waistband off the original skirt:

You then need to cut a portion off to use for your waistband at a later point. You can be approximate about this, but remember that you will need to fold the fabric for the waistband over twice (as per the DIY Couture book) and allow a seam allowance of about 3cm.

Here was my waistband piece, and what would become the main body of my skirt.

You will now need to cut the fabric for the main body in half - do this by unpicking the seams from the sides of the original skirt, or by cutting them out neatly, so you end up with two rectangles of (approximately!) the same size.

Do the same with the waistband pieces, and then cut them down to two thin rectangles which both equal (in length) half your waist measurement plus about 3cm for seams. Width-wise, they will need to be double the measurement of your intended waistband width, again with a small seam allowance. Again, please refer to the DIY couture book for a slightly more articulate explanation of how to measure how wide and long your waistband. Sorry I don't have a picture of the waist band, but you'll need to set them aside for the moment anyway.

Creating pleats! Do this on both rectangles by marking the centre of the fabric and creating small folds on either side of this centre point. DIY couture recommends calculating the size of your pleats, but I found when working with skirts that I could approximate this process by creating pleats, measuring and adjusting where necessary, until I reached the desired measurement (this will be the same as your waistband). Create a pleat by making a vertical fold in the top of the fabric, and pinning, as shown. Eventually it looks like this:

Then, you'll need to sew, with a line of straight stitch, along the top of the skirt, fixing these pleats into place. Do this with both rectangles.

Now, take your waistband pieces again, and fold them in half, with the right side of the fabric showing. Like this:

Take the waistband, and pin it to the right side of your skirt body pieces, with the raw edges facing up. Like this:

With both waistbands pinned to the skirt body, now run another line of straight stitch along the length of the waistband - this will secure the waistband into place. Flip the waistband up at this point, and you will have the front and back of your skirt! Huzzah!

I stopped taking pictures at this point (d'oh!), but basically what happens next is as follows:
  • With the right sides of both pieces facing towards each other (and the wrong sides facing outwards), tack together one of the sides of the skirt. You can run a line of straight stitch up this side, from top to bottom including the waistband to fix this into place.
  • Pin the second side together in a similar fashion, but with a slight difference. If you want to fit a zip here, you will need to place your zip along by the waistband. Mark the point at which the zip ends, and pin the fabric together below this point (so you still have an unfinished seam for the space of the zip), and then as before, run another line of straight stitch up to this point.
  • FITTING ZIPS. I'm quite rubbish at this (it's not hard, just fiddly, and it takes patience that I generally lack, haha), so I'm not even going to try and explain it. It is covered in the DIY Couture PDF, and there are also numerous youtube tutorials which can help.
  • At this point, having fitted the zip, you will have you skirt *almost* finished. At this stage, try on the skirt, making sure that it fits okay and that you don't need to take the waistband in any further. Once you've confirmed this, you'll just need to hem the skirt - simply done by turning the raw edging of the skirt from right to wrong side, then pinning into place and running a simple line of straight stitch into place.
  • Wear your skirt!

I hope that all makes sense! Please do check the DIY couture booklet, as it explains things in a slightly less muddled fashion and should answer any questions you have. I just wanted to frame this within how to remake a skirt, which is so so much cheap than buying fabric from a shop, and also a skill which I find is super handy to know as a fatty working on a budget. This skirt cost me £2.30 (plus some thread, which I took from my stash) to make, including the original skirt and a zip, so it was very cost effective!


  1. You flippin clever thing! I love the finished article and the ditsy bow fabris is brill!
    kandi x

  2. well done, great job!

    ♥ Ylenia
    from longuette