We have such a special treat for you today. Our sweet friend Jenny designed and wrote this amazing little skirt tutorial for us, and we're so thrilled to be sharing it with all of you! Border prints can be tricky to work with, but not with the help of this easy tutorial. Special thanks also go to Jenny's adorable daughter, Kelsey, for being such a lovely model!
xo, the Long ladies
Edited to add: Jenny has graciously offered for anyone to use this tutorial to sew for profit. We ask that you please mention your skirts were based off of a tutorial by Jenny Fish (you may link to this post as well, if you like). Thank you! One more thing… questions about the instructions? Send them over to Jenny!
Jenny's pleated skirt tutorial
About the Skirt::
The front of the skirt is pleated while the back of the skirt has an elastic waist. The skirt I made for the tutorial is for a 22 inch waist, 42 inch tall little girl. If your child’s waist is slightly smaller or larger you can make adjustments to the skirt by shortening or lengthening the elastic. If your child’s waist is a lot smaller or larger you can make adjustments in the pleats by shortening or lengthening them and in the elastic as stated above.
Supplies You Will Need::
~1 yard Flower Sugar border fabric
~6-8 inch cut of 3/8 inch wide elastic
~1 yard of 1.5 inch wide ribbon, you will have some extra left over
~Thread – I used white
~Glass head pins-or something equivalent that you can iron over
~Rotary cutter, rulers, and mat* OR Scissors
~Chalk pencil or regular pencil
~Iron and ironing board
*I am a quilter by trade. I have been quilting for 16 years so the cutting tools I use in this tutorial are a rotary cutter, mat, and various rulers. You can still cut this skirt without these tools. Just use your normal methods you use for cutting out rectangles with scissors. There are only 3 cuts: One to clean up the bottom edge of the skirt-photo 2, one to cut the skirt length-photo 3, and one to cut the front and back panel-photo 4. So no need to run out and buy new cutting tools, I just prefer working with clean straight edges. I do have a little piano maker in me.
Now before we get started I just want you to know WE ARE NOT MAKING PIANOS!!! In other words, don’t get so caught up in the details that you become paralyzed. If your measurements end up slightly different than mine, it’s really okay. If your pleats are not EXACTLY the same it’s really okay, you just want them to be close. I have made 2 of these and they turned out fairly different but fit and look great.
Let's get started!
First I wanted to show you what the fabric looks like. Sometimes the fabrics I find online are not in stock at my local fabric shops so all I have to go on is a thumbnail. And the thumbnails do not always tell me the whole story. It is still folded in half but I think you get a better idea of what it looks like. Isn’t it gorgeous???
Step 1::Trim up the selvage edge leaving at least .75 inch of white fabric. If you have more than .75 inch that is fine, you just don’t want less. Some people don’t mind using the selvage in their seam allowance, if you are one of those, just make sure it is relatively straight. You are going to be making a .5 inch turned seam later so you want to be sure the selvage is going to completely turn under where you don’t see it but does not eat up the beautiful scalloped border. If you are going to cut both selvage edges at once, make sure you match up the border pattern exactly, in case you have to use both pieces in one skirt. In other words make sure when you finish cutting both sides you have the same amount of white fabric under the scalloped border on both sides.
Step 2::Cut your fabric the length you want your skirt to be plus .5 inch. Do this by cutting parallel to the selvage. I am making this skirt a little longer as it is not quite spring yet and I want this skirt to last through the summer. So I am cutting out a 15.5 inch panel. There is no need to add additional length to account for seam allowance in the waist. The waist is going to be bound with a strip of ribbon.
Step 3:: Find the center of the bouquet you want to be the center of the skirt. Mark it with a pin(white pin) at the top edge of the skirt front panel. Now measure out 10 inches on either side of the center and marked these spots with a pin as well(yellow pin). Trim up the panels on the right side. Mark the fabric one more time 2 inches in from either side(red pins). Your pleats will be between these pins.
Step 4:: Starting at your pin located 2 inches from either edge, pleat your skirt every 1.5 inches. What that means is you need to measure out 1.5 inches from the pin and then start pleating at that point. You want to take in approximately 1 inch of fabric, fold it in half and tuck it under the 1.5 inch starting point. Do this all the way across the skirt top stopping at the opposite 2 inch pin mark. Adjust your pleats if you need to. The 2 inches on either side are a bit of a buffer for you to be able to adjust your pleats as needed so don’t worry if you have to take a little away from them.
Step 5:: Draw up the pleats so that you have folds going down the entire length of the skirt front panel. When you have the pleats straight, pin the folds down about 4-5 inches from the top edge of the skirt front panel. You want the pleats to be fairly evenly spaced between your pins and the top edge of the skirt front panel. Iron down the pleats.
At this point you want to measure the width of the skirt front panel. You want it to be between 13-15 inches in width. Mine ended up being 14.5 inches. If your little one is not too wiggly, hold the pinned panel up to her waist. See if it covers the front of her and wraps around to her sides. If it starts wrapping too far to where it is starting to cover her back a lot, adjust your pleats now. Take each pleat in a little more. If it doesn’t wrap around to her sides at all, take the pleats out some. If your little one is too wiggly, baste the seams down and then hold the skirt up to her waist to check for the size. You don’t want her getting poked. When the skirt is finished, the front panel is going to cover the front of your child as well as her sides. The back panel will only cover her back side. Trim up the left side when you are satisfied with the skirt front panel fit. Make sure it is a straight cut. If the way the flower bouquets work out for you, as they did for me, you may have a large panel left over. If it is 14-16 inches in width you can use it for your back panel. Yea! If not just trim up the left over fabric (the piece you didn’t use to make the front panel) to the right length and cut off a 14-16 inch panel. My back panel was 15 inches wide for this skirt.
Step 6:: Mark the pleats 3 inches down from the waist. Use a chalk pencil or lightly mark with a regular pencil. On my pleats I just marked with a tiny dot. This marking only needs to be big enough for you to see when you are sewing your pleats. This is your stopping point.
Step 7:: With a 1/8 seam allowance sew down the pleats. Start at the waist and go all the way down to your 3 inch marked stopping point. At the end of each seam, go back and forth over the last stitch to secure. When finished with all the pleat’s seams, turn the piece over and pop the front thread through to the back by pulling on the back thread. Trim your threads.
Step 8:: Sew back panel to front panel using .5 inch seam allowance. Serge or zigzag stitch the sides.
Step 9:: Finish the hem. Turn the edge under .25 inch and iron down. Then with the skirt face up turn the hem one more time .25 inch and iron it down again. As you are ironing down the second turn you want to pay attention to the border scallop print, ensuring that it is not getting caught in the turning of the hem. Sew down the hem.
Step 10:: Cut your ribbon to the skirt waist size plus 1-1.5 inches. You are going to pin your ribbon to the waist so that when you fold the ribbon over the skirt edge, exactly half the ribbon is on the front and exactly half the ribbon is on the back. Turn the ribbon ends under at the beginning and end of the pinning. Start at one of the side seams and pin your ribbon around the waist on the right side of the skirt. Then start at the same side seam again, fold the ribbon in half and re-pin the ribbon all the way around the front of the skirt until you get to the back and then stop. Now take your elastic piece, I used a 7 inch piece, and pin it at the side seam. Either side is fine, I pinned it at the ribbon start and stopping point. It was a bit fiddly un-pinning and re-pinning all that folded ribbon. Put a small safety pin on the dangling end of the elastic. Continue pinning the ribbon down until you are back at your starting point. The elastic should be inside the ribbon casing you pinned down but not near the open edge of the ribbon. You don’t want your elastic to get caught in the seam when you sew down the ribbon. Go around the waist of the skirt and check to make sure the front and back of the ribbon overlap really well. I actually held mine up to the light to check.
Step 11:: Secure the elastic by sewing it down through the ribbon at the side seam where you pinned the elastic edge down. Your stitch should be perpendicular to the edge of the skirt.
Step 12:: Starting at the front of the skirt, about 1 inch from the side seam, stitch a 1/8 inch seam at the bottom of the ribbon. You want to sew away from the side seam not toward it. Go all the way around the skirt until you get about 1 inch away from your starting point near the side seam and stop.
Step 13:: Using the safety pin, guide the elastic through the ribbon casing until you reach the opening. Pin the elastic to the side seam. Measure the skirt and see if it is going to be the right size. Trim the elastic if necessary and pin in place at the side seam.
Sew the elastic down just like you did on the other side, through the ribbon perpendicular to the edge of the skirt. Close out the opening in the ribbon.
Your skirt is done!
Ta-da… thank you, Jenny! And ladies, please be sure to visit Jenny over at her fun little blog, Sew Pretty Dresses. We would love to see pictures of your own pleated skirt projects!
P.S. The Long ladies' easy-peasy invisible zipper installation tutorial coming soon. Not quite as fun, but hopefully helpful!