How to make a pleated skirt!

Fashion is ever changing, some styles stay ‘in fashion’ for a period of time before they disappear again. Sometimes it reappears decades later, sometimes it makes its appearance year after year. The pleated skirt is one fashion fad that seems to reappear year after year.

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Versus by Christopher Kane. Source: The Telegraph

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Ombre metallic pleated mini skirt. Source: Faux Pas

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Beige pleated maxi skirt. Source: The Hits and Glamour

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Petite pleated midi skirt, £28 from ASOS

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Seal Grey maxi accordion-pleat skirt, £51 from American Apparel

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Printed pleated maxi skirt, £38 from ASOS

It’s a timeless classic that can help elongate the legs with the vertical pleats and has that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that makes you want to own one of your own. Sometimes the problem with buying ready made articles of clothing though is they might not suit your body shape. I know this isn’t true, as I’d previously dispelled this myth with the maxi dress.

High street brands in the UK are more savvy these days about maximising profit, from what I can see, by designing clothing for women of different stature. For example, I used to have such trouble buying trousers because the legs were so long I always had to take them up. If I wanted to buy something to suit my more…’petite’ self, I could go into River Island short length jeans or New Look to pick up a pair of wide fit shoes. Miss Selfridge also has a Petites section for women with a height of 5’5″ or under.

Finding the perfect skirt to suit you can occasionally be an issue, especially if it has a fitted higher waist with a loose skirt if you’ve got a pear shaped figure. I find normally circle skirts work best for me in this occasion, but there are some with soft materials that don’t keep their shape like cotton that I need to stay away from. My solution to this? Make your own skirt to suit your figure!

Having looked more and more into the idea of making a pleated skirt, I know that if I wore this high-waisted, it would put emphasis on my hips which I don’t want to do. Now, if only life would co-operate, it would be as simple as walking into one of the various fabric stores here in Edinburgh, purchasing the length of pleated material that I require, doing what’s needed to put the skirt together and voilà! Another project to add to my dressmaking portfolio. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy here in the UK and your options are either A) pleat the fabric yourself, or B) have it pleated commercially by a fabric company or one who’s sole purpose is to pleat fabric in different ways.

(Note: Whether you intend to pleat the fabric yourself or have the fabric commercially pleated by a company, it’s recommended that you choose a fabric with high polyester content like poly blend fabrics, synthetic georgette or chiffon.)

Having looked into getting the fabric commercially pleated, I realised this isn’t really a feasible option if you can’t see yourself paying £28 to have a company pleat the fabric for you and return this. Given that this would be done professionally with specialised machinery for this purpose, it could be considered worth the expense for some people, but personally I’d prefer to save that amount for a rainy day and while it might take longer, to do it myself.

I’ve already found the pattern instructions for making the pleated skirt from BurdaStyle:

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Pleated Circle Skirt 05/2012 #130, free from BurdaStyle

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The pleated skirt from BurdaStyle

If you’re doing the pleating yourself though, you’ll need to work out how much unpleated fabric you’ll need to end up with between 2.70 to 2.85m of pleated fabric the instructions call for. I’m currently in the process of finding this out and I’ll make sure to post full details of how I got on with making this skirt once I start on it. The other important thing you’ll need (if you’re in the US or if you can source one easily) is to get a pleater board kit, like the Pleat’N’Go:

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Pleat’N’Go pleater board kit, US$19.95 (approx. £12.97) from Pleat’N’Go

Full instructions are included with the kit to each you how to assemble the board before you can start the pleating process.

The alternative is to make your own using hard cardboard sheets, glue, pencil or marker pens, a long plastic ruler and scissors. BurdaStyle has step by step illustrated instructions that teach you how to make your own pleater board which, when finished, will look like this:

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DIY pleater board from BurdaStyle

If you prefer more visual instructions, this video also seems quite simple to follow.

Although Nicole Beaufrog of the blog Beaufrog, I would probably use hard cardboard instead for its sturdiness.

Once I’ve worked out what I need in terms of unpleated fabric to end up with the required length of pleated fabric and I’ve started on the project, I promise to post step by step instructions of how I achieved it with photos.What are your thoughts on the pleated skirt? Have you made one yourself already? Got any tips or advice to share with other eager dressmakers who want to make this skirt?

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