Today I am bringing home a tutorial for a pleated winter skirt I originally made for The Sewing Rabbit Team.
The weather was changing and I realized that Wilma was missing something in her closet....winter skirts. What defines a winter skirt you might ask? Well, my personal opinion besides the obvious use of warmer, thicker fabric, could be to include a lining but also to have a bit more snug fit around the bum. In summer you want a loose and breezy fit but in winter you really want no cold air around that area, right!
BUT little girls still like to twirl even in winter so I came up with this design. Well, I am obviously not the first one to make this type of skirt but the pattern is self drafted and it fits the criteria I mentioned above. And further down I have a tutorial so you can make one (or ten) too.
As soon as you have drafted your pattern and made sure the fit is right they are quite a fast project. And even the pattern drafting is a pretty fast project for this one.
Here is a closer look at the skirt. You can see that the pleats are closed up/sewed together at the top and that is what gives the snug fit AND twirl ability. Score!
I have purposely not ironed the pleats all the way down. I like that they stay 'soft' and are just folding under the seams. If you like sharp pleats....well, knock yourself out.
What you have not seen on photos yet is that the waistband has a wide elastic pulled through to make dressing herself easy.
Let's get to the tutorial, shall we.
The very fist thing you do is to decide how wide you want your pleats. Mine are 3.5 cm / 1 3/8 in. And then how many pleats you want. I went with 5 pleats - notice they don't go from side seam to side seam - which by the way makes this skirt extremely easy to grade into other sizes but that is another story.
Now take a big piece of paper and start making vertical lines. The distance between every line is the width of your pleat (here 3.5 cm / 1 3/8 in). Every pleat is three 'rows' so we need 15 rows and that takes 16 lines.
Fold your pattern like you can see on the above photo (this is how the pleats will be folded in the fabric) and NOW we need some measurements. Two measurements. The first one is the hip measurement of the SKIRT....not the child. It is simply easier this way. I simply took my measuring tape around Wilma's hips in a circle as loose/snug I wanted the finished skirt to fit. Divide this measurement with 4 and you have your 1/4 of your desired skirt circumference which you can see marked on the pattern above.
The second measurement you need from your child is the skirts full length. BUT before you draw that line on your pattern you have to withdraw the height of your desired waistband (mine is 3 cm / 1 3/16 in).
Before you can draw your rectangle with the right measurement you have to find/determine your center front/center back (this skirt uses same pattern piece for the front and back piece - so you cut it double).
Now the first skirt I made I put the CF/CB on the middle of the middle pleat. But when I sewed the skirt I realized that was kind of a mistake. Because what you can see is the 5 lines where the pleats are sewed together not the actual five pleats. In other words the CF/CB looked off at the finished skirt. So CF/CB is the middle sewing line as you can see above. Now it looks off in the pattern but it will look right on the skirt.
And now you simply draw your rectangle with the correct measurements and then add your preferred seam allowances.
Last thing you have to do is determine how much you want to close up the pleats. I choose 13 cm / 5 1/8 in. Mark your pattern as above.
And when you unfold your pleats this is how your pattern will (hopefully) look like.
And now it is time to make your waistband pattern. Again just a rectangle, woohoo.
I just make one long pattern piece and cut it to fold in the one side seam. If you prefer a side seam in both sides of the waistband simply add seam allowances in both sides and cut it double instead.
I don't think I have anything to add otherwise. The graphic should tell it all.
And now to the lining pattern - which is optional by the way. But if you are making it in a wool fabric you really should put a lining in it.
Again I think the graphic/photo says the most. The length of the lining is of course a bit shorter than the length of the actual skirt. I prefer like 2.5 cm / 1 in shorter.
At this step I would suggest you sew a muslin to make sure you don't waste your nice fabric if something went wrong along the way. And think of it this way....when you have made your muslin and you know your pattern fits, sewing the real skirt is going to be SO much faster.
When I cut the skirt I leave the pattern piece on and put a pin through all those markings where you have to sew the pleats together to. And don't forget to cut little cuts at the top notches.
Then fold your fabric as you can see on the lowest photo above and sew straight down to the pin. Continue with all five pleats on each skirt piece.
Here is how it looks when the pleats have been sewed. Sorry, this fabric was hard to photograph.
Now you sew, overlock and iron your side seam (s) of skirt and waist band (and lining if you made that). Then hem your skirt (and lining).
Sew waistband on skirt - right against right.....and so on. I am not going to go into detail with the waistband since it is a simple waistband with an elastic in it. I have a tutorial HERE if you need it. Only difference from this one and the one I am linking to, is the number and width of elastics I am using. In this one I am not sewing any casings. I am just using one wide elastic that fits the whole waistband.
Here is a look at the finished waistband.
I decided to spice this one up with some rows of grosgrain ribbon.
Just remember the hem will be more stiff and the pleats will not drape as softly as if there are no ribbons sewed on. But since this fabric (a cotton/wool mix) was quite heavy/stiff in the first place I knew there would not be much draping anyway so I just went with it.
I made another skirt in more soft fabric with no ribbons and you can clearly see the difference in the drape.
You can see that skirt HERE.