You’ve seen your fair share of box pleated skirts from me. My first was in this chartreuse pleated skirt, and my second in this gold midi skirt for a new years party. Both times I made these skirts, I did a whole lot of math and a whole lot of pinning. I’m an engineer, and I still managed to mess this up a few times before getting it right.
The truth is that making a pleated skirt requires very few sewing skills. Almost all of the intrigue is in the folding and ironing of the skirt shape, and sewing a couple of straight stitches just holds it all together. In order to take the mystery and fear out of it for you, I’ve worked on this foolproof pleat tutorial based on your waist size and a 3.75-4″ pleat so you will never have to do hard math again!
Just a little easy math. It’ll be OK, I promise.
I also made these pleats with only a partial overlap in order to reduce the bulkiness of the fabric. No one needs that around their middle. Again, don’t worry about this, I did the math for you. Scroll below to see the full tutorial.
How to Make Box Pleats (based on your waist size!)
Fabric for skirt 2.25 x your waist size (or the part of your body that you wish the skirt to hit)
1. Measure your waist and multiply this by 2.25. This will be the length of fabric you will need. For example, if your waist is 30″, you will need 67.5″ of fabric.
2. To determine what size pleats to make and how many you will need, see my waist to pleat chart below. Again, if your waist is 30″, you will be making seven 4″ pleats.
Waist Size (in.) Width of Pleat (in.) Number of Pleats
22 4 5
24 3.75 6
26 4 6
28 3.75 7
30 4 7
32 3.75 8
34 4 8
36 3.75 9
38 4 9
40 3.75 10
42 4 10
44 3.75 11
46 4 11
48 3.75 12
3. Using the values listed above, start by measuring out a 2″ wide section of fabric. Then fold 1″ of fabric underneath this accordion style. Pin this fold down. Then, fold another fold 1″ accordion style in the opposite direction to meet the first one and pin down. There should be no space in between these folds where they meet. See the image below for more detail.
4. Now you will start creating the main pleats. Measure out the width of the pleat given above (3.75″ or 4″) starting from the last fold you made. Then, make a 1″ accordion fold in the opposite direction of the last fold and pin this down. You should now have a 3.75-4″ section of fabric on top with 1″ sections of fabric behind it on either side. Make another accordion fold in the opposite direction to meet this one and pin down (this starts the next pleat). Repeat this step for as many pleats as you need as listed above.
5. To create a nice clean seam for each pleat, iron down each of your pleats around the pins. You will not need to iron all the way down the length of the skirt. About 6″ of ironing will be enough to keep your pleats together. You can now use this pleated fabric to make a skirt or a dress!
Use this new skill to conquer this chartreuse pleated skirt tutorial or this gold midi skirt tutorial! Check back weekly to learn a new skill to help you out with my, or anyone else’s, sewing tutorials.