Hey y’all – I’m wrapping up skirt month this week and tying it with a bow – literally! This tutorial is how to make a pleated wrap skirt that ties with a big bow. Since it’s a wrap skirt, it also uses no buttons or zippers – hooray!
This isn’t the first time I’ve used this yellow wall to shoot photos, and if it didn’t look so darn good in the photos I would totally find a new place. Last time I used it the landscaping guys working kept looking at me funny from across the parking lot. This time, a guy (maybe who was waiting to go to his job?) literally came and leaned on the wall about 6 feet to my left and continued to stand there the whole time the kids and I were shooting these photos. The glamorous life of a blogger!
To make the tank top I’m wearing, I just lengthened the bodice of the Catalina Dress pattern from my shop. Easy peasy! I added 7 inches to the bottom of the pattern and then followed the same neckline and armhole finishing instructions from the pattern.
First you’ll need to cut a sash that is 7 inches tall and 3 times your waist in length. You’ll probably have to cut two or three pieces of fabric to get to that length, and that’s fine. Tip: if you’re not sewing for yourself, there’s a chart in this post that has common waist measurements and skirt lengths from sizes 6m-26w.
To make the skirt, you’re going to need a couple yards of fabric. You’ll need to start with your waist measurement. Multiply that number by 1.5, then round up to the nearest number divisible by 4. Go ahead and divide by 4 next – this number is how many pleats to make. Next add 4 inches for each pleat. Take that total number (Waist x 1.5 rounded up) + (4 times number of pleats) and figure out how wide your two (or three) fabric panels will need to be. For each panel you’ll need to add a seam allowance and 1 inch on the short side for the hem.
Determine the length you want your skirt to be, then subtract 3 inches for the waistband and add a top seam allowance and a hem to the bottom.
OK, so you have 2 skirt panels. These need to be sewn together into one very long rectangle.
Then, starting from the seam, measure out every 4 inches and (2 inches to each side of the seam) and mark with a pin. Place pins 4 inches apart all the way along the top edge of the skirt. You should end with 1 inch beyond each pin on the short edges.
To form each pleat, you’ll fold 2 pins together and then flatten the fold behind them, as shown above and below. Start doing this with the two pins to either side of the seam.
Above you can see what one pleat looks like when pinned. Skip over from this pleat to the next two pins, and make another pleat. The seam of the rectangular panels will get hidden in a pleat, as shown below.
When you have all your pleats pinned it will look like the image above. Once you get all your pleats pinned, check the width of the skirt to make sure it’s still (1.5 times your waist measurement rounded up to the nearest number divisible by 4) + 2 inches. If it’s longer than that, you can cut the short ends off to get to the correct width. Stitch across the top of the skirt panel to hold all those pleats in places as shown below.
Fold the unpleated edges of the skirt 1/2 inch to the wrong side twice to form hems. Stitch the hems.
Now it’s time to put the skirt on. Center the seam at center back, then wrap it around your waist. Add a pin to the outermost layer that shows where the innermost layer ends – this should be near the side of your body.
Fold the waistband in half, matching long edges. Sew across the short edges, then turn the waistband right sides out and press.
Press one long edge of the waistband 3/8 inch to the wrong side.
Lay your skirt out wrong side up. Fold the bottom layer in until the edge is touching the pin that marks the side seam. Then fold your waistband in half. Line up the fold of the waistband with the fold of the skirt. This is where you will start pinning your waistband to your skirt.
Pin the unpressed side of the waistband to the skirt, right sides together. Stitch.
Pin the folded edge of the waistband over the seam. Toptitch along all the bottom edge of the waistband, sandwiching the skirt in between and closing the open ends of the waistband.
Mark on the waistband where your pin indicates the skirt overlap. Stop about 3/8 inch away from the waistband stitching and the top edge of the waistband. We’re going to sew a very big buttonhole here – but don’t worry – it’s not hard!
First, outline your mark with straight stitches. You want to set your machine to stitches that are about 2mm long. Sew a little box along your mark, making it two stitches wide on the short edges.
Then, set your machine to the shortest length zig-zag stitch it will do and make the stitch about 2 mm wide. You can see my machine settings above.
Center your needle over the stitching line on one long side of the box. Stitch down the line with your zig zag stitch, then cut your thread and repeat this with the other long side of the box. Your buttonhole will look like the image below.
Finally make your zig-zag stitch wider but not longer – you can see my settings above. Sew over the short ends of the box with this stitch. Make sure to backstitch these before cutting the threads.
To wear the skirt, you’ll pull the end of the waistband sash through the buttonhole and wrap it around the back to tie on the other side.