Monday, November 5, 2012

How to Sew a Kick Pleat Pencil Skirt with Bow Accents

Today is the first day of our November Flickr Friends Festival!
And we are so excited to have Sally with us today.  Sally has been one of our Flickr friends from forever...she is wonderful and we are so glad to have her here today sharing her tutorial for this adorable skirt.

Sally here from Daisy Chain Creations
I had so much fun playing along with this season of Project Run and Play.  Each week's challenges were a lot of fun and this time around I got my daughter involved by asking her to help create the designs.  By trying to fulfill her visions, I had to push myself to learn a lot of new things.  Probably my favorite article of clothing I created was this skirt:
So without further ado,
here is how to make the
Kick Pleat Skirt with Bow Accents
Materials needed: 
--about 1 yard of fabric but depends on width of fabric and length needed (you might get by with less)
Measurements needed:
--waist--hips (don't forget to accomodate a diaper, if you are making this for the younger set)--distance from waist to hips--length
Pieces to cut out:
The bases of the pieces cut out is that the front piece and the back piece, at the waist, equal the measurement of the waist without seam allowances.  I made the side panels 8 inches at the waist, which when finished leave 4 inches at the sides (you'll be making 2 inch seams on each side).  You might need to add more to the sides and take away a little from the front and back to keep the bow over the knee, depending on the size of your daughter or bulk of diaper.
Confused?  Let me try to break it down for you:
My starting waist measurement was 24".  Front and back were 12" each (minus the inch on the back for the zipper--explained down below).  With the side panels 8" each, I'm adding 16" to the total, but will be making four 2" seams thus taking away a total 16".  Make sense? 

1. Skirt Front--cut on fold
Start with 1/4 of waist measurement and make a mark, measure down from mark with the distance from waist and hips and measure over for hip measurement.  When cutting out, flare out from waist measurement to hip measurement and flare slightly to get the length (just remember you will be adding a 2 inch waist band at the top as well).
The skirt is kind of in between a pencil and an 'A' shaped skirt (not too tight to restrict movement in little girls, but not too flared to lose the effect of the pleats).
2. Skirt Back--use the front as a pattern (that way you only have to measure once:), cut 2 on open edge add 1/2 inch on straight edge (to total 1 inch to accomodate the fact that you are putting a zipper in the back and will have a seam with seam allowance)

3. 2 side panels--cut on fold--4 inches at the top/waist and cut at the same angle as the front piece (when opened 8")--I just used the front piece as a guide, making sure to line up pieces with the grain of the fabric
4. Waistband--(waist measurement + 3 inches) long and 4 inches wide ( you could make it wider or skinnier if you want).  Since I was using scraps of the brown corduroy, I had to piece the waistband to get the right length.  You could get one continuous piece from your fabric, or you could just piece it as well with a piece 1/2 the length needed for the front piece and 2 smaller pieces for the back.
5. 4 pleat panels--4 inches by 4 1/2 inches
6.  Bow Pieces--2 each of 5 inches by 4 inches and 4 inches by 2 inches
--Attach side pieces to front and back pieces to sides with a 2 inch seam allowance
(I use my water soluble marker to mark 2 inches on my machine and just wipe it off when I am done)
--Use regular stitch down to 4 inches from the bottom (which you should mark before as you are pinning).  Then switch to a basting stitch.

Here is what the inside looks like with the 2" seam allowance. Iron open.

This is what it looks like when all assembled.  Trim bottom to make it even.

--Attach pleat panels--
-pin panel right side down on to 2 inch seam allowance, but not on to skirt
-sew up each side separately, making sure not to catch skirt, pivot at corner and sew only up to seam allowance
--I use a 1/4 inch seam.

- Trim seam allowance down to 1/2 inch on each side--Make sure to fold pleat and panel away from skirt before you cut!
-Cut right into seam (carefully, you don't actually want to cut the seam) at top of pleat panel
(I usually cut both sides at the same time, but did it this way to show the difference.) 
--Finish edges of panel.  Again make sure you are just catching the panel and not the skirt and again going up and into the seam on each side.  I used a zigzag stitch, but you could use a serger.  You now have a little pocket like thing.
--Finish seams--fold under seam allowance, press and sew down to panel on each side, but not across yet.
--On front of skirt, start on one seam about an inch from bottom of seam and sew down and across the bottom, making sure to catch the top of the panel underneath.  This gives the seam a nice finished look and secures the pleat.
--Tack each corner of the pleat to skirt and then unpick the basting stitches.
(The tacking won't show in the front, because it will be covered by the bow, but will not be covered in the back.)
--Repeat for other 3 panels 
--Attach zipper--You could use a regular, invisible or exposed zipper.  I didn't show this step, because each kind of zipper requires a different way to finish the back seam.  I used an invisible one in this skirt, so I put the zipper in first and then finished up the seam.
--Attach waistband--
(If using a cotton or light weight fabric, I would use a piece of interfacing 1/2 the width of the waistband.  I didn't use any for the corduroy or wool though.) 
--Fold in half lengthwise and iron
1. Pin right side of waistband to inside of skirt.  Make sure to leave overlap at each end. Sew in place.
2. Trim seam allowance.  Fold in towards waistband and iron seam.
3. Fold in 1/4 inch at each end.  Iron.
4. Fold waistband to front and iron under seam allowance.  Pin in place.
5. Sew around the entire waistband, making one big rectangle.  Be careful at the ends to keep the fold nice and neat.
--Add button hole and button as desired.
--Hem--finish edge--press up hem allowance and hem
(Because of the many seams meeting at the hem with the pleats, I just finish the edge with a zigzag stitch and only fold up the hem once.  If you do a regular hem, the pleats don't lay right because of the bulk, at least with the heavier wool and corduroy that I've used for this skirt.  A light weight fabric might be okay to finish with a normal hem.)
--Repress pleats for a good crease.
--Make Bows--
-Fold piece in half, right sides together, and stitch, but leave another opening.
Here's a great hint I learned from using Oliver & S patterns (I've learned so many things from their patterns!), stitch out to the edge of what you need to turn and that way the opening gets tucked in naturally.
-Trim, snipping corners and into the corners
-Don't even bother sewing opening closed, because it will end up under the middle piece
-For middle piece
--make a tube--turn
--press with seam in middle of tube
--make a ring about the size of your finger--snip extra--turn
-Slide bow part into ring
 --Tighten if needed
 --Tack on to skirt on each of the 4 corners and in the middle
-Repeat for other bow
And you are done!!!
 I would love to see what you make from this tutorial, so come and leave a comment on my blog if you make one.  As I made it with the different fabrics this time, I was thinking how great it would look in solid, bold colors.  The possibilities are endless!
Thanks Sally!

Related Posts


  1. This is adorable! Thanks for the tutorial!

  2. That is super cute!! I love how classy it looks, while still sweet for a little girl!

  3. Thank you all for the kind comments! Don't be fooled by the long tutorial, it is all straight lines and is actually really easy. Love to see it if you make one!

  4. That is so cute! I really love the corduroy one. =)

  5. What a darling skirt!! Great tutorial Sally!

  6. Sally,
    Your directions were easy to follow, especially with the photographs Thank you for sharing your ideas.

  7. Great job on the tutorial! I'll have to try and make a few for my girls!

  8. This is such a cute and modest little skirt! Thank you! I'm bookmarking it for when my little girl is up and walking {not too soon I hope!}. It's so cute!

  9. Thanks for the great tutorial. This will definitely be in my to-do list.

  10. Very, very thorough tutorial, Sally!!! I'm so glad you chose this skirt to share on the Flickr Friends Blog Post Month......

  11. Thank you all! I hope you let me know if you try it. I'd love to see the different 'takes' on it.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.