I wanted to make a cheerleading-style skirt with the peekaboo contrast color box pleats for Girl Child. She loves wearing skirts and I need some for her for the fall. I had a 1/2 yard remnant left over from a dress I made for her last fall that I thought would work well as a skirt. I went online looking for a pattern for a box pleat skirt but couldn’t find anything that matched my vision. I wanted a dropped pleat with an elastic waist. At 4 years old, an elastic waist is much easier for her to put on than the zippered skirt that was shown in all the patterns. This design is a size 5T with a 21 inch waist and 10 inch length. It hits her just above the knees.
- 1/2 yd main fabric
- 1/2 yd contrast fabric
- 1 inch elastic – length equal to waist measurement + 1 inch
- thread to match
Cutting Your Fabric Pieces:
Girl Child has a 21 inch waist, so I want to add a couple of inches to that for the volume of the skirt, for ease of measurement, I decided to go with 24 inches. I wanted to have eight panels, which means each panel needed to be 3 inches finished. Take 3 inches and add .5 inches for seam allowances (1/4 inch on each side) and I needed 28 inches total. I cut out eight panels that were each 3.5 inches by 10 inches.
For the contrast inside the pleats, I wanted five-inch panels. I cut out eight panels that were each 5.5 inches by 10 inches.
For the waistband I cut a single piece that was 24.5 inches by 3 inches.
All seam allowances are 1/4 inch.
1. With right sides together, line up the long side of one panel of the main fabric with the long side of one panel of the contrast fabric. Using a straight stitch, sew together on the long sides. Open up. Line up the next panel of the main fabric with the long raw edge of the contrast panel, right sides together, and sew. Continue sewing alternate panels of fabric together until all of the panels have been sewn into a long line. Do not sew the two ends together to make a tube yet since it is much easier to work on a long rectangle to make the pleats. Finish the seams in your usual manner such as with a zig-zag stitch, pinking shears, or serger.
2. Make your inverted box pleats. If you need some help with making an inverted box stitch, check out this tutorial at Sew4Home. Using disappearing fabric marker or chalk, on the right side of the fabric mark each contrast panel in a line down the center from top to bottom (2.5 inches from either side). This is the placement line. Then mark a line to either side of this 1.25 inches away. These are the fold lines. You will have three lines total on each contrast panel. Fold each side at the fold line so that they meet in the middle at the placement line, making sure that the seams with the main panels line up and meet in front. Press well. It should look like this.
3. Take each fold that you pressed and sew along it with an edge stitch very close to the edge to set the fold. Be sure to stop about 1/2 inch from the edge for the hem. (Alternative option: hem now and then edgestitch the pleats after hemming. See step 5 for hemming instructions. I prefer to hem when the skirt is a tube rather than a flat line.)
4. Sew the two end panels of your line of fabric to each other to make a tube. Finish the seam.
5. Make a narrow hem along the bottom of the skirt by folding up 1/4 inch, press, then fold up again another 1/4 inch and press. Sew along the edge of the fold.
6. Now to make the box pleats into dropped box pleats. To do this, line up the front seams where each main fabric panel meets at the center of the pleat. Mark them 1.5 inches from the top. ( I started out with a 3 inch drop that you see in the picture and then realized it was too long when I tried it on my daughter, so I changed it to 1.5 inches, which looked much better.) Sew these together from the top down to the mark you made. You can do this on the machine or hand sew. I preferred to hand sew these to get the edges lined up more cleanly.
7. Baste the top of the box pleats along the top of the skirt within the seam allowance to hold them in position.
8. Sew the short ends of the waistband to each other, right sides together, to make a tube. Fold the waistband in half with wrong side together.
9. Line up the waistband with the top of the skirt, right sides together. Sew, leaving a 1-2 inch opening to insert the elastic. Cut a piece of 1 inch wide elastic to a length of the waist. For my daughter, I cut a piece 22 inches long. Attach the elastic to a safety pin or bobbin and thread through the waistband casing. Overlap by 1 inch and sew together, making sure that the elastic is not twisted. Close the final section of the seam between the waistband and the skirt. Finish your seam and you are done!