Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tutorial: Box Pleated Skirt DIY

A continuation from last week's post, here's the tutorial for the box pleated skirt.

Box Pleated Skirt DIY

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~2 hrs

  • ~1 yard of 54-60" wide fabric - you'll want something that will hold a little structure like a cotton
  • 9" invisible zipper
  • Optional interfacing (more info in this tutorial)
Due to the number of photos, please see the rest of the tutorial after the jump.

What I did:
1.) My skirt consists of 2 rectangles: 1 for the waistband and 1 for the skirt itself.

  • Waistband: 
    • length = waist measurement + 2"
    • width = 3.5" 
      • Your width should be double your desired end result + 0.5".  I want mine to be ~1.5"wide and added 0.25" for the first skirt attachment and another 0.25" for the second skirt attachment (this will make more sense later)
  • Skirt:
    • length = Desired skirt length + 3"
    • width = I usually default to whatever my fabric width is (54-60") which is roughly 2x my waist measurement.  The wider your fabric, the more flare your skirt will have.  If your desired flare exceeds your fabric width, simply use 2 skirt panels.
      • Example: If your desired length = 20" and desired width = 70", cut 2 panels at 23x35" each

2.)  Mark the first and last 2" of both the waistband and skirt.  I use regular chalk and kind of mark wherever because I sew over it, but it's more practical to mark the underside :)

These 2" are reserved for zipper insertion and will not have any pleating (avoids excessive thickness at the zipper).
Blue chalk lines at the "P" of "Petite"

3.)  Fold your rectangles in half width-wise and mark the center of each.  Similarly, also mark the quarters of each (remember not to take your 1st and last 2" of the skirt panel into account).  The halfway mark is your center front and each quarter marks your side.

4.)  With the right sides of the fabric together, match the quarter markings of each rectangle and pin together.

5.)  Fold in half width wise again now that your quarters are pinned.  My center pleat will be deepest.  To do this, I pinned at 3"

Red pin right before "Gal" is the 3" mark for the center pleat

6.) Spread out the sides of your pinned fabric by aligning your pin to your center marking.

7.)  Pin each side of the center pleat down:

8.)  Now fold by aligning your center with one of your quarter markings - this is one of your front pleats immediately next to your center pleat.  You should see that your waistband is shorter than your skirt panel.

9.)  Pinch the excess skirt panel fabric, pin, and spread out the pleat side like you did for the center pleat.

10.)  Repeat Step 9 for the other front pleat on the opposite side of the center pleat.

11.)  For the 2 pleats on the back of the skirt, fold by aligning your quarter marking to the 2" marking on either side and repeat step 9 for each.

Back pleat

The entire skirt pleated and pinned

12.) Join your waistband to the skirt panel by sewing straight across removing pins as you come upon them.
Pleats sewn down

What the interior looks like with the pleats sewn down

Close-up of waistband sewn to skirt panel

13.) Time to insert that zipper!  Click here or here for great tutorials.

14.)  Fold the top of the waistband down and sew right on or right below the initial juncture between the waistband and skirt panel.

15.)  Hem.  I used a blind hem - see tutorial here.


Skirt Front

Skirt Back

Skirt interior 
You can see where all the excess fabric went.  This excess allows for easy alterations should I need to let it out.  You can also see where I baste in the zipper prior to officially inserting it.  This lets me try on the skirt to get a general idea of fit.  If the fit is off, I can easily pull the bobbin thread and re-align as needed.

Hope the steps were clear on this, if not, please feel free to email me or comment below!


  1. what's the material makeup of this fabric? 100% cotton? is it winkle free? When I was young, I took a basic sewing class, but I always always choose the wrong type of fabric for my project.

    1. This is 100% cotton home decor fabric (not wrinkle free). It has a thicker consistency like a twill. I would recommend something semi-structured for this project to hold the pleats. Hope that helps!

  2. Is your zipper on the side or center back? Can't tell from the pictures. It seems you have no side seams only the one seam that joins where the zipper is, am I correct? I also saw your under the sea box pleat skirt, but your pleat placement is not the same as this one. In that one you have one large pleat center front and then one on each side of the hips, much different looking than this one. Did you repeat the pleat placement on the back in the same way? Is zipper on the side or center back? Have you considered doing a tutorial on that version? I actually like the look of that version so much more. Thank you!

    1. Hello! For most of my skirts, I stick the zipper in the center back. And you are correct, there are no side seams. I use one continuous piece of fabric for many of these pleated skirts.

      The Under the Sea skirt uses a similar methodology as this one with a zipper in the center back and one continuous piece of fabric. I did play with pleating placement in the front, but the back pleats are the same. I hope that helps! But please do let me know if you have any questions!

    2. Thanks for replying! Question..on the under the sea skirt, how deep/wide is the center pleat? Same with the side/hip pleats, are they the same depth/width? Also, when you say the back pleats are the same, do you mean same as the front or same as this parisian skirt? Thanks for taking the time to reply!

      Rebeca from California :)

    3. Hi Rebeca! We just moved to a new place and I'm not entirely sure where that skirt went, but once it surfaces, I'll measure and let you know! As for the back pleats, they are the exact same as the Parisian skirt

    4. Hi Rebeca - I'm so sorry for the delayed response! The center pleat is 6" and side pleats are 3"

  3. I love it, it looks so easy to pair with any kind of top, thanks for sharing , another worthy DIY tutorial to add with my to do list.

    Buy Fabric Online


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