Sunday, 21 July 2013

Quick pleated summer skirt

Thanks everyone for your very lovely comments on my last post! So nice to get such lovely feedback. It all gave me a nice warm glow!

I mentioned in my previous post that I'd made a very quick summer skirt last week. Fuelled by the comments on my earlier post about having few summer clothes, I dug through my stash, and came across this piece of fabric that I'd completely forgotten about. 

It's furnishing/curtain fabric and was a remnant I bought for £2 about a year ago. I measured the remnant for the purposes of this post, but then lost the bit of paper I wrote the measurements on. Sorry! I think it was about 1m by about 76cm? It certainly wasn't a full width, as it only had one selvedge. 

It's a cotton, not too heavy weight. It looks textured (not that you can see that here), as there are beige/cream flecks on the white background. I was planning to go down the dirndl/gathered skirt route, but realised that a) I didn't really have enough fabric to make a waistband, and wasn't sure you could have a gathered skirt without one, and b) the fabric is probably a bit heavy, and therefore bulky, for a gathered waist. I played around with it for a bit, trying to figure out what to do, when I remembered a skirt in this book that I own.
I bought this book years ago, before I really got into sewing, as I saw it featured in a magazine and thought it looked kinda cool. I have never made anything from it, until now!

There aren't many projects in this book that I'd ever wear (the problem with buying a book online is that you can't have a good flick first!), but there were one or two things that appealed, one of which was a "rough and ready pleated skirt"The instructions really would have resulted in a very rough and ready skirt, with no waistband, just a simple turned over hem at the top, and poppers to fasten. I decided to use the basic idea but to improve it a bit, to make it look just a little more polished (and... er... like I can actually sew). The instructions actually called for the fabric's width to be 1.5 times my hip measurement, I had nowhere near that, but went with it anyway - I just figured I'd have less volume.

I started by removing the selvedge and then cutting the fabric in half horizontally. I lined the floral print up as much as I could, so they were aligned horizontally, but I stopped short of proper pattern matching at the seams. I couldn't afford the wastage. 

Sorry for the dearth of photos in this post. I didn't photograph it as I went along.

I sewed the 2 pieces together down one side seam and then started pleating the top. I did spend about 2 minutes trying to work out how big to make the pleats so they were even, then gave up. This is "rough and ready" remember, and even the instructions said to eyeball it. So I did. I started by making the pleats more or less 5cm (2 inches), and then played around with them to get the fit right around the waist. I pinned the pleats in place and then added an invisible zipper. I did this before sewing the pleats in place, as I wanted to make sure the placement around the zip looked OK. I did need to fiddle around with the pleats after adding the zip and once I was happy with them, I basted along the top of them to hold them in place, before topstitching down each pleat by about 4cm (1.5 inches). There was no logic to this measurement, I was just making it up as I went along.

I added some grosgrain ribbon to face the waist. There is no waistband. I placed the right side of the fabric to the wrong side of the ribbon, stitched it's length and then folded over. So from the inside, the ribbon looks topstiched on, but you can't see the topstitching on the outside. I then did a slipstich by hand to secure the bottom of the ribbon. I did consider topstitching the ribbon in place, but liked the look without the stitching. By happy coincidence, the 4cm topstitch on each pleat pretty much perfectly matches the width of the ribbon, so that almost acts as a waistband, the skirt flaring out beneath that point.

Unfortunately I got to the stage of stitching the top of the ribbon, but not quite the hand stitching, before trying it on - and it was too big!!! The pleats must have shifted when I basted them in place! It fitted my hips, but I wanted a higher waist on this skirt. I'm afraid to admit I took the lazy way out - I unpicked half the grosgrain, unpicked about 4 pleats at the back and adjusted them, before resewing them and then the grosgrain. It means I have a greater number of pleats, and therefore a bit more volume, at the back than the front, but I'm not hugely bothered. Certainly not bothered enough to redo it.

Once happy with the fit, I finished the hem with a small double turned over hem. The insides were finished as I went along with the overlock stitch on my sewing machine. 

And that was it!!!

P's sister and her family are currently over visiting from New York, where they live. On Friday they came over to Edinburgh (the rest of P's family live in Glasgow) and the two families took a trip to Edinburgh Castle. I had tasked P with taking some photos of me in my new skirt, thinking a change of background and a bit of culture might be nice for you lovely readers, however we both completely forgot. So, instead you get these:

Me with small boy and P's niece. You can see the skirt full length here.
Nice family pic. You can better see the pleating here. And check out that blue, blue sky!!!
As you can see from the top photo, the pleating is not very full. With a wider piece of fabric, you could really go to town here and I think I might make a more voluminous version in future.

One regret on this skirt is that I didn't think to add pockets until I'd pretty much finished. And then of course I couldn't be bothered to unpick it all. Another one to remember for next time!

I have no flat, or interior photos, or any back shots (sorry Nessa! :)). It's too dark now to take any more tonight. Plus, as you can see I carried Small Boy quite a bit that day - we did a lot of walking - and my skirt became filthy from the dust on his shoes, so the skirt went straight in the wash after one wear. So, another reason why I don't have any more photos, sorry.

Once the skirt is laundered, I'll take a couple more photos and post them on Flickr, so you can see this better. I really am happy with this skirt. I'm not sure how much more wear I'll get from it this summer, as apparently our hot spell is now over, but hopefully I'll get to wear it at least once more! Fingers crossed!



  1. The great part about sewing your own clothes is that you can take a remnant and in a couple of hours you have a new outfit. This is a great summery print!

  2. I love it - even without loads of photos! :-) The fabric is so perfect for our weather and I really love the idea of just eyeballing it. I have some fabric at the moment that is earmarked for a self-drafted pleated skirt, and I just keep putting it off. Yours is so pretty that I think I may just put it to the top of the to-do list!

  3. Love it, a perfect summer skirt! Hopefully the sunny weather is going to return, I was just getting used to it!


  4. Oh, it's lovely - just so summery! And such a pretty print. Well done you!

  5. I came across a beautiful furnishing fabric last week and, remembering how beautifully your skirt turned out, I bought it to have a go. I need to be careful with pattern placement - fingers crossed!


I love to hear from you!

© Grosgrain Green | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Created by pipdig