Sparkly Box Pleated Skirt

Self Drafted Box Pleat Skirt

Oh, look, it’s my old standard photo background – the moldy green backyard fence! It’s not the prettiest place but its shaded and gets amazing light in the afternoon.

I hadn’t used it much lately because the giant trees surrounding our house make for a thick blanket of leaves over everything each spring. I finally got around to clearing out the leaves this week – I filled thirteen(!!!) of those big kraft paper yard bags!.

The leaves are never ending. Oh, well. In the mean time let’s talk about skirts!

Self Drafted Box Pleat Skirt

This skirt occurred as an experiment. Maybe I was inspired to sew pleats because I had been pleating petticoats lately for my historical costumes and wanted to apply that to modern clothes. Maybe I was sick of this fabric growing lonely in my dresser.

I’d had this nice sparkly black fabric for so long and with no clue what to do with it so I brought it out from the drawer, washed it, and as I was ironing, started playing with pleats.

What you see now is the result – a stitched-down pleated skirt. I think I may have stumbled on a new closet staple.

Let’s get to the details:

Self Drafted Box Pleat Skirt

The Pattern: None! But after fits and starts I realized I had to do some math to get the skirt to fit me.

The skirt is simply a length of 45″ wide fabric split up the middle into two rectangles, pleated and seamed together with part of the pleats stitched down. Each pleat is slightly larger than one 1″ in width, so each pleat takes up probably 3.25″ total.

Self Drafted Box Pleat Skirt

The Fabric: This fabric is, I believe, a cotton (maybe linen blend?) with metallic threads interwoven horizontally. Since I cut the fabric in half, I did the pleats up the selvage side so the stripes run vertical on the skirt. I bought it at least a year ago and I honestly don’t remember where it came from now…

The Changes Construction: Mostly trial and error until I got my math correct.

Originally I wanted to make a facing but decided drafting a facing based on a patternless skirt with a bunch of wonky pleats was too much work. Instead I cut 2.25″ wide bias tape and bound the edge. I think the diagonal angle of the stripes adds contrast and it proved an easy alternative to a facing.

Self Drafted Box Pleat Skirt

At first I planned on simply zig-zagging down where the pleats meet but then I noticed a spool of velvet ribbon and had an idea… I carefully edge stitched the ribbon over each pleat section, folding in the raw edge at the bottom. Luckily, I had exactly enough ribbon left on the spool to fit.

I tried to accommodate the measurement difference from waist to upper hip in my pleats by making the pleats deeper at the top than at the bottom.

Self Drafted Box Pleat Skirt

The skirt closes with a invisible zip that’s hidden behind one of the pleats. I made that pleat slightly wider and extended it over the edge of the zipper teeth (kind of like a mock-lapped zip). Then I stitched the ribbon over that very edge of the pleat so when I wear the skirt it mostly looks seamless.

Finally I added a hook and eye to the waistband but I didn’t do that good of a job ’cause you can see the hook. I should have considered that and possibly sewn it to the inside. Oh well, not going to fix it.

Self Drafted Box Pleat Skirt

The Results: For not knowing how it would turn out, this skirt has made me much happier than I expected. The body of the fabric holds the pleats well and makes the hem poof out nicely. Since it’s mostly black it can go with several tops but the metallic threads add a bit of bling. There’s something inherently feminine about a little box pleated mini. I’d call this make a success!

  • Ooooh, I want to steal your skirt! That fabric is great, and you drafted exactly the right pattern for it! (:

  • Margo Bergman

    Adorable! I can see this styled so many different ways…your math skills paid off!

    • thank you, margo!

  • Eileen

    I love it! Especially with the velvet over the pleats. I may have to “borrow” that idea 🙂

    • thanks, eileen! and you should totally “borrow” that idea 😉

  • Caitlyn Myers

    A success indeed! The velvet ribbon is a brilliant touch. I also love how you photographed it: notwithstanding the moldy fence, the hazy light gives everything an ethereal air.

    • ha, thanks, yes, i love the light in that spot of the backyard and the big tree makes it nice and shaded.

  • I really like – looks far more thought out and planned than you suggest. I can see this being a staple garment too. well done!

  • Absolutely gorgeous! I just made a Deer & Doe Belladone out of the same fabric but in gold, although I haven’t really worn it because it came out a touch too tight (that fabric has NO give). I bought the fabric at Modern Domestic in Portland, it looks like they have it online:

    • Ah, yes, that’s absolutely it. Thank you so much!

  • Love it! Perfect skirt for the upcoming cold autumn weather!

    • yes, now if only it would get cooler here. thanks!

  • A real burst of joy! I like when experiments turn out nicely. Boxe pleats were not my favourite in the past, because I associated them with my school uniform, but these days I’d be happy to wear one again!

  • This skirt is sooo gorgeous and I guess versatile, too! Love it!!

  • justine

    A happy experiment! Lovely.