Saturday, October 3, 2015

How Not to Make a Pleated Skirt

I swear this is my last post about the weekend at the Wooden Boat Festival. I wanted to keep my boat themed outfits going so I wore my t-shirt with anchors on it. I made the t-shirt ages ago, but the skirt was one I had only recently finished.

When I started the skirt I had intended to make a tutorial on how to make a pleated skirt, but I pretty much did absolutely everything wrong, so instead I'm calling this how not to make a pleated skirt. 

 First: fabric choice. I used a mid-weight linen from I chose linen for a couple of reasons:
 1) I thought because it wrinkles easily it would hold a crease for the pleats. WRONG. The pleats were totally invisible, like, 30 minutes after I pressed them in. The wrinkles stayed just fine though.
2) There is a dress I want to make that incorporates pleats and before I used up four yards of linen on it I wanted to know if my finished object (FO) would look any good. I've now learned not to use linen for that dress.
3) I figured even if the linen didn't hold the pleats I would still end up with a cute, dirndl looking skirt, so it as a fairly low-risk experiment.

I will say that this linen is absolutely scrumptious. I love it. And I was at least right that even though the skirt didn't come out the way I envisioned I do still like the FO. Next time though I will skip the pleating and just gather the waistband like I did for my pink skirt.

So, I cut out a rectangle of fabric, carefully making sure that it was on grain and started marking my pleats at the top. Those white lines are 1/2 inch apart.

And here I'm about half way through gathering all the pleats. There ended up being 52 pleats. I pressed them all down once they were pinned. And this is where I stopped taking pictures because things started going wrong. 

My fabric managed the slip off grain, so when I sewed in my pleats they looked crooked. Bummer. I also sewed them down four inches and then realized that it looked ridiculous and unflattering, 2 inches would have been plenty. I solved that my nixing the waistband. Instead, I just folded over my pleated section. The pleats made the fabric plenty stiff and stable, so I didn't bother with interfacing or anything. That part actually went rather well. 

A note on zipper installation: linen unravels like crazy, so I gave myself a full inch of seam allowance for the zipper and did a clean seam finish before installing the zipper.

I had wanted the skirt to sit a couple inches below my waist and come to my knees. But it ended up too small to sit that low. I tried adding fabric, but I added too much, then realized the couple inches I needed to add looked ridiculous so I took it back off and just decided to wear it at my waist. That's the fashion now anyway. It's also shorter than I wanted because I'm wearing it high, and I lost two inches doing the waistband. My butt isn't hanging out though, so I can live with it. In fact, I think it's still longer than similar skirts I've seen in stores, and again this makes it more in keeping with current fashion. 

All in all, even though everything went wrong I'm still happy with the FO. It'll look cute in the fall/winter with tights, or in the spring/summer without which was part of my hope. I probably won't make a skirt this way again, but at least this one worked out alright.

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