Another day, another skirt... Seriously, we can't get enough! Today girls, we will mostly be showing you how to make a knife pleated skirt (did anyone get the Fast Show reference??).
Pleating is just another way to manipulate a length of fabric by folding the material to make it narrower at one end and fuller at the other (another example of fabric manipulation to manage fullness is gathering or ruching). One of the simplest folding techniques is knife pleating. Knife pleats are a series of sharp, narrow folds, all heading in the same direction, reminiscent of school girls in teeny tennis skirts à la Cher from Clueless and Britney circa Baby Hit Me... It's a good look.
The key to pleating is all in the maths. You need to calculate the length of fabric you'll need so that, once pleated, it equals your waistline measurement, plus seam allowance. We love the look of pretty narrow pleats so we settled on a pleat width of 1". When creating the fold, you will be folding the fabric back on itself, and then folding it forwards again, so that each 1" pleat becomes three layers thick. That's 3" per pleat. In terms of fabric choice, we'd recommend light-medium weight wovens that press well. Cotton is ideal.
Next, measure your waistline. Let's say for example, your waist measurement is 28". You will need 84" (28 x 3) + 5/8" (15mm) either side for seam allowance.
Once you've cut your length of fabric, mark the seam allowance on each side, and start pleating from there. Using the diagram as a guide, fold and press all the way across the fabric, pinning the pleats securely at both ends.
Once you're happy with your pleats, and you've doubled checked that it all measures up and fits your waist, baste the pleats into place along the waistline.
We've recently discovered an amazing sewing hack which you can use to form your knife pleats as well! All just by using your standard kitchen fork (first measuring to make sure it is approx. 1inch wide):
Next, insert an invisible zipper and close the back seam (see our definitive tutorial here), and attach a waistband (another of our awesome tutorials here). To hem your skirt, press the raw edge in by 1/4" and again by 1/4". Stitch. For the finishing touch, go over your pleats once more with a hot iron for extra crispiness. Now go! Pull on some over-the-knee socks and go seduce your professor.
PS. Apologies for the dull photography... it seems the grizzly British Winter weather is not on our side.