Hey Friends!!  You know by now, here at Violette Field Threads we love all of the vintage details that remind us of the darling, classic looks from the past!!  Our newest pattern, Teagan, just released and many of our customers were interested in the horizontal pleats that Jessica Herning added to her version using Bec Williams “Sweet Nothings” fabric from Hawthorne Supply Company.  So today I am going to explain TWO methods of adding horizontal pleats to any non-circle skirt pattern, PLUS some tips on adding trim to pleats as well!!!

First off, you’ll want to start by choosing any pattern with a rectangle skirt.  Violette Field Threads provides cut charts with the measurements for rectangular pieces, but you can easily add the extra length to paper pattern pieces if you’re more comfortable using that method.  I’ve used Harper and Elodie for my examples and you’ve already seen Teagan with pleats added in Jessica's initial version!

 After you’ve chosen your pattern, you'll want to decide the look you want.  On my Rose themed Elodie above, I chose one large 3” pleat and for my pinstripe Harper above, I created two 3/4” pleats.  On Teagan, Jessica created two 2” horizontal pleats. *Tip - Using a scrap piece of fabric to try out pleat sizes and spacing can help you visualize your final look.

Next you’ll need to figure out how much length to add to your skirt pieces.  *Note - If your chosen pattern instructs you to add a lining to the skirt (such as Elodie) you will not need to make any changes to the length of your skirt lining pieces.


Length of finished Pleat x 2 =_______ x Number of Pleats = Total length to Add on to the bottom of the skirt measurement

Example:  For Harper I wanted two 3/4” pleats so my math looked like this -

3/4 x 2 = 1 1/2 (This is for one pleat and I wanted two.)  I then took that total and multiplied it by how many pleats I wanted to add.  1 1/2 x 2 = 3.  That gave me a total of 3” I needed to add to the length of my skirt to create two 3/4” horizontal pleats.

Once you have your total, add that measurement to the appropriate length using the cut chart in your pattern (or the pattern piece itself) and cut your skirt pieces out.  Follow the directions for sewing side seams and hemming in your tutorial.  Now it's time for the fun part - adding the pleats!!!

Method 1:

First off, you measure how far up from the hem you want the folded edge of the bottom pleat to fall.  I wanted the bottom pleat folded edge to be 4” from the hemmed edge of the skirt.

 From there, add the total length you added for one pleat.  For this version I’m creating 3/4” pleats so I added 1 1/2” for each pleat.  Added to the 4”, I measured up a total of 5 1/2”.  Using your preferred method of marking (pins or disappearing ink pen for example) mark that measurement all the way around the skirt.

Fold your skirt wrong sides together at your markings and iron the fold flat.

Now sew along the folded edge using the length of your finished pleat as your seam allowance.  My finished pleat is 3/4” so that was my seam allowance.

Once you’ve sewn your pleat, unfold the skirt so that it is laying flat with the wrong side down and right side facing up.  Now you can iron the pleat down towards the hem.

Repeat the steps for your next pleat using the stitch line of the pleat you’ve just sewn as your starting line for measuring your next pleat placement.

 *Note - Spacing between the pleats is a personal design choice.  Use whatever length between pleats gets you the look you want.  I prefer small pleats being closer together, but its completely up to you!

 I chose to have my next pleat 1/2” above the first one.  So I measured up a total of 3” from the stitch line of my first pleat.  I marked it just like before.

Then, once again, I folded the fabric with the wrong sides together at my markings and ironed flat.

 Finally, I sewed that pleat using the same  3/4” seam allowance....and voilà!  All you have left to do is iron it down towards the hem like you did for the first pleat and you are done!!

 Method 2:

For this skirt, I wanted the pleat closer to the middle of the skirt since I was creating a large pleat.  After sewing my side seams and hemming, I folded my skirt in half and ironed a fold all the way around.

I then unfolded the skirt and used that fold line to measure down towards the hem the length of my finished pleat.  I wanted a 3” pleat so that’s the length I measured.

Next, mark with pins and fold wrong sides together.  Iron the fold.

Sew using the length of your finished pleat like before which should be the fold you ironed earlier when you folded the skirt in half.  For mine, I used 3” for a 3” finished pleat.


Iron the newly sewn pleat down towards the hem.  And then you can finish the skirt according to your tutorial!!

Adding Trim:

 Fold the pleat up to sew your trim on to the bottom edge underneath side of the pleat.  Sew very carefully and slowly along the edge of the pleat attaching the very top edge of the lace trim to the underside of the pleat.

 When finished, iron the pleat and trim back down.  Your top lace edge should be on the underside of the pleat.

And now you can sit back and look at the gorgeous pleats you have just created on your classic and timeless garment!!!


Kim Hembree

March 06, 2020 by Ericka Wright