Sunday, August 16, 2015

How to Make a Pleated Skirt for your American Girl Doll


Pleated skirts look so beautiful but I hate trying to make the pleats using the pattern sheet that has all those arrows and it is just so long! I needed a method that made it easy for me. So I invented a method. Maybe it is not new but I thought of it myself so I am calling it mine.


The pull on skirt with a yoke is an old idea used a lot in children's clothes and perfect for doll clothes. I plan to make a 6 gore skirt and a circle skirt using the same yoke. A little more drafting involved with that so they will go into my shop.

So, the pleated skirt.
Cut a strip  2 1/4" wide and 12 1/2" long for the yoke. Cut it on the bias if you are using a plaid.
I made a paper pattern piece for the yoke.


Cut a strip 4" wide and 28" long for the pleats. These pleats are 1/2" with 1" between.

The pleats fit on 26” but 28” gives me peace of mind. You don’t want to spend lots of time making pleats only to find your skirt is 1/2” shorter than the waist band. 

1/4” pleats with 1/2” between also fit on 28”. To make these pleats pin every inch and press the fold every inch. On your ruler, line up the pressed fold with a marking and pleat it to the next 1/2” mark. Pin. Keep pleating.
1/2" pleats with 1/2" between takes 38". 38 " will be a bit longer than you need but you know why I do that. Put your pins 1 1/2" apart to start and press at each pin. Make the pleats same as below. They will just be closer together.

Overlock the hem edge of the pleat strip and turn up a 1/4" hem.

Get out your 1” imperial ruler or your cutting mat or print off some 1/2” graph paper.
For these pleats I would use the 1/2” graph paper and just quickly mark every two inches along a line.


Place your pleat strip right side up with the hem at the bottom. Put a pin in the centre of your pleat strip.
Moving to the right place a pin each 2”.


Place your strip on the ironing board wrong side up. Fold the end towards you and press a crease at the first pin. Make sure the hem edges and waist edges align to get your pleat square. You can take out the pins as you press.


Fold at the next pin and press and so on.

Place your pleat strip back on the ruler so the pressed folds line up with an inch mark. Fold  the pressed fold over to the next inch mark on the right and pin in place. Line up the next pressed fold and pleat. Work to the end.


Stitch across the tops of the pleats along the 1/4” seam allowance.
Press the pleats again.



Pleating the second half.
Place the pleat strip on the ruler again right side up and pin every 2” from the centre, to the left this time.

Lie it on the ironing board wrong side up with the pins to the left. Fold the top end towards you and press the fold at the first pin. Continue folding the strip towards you pressing at each pin marker.

Back to the ruler and line up the fold with the inch mark and fold it to the right to the next inch mark. Pin.

Stitch across the tops and press again.

Waist band
Overlock one long edge of the waist band. Press it over 1/2”. If you want turn the edge under 1/4" instead of overlocking you will have to cut the waist band 3/8" wider. You only need a 1/4" trun but the extra folding takes up more than that so you have to cut the band 3/8" wider.


With matching thread in the top and bottom, stitch on the wrong side close to the overlocked edge.
On the right side stitch again 1/8” from the fold to make a casing.

Place the waist band on the skirt right sides together and line up the waist band so the pleats fit with at least a 1/4” seam allowance on each end. 


Stitch the skirt to the waist band with a 1/4”seam. Press the waist band up and the seam down. 
Top stitch close to the seam on the waist band side.

Trim off the ends.


Measure off 10 1/2” of 1/4” elastic. Thread it through the casing with a safety pin. Pin the end before it slips through. Keep threading and pin the other end. Stitch across the ends just to hold the elastic while you stitch the back seam.



With right sides together stitch the back with a 1/4” seam. Open the seam at the waist and stitch across it to make it lie flat. Press the seam open.




Team it with blouses or a t-shirt all made from 1802 Snugfit Anna. $2.50 on Craftsy or Etsy.





Make a cute turtle neck, cardigan or even a vest all from 1801 Knitfit Lucy $2.50 on Craftsy or Etsy.



This pleat method is so easy to do. Once you have that first fold pressed the rest just falls into place.

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Download a text mainly PDF of this tutorial.

Happy Sewing,
Val