Tutorial on How to Make Box Pleat Skirts

Updated February 21, 2017

Create a tailored, conservative look with a box pleated skirt, or make it trendy and playful, depending on the material and placement of the pleats. Making a basic box pleat is not difficult once you understand the math and basic steps. Knife pleats are folded in one direction, while the folds of box pleats lay in opposite directions. Creating pleats is a basic sewing skill easily mastered by most beginners.

Measure and cut the fabric for the skirt. Cut according to pattern directions, if you are using a skirt pattern. Otherwise, remember the ratio of fabric to completed pleat is 2:1. Your fabric should be twice as wide as the desired finished pleated skirt. Sew the side seams together leaving an opening for a zipper before pleating your skirt.

Work on the wrong side of the fabric for box pleats. For a skirt with a finished size of 30 inches, make marks 1 inch apart around the 60-inch length of the material. Each five marks makes one pleat, so you will have a skirt with 12 pleats when finished.

Work from the wrong side of the material. Fold the material at the first mark, right sides together. Crease the material along mark two and bring the edge of the first fold over to mark three, in the centre of the first set of five marks. Pin it in place.

Move to mark five and fold it as you did the first fold, right sides together. Crease the material at mark four and lay the fold over so it is touching the first fold. This completes your box pleat, which is formed on the right side of the material. Repeat with each set of five marks around the skirt, pinning each fold in place as you go.

Baste by hand with a needle and thread, or with the longest stitch on your sewing machine when all the pleats are in place. The stitching should be about 3/4 of an inch from the skirt top. This will hold your pleats in place as you finish the skirt.

Complete the skirt by adding the waistband to the skirt top, putting in a zipper and hemming the garment.


Pleat size can be adjusted as needed to make them come out even, or according to personal preferences.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric for skirt
  • Clear plastic ruler
  • Fabric marking pen
  • Dressmakers pins
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
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About the Author

Margaret Mills has been writing for more than 30 years, focusing on articles about religion, forestry, gardening and crafts. Her work has appeared in religious periodicals including "Focus on the Family" and similar publications. Mills has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Northwest Nazarene University.