Sunny Days Pleated Skirt Hack

Sunny Days Pleated Skirt Hack

Hi there! I’m Deborah (I live in Belgium) and it’s my turn to present to you another Ellie & Mac pattern hack! I love the versatility of Ellie & Mac patterns! They are always easy to sew and full of options. And I do love hacking patterns to add even more options!

This time I was challenged by my sister. She had sent me a picture of a dress, asking if I would be able to make it… So I had to give it a try!
This is the picture she had sent me (not mine obviously, but I can’t mention the source, since I don’t know the shop where she found this picture).

I based myself upon the pattern of the Sunny Days dress from Ellie & Mac. At first, I left the top unchanged, but I adjusted the skirt part. There was some math involved. I calculated that each pleat was 1.6" wide, leaving 0.8" between the pleats. In total I made sure there were seven folds. I did this both front and back. I made sure that the width of the front part of my skirt part was equal to the bottom of the bodice + 7 x 1.6" for the box pleats.

This is what my muslin looked like.

For my second version, I shortened the empire waist bodice half an inch and lowered the neckline.

Here's how I tackled it:

  1. I first cut the front and back piece (1 time in the outer fabric, 1 time in the lining). At the front, I drew the neckline a little deeper. 

  2. For the skirt parts I drew two rectangles according to the new dimensions. For the length, I just kept the dimensions of the pattern (knee-length). For the width I took the width of the front piece + 7 times  1.6" and cut it twice.
  3. I folded both the front and back of the skirt part to determine mid front and mid back (see arrow with M in the photo). I put a pin there. Then I made the necessary markings to create 7 box pleats. So from the pin I drew a mark on both sides at 0.8" cm and then 3 times at 0.8" and at 1.6". (So 2 - 2 - 4 - 2 - 4 - 2 - 4). I did the same for the back piece. The 1.6" pieces will form the box pleats (in my photo P1, P2, ..., P7), starting mid front and mid-back.
  4. I folded the fabric right sides together so that two 1.6" marks matched each other. This means 7 times per skirt panel. I put a pin there every time. I then sewed 1.5" down at that spot so that I could remove the pin and the folds remained. 

  5. Then I flattened each fold so that the back touched my just-put stitching. I stitched this secure close to the edge of the fabric. I repeated this for every fold, so 7 times per skirt panel.

  6. I stitched the side seams of the skirt.

  7. I attached the skirt to the bodice.


To summarize: how do you adjust the skirt part of any pattern with box pleats?

  1. You measure the bottom of the front of the bodice, and also do this for the back if you also want to work with pleats there.
  2. You decide how many pleats you want to make (in my example 7). If like me, you choose a pleat at the center front, you choose an odd number.
  3. You calculate 1.6" per pleat. In my case 7 times 1.6". You add this to the width of the front (and/or back) bodice.
  4. You draw a rectangle on the wrong side of the fabric. For the top, you use the dimensions of the front bodice piece + number of pleats. For the side seams, choose the length provided in the pattern (in this case you can choose tunic length, knee-length, or maxi length.).
  5. At the top, where you will attach the skirt part to the bodice, make markings. First, determine mid front (and at the back of the skirt part mid-back). After all, there will be the middle fold (if you make an odd number of folds). For each pleat, you count 1.6" (I started from the middle, so the first pleat markings are 0.8" from the mid-front/back marking) and between each pleat, I left 1" in my last version. Leave at least 0.8" between each pleat.
  6. Cut out the front and back skirt panel, then follow the steps in my explanation above to sew the pleats.

Good luck!

Try it yourself? Head over to the webshop and go straight to the Sunny Days Tunic and Dress pattern.

I am also active on Instagram, feel free to follow me: 
It’s all about sewing!

(written by: Deborah Ingelrelst)
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