Tutorial halp: Pleated Skirts that don't want to pleat

Do your pleated skirts end up looking more like this:

When your goal is to have something more like this:

Maybe I can shed some light on this for you! I’m going to proceed under the assumption that you’ve worked with numerous pleated skirt patterns and the results you’re getting, regardless of how well you follow the pattern, are not quite what you’re hoping for- despite what you’ve tried (and tried again).

Both of these skirts I made within two years of each other. Previously,  I’d always had a hard time making anything other petticoats or pencil skirts, and the first one (from a Persona 4 costume) started my crusade on finding out how to make the perfect skirt where the pleats won’t just auto fall out when I walk. (Which I finally obtained for that Fairy Tail costume in the second photo)

Things you’ve probably already tried?

  1. Following the pattern instructions
  2. Starch
  3. Stabilizer/fusible interfacing 
  4. Hairspray
  5. Unicorn tears

If you’ve done all of these things and you’re still not having success, AND you’ve tried multiple patterns, I’ll let you in on my two secrets: 

  1. It’s the fabric, not you.
  2. You can add some ninja stitching to the pleats!

It’s really hard to see in that first photo, so I’ll out line it here (I am so sorry for my really bad photoshop, lol):

The light blue lines are my pleats in the skirt. The red is the box I had sewn with clear thread after the skirt was assembled. This does two things for the skirts, if you have a tiny waist, you can choose to style the skirt to show that off a little more and it will flare out at the hips nicer; but also, it helps the pleats keep their shape- even when you’re walking!

For the fabric! In the first instance, I was attempting to use suiting fabric- that really thick stuff? I figured why not at the store: It looked nice, it felt nice, but… it sure didn’t pleat nice. The best fabric I’ve found for pleats is your basic cotton, some cotton blends or twill, you can use other stuff, but I’m just personally a big fan of how those kinds of fabrics iron. Anything that (sadly) wrinkles really easily is probably going to pleat and keep it’s pleats.

[Side note on using thick fabric: I’ve read online tutorials on how to make “pleats” with thicker fabrics, such as fleece, but that won’t get the same look as say a school girl uniform would. It’s possible, yes, but it all depends on what look you’re going for.]

After you’ve made your skirt, added your ninja!stitches, Best thing you can do is iron it! Ironing is key to finishing any project sewing before you wear it, but I can go on about that forever… and may just do so in another post!

I hope my misfortune-turned-into-discovery will help someone out there who may be having the same issue. As always, my ask box is open for questions/conversations and I wish you the best, fellow cosplayers!

Sailor Fuku Part 1: Pleated Skirts + Video Tutorial

For the longest time I’ve always wanted to own a sailor fuku or seifuku to maximize my wardrobe to ultimate kawaii nerd! Seifuku’s are traditional school uniforms that are commonly seen in anime series. (i.e; almost every anime in existence.) They are comprised of three components;

Before creating your uniform it’s important to know what kind of pleat you want your skirt to have! Identifying the different types of pleats can change your outfit dramatically and help determine fabric width. Different pleats have their own set of instructions. Here are the two I commonly find in skirts. (There are tons of different pleats in this world however!)

After doing your research you should be just about ready to carry out creating your skirt. However the type of fabric you use is also important. You are advised to pick fabric with a medium-weight but I’ve used light-weight cotton on my mockup and it held it’s shape pretty decently. If you are unhappy with the stiffness of your pleats you can use cornstarch or iron the crap out of it! I’ve read that broad-cloth is what seifukus are commonly made out of but it looks cheap so use caution! Here is my “work-in-progress” mockup of a knive pleated skirt;

The skirt looks bulky because I pinned it on a dress form that already had a skirt on it. Now I won’t go over step-by-step on how I made this skirt but I will give you some tips/problems I encountered during the process. If you’d like to create you’re own skirt here is the video I used!

  • Take into consideration your pleat length and type of pleat. This affects everything!
  • If you don’t have enough fabric to cut it out all in one piece, make strips and attach before pleating. Having one solid strip is much easier to make sure everything is even. 
  • IRON, IRON, IRON if you want strong pleats or use cornstarch! 
  • Have a straight, non-flexible ruler on hand along with fabric chalk. You are going to be marking a lot of lines that you want straight!
  • HEM BEFORE you make pleats. It’ll save so much time!
  • After sewing your waistband to the skirt you can sew about 2-5 inches down on the pleat crease to keep it’s shape. 
  • Extra References: Basic Seifuku Blog

This is all that I have learned when creating a skirt and I hope that sharing my experience/references and information helps you on your seifuku journey! I’m not a professional so if anything is misinformed please message me. :)