Tuesday 12 March 2013

Pintucked Skirt Tutorial...

Take a rectangle of fabric, add elastic, a bow and a ruffle, and you have a twirly, girly skirt. Add some pintucks to the mix and you have a one of a kind skirt that nobody else will be wearing. This tutorial will show you how to make a gathered, pintucked skirt.

You will need to take two measurements before you begin.
  • waist
  • waist to calf (or desired length of the skirt)

  • main fabric
  • contrast fabric for ruffle
  • 3/4" elastic

Cut skirt:
  • Width = 1.5 to 2 times the waist measurement.
  • Length of main fabric = waist to calf measurement + 2.5" (6cm) minus finished width of ruffle.
  • The ruffle can be as wide or narrow as you want. I cut my ruffle 4" (10cm) wide and allowed 1" (2.5cm) for the hem. The ruffle needs to be about 1.5 to 2 x the width of the skirt.

Preparing Pintucks:
Once you have cut your fabric, you will need to do some Maths, to work out:
  • how long to make the pintucks
  • how wide to make the pintucks
  • how many pintucks to make
  • where to place the pintucks
How long to make the pintucks is easy. Decide how far down the skirt you want the pintucks to come, then add about 2" (5cm) for the waistband. I sewed my pintucks 7", so they ended up just over 5" long once the waistband was sewn.

I wanted quite small pintucks, so I made mine 1/8" (3mm), which means each pintuck uses 1/4" (6mm) of fabric. You can make them narrower or wider than this.

I sewed 10 pintucks on the front and 10 pintucks on the back. 20 pintucks @ 1/8" means you lose 5" off the width of the fabric. (Don't forget that an 1/8" pintuck actually uses 1/4" fabric.) The important thing to keep in mind, is that the width after taking the pintucks into account, will have to be wider than the hip measurement. I could have sewn more pintucks and the width would still have been fine.

Once you have decided how many pintucks, you will need to decide on the spacing between the pintucks. I tried many variations until I was happy with how they looked. My first pintuck is sewn 8" from the side seam, the next one 3" from the first, then 1", 1" and 1", which is .5" from the centre front.

Pin to show where each pintuck will finish and just below where it will start.

For accuracy, pin through as few threads of the fabric as possible.

Make sure everything is square by measuring in both directions.

Sew a thread where the pins were to show where each pintuck will finish and just below where it will start. Sew through as few threads of the fabric as possible. Remove the pins. I found it easy to know exactly where the pintucks ended with the thread as a guide.

Iron (press) the pintucks. I'm sometimes a little lazy when it comes to ironing during a project, but I wouldn't miss this step when making pintucks.

Sewing Pintucks:

Sew each pintuck. I alternated light blue and dark blue thread for the pintucks as I wanted this to be a feature, but you could match the thread to the fabric. Backstitch at the beginning of each pintuck (at the waistband), but do NOT backstitch at the end. Leave a few inches of threads hanging at the end.

Neatening Threads:

Using a pin, pull through the thread on the right side, so both threads are on the wrong side. ie; the side that will be pressed down and hidden.

It's a little hard to explain but the blurry photo two above and the one above, show how to sew each of the two threads. They will both come out on the back of the fabric (inside of the skirt), as in the photo below.

Knot the threads. 

Carefully take each thread through the middle of the pintuck about 1", making sure it can't be seen on the outside of the skirt. Cut the threads. This just helps to ensure the knot doesn't come undone.

Press (iron) the pintucks towards the side seams.

Side Seams:

With right sides together, sew and neaten the side seams

Casing for the elastic:
  • Turn under 1/4" (6mm) and press or stitch.
  • Turn 1.5" (4cm).
  • Baste (hand sew) to hold in place.
  • Stitch as close as you can to the hem of the casing, leaving a 2" (5cm) opening to feed the elastic into.
  • Sew another row of stitching 1/2" (1.5cm) from the top of the skirt.

Inserting the elastic:
I cut the elastic about 1" to 1.5" shorter than the waist measurement.

  • Attach a safety pin to the end of the elastic.
  • Feed the elastic into the casing through the opening, making sure you leave the end sticking out of the opening.

  • Remove the safety pin and stitch the elastic ends together. Overlap about 1" (2.5cm).
  • Push the ends back into the casing.
  • Spread out the elastic so it is even all the way around.
  • Stitch the gap closed.

Sew through the casing and elastic at the side seams (stitching in the ditch). This will prevent the elastic from twisting in the casing. There is a 2nd row of stitching to the right of the stitching in the ditch. I used a welt seam to sew the side seams, but this is not necessary.

  • Cut the ruffle 1.5 to 2 x the width of the skirt. Mine is 1.5 x the width.
  • Join the short ends of the ruffle to form a tube. Neaten edges.

Gathering stitches:
  • Set your machine to the longest straight stitch (machine basting stitch)
  • Do NOT backstitch and leave the threads hanging.
  • Sew a row of stitching 1/4" (6mm) from the edge, going from one side seam to the second side seam on the ruffle
  • Sew a row of stitching 1/4" (6mm) from the edge, going from the second side seam back to the first side seam on the ruffle
  • Sew a second row of stitching 3/8" (1cm) from the edge, going from one side seam to the second side seam on the ruffle
  • Sew a second row of stitching 3/8" (1cm) from the edge, going from the second side seam back to the first side seam on the ruffle.

Pin ruffle to skirt:
  • Mark the centre front and centre back of the skirt.
  • Mark the centre front and centre back of the ruffle.
  • With right sides together, pin the ruffle to the skirt at the side seams, the centre front and the centre back.

Making the gathers:
  • Pull either the two bobbin threads OR the two upper threads and move the fabric towards the centre front.
  • Pull until the fabric is the same length as the skirt.
  • Tie a knot in the gathering threads.
  • Even out the gathers and pin.
Repeat three times pulling the threads from each side seam to the centre. 

Sew ruffle to skirt:
  • With needle and thread, sew the ruffle to the skirt, with long stitches (hand basting stitch).
  • Remove all pins.
  • Set machine back to normal stitch length for straight stitch.
  • Sew between the two lines of machine basting.
  • Remove both rows of machine basting (bobbin and upper threads) and the hand basting.
  • Neaten the edges by overlocking (serging) or zig zag.  
Sewing two lines of machine basting, makes it less likely for the thread to break as you pull the gathers and it also makes it easy to sew over the gathers so they remain neat.

  • Press the seam towards the skirt.
  • Set machine stitch slightly longer than normal. I use a 2.8 length stitch.
  • On the right side of the skirt, sew a row of stitching about 1/8" (3mm) from the seam. This will hold the seam in place and gives a nice finish.

Hem the bottom edge of the ruffle:
  • Turn under 1/4" (6mm) and either press or stitch.
  • Turn under 1/2" (1.5cm) and stitch.

  • Cut a piece of fabric 5" x 5" (13cm x 13cm).
  • Fold in half wrong sides together.
  • Sew two sides.
  • Turn to the right side.
  • Fold in the ends and stitch close to the edge on all four sides.

  • Fold in half and make a crease.
  • Set your machine to the longest straight stitch (machine basting stitch)
  • Do NOT backstitch.
  • Sew a row of stitching along the crease.
  • Knot one end of the threads.
  • Pull the top thread at the other end to gather.
  • Tie the threads at the back to pull the centre of the bow in.

  • Set your machine back to the normal length stitch.
  • Sew a line or two of stitching over the gathers, backstitching at each end.
  • Make a fabric button and attach securely to the front of the bow.
As you are sewing through several layers of fabric when attaching the bow, make sure you have a sharp needle. ie; not a blunt needle. I also like to use a denim needle, as it is especially good at sewing thick fabric, or in this case, many layers of fabric, as it is sharper than a regular needle.

There you have it... a gathered, pintucked skirt, with a cute, little bow. I think that little bow actually ties the whole skirt together.

    I made this pintucked skirt and matching hair accessories, last September. Six months down the track, this little outfit has been well worn and I've finally written up the tutorial.

    Apart from the pintucks, this is a very easy skirt to make up. If you've never sewn pintucks, they're not really that hard. However, I did find the preparations for the pintucks rather tedious... the measuring and working out how many, measurements, etc. You can read more details in the post I wrote when I made the pintucked skirt. If you find it too complicated, you could omit the pintucks.

    Angela Osborn's Learn to Sew Pintucks may make it a little clearer.

    If you make a skirt using this tutorial, I'd love you to add it to the Threading My Way ~ Sewn by YOU Flickr group. Feel free to add any projects made with Threading My Way tutorials.

    ... Pam


    1. U made it for the fab folds right ? Nice tute Pam :)

    2. U made it for the fab folds right ? Nice tute Pam :)

    3. I love pin tucks, but have not worked up the courage to try them myself. Your tute makes it look doable, though! Thanks.

    4. Sew cute! Thanks for the tutorial, Pam! Now if only you could provide a tutorial on how to get my little girl to actually wear a skirt!

    5. cute skirt and nice tutorial. I've never tried pin before. Just curious....what would happen if you back-stitched at the bottom of the pintuck?

    6. I've only pin tucked from top to bottom on pants(we skipped this skill in the fab folds!)so I haven't done the work on the backside of the garment. This was really helpful thanks!

    7. Great pin tuck tutorial Pam! lovely and clear! And that skirt is so very cute too!

    8. This skirt is just adorable, thanks for a very comprehensive tutorial. All steps are well explained, makes me want to have a little girl around me to sew this skirt. Your skirt is beautiful, I love all the details you've added using pintucks and gathering the fabric , just beautiful!!!!!!
      Marisa from

    9. Pin-tucks! how fancy!
      Thanks for explaining how in such an easy to understand step-by-step way!

      hugs x

    10. WOW! I just found you over at the RTSH link up party and I am so glad I did! You should absolutely sell these on etsy if you don't already! ADORable! And what a tremendous tutorial. You rock! Have a GREAT day! :) ellie @ creative geekery blog

    11. very cute. Thanks for sharing!

    12. Ooh I love pintucks! I'd wear them myself! Cute skirt!
      Thanks for linking up!

    13. This is so cute! Thanks for the tutorial. :)

    14. I love your tutes!
      And this skirt is screaming "Spring!"


    15. Hi, stopping by for a quick visit from the Serenity Saturday blog hop.
      Great job on the skirt - its so pretty.


    16. Since I can't sew worth a stitch, I'll just have to drool over your work. It really is a darling skirt! I'm visiting from Cuddlebug Cuties Linky Party.
      CDAC DT Member
      A Look Through My Eyes

    17. Excellent tutorial and great for beginners. Visiting from Link Party :).

      Sher of Day Dreams

    18. What a lovely little skirt, lovely work, I've just popped over from Cuddlebug Cuties. :-) Jen

    19. cute! I am also making skirts for spring, if only it would stop snowing here.



    20. WOW! You do amazing tutorials ;-) I found you through the Cuddlebug Cuties Sunday linky party....I haven't sewn anything in years....but looking at your tutorial has me looking at my dust covered machine (in it case of course) and thinking....maybe!
      Carolyn @ iamthecraftylady.com


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