Kids’ Box Pleat Skirt with Elastic Waist

This kids’ box pleat skirt is part of the Anime Schoolgirl/Sailor costume I made for Madeline for Halloween. It was so easy to make and wear! You can use the same method to make one in an adult size as well. The skirt has 2 inch wide pleats and a sewn in elastic waist so not only is it comfy to wear but you won’t have to worry about the elastic twisting in the casing. 🙂

Let’s make this!

Things you will need:

Fabric (I used a cotton/polyester blend broadcloth. Don’t forget to prewash!)
1 inch knit elastic ( great for sewing directly onto elastic)

Firstly measure your child’s hips over her diaper and add 1 to 2 inches. I’m a visual person so I had to see how wide the skirt’s waist would be around her hips so I put the measuring tape around her hips as she was standing and loosened the tape to the desired width. Her hips measure 22″ with diaper and a 23″ waist opening passed smoothly over her diaper. The waistband is 1 inch wide.

My skirt is 7″ long – determine how long you want your skirt to be and add 3/8″ as seam allowance for the waistband and a 1″ hem. So my skirt was 8 3/8″ in total.  I cut out 2 long fabric strips that were each 8 3/8″ wide. I joined the 2 strips and finished the edges with an overcast stitch on my sewing machine.


The skirt will have 2 seams that I want to hide within the pleats. Basically I’m going to start the pleats from that first seam and mark it an inch from each side so when I fold the pleat the seam will be pleated inside the skirt and hidden. Continue marking 2 inches until the end of the long strip.


To make the first pleat, bring the marking on the right of the seam to the marking that’s on the left of the seam – that will hide the seam within the pleat. So all we are doing is folding the 2 inch markings to the left and to the right.


Once I have finished pleating the fabric, I measured out the waist. I wanted to hide the 2nd seam so I started the measurement from a pleat and ended the waist measurement on a pleat. It ended up being 23.5″ but it was fine because I rather the waist a little larger than smaller.


To hide that seam in the pleat, I left 1 inch plus 3/8″ seam allowance on 1 side. The other side was 3″ plus 3/8″ then after I sewed both ends together I would have 4 inches to complete the last pleat.


Sew all the pleats down with a 1/4″ seam allowance.


Next will be the hemming – fold up 3/4″ and then fold under 1/4″. I really enjoy using my overcast presser foot to edge stitch the hem.


After the hem is all done, it’s time to press the pleats down. I prefer to spray with water and then with starch before ironing. I also like to spray and iron in sections.


Once the pleats are nicely ironed, we will attach the elastic waistband. Since my skirt’s waist was 23.5″ I just added 3/4″ for seam allowance so my waistband was 24 1/5″ long and 3″ wide. I don’t really like to subtract a set number from the waist measurement because different brands of elastics have a different stretch quality so I just wrap the elastic around the waist, hold it in place while the tug the elastic with the other hand – it shouldn’t feel too tight or too loose. Then I mark it with a pencil. Cut it, butt the 2 ends together and use the widest zig zag stitch to join the ends to form a ring. Divide the elastic ring into quarters.Sew the band to make a ring and attach it to the skirt with a 3/8″.


Press the band up. Fold the top raw edge of the waistband under 1/4″ and edgestitch.


Divide the waistband into quarters. Place the elastic right below the folded raw edge matching the quarter markings on the elastic and the waistband. Use a wide zig zag stitch and sew in the middle of the elastic to the waistband all way around. That will keep the elastic from twisting later on during wear or washing.


Lastly fold the waistband and elastic down towards the inside of the skirt and edge stitch it sewing not on the elastic but on the folded raw edge.


And the box pleat skirt is finished!


There wasn’t much tugging so I thought this skirt was an RA-friendly project. I was also able to easily pull up or pull off the skirt on Madeline with almost no pain in my fingers. This is just based on my swelling and pain level but as always please check your pain first 🙂


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  1. Hi! Could you tell me how much fabric you needed for the width (to accommodate for the pleats)? It’s not clear to me how much fabric I need to purchase. Thank you!

    1. Hi CC,

      6″ of fabric is needed to make one pleat which is 2″ wide. So for example, a 30″ waist will need at least 15 pleats so that’s 90″ of fabric needed. You will also need to factor in the length of the skirt as well. But keep in mind the extra fabric you will need for seams. I hope that helps.

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