up-sizing a pleated skirt

You know that time that you were thrift shopping and you found this adorable plaid pleated skirt that was made for someone with a 20″ waist and no rib cage?  Remember that feeling when you held that tiny skirt to your own waist and realized it would only cover either your front or back end?  Well I just bought that skirt.

No, I won’t sacrifice my dignity to wear it, I’m just going to make it bigger.  Bigger, bigger, bigger.  So first, measure your waist, and then let’s get started!


① Cut the original waistline off of the top of the skirt.
② Cut a new waistband to fit YOU. If the original waistband had an overflap, be sure to measure for that, and don’t forget about your seam allowance!

③ Fold the ends in half with wrong-sides-together and sew down the short side. Clip and turn.
④ Wrap the new waistband around your waist and mark the point where it overlaps.

⑤ With right sides together, pin the skirt to the new waistband, leaving the overlap (marked with a pin) off the edge. This is where you adjust your pleats to fit the new waistband. Don’t worry about pressing, just shift the pleats.
⑥ Pin and sew.

⑦ With right sides together, sew from the raw end to the edge of the skirt, to close the bottom of the overlap. Clip and turn.
⑧ Iron the raw edge of the waistband under 1/2″, and fold the waistband in half.

⑨ Top stitch along the seam on the right side.
⑩ Add buttons and buttonholes if needed.

AND IT FITS!  Doing a happy dance…

Posted in tutorials.


  1. Really helpful, thanks! I’m planning on making a trip to the best thrift store in town, this weekend.

  2. Did you put in a zipper? I have a gorgeous vintage pleated skirt, but I have the opposite problem it is four or five inches to big. Its pleats are already very large so I am simply going to cut some of them out, but I can’t figure out how to put in a zipper without messing up the flow of the pleats. Haha HELP!

    • When I removed the waistband, I left the zipper in place, and simply added a new waistband to it. One thing you could try is to cut out some of the bulk in the skirt somewhere besides the back (maybe at the side?) and hide the new side seam in the under side of a pleat… Let me know what you end up doing!

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