Strip-pieced Pleated Skirt

Hi! I’m Sarah and I’m so excited to share my very first Moda Bake Shop recipe! You can find some of my other sewing projects on my blog,

This fun strip-pieced child’s skirt features a drop waist and box pleats and is created using strips from a single jelly roll! Add an appliqued t-shirt for a complete coordinated outfit!

1 Jelly Roll, Basic Grey’s Origins
3/4″ wide no-roll elastic for the waistband (measure to fit)
18″ – 24″ of 5/8″ or 3/4″ wide coordinating ribbon
Sewing Machine
Coordinating thread

Rotary Cutter
Seam ripper
Coordinating t-shirt
Paper-backed fusible web
Embroidery floss or machine embroidery thread


For best results, use the child’s waist, hip and waist-to-knee (or wherever you’d like the skirt hem to reach) measurements. If those measurements aren’t available, use the chart below to estimate.

Size/Age 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Waist 20-1/2″ 21″ 21-1/2″ 22″ 22-1/2″ 23″ 23-1/2″
Hip 22″ 23″ 24″ 25″ 26″ 27″ 28″
Waist to Knee 9-1/4″ 10-1/2″ 11-3/4″ 13″ 14″ 15″ 16″
Strip Length 9″ 10-1/4″ 11-1/2″ 12-3/4″ 13-3/4″ 14-13/4″ 15-3/4″

For a custom-fit skirt, look at the hip measurement in inches. You will need an even number of skirt strips, so for comfort and a bit of room to grow always round up to the next even number. (For example, a hip measurement of 24 -1/2″ would round up to 26, so 26 strips are needed for the best-fitting skirt.)

Fabric Selection and placement:

This step is where your creativity can really shine! I’ll give guidelines to create a skirt similar to the finished one I’m sharing, but be sure to check out the “More Customization” section for additional options!

1. Determine how long the skirt strips need to be, either using the chart above or based on the hip to knee measurement. The skirt strips will be cut just 1/4″ less than the hip to knee measurement. My daughter’s measurement was 13″ so the strips for her skirt need to be 12-3/4″ long.

The number of strips you need depends on the hip measurement:

Hip Measurement
Number of Jelly Roll
strips needed
How to create full skirt panel
Less than 22” 
(size 2)
4 panels of 6 strips, remove 2 after cutting
22” to less than 24”
(size 3-4)
3 panels of 8 strips
24” to less than 26”
(size 5-6)
3 panels of 8 strips, add 2 after cutting
26” to less than 28”
(size 7-8)
2 panels of 14 strips

3. Select 2 Jelly Roll strips: 1 to use for the elastic casing and another for the drop waist. Set those strips aside for now.

3. Place the skirt panel strips out on a table or floor to help determine the arrangement you’d like. I really like the look of alternating the color of strips so that the strips that form the outer portion of the pleat are a similar color and the inner pleats are all another similar color or an alternating color pattern as shown in the photos below. As you can see, one Jelly Roll can give completely different looks!


1. Sew all strips (except the drop waist and casing strips) together with a 1/4″ seam along the long edges in the order of your choice. Trim down to size and sew strip panels together if needed. Press seams toward the outer pleat and topstitch on the outer pleat 1/8″ from seam for a cleaner finish.

2. With a rotary cutter or scissors, trim off the selvage and cut the large skirt panel down to size. Cut each panel to the strip length given in the Measurements chart, or for a custom skirt, 1/4″ less than the hip to knee distance.

(Set aside any remaining fabric– you may want to use it for a coordinating shirt applique!) If you need a few additional strips to make your skirt wide enough, cut those Jelly Roll strips to size now. If you need to remove any strips, use your handy seam ripper to remove strips from a single panel.

3. Attach any additional strips you may need and sew unfinished sides of each strip panel, right sides together, with 1/4″ seam, creating a tube of strips. Press seam toward outer pleat and topstitch 1/8″ from seam as before.

4. To create the box pleats, first fold the inner pleat fabric in half width-wise and finger press a mark. (Fold and rub your fingers together along the folded edge to create a crease.)

Fold the adjacent strips at the seam and bring together at the center crease of the inner strip.

Pin vertically near the seams, at least 2 pins per pleat. Repeat for each strip.

5. Stay-stitch the skirt 1/4″ to 3/8″ from the top edge to secure pleats.

6. Lay the strip-pieced skirt panel flat and measure along the top pleated edge. If your seams were an accurate 1/4″, the side-to-side measurement, multiplied by 2 should equal the number of strips you used. If not, that’s ok! We measure here to make sure the drop-waist piece will fit properly. (My skirt was just a tiny bit wider than expected, as you can see.) Make a note of this measurement!

7. Double the stitched skirt width measurement and add 1/2″ for seam allowances. Cut 2 Jelly Roll strips to that length. One will be for the drop waist and another will form the casing.

My folded skirt measured 13-1/8″ so 13-1/8″ x 2 = 26-1/4″. Add in seam allowances (26-1/4″ + 1/2″ = 26-3/4″) so the drop waist and casing strips for my daughter’s skirt needed to be cut 26-3/4″.

8. Take the drop-waist piece, place right sides together and stitch short edges together with a 1/4″ seam. Finish seam as desired. (I’ve made the thread look dark here for contrast, you will want use coordinating thread. I pressed the seam allowance to one side and used a line of topstitching 1/8″ from the seam to secure the raw edge and prevent fraying.)

9. Turn the drop waist piece wrong-side-out and place over strip-pieced skirt. Align at the pleated and basted edge, pin in place, and stitch together with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Serge, zigzag or overcast the raw edge to eliminate fraying. Press seam towards the drop waist and topstitch 1/4″ from seam on the drop waist piece.

10. To form the casing, take the final strip, turn both short edges to the wrong side by 1/4″. (I used a different fabric to demonstrate here so right and wrong sides would be better visible.)

Stitch 1/8″ from edge to create clean finished opening to insert the elastic later.

Fold the casing strip in half, wrong sides together, and press if desired. With the beginning/end of the casing placed where you’ve decided the bow should be and the casing strip on the right side of the drop waist piece, align the raw edges and pin the full length of the strip. Stitch with a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Finish the raw edge (I used an overcast stitch), press seam to drop waist and topstitch 1/4″ from seam just as in the previous step. (Photo shows finished seam before topstitching to secure the finished seam allowance.)

11. Fold the lower edge of the skirt up toward the wrong side 1/4″, then again another 1/2″. Press and topstitch to finish the skirt’s hem.

12. Using a safety pin or your preferred method, insert a piece of elastic cut to the waist measurement through the casing. The 3/4″ elastic will be a close fit, but you should be able to thread it though the casing. If not, switch to narrower elastic.

Overlap by 1″ and stitch elastic ends together, then work the elastic seam into the casing to hide it.

13. The final step to finish the skirt is adding a bow! Insert ribbon under elastic at the casing opening. Knot in place to hide the elastic and tie a bow. I put clear nail polish on the ribbon ends to prevent fraying and remove the ribbon to launder the skirt.

The skirt can be worn with the bow in front or in the back.  To create a fuller skirt, press the pleats just at the top, but leave the lower portion of the skirt uncreased.

More Customization Options:
There are so many ways to make the Strip-pieced Pleated Skirt completely yours! Here are just a few ideas!

  • Instead of repeating fabrics throughout the skirt, try using a different Jelly Roll strip for each skirt strip!
  • Use a Bella Basics Jelly Roll to make the outer and/or inner pleats solid, for a less scrappy look.
  • Use narrower or wider panels! Instead of following the guidelines above, try one of these combinations!
Hip Measurement
Number of Jelly Roll
strips needed
How to create full skirt panel
Less than 22” 
(size 2)
3 panels of 8 strips, remove 2 after cutting
22” to less than 24”
(size 3-4)
or 12
(short skirts only, size 3)  4 panels of 6 strips
or 2 panels of 12 strips
24” to less than 26”
(size 5-6)
2 panels of 12 strips, add 2 after cutting

Optional appliqued t-shirt:

To create a complete outfit, select a coordinating t-shirt and cut shapes out of the remaining Jelly Roll fabric and/or stitched-together strips! Use paper-backed fusible web to create an applique and fuse onto shirt. Finish raw edges by hand with embroidery floss or on your machine with a zigzag, satin or decorative stitch. You can see more info about how to create this shirt at

One Jelly Roll can make several skirts. Make additional coordinating skirts for sisters, cousins or friends! Just repeat the instructions above with left over strip panels, remaining Jelly Roll strips and extra elastic and ribbon.


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