Altering the Easy Pleated Skirt pattern. How to increase or decrease the waistline: Part 4

Increase-decrease waistlineThis is our fourth part of the easy pleated sew along and contains the key to making a beautiful looking skirt. Today we are talking about how to alter your pattern to increase or decrease the waist of the pleated skirt to suit your own measurements.  This tutorial isn't about sewing but purely about altering the pattern to better suit your body shape and size.

Pattern Download:

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The following steps are to be used on the Easy Pleated Skirt because we need to consider them first when making alterations.  Moving the pleats will change how the skirt looks.  If you want the skirt to look like the picture above, I suggest you do not touch the pleats.

Rather, we will focus on enlarging the space between the pleats.  A few of you have asked why we positioned the pleat in the middle.  This is because a strategically placed pleat will give you the illusion of a thinner waist.

The Easy Pleated Skirt is supposed to sit 1 to 1.5″ above your belly button.  But of course, this depends on how much tummy you have.

Increase decrease waistline


How to increase or decrease the waistline of the Easy Pleated Skirt pattern

Print the pattern size closest to your waist measurement.  Compare your waist measurement to the pattern, then divide the difference by 8. The formula is shown below:

Pattern waist measurement – Actual Waist Measurement = Amount to decrease divided by 8. 

Why 8?  The picture below will illustrate.  This depends on the pattern.  I have drafted the pattern so that the front and back are the same and it is on the fold.  Increase-decrease waistline

The following procedure shown in the drawing below is the same whether you want to increase or decrease the pattern size.  The red lines indicate where you will be cutting your pattern.

Increase-decrease waistlineThis is how you decrease the waist by the amount necessary and retrace the new pattern.Increase-decrease waistlineThis is how you increase the waist by the amount necessary and retrace the new pattern.Increase-decrease waistline

How to lengthen the pattern

For lengthening the pattern, mark the hip line to cut the pattern in two pieces using the hip line as your cutting line.  This is shown on the left side below.  Slide the pattern down by the amount you want.Increase-decrease waistline

How to shorten the pattern

For shortening the pattern, break and draw the pattern into three parts as shown.Increase-decrease waistline

Cut the pattern at the hip line and at the second line and bring in the pattern to reduce the length by the amount you need.Increase-decrease waistline

How to add width to the skirt without changing the hem:

The following procedure is for those of you who want to increase or decrease the waistline by two inches or less.

Divide the amount you are going to reduce/increase by four.


  1. Trace the original pattern on a large piece of paper.
  2. Draw the hip line.
  3. Mark the amount you need to increase or decrease at the waist line (waistline measurement divided by four).
  4. Pivot the pattern using a stitching awl or a pin.
  5. Retrace the new pattern starting at the waist and ending at the hem.

Use the opposite to decrease the size of the waist.

How to make the facing pattern for the Easy Pleated Skirt

Now that you have changed the size of the skirt you need to make a new facing to go with the new pattern.

Using your paper pattern, fold the pleats as if you were going to sew.  Retrace the top of the skirt and add a seam allowance to the whole pattern.  As a rule, once you have made all the adjustments, the new seam allowance should be 3/8″.

Thanks for joining me!

I hope you have enjoyed this sew along.  This skirt is sure to stay in your wardrobe for many years to come.  I am going to be using a scuba knit fabric to see how it turns out. I will let you know!  And in case you missed it, here is the full tutorial list, feel free to share with your friends and family. Until next time, happy sewing!

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Thanks for this. I’m short and always have to shorten patterns but am not quite clear on how to handle the rough side edges created by the pattern overlap. I usually just smooth them out on bodices (I always have to widen the waist anyway) but I’ve been wondering what to do about skirts that are relatively less full. Is it best to redraw the side seam from waist to hem?


thank you so much for these explanations. It will help to adapt any pattern.
and a great thank for sharing patterns and tutos

Cheryl Harris

Did I miss the description of how to adjust the lining to now match the skirt adjustment/ thanks!! Do love the skirt though!!!