How To Hem A Pleated Skirt [Even Without Sewing!]

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Pleated skirts are a clothing item loved and worn by people of all ages. You can achieve so many looks with different pleat widths, fabrics, and skirt lengths. It is not uncommon to come across the perfect skirt only to realize that it is not a flattering length. Instead of putting it back on the rack, you can shorten the hem of your skirt at home, even without sewing! Here we have compiled some ways to hem your pleated skirt.

Here are the steps to hemming your pleated skirt:

  1. Try on the skirt and mark where you would like the hem to be.
  2. Unfold the pleats around the bottom of the skirt.
  3. Make marks around the skirt that are the same length as your new hem as well as an inch or so below.
  4. Cut off any access fabric.
  5. Fold the fabric on your new hemline and press with an iron.
  6. Use your hemming method of choice.
  7. Refold and press pleats on the bottom of the skirt.

There are a few hemming methods available including sewing, fabric tape, and fabric glue.

It is a very straightforward process on paper, but there are a few more things you will need to know. The more pleats your skirt has, the more confusing it may be. But don’t let that discourage you! We have some useful tips and tricks to make hemming your pleated skirt simple. Keep reading for more in-depth instructions and demos.

A tall beautiful woman wearing a green skirt, beige sweater, and a sun hat, How To Hem A Pleated Skirt [Even Without Sewing!]

How to shorten a pleated skirt from the bottom

The process for hemming a pleated skirt can seem daunting depending on the kind of pleats you have. However, no matter the pleating style, the same steps apply. The very first step is to try on your skirt to decide how much you would like to shorten it. After that is determined, you will need to begin the process of marking the new hem on the skirt. To do that you will first need to unfold the pleats around the bottom of the skirt.

A black pleated skirt on a white background

Once the pleats are unfolded, it is a good idea to press the fabric with an iron so no folds or wrinkles interfere with the new hem. Since skirts are not always a straight line at the bottom, you will need to do draw many small marks instead of a straight line. Markings measured from the bottom of the skirt all the way around allow you to keep the same hem contour. Doing it that way shortens the skirt proportionally instead of cutting it flat across.

How to hem a pleated skirt by hand

After the new hem has been marked, you will need to fold the fabric along the new hemline. A helpful tip for this step is to use pins to hold the fabric in place as you go. Once the skirt is folded up to that hem, then begins the process of actually hemming. Hemming the skirt by hand may be time-consuming but not impossible. If you are sewing the hem by hand just be sure to use a strong stitch.

A woman sewing a skirt

When sewing a hem, remember to match the weight of your skirt fabric to that of the thread. You would use a different thread to sew denim as opposed to chiffon. If you have a denim skirt and need some inspiration on what to wear with it, you can read our article on what to wear with a denim skirt. The best stitch for hand sewing hems is the backstitch; you can take a look at how to execute a backstitch below:

If hand sewing is not your thing, there are a few other ways to hem by hand.

How to shorten a pleated skirt without sewing

There are a few products out there designed specially to replace sewing. You can use something called hem tape to hem your skirt. Hem tape is fabric adhesive tape that is activated by heat. Once placed between layers of fabric and ironed, it will bind the fabric permanently.

You can also simply go for a liquid fabric adhesive, which does not require any heat to activate. Here is a video demo of how a skirt can be hemmed using hemming tape:

If you want to use hem tape for this project, you will follow all of the steps for hemming by hand up until the actual sewing. Instead of sewing, you will place the hem tape with the bottom edge in line with your new hem. Once you fold the fabric on the hem it should cover the tape completely, then iron. Any overhang will result in melted adhesive where it should not be.

See this product on Amazon.

For the liquid adhesive, follow the steps for using hem tape but apply an even layer of fabric adhesive instead, fold on the hem and wait for it to dry.

Hem tape vs fabric glue

Both of these no-sew options are great, but you may wonder which one would be better. The answer to that is that they are both efficient and permanent hemming solutions. If you have a thinner fabric, you may prefer to go with the iron-on hem tape to avoid glue possibly seeping through the layers. However, if you do not have an iron, fabric glue works just as well. For thinner fabrics, you have to be sure that you are not touching layers together until the glue becomes tacky.

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How to shorten a pleated skirt without sewing or cutting

It is even possible for you to shorten the skirt without cutting off any excess fabric. It is just as easy as the no-sew method. What you will do instead of cutting off the extra fabric is simply fold it up into the skirt and secure it. Depending on how much extra fabric you have, you may not need to do any additional steps. For example, if there is an extra inch, you won’t really notice the fabric on the inside.

A green pleated skirt on a white background

If you have over an inch in extra fabric, you may just want to take a few extra steps. In this case, you will want to secure the extra fabric inside so nothing comes out of place.

This can be done by first using your method of choice to secure the hem. Then after laying the excess down flat against the inside of the skirt, you will secure it again. If you did not cut anything off, you will be adhering the original hem from the bottom of your skirt to the inside of the skirt.

What to do after hemming?

A woman ironing a new cleaned skirt

Now that you know how to hem the skirt, the hardest part is over. You have the right length, but now you are left with an unpleated hem. What you will need to do last is go around the skirt and refold the pleats. You can determine where to place the pleats by tracking each crease from the waistline to the bottom hem, folding, and ironing.

After pressing, you are all done and it is ready to wear. If you need help figuring out what kind of pleated skirt would suit you best, check out this post: Do Pleated Skirts Suit Everyone?

In Closing

As you have read, it’s not very difficult to hem a pleated skirt. For best results, be sure not to skip any steps. Ironing your skirt before and after hemming makes a world of difference. Without ironing, you can get similar results, but it may not be as nice, depending on the fabric.

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