Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Big Girl Bed! Part 2 - a Pleated Bedskirt tutorial

As you may know, I have been working on making the clever girl a big girl bed.  After finishing the quilt, I started on the bedskirt.  I unfortunately did not take many pictures of the process of making this bedskirt, for which I apologize.  I'll do my best to explain the process in this tutorial.

Here is a better look at just the bedskirt.  Please ignore the numerous wrinkles.  I actually starched and pressed the entire bedskirt once it was finished, but then it got buried in my sewing room under other projects so hence, wrinkles.  I am hoping they will eventually fall out as I didn't feel like pressing it again!

The bedskirt is made on a fitted sheet.  I do not like how manufactured bedskirts are just on a piece of fabric and they slide all over the place when you make the bed.  It kind of drives me batty.  So I made this on a fitted sheet to eliminate this problem.

Here are the steps I took to make this bedskirt:
Measure the box spring.  This is a full-size box spring, thus the dimensions are 54" x 75".
Compute the amount of fabric you will need:

So, for my bedskirt, along each long side, I needed 75" + 2" (top hem) + 12" (first pleat) + 12" (second pleat) + 6" (half pleat) + 2" (bottom hem) = 109" of fabric.  Along the bottom, I needed 54" + 2" (left hem) + 6" (half pleat) + 12" (center pleat) + 6" (half pleat) + 2" (right hem) = 82" of fabric.  

Next, determine the length of the fabric.  This measurement should be from the top of the bedskirt to the floor, plus enough for a hem on the top and bottom, plus 1-2 inches for the skirt to go over the top of the box spring a little bit.  The bed I built is super tall, as I made room to eventually make a trundle to go underneath, so my dimensions were:  9" (width of box spring) + 15 1/2 inches (space between bottom of box spring and the floor) + 1" (total for top and bottom hem) + 2" for lay-over onto box spring = 27 1/2 inches.  I did an overlock stitch on the top and bottom of my fabric and a 1/2 inch hem, so I didn't need much fabric for this part.  

In total, I needed 109" + 82" + 109" = 300" of fabric x 27 1/2" to go all the way around the clever girl's bed.  I bought a TON of fabric.  Note that if your bed is closer to the ground than mine, you could probably purchase half the amount of fabric and cut your fabric down the width to use your entire piece that you purchase.  So if your fabric is 45" wide, you can cut it at 22 1/2" and use each side as part of the bedskirt.  You would potentially have a seam in the center of the bottom of the skirt, but that might not be a problem since it is hidden inside a pleat!

In addition, if you do not have a footboard at the end of the bed, you may not need/want to split the pleat on the bottom corners.  What I mean here, is that you could have one continuous piece of fabric, having the corner pleats as WHOLE box pleats and just spacing them so the center of each pleat was on each corner.  This would eliminate a few inches of fabric, as you would not need the seams on the ends of each side and bottom piece.  It's up to you!

The first thing to do is to cut your fabric.  I cut each piece's LENGTH first, then the width.  You can do it however makes sense to you.  I currently do not have a large cutting table so I have to do things in smaller bits.  Overlock or zigzag or do whatever edge finish you prefer for the top and bottom of each piece.  Then hem the bottom part.  My hem is 1/2 inch.  I sewed this 1/2 inch hem and then applied the jumbo rick-rack on top.  I did not actually pin the entire rick-rack before sewing, I just did it as I went along.  You could also use ribbon on the bottom or leave the bottom plain.  Your choice!  Repeat the bottom hem of each piece.  Also do any other decorations you have planned for the bedskirt, for me this meant the pink ribbon strip.

Next, hem the SIDES of each piece.  This is a 2 inch hem so I pressed over 1/2 inch and then 1 1/2 inches and sewed along the edge.  This encloses your ribbon/rick-rack/random trim so you didn't have to actually "end" that piece while you were doing it.

Now it is time for the pleats.  On your bed schematic, determine where you want the pleats to be.  On each long side, I wanted two centered pleats, plus the half pleat on the end.  Do the half pleat first.  Press a 3 inch box- pleat and pin down the entire length.  If you measure your fabric now, with the half-pleat formed, the amount of fabric can be divided to make your pleat.  For example:

You can make the center pleats by simply measuring with a ruler (I found this easier) or cutting a strip of cardboard to the INTERIOR size (which is 6 inches) and drawing a line down the center to indicate where the two 3-inch folds should meet.  Whichever works for you.  Press all pleats and then sew across the top of each, within your top hem seam allowance.  My seam allowance was 1/2 inch, so I sewed the pleats at 1/4 inch.  I also sewed the pleats along the vertical folds approximately 1/4 of the length of the skirt.  This is simply to attempt in keeping the pleats together for a bit.  Repeat this process for each pleat on each segment of the bedskirt.  Starch and press the pleats in hopes they might stay.  And don't throw other random projects on top of your beautifully pressed skirt!

Now put your fitted sheet onto the box spring.  With a washable or disappearing ink pen (depending on how fast you intend to finish this project) measure 1-2 inches over the top of the box spring (whatever you planned) and draw a line around the 3 sides which will have a skirt attached (i.e. not across the top as there won't be any skirt there).  This is your sewing line.  While you have the sheet on the box spring, mark where the pleats should end up.

You have two options for attaching the skirt to the fitted sheet:  You can make your top hem on the skirt first, and then match the edge of the skirt to the line you drew and sew along the edge.  Or, you can "eyeball" it.  This is what I did.  I laid the skirt fabric over the drawn line on the fitted sheet, allowing 1/2 inch to hang above the line.  My fabric was light yellow and my marking pen was blue, so I could see the line through the material, thus this option worked for me.  If you use darker fabric, this probably won't work.  Make sure you line your pleats up with your marked line on the sheet.  You may have to fudge this a little, but do your best.  Decide how you want your corners to overlap (unless you are using one continuous fabric, for those with no footboard) before sewing.  Do you want the bottom fabric to lay over the sides a little, or vice versa?  I wanted my bottom piece to overlap the sides, thus I sewed the SIDE pieces on first, finishing with the BOTTOM piece.

Once you are done, put that beautiful skirt onto your box frame and admire your handiwork!  The sooner you put the skirt on the bed, the less wrinkles you will get, as it will be fairly difficult to fold this crazy bedskirt without causing wrinkles!  

Voila!  Sorry I did not take any process photos along the way.  If you have any questions regarding this project, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or send me an email at 


  1. You're an amazing artist, i could never do such an amazing work!!!

    1. Thank you, Mireia! Don't doubt yourself, you do pretty amazing things as well!

  2. Excellent idea to make it from a fitted sheet! I don't know how you do it all, Sharron:) The bed and the bedding are just incredible.


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