How to Make a Pleated Miniskirt Like the Japanese School Uniforms for Girls


The pleated miniskirt like Japanese school uniforms for girls that is popular among young girls everywhere is actually shorter than the school issue uniforms. Although some Japanese schoolgirls shorten their regular uniforms, the school requirements are for skirts that come just above the knee. These pleated skirts are quite easy to make. The trick is to measure the pleats precisely and iron the folds of the pleats before you sew. Of course you can make one from plaid fabric exactly like the school uniforms, but you can also branch out and explore your creativity with different fabric designs, such as flowers, polka dots, or even a plain, solid color.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric (2-4 yards)
  • 7-inch zipper
  • Hook and eye set
  • Cloth measuring tape
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Scissors
  • Fabric marker
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Hand needle
  • Newspaper (optional)


  • Measure your waist and add 2 inches to that number.

  • Cut a strip of fabric. Make the length equal to the waist measurement you took and make the width 3 inches. This is the waist band piece of the skirt.

  • Measure from your waist to the desired length of your pleated mini skirt. Add 1 1/2 inches to this number.

  • Determine how wide you want your pleats to be. Japanese school girls' uniforms are generally either ¾ inch or 1 1/2 inches deep. The depth of the folded-under part of each pleat should be 1 1/4 inches. This is called the return of the pleat. For ¾-inch pleats you will need 2 inches of fabric for each pleat; for 1 1/2-inch pleats you will need 2 3/4 inches for each pleat. Once you decide the width of your pleats, determine how much fabric you will need to pleat all around your waist.

  • Cut a long strip of fabric as wide as your desired skirt length and as long as your waist measurement plus the amount of fabric needed to make the pleats. Add 1 inch to the length so you can sew the side seam of the skirt.

  • Mark the pleat folds on the back side of your fabric with the fabric marker. Use the ruler to make sure your lines are perfectly straight. Make solid lines for the pleat folds and dotted lines to indicate the pleat return folds. Press the folds with a hot iron.

  • Pin the pleats in place at the center of the skirt length and again at the top and bottom of the skirt. Machine baste around the top of the skirt, removing your pins as you sew. Keep the pins in the center and at the bottom of the skirt in place.


  • Match the side seam of the skirt, right sides together, and pin in place. Machine baste 1/2 inch from the raw edge. Press the seam open.

  • Put the zipper in the skirt according to the directions on the package. Open the zipper.

  • Pin the waistband to the skirt, right sides together, leaving one inch of the waist band extending beyond the edge of the skirt at the top of the zipper. Press the seam toward the waistband.

  • Fold under the raw edge of the waistband a quarter inch and press.

  • Fold the waistband in half, matching the pressed fold with the waistband/skirt seam. Pin in place. Machine stitch the waistband to the skirt close to the original waistband/skirt seam.

  • Fold in the ends of the waistband and sew them closed by hand. Hand sew the hook and eye in place on the waistband just above the zipper.

  • Remove basting stitching and trim all loose threads.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may want to use the newspaper to test your measurements for the pleats before you cut the fabric. If so, tape a couple of pieces of the newspaper together to get the full length needed.
  • For instructions to put in a zipper, see the references listed below.
  • If you are using a plaid material, you should be careful to match the lines of the plaids at the sides so that the circle of your skirt is one continuing plaid pattern. To do this, you may need more fabric than you would for designs that do not need to be matched.

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