How I Created The Emma Skirt {The Flora Modiste Sewing Projects}

The Emma Skirt How To Sew Pleats Featured Image

This week, we are going back to one of my absolute faaaavorite sewing projects we have covered here on the blog: The Emma Skirt! Not only did this project teach me how to sew pleats properly, but it's one I quite literally wear on the regular. (2+ years after making it!)

I feel like there is just something so classic about a pleated skirt. Particularly a pleated midi length skirt--Does it ever actually go out of style? While a short pleated skirt can feel a bit trendy & cheerleader, and a pleated maxi just feels so heavy.. A pleated midi is just right.

The hem of this new & improved version of the Emma actually falls a bit higher than the original--It's more like a knee length hem than a true midi. When I was looking to update this skirt, I decided to take in the waist so that it fit more like a high waisted skirt, rather than one that just fell at the hips.

It's both a bit more flattering & comfortable.

A win-win, right? This ended up moving the hem slightly upwards, and I'm actually kind of into it. I don't own too many knee length skirts, let alone a full & voluminous one like the Emma.. Which makes it an even more perfect addition to my wardrobe!

The original Emma also didn't have side pockets (I know, gasp) so I decided to add those in since I wear this beauty ALL the time. When I was putting together this post on revamping the Emma, I asked myself WHY in the world I didn't add pockets to it in the first place. And then.. I opened it up.

I didn't add pockets to the original Emma because not only does it have a side invisible zipper.. But it also has a lining.

(Want to learn how to sew pleats like those on the Emma Skirt? Girl, we got you. Check out our brand new & highly improved step-by-step sewing tutorial on how to sew knife pleats below! You'll have your own beautifully pleated skirt in no time.) Learn How To Sew Pleats: A Step-By-Step Sewing Tutorial The Emma Skirt & How To Sew Pleats: Full Side View

The Emma Skirt & How To Sew Pleats: Side Pocket Close Up

If you have ever added side pockets into a garment (btw, we have a post on how to do that!) you know it's not the easiest thing in the world to do. Granted--if just adding pockets into a basic side seam--that's easy.

Throw a side zipper into the mix, or a lining, that makes it a bit more challenging. But adding BOTH?! It literally took me an entire day (and half a season of Grey's Anatomy) to add side pockets into the Emma.

At the end of the day, I told my husband how frustrated I was that it took me the entire day to add the pockets in.. And he looked at me like I was crazy. Because OF COURSE it took an entire day to add side pockets into a skirt with a zipper and a lining. It's not easy.

But now I have pockets! In one of my favorite skirts.

Taking in the waist and adding in those pockets was pretty much the only update to the Emma.. The skirt is that perfect. But because I have worn the skirt so often, those pleats definitely needed a refresh. So I also busted out my iron & starch and repressed all of the pleats. And they look brand new again!

Looking back, and if I were to make a brand new Emma Skirt, I think I would use a different fabric. The fabric I originally used was just a basic cotton sheeting. It works well, but since it's cotton, it doesn't hold pleats and creases quite as well as a synthetic fabric would. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing--This is what makes cotton so ideal for so many different garments.

Just not so much for holding pleats in shape for years and years.

However, the sheeting has held up well. It's not too heavy, but not too light. And it just allows the pleated design of the skirt to SHINE.. It's full and voluminous and beautiful. And that COLOR! I love my deep, vibrant colors.

(Want to learn how to sew pleats like those on the Emma Skirt? Girl, we got you. Check out our brand new & highly improved step-by-step sewing tutorial on how to sew knife pleats below! You'll have your own beautifully pleated skirt in no time.)Learn How To Sew Pleats: A Step-By-Step Sewing Tutorial The Emma Skirt & How To Sew Pleats: Full Back View

The sewing of the Emma Skirt was pretty straightforward--It's only two pieces, with a waistband to finish it off. It looking to sew your own pleated skirt, you can add a lining to the skirt, depending on the weight of your fabric. I chose to add one, just to give my Emma some extra weight and fullness.

I did also decide to hand stitch the hem of my skirt. (Btw, have you checked out our highly new & improved hand stitching tutorial from last week? I pulled my fav stitch from that lesson--the catch stitch--for this project.)

Hand stitching adds such a personal touch to a sewing project--You would never notice it if you didn't know to look for it.

But it's just a touch, and it's beautiful.

The most difficult part of sewing up the Emma (or any pleated skirt, really) is making sure to match up the pleat notches correctly, and to press them all evenly. Originally, when I wrote this post on the Emma, I believed that I was working with accordion pleats. I checked my textbooks from FIDM to confirm, and it looked right.

But after doing some additional research and getting some comments from readers, I have come to believe that the Emma Skirt actually uses knife pleats--Rather than accordion pleats.

I think the different between knife and accordion pleats is pretty minimal.. But it's still good to be clear and concise on which pleating technique I am using! When I was drafting & sewing up the Emma, I didn't really have a particular pleating method in mind.. I just created the skirt and decided to label it later.

(Want to learn how to sew pleats like those on the Emma Skirt? Girl, we got you. Check out our brand new & highly improved step-by-step sewing tutorial on how to sew knife pleats below! You'll have your own beautifully pleated skirt in no time.)Learn How To Sew Pleats: A Step-By-Step Sewing Tutorial The Emma Skirt & How To Sew Pleats: Hand Sewn Hem

The Emma Skirt & How To Sew Pleats: The Catch Stitch

A knife pleat is a pressed pleat that has the crease line firmly pressed the entire length of the pleat. The pleat is the same size from top to bottom, which my pleats pretty much are. Accordion pleats vary in size though, ranging from very small at the top to quite large at the bottom. A pretty minimal difference, but they are different!

With a fully pleated skirt, if any of the pleats are pressed unevenly, then it is pretty obvious. Therefore, you want to make sure that all of the notches on your pleats are matched properly, and that they are pressed and sewn together evenly.

This is definitely the most time consuming part with sewing pleats, no matter what the sewing project is.

Pressing is the hard part, sewing is the easy part.

I always pin and baste stitch my pleats before sewing them up at the waistband. As a result, you can ensure that everything looks even and proper before completing the sewing with your machine. Due to my inability to eyeball measurements, I'm a bit psycho and measure the width of my pleats at the waistline, hem, and midway down the skirt. (And yes, that's with an actual ruler.)

Otherwise every pleat is a different width halfway down the skirt.

Also, I would recommend making sure your basting stitches are nice and long, since you will be taking them out later, after you have finished up your skirt. (Or whatever sewing project you're working on, really.) This not only ensures your stitching will be even, but it also helps when pressing the pleats to get those beautiful pleats we are looking for.

(Want to learn how to sew pleats like those on the Emma Skirt? Girl, we got you. Check out our brand new & highly improved step-by-step sewing tutorial on how to sew knife pleats below! You'll have your own beautifully pleated skirt in no time.)Learn How To Sew Pleats: A Step-By-Step Sewing Tutorial The Emma Skirt & How To Sew Pleats: Full Front View

And finally, my namesake for the Emma Skirt: Emma Watson.

I have never met this amazing woman, but I adore her. I think she is such an incredible human, and the type of woman that I strive to be myself. (Literally, as I'm typing this, right this second, I'm watching Beauty and the Beast. It's at the part where the wardrobe is dressing her in that ridiculous pink dress, after Lumiere & Cogsworth saved her from her prison cell.)

What I love about Emma Watson is that she stands up for women, and she plays strong women in her movies. As Belle in Beauty and the Beast she is the most independent woman in town, a woman that loves to read and invent. While everyone is swooning over the most handsome man in town, she is completely turned off by his advances.

She doesn't fall for it for even one second.

As Hermione, she plays the smartest girl in her year. A fearless, independent, and strong girl that stands by her friends in even the most terrifying of situations. While I have never met Emma Watson in person, I know she's a fairly quiet, independent person.. Which I love about her.

She radiates strength, confidence, and intelligence--All traits that I respect and admire above all others.

I wanted to name our second monthly sewing project after her because she embodies what I want this blog and business to represent. (Also, I can totally see her wearing the Emma Skirt.)

I truly love this skirt. It is a perfect, classic piece to add to your wardrobe--One that I have worn time and time again over the years. If you're loving this skirt as much as I am right now, stay tuned next week for a completely reinvented post on how to sew pleats. It's our most popular tutorial here on the blog, and it's going to be better than ever before!

(Want to learn how to sew pleats like those on the Emma Skirt? Girl, we got you. Check out our brand new & highly improved step-by-step sewing tutorial on how to sew knife pleats below! You'll have your own beautifully pleated skirt in no time.)Learn How To Sew Pleats: A Step-By-Step Sewing Tutorial

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