Hem Pleats: How to Shorten a Chiffon Pleated Skirt Easily

Size matters when it comes to fashion having the right length and other dimensions matter. Your look will depend on if you get the length just right. Even with chiffon pleats, the size matter and getting the right look depends on getting the right length.

How to shorten a chiffon pleated skirt: There are many ways to hem a chiffon dress and make it a little shorter. The easy way is to hem the garment to the length you want and then send the dress to the dry cleaners. Let them handle the pleats because they have the tools to do a great job.

To learn better more complicated ways of hemming your chiffon pleated dress just keep reading our article. It is filled with the information you need to help you out when you face a similar task.

Can You Get a Pleated Skirt Altered?


Yes, it is possible to alter a pleated skirt. There is a trick to getting it done and a couple of things to watch out for. It is not an easy task to do as those pleats can get in the way.

The trick to hem a pleated skirt or dress is to start at the top. This will enable the pleats to remain intact and still look good. The reason for working from the top is that the pleated skirt will not have a normal hem.

That fact tells you to leave the lower hem alone and work from the top. Also, this guideline works for any dress or skirt that has bottom embellishments. These attractive features should not be altered at all.

Instead, when you see the pleats and other embellishments, you should go to the top immediately and work from there. The other thing to watch out for is that chiffon is a smooth and slippery fabric.

It is also delicate so you need to work slowly. The good news is you can do the hemming with a machine or by hand.

Can Pleated Dresses Be Shortened?

It is possible and there are a few steps to take to get it done right.

  • Step 1: You need to mark where you want the hem to be. If it is a full-length gown, you should pin the hem back so the gown is about 3/4 to 1 inch above the ground. Make sure to wear your shoes when you do this.
  • Step 2: After pinning the hem, you should take your iron and press the fold so the hem is nice and flat with no wrinkles. Once that is done, you can sew a straight stitch along the bottom of the hem.
  • Step 3: When you sew, you should use a smaller needle. A 70/10 or a 75/11 should do the trick. Once the hem is sewn, trim off the excess fabric. Don’t take off too much and make sure you leave a little above the stitch line.
  • Step 4: next, fold up and press with your iron. The fold-up should not go that far, just enough to cover the stitches.
  • Step 5: Now sew again moving the needle one notch to the right and keeping the fabric next to the feed.
  • Step 6: press again and you are good to go.

There is one extra step when shortening a chiffon skirt or dress from the bottom. You should take it to the dry cleaners and have them repleat the outfit for you. Doing it yourself may be just too difficult of a challenge.

How to Shorten a Chiffon Pleated Skirt


There are different ways to hem or shorten a pleated skirt. One can start at the top or the bottom depending on their expertise and preferences. Before we continue there is one warning you should follow to make sure your hemming turns out just right.

Make sure the person who is going to wear the skirt puts it on before you start. This will help you get a proper fit and let you double-check all your markings and see that they are accurate.

For those who like to work from the top, the first step is to fold the fabric down. If elastic is present, then do one roll at a time making sure to roll the sides and the back at the same time.

Then measure the amount of the fold and write the figure down. Remove any pins you have placed to hold the fabric steady. Cut the band and take it off. You can put it back on later.

Next, if you do not want the band back, attach some elastic and make sure the join is at the center back. Fold the elastic in half to find the center front and then put the center front and back together to get the side seam.

Pin the side seams and sew. Then turn the garment inside out, fold over and stitch over the overlock stitch again. That is it. One thing to remember is that the method you use depends on the style of the skirt

One more tip to think about, the seam lines can make adding a hem to a pleated skirt a little difficult. One reason for this is that the seam may split open at the hemline. Avoiding this situation just takes a little sewing about 1/4 inch from the edge.

Then press the skirt and then overcast the seam edges so that they cover the hem.

How to Hem a Pleated Skirt by Hand

This process may take you some time to do and you will need lots of patience to get it done. Just follow the few steps and your chiffon skirt or dress should look fine once you are done.

  • Step 1: Thread your needle with matching thread to the weight and color of the outfit. Then sew about 1/4 of an inch below the raw edge. After you get that done, trim the excess down to about 1/8th of an inch above the straight stitch.
  • Step 2: Now you fold the raw edge to the wrong side of the fabric and press with your iron. The fabric fold should be just past your stitch line. This should cover the stitches.
  • Step 3: get a small but very sharp needle and pick up a thread from the dress and a stitch from your stitch line. Pull the needle and thread through without pulling the thread tight.

Keep this new stitch as close to the fold as possible. Only pick up 1 or 2 threads from the fabric each time, any more and your hem will show.

  • Step 4: Repeat this process until you have covered about 1 to 2 inches in length. Then lightly pull your thread towards the stitch direction. This will make your raw edge roll up and disappear from view. To avoid bunching and bubbling pull the thread firmly but not too tightly or hard.
  • Step 5: Continue doing this process until you have made it around your dress. Your raw edge and stitches should not be seen by this time.
  • Step 6: Iron and press to keep the hem looking good.

How to Shorten a Pleated Skirt From The Waist

This is the easiest way to shorten a pleated skirt. Your pleats remain protected and they should survive this without any damage to them.

  • Step 1: If you are doing one of your pleated skirts, then put the skirt on and roll the elastic waist up till you hit the top of the skirt material. Use a safety pin or other marking method to indicate this position.
  • Step 2: You can cut off the elastic if you are wanting to shorten the skirt more than one roll. When putting the elastic back on, give yourself 1/4 extra width than the width of the elastic.
  • Step 3: Sew the elastic into its new place going in a full circle. Quarter the skirt and the elastic then mark. Match the marks and pin the elastic keeping the pins out of the way of your sewing machine needle.
  • Step 4: Use a 3 or 4 thread wide stitch keeping the edge of the foot at the right edge of the elastic. You should only have about 1/4 excess material for the serger to trim off.

Make sure you or your serger does not cut the elastic band. Also, stretch the elastic and fabric so you get a nice fit.

  • Step 5: Balance the bulk by clipping the lowermost edge of the elastic to the seam line. Keep the seam in the opposite direction of how it was in your serger.
  • Step 6: Flip the elastic down towards the body of the skirt and sew away. Don’t forget to stretch the material as you sew.

Your skirt or dress should look less bulky after you finish.

Hemming Pleats Tips


It certainly pays to get a few tips especially when you are trying to hem a difficult pattern like a pleated skirt. Here are a few tips to help you get the best job possible. These tips are in no particular order.

1. Get the right order

To hem a pleated skirt it is best to start with one panel and do each one individually. After you have completed that task, you can start on the pleated seams.

2. V is for victory

Use a V mark at the point where your machine will start the overlock stitch. Make sure that mark is at the hem depth you want. You do not want the V mark too close to your stitch line. If you want a 2-inch hem, then the V should be at the 4-inch mark.

3. Pressing right

When you go to press the seam, leave the hemline open. Then remove your overlock stitches from the seam. Also, you can trim the excess fabric at this point cutting down your bulk.

4. Get rid of wrinkles

When you start the process, you want to iron out all the wrinkles before you start hemming. Wrinkles will through your hemline off and create a crooked hem.

5. Get the right fit

Make sure you or the person who is going to wear the pleated skirt put it on after you iron out the wrinkles. You need to make sure the alterations will have the skirt fitting properly and look good. Don’t forget to double-check your measurements and marks.

6. Avoid the splits

This can happen if you are not careful. The seams can split at the hemline and ruin the look of the skirt. What you need to do is sew the pleat about 1/4 inch from the edge, press the pleat and then overcast the seam to cover the hem.

7. Wear your shoes

This is a needed step if you are trying to hem a full-length pleated skirt or dress. You want the hem to not touch the floor or get stepped on by the shoes. Keeping the hem about 1 inch above the shoes should do the trick.

8. Check your needle size

When dealing with a chiffon fabric or a pleated skirt, you should make sure you are using the right needle size to get the job done. Also, the needle needs to be very sharp, straight and not bent.

Some Final Words

Working with chiffon and pleats are not easy. When sewing a hem you have to be patient as chiffon could do a lot of slipping and sliding as you work. That can get frustrating, so make sure you work slowly and do one step at a time.

Remember working from the top down is the easiest way to hem a pleated skirt. That way you do not ruin the pleats or make a mess of an already good hem job. If you do ruin a pleat, the dry cleaners should not charge too much to repleat the skirt or dress.

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