How to Make a Pleated Skirt for a Sofa - dummies

By Mark Montano, Carly Sommerstein

With a small investment of time and money, and a little extra fabric, you can add a pleated skirt to a basic sofa or loveseat slipcover and add some charm. This pleated sofa skirt uses a classic box pleat that fits many different decors and keeps its shape well. Three front pleats and one pleat for each side give a great look and are easier to make than many tiny pleats.

To figure out how much fabric you need for the front, back, and sides of the sofa skirt, follow these easy steps:

  1. Determine your sofa skirt’s width measurements by measuring the front of your sofa.

    To this measurement, add 36 inches (for three pleats made from 12 inches of fabric each). Divide that sum by 2 and then add 1 inch for the seam allowance.

    The sofa used in this example has these measurements: front width 87 inches. So, adding 36 inches to that measurement totals 123 inches. You divide 123 by 2 to get 61-1/2, and add 1 to that (for the seam allowance). You end up with 62-1/2 inches. Your measurements may vary.

  2. Determine the height of your sofa skirt by first deciding where you want to attach it, measuring from there to the floor, and adding 1 inch.

    This sofa skirt will be 12 inches high, so your fabric needs to be 13 inches long to allow for the seam allowance.

    The width and height numbers you end up with determine the size of each panel. You need four total pieces of fabric (two for the front and two for the back) that are each this size.

    So, for the front and back of our sofa, cut four pieces of fabric that measured 62-1/2 x 13 inches.

  3. Measure the side of your sofa from front to back to determine the depth, and add 12 inches to that measurement for your pleat and 1 inch for the seam allowance.

    The example sofa is is 37 inches deep. You add 12 inches to that measurement for the pleat plus 1 inch for the seam allowance to total 50 inches. Because the height will still be 13 inches, you need two pieces of fabric at 50 x 13 inches.

To figure your fabric amount, pick a fabric width and do some simple math to determine how many pleat pieces you can fit into the width. For a 60-inch-wide fabric, you should be able to cut two 13- x 62-inch pieces, plus two 13- x 50-inch pieces from 3 yards of fabric. Since 13 times 4 is only 52, you’ll have a few inches to spare for your width. You may want to add an extra yard just to be on the safe side lengthwise.

To determine the pleat placement points on the front of your sofa, divide the width measurement of the front of your sofa by 4. The example sofa front width is 87 inches; you divide that by 4 to get 21-3/4 inches. On the right side of the sofa front, measure 21-3/4 inches from the corner and add a straight pin. Do the same thing on the left side. Then add a straight pin to the exact center of the sofa front (at 43-1/2 inches from the corners). These are your 3 pleat placement points.

To determine the pleat placement points for the sides of your sofa, divide the side depth measurement in half; that will be your pleat placement point for each side.

Follow these steps when creating your pleated skirt:

  1. Stitch two of your longer pieces together at one end to make one long piece.

    The example 62-1/2- x 13-inch pieces ended up as one 124 x 13-inch piece.

  2. Create the back skirt piece the same way.

  3. Fold in your front pleats, which require 12 inches of fabric per pleat: 6 inches for the larger “rear” fold of each pleat and 3 inches for the two smaller “front” folds of each pleat.


    Pin into place and press with a hot iron.

  4. Fold your side pleats according to Step 3.


    Pin into place and press with a hot iron.

  5. Stitch your sofa skirt together using a straight stitch, keeping the pins in place.


    Stitch the four sections of the skirt together, and then sew across the top of the pleats so that they stay in place and are ready for attaching.

  6. Measure up 12 inches from the bottom of your sofa slipcover (or however high you want the top of your pleated skirt to be) and pin your sofa skirt to your slipcover upside down, right sides together.


    Make sure you pin the skirt to the slipcover. You want to be able to flip the skirt down over the bottom of your slipcover.

  7. Remove the slipcover from the sofa (if you haven’t already), and stitch your skirt all the way around, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance on your sofa skirt.

  8. Hem the pleated skirt, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance, and press with a hot iron.