Not So Quick Zig Zag Crib Skirt Tutorial

I went down to my sister’s to visit her family and meet my new nephew. While I was there, she mentioned that she had made curtains for the nursery with curtain clips and hem tape. She thought maybe she could use the hem tape to make a crib skirt as well. I did not think that sounded like a very good idea.

While I was there, I took a couple quick measurements.
The crib base is 51″ x 29″ and we decided the skirt should have a finished length of 8″.
crib skirt measurement notes

Since the crib has a changing table on one end, only two sides will be skirted.

I’m using this fabric from for the skirt.
Zig Zag Fabric

For the top, I’m using a white broadcloth. The top piece should be cut at 51 7/8″ x 29 7/8″
51″ for the length of the crib base + 3/8″ for the seam with the skirt on the left + 1/2″ for the hem on the right = 51 7/8″
29″ for the width of the crib base + 3/8″ for the seam with the skirt on the front + 1/2″ for the hem on the back = 29 7/8″
There’s also a very good chance I just cut this 52″x30″ and called it good. :)

Skirt measurements:
The width of the box pleat depends on the width of the zigzags. This is also a matter of personal choice. In this case, I went with a pleat that was the width of a W’s worth of zigzags.
Measuring, that’s 7.5″, which means we need to add 15″ to the skirt width to account for the fabric that’s going to be folded over to make the pleat.
Measuring the Pleat Width

Figuring out the width
Figuring out the height
Not too bad, right? So the skirt fabric on the left (short) side will need to be 45″ x 8 7/8″

Following the same formula, the front skirt fabric will need to be 67″ x 8 7/8″. This means the front skirt fabric piece needs to be longer than the width of the fabric, so it will be necessary to seam it and hide the seam in the pleat.

I’m going to deal with the short side skirt fabric first because it is simpler.
First, I know I want a half inch hem, and I want to have the blue points at the bottom of the hem. I need to straighten out the last cut line on this fabric, so I find the closest row of zigzags that still have half an inch past them on the fabric.
Zig Zag Fabric Cutting

There, that’s better!
Zig Zag Fabric Cutting 2

Now that I have a straight line, I need to cut the width to 8 7/8″. I don’t cut the length yet, because I need to make sure the pleat will end up in the center. And I want the zigzag to match up on a point, so I can’t simply fold the piece in half to place my pleat. (If this were a solid or horizontal stripe, it would be fine to cut the length now.) I find the zigzag that is upward and closest to the middle of this piece and finger press the pleat just to make sure I’m still going to have enough length. Looks good!
Zig Zag Pleat Check

At this point, I’m going to mark my center. Since the piece I need here should be 45″, I need 22.5″ on both sides of that center.
Measuring from center

Hem the short sides. Please use the iron. I’m using my Dritz EZY-Hem to turn up and press a 1/4″ and then folding that under and pressing.
Quarter inch pressing with the EZY-Hem

Fold under and press

Since this is a pretty small hem, I moved my needle over to the right a bit so I can keep more of the fabric under the presser foot and on the feed dogs while I’m stitching.

Not too bad!
Side hem done

Hem the bottom, and if you carefully cut those zigzags so they would have all their points aligned at the bottom, double check to make sure you are hemming the bottom and not the top!

Now that the hems are done, it’s time to put in the pleat. Remember, the iron is your friend. Also, a little spray starch never hurt anyone. (Or at least I don’t think it did. I suppose it’s possible. Please read and follow any and all warning labels just to be safe!)

Pin the pleat in place and then stitch across the top in the seam allowance. This will make it easier to keep everything nice and neat when the skirt is attached to the top.
Pleat pinned in place
Pleat secured

Now repeat all of this for the longer skirt piece that will go in the front. I had to seam this one, so I fretted a lot about where the seam should go. I knew I wanted to hide it in the pleat, but where? In the back layer? In the middle layer? I kept pinning and holding it up trying to guess what would be better. Helenanne, who’s very wise, reminded me that this is for a baby. Anyone seeing it is not there to view the crib skirt, they are there to see my adorable little nephew. I have trouble remembering these things.

A quick tip for matching patterns when seaming:
Place pieces right sides together and hold against a sunny window. Pin together!
Matching patterns
Normally, I’d just seam this by running it through the serger. Since this is going to have a small hem, I use the sewing machine so I can press the seam open and there’s less bulk. I trimmed the seam allowance with my munchy scissors, aka pinking shears.
Seam allowance trimmed

Once the skirt panels are complete, this finishes up quickly.

Attach the short side panel to a short end of the base piece, right sides together, leaving a half inch on what will be the back side for the hem allowance. This leaves about the same amount on the side where the front skirt panel will be attached. It’s about a half inch on either side.
skirt placement on base fabric

Once the short side is attached, line up the long side, leaving about half an inch in the corner that’s shared with the short side. I forgot to take a pic when I laid it out, but this is how it looks when both skirt panels are attached to the base piece.
skirt pieces meet

With the entire piece right side up, press the seams. Pin the side hems of the skirt base.
press and pin

Next, make the corner where the two skirts meet nice and neat.
Place the piece wrong side up, and pull the corner of the base under the skirt seams you just pressed. There should be a little triangle of base fabric there. Press well.
folding under the corner where skirt pieces meet
This will get tacked down with the topstitching and hemming.

Stitch all the way around the rectangle of the base piece – you are putting the hem on the sides without the skirt and topstitching the sides with skirt pieces.

Now my cutting table has a lovely skirt. See the corner where that base bit got folded in a triangle?
zoomed corner of crib skirt
That little space there will make the skirt hang nicely around the corner pieces of the crib.
And that’s it!
finished crib skirt

Happy Sewing!

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