Study Hall Skirt Restudied

Mar 16th
Study Hall Skirt featured image

Anna Maria Horner, I love your Study Hall Skirt!  The clean crisp lines, the peek-a-boo inverted box pleats, the way that two beautiful fabrics can compliment one another so well.  It looks great on the pattern packet photo.  But unless you are a slave to the iron, that crisp look doesn’t stay that way for long, and the crisp pleats quickly wilt.  How to make the study hall skirt stay smart looking?  That was the challenge for me as I sewed the skirt.  By the time I finished the second skirt, I was on to some changes in the construction for the study hall skirt that made it look good even after an all day wear and numerous trips in a hot car.

Study Hall Skirt Restudied Photo 1

Back of skirt still great even after 8 hours!

To keep pleats crisp and in place on the study hall skirt, I sewed them all in, on the panels and the box pleats.  And to keep the skirt smooth and from riding I lined it.  These simple changes proved to make a skirt that draped well and stayed looking nice.  I even wore it two days without having to iron!  Now that’s a skirt that I love to wear.    Take a look at the construction changes below as I deviated quite a bit from the pattern directions.  I hope these bring you a study hall skirt that you love to wear with minimal care!


Study Hall Skirt: Restudied


Fabric type is critical to a well performing study hall skirt.  I’ve made the study hall skirt twice, first with Anna Maria Horner home decor fabric in 100% cotton.   To accomodate the fabric design, I made the study hall skirt a size larger than I normally wear.  This allowed the bird in the circle to show.  The skirt is a more relaxed fit that hangs at the hips and it closer to the top of the knee.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 2

Study Hall Skirt in fabrics designed by Anna Maria Horner

The second time around making the study hall skirt I used some Echino fabrics that were also a heavier weight that were a cotton/linen blend.    I made the study hall skirt in my regular size.  It has a more tailored look and feel, and it sits higher up on the waist and the hem falls more above the knee.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 3

Study Hall Skirt in Echino Fabric

I had the good luck of visiting Super Buzzy fabrics in Ventura, CA on a trip, and found the fabric you’ll see below in the photos.  ( I’d like to put in an unsolicited plug for Super Buzzy.  The store owner was incredibly helpful and knowledgeable, and the store was chock full of beautiful contemporary fabrics, a large percentage from Japan.  I’d shopped online with them before, and they have alway been very helpful in suggesting matching fabrics and colors – something that is not so easy to visualize when looking at a computer screen.    The store is a labor of love by the owner and workers there, so if you get a chance, give Super Buzzy a try.)

My directions call for serging your fabric.  I love the clean professional look that a serger gives.  But you can finish your skirt edges however you like.  Just make sure you do finish them.

Remember to wash and iron your fabric before cutting it.  Keep your iron handy.  It is your ally in making your skirt perfect.

Pattern Piece Simplification

Cutting out the Study Hall skirt:  Anna Maria Horner’s Study Hall Skirt consists of many pattern pieces, some of which are the same shape and differ only in the tailor markings on them.   A good example of this is the front and back inset pieces that make the box pleat.  Same with the side back and side front.   All four pieces are the same shape.  Why cut out twice (with fabric folded) when you can do it once?  Less cutting means less variation.  I folded and then used the rotary cutter to cut through four layers at once.  They were exactly the same shape and size this way.

Transferring Pattern Marks on the Study Hall skirt:  There are lots of pattern markings to transfer on the skirt, but the second time around I didn’t do any with the pattern tissue on the fabric.  Too time consuming, and in many cases, not necessary.  Not necessary because the skirt has no gathers to match up.  Pretty much all the edges match just by aligning the top and bottom and being careful on your pinning, so save some time by not doing it.  However, there are a few  you need to mark:  the pleat lines on the four inset panels, the zipper length, and the pleat tack down length.  But only the pleat lines need to be done up front.  I do this on the study hall skirt by measuring the distance from the edge that the top and bottom pleat line make on the tissue pattern, and then draw that onto the back of each box pleat piece in pencil.  Yes, pencil as you will follow this line and sew over it later.  By making your marks after you have cut and the tissue is off, you can get more exact lines, and that is what we are after in this skirt, exact lines.  Don’t worry about the zipper length and pleat tack down now, you’ll get to that later.

Serge your Study Hall skirt pieces

Once you have all your pieces cut out,  serge the long sides of the panels (not top and bottom) and serge the top of the bottom of the facing pieces.  Serge the bottom and sides of the bottom band pieces.  I serge the edges with my cutter foot up, just encasing the edge of the fabric with the threads.  Because of the serging, it is usually not necessary to backstitch to secure a seam with the regular sewing machine.

Iron all your pieces.  I then label all my pieces to keep track of them, putting the pattern piece name on a piece of tape on the center of the wrong side of the fabric.  You’ll see some of them in the photos below.  Now you are ready to start sewing!

Sew the Study Hall skirt

Sew the front half together:  Gather together all your front panels (right and left side front panels, center panel, and two contrasting box pleats)  and sew them together.  Press open all the fabric, and then sew on your bottom band.  I like to stitch this on first, then serge to neaten and get this closer to the seam allowance.  Press the bottom band seam allowance towards the bottom.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 4

Front of skirt with panels and bottom band

Sew the back half together:  Follow the directions in the pattern instructions to place your zip into the two back center panels of the skirt.  Refer to your tissue pattern for the distance from the top of the pattern for proper placement and mark on your pattern piece.   The directions call for an invisible zipper.  Since I am always trying to achieve pattern matching nirvana, I tend to use a lapped zipper rather than invisible.  As the photo below shows, I have done invisible and centered zips.  Each one has it’s merits and you must decide based on your fabric choice.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 5

Invisible (top) and centered (bottom) zippers

Once you have your back centers with zip sewn together, proceed as you did for the front, sewing together the box pleats and sides.

 Study Hall Skirt Pleats

Now you have a front and a back, with bottom band.  It is time to sew the pleats in place.

Sewing box pleats:  Taking your first box pleat panel piece, turn it to the wrong side so you see your two pleat lines running from top to bottom.  Fold your fabric with right sides together, wrong facing you, exactly on the line you drew in pencil earlier, and continue that line right into the bottom band,  iron the pleat in place so that the folded part faces the outer edge (see photo).  You now have an ironed pleat running from top to bottom.  Use a zip foot to sew on the wrong side just at the edge of the pleat.  Repeat on all remaining box pleat pieces.  You will have a barely perceptible line when done.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 6

Zip foot helps you get close to edge

Press study hall skirt pleats open.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 7

Press your pleat to the outside edge


Sewing outside pleats:  Refer back to your tissue pattern and measure the distance from the top that the pleat tacking is made.  Mark this exactly on each of the main pattern panels.  You will make this mark 4 times on the front, and four on the back.  You do not make this mark on the outermost panel outer edge, as there will be no pleat there when the sides are sewn together.

Now you have a choice on how to proceed.  You can either sew your outside pleats in one go, from top to bottom to make the pleat and then sew over and tack to the box pleat (which gives a  slightly more pronounced line where the double stitching is) or you can stitch just once.

Study Hall Skirt photo 8

Tack down alternatives

For more pronounced detailing:  The Echino fabric study hall skirt has this detailing.

Carefully fold and iron the main pattern fabric so that it is directly over the contrasting box pleat fabric where they are sewn together, again continuing this pleat line into and through the bottom band.  Using your zipper foot as you did for the box pleat above, sew the main pattern fabric over and to the contrasting box pleat fabric.  Repeat for remaining panels.

Carefully iron and pin in place the inverted box panel, making sure to butt pleat edges to pleat tack down mark.  You will see that by ironing and pinning along the sewn pleat lines that the box pleat naturally opens up at the bottom.  Pin and iron in place, top to bottom, and iron on reverse side to ensure that the top section of the box pleat is smooth and even.

Turing the skirt right side up, carefully sew down at the pleat tack mark.  Then sew from the tack mark to the top of the skirt, following over the existing stitching on the pleat edge.  Repeat for other pleat, going from tack to top.  Repeat this for remaining box pleats.  Press.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 9

Finished Front prior to lining and facing

For single stitching:  The Anna Maria Horner fabric study hall skirt has this detailing.

Carefully fold and iron the main pattern fabric so that it is directly over the contrasting box pleat fabric where they are sewn together, again continuing this pleat line into and through the bottom band.  Using your zipper foot as you did for the box pleat above, sew the main pattern fabric over and to the contrasting box pleat fabric from the bottom of the bottom band up to the pleat tack mark.  Repeat for the pleat opposite.   You will now have two partially sewn pleats that are sewn exactly to the same point.

Carefully iron and pin in place the inverted box panel, making sure to butt pleat edges to pleat tack down mark.  You will see that by ironing and pinning along the sewn pleat lines that the box pleat naturally opens up at the bottom.  Pin and iron in place, top to bottom, and iron on reverse side to ensure that the top section of the box pleat is smooth and even.

Starting from your pleat tack mark, (where your stitching left off) go back and continue stitching to the top of the skirt.  Repeat for other pleat side.  You have now sewn through the pleat edges and main part of the contrasting box pleat fabric however, securing the box pleat in place.  Go back to the box pleat tack mark and tack in place.  This will cover up where your stitches stopped and started.  Repeat for remaining box pleats.  Press.

Make the lining for the Study Hall Skirt

Why line the Study Hall skirt?  Because if you don’t the skirt will ride up on you when you walk and ruin how it looks.  You’ve put a lot of time into the skirt, and you want it to look fab and hang well on you.  It won’t unless you line it.  Or wear a slip.  But lining is nicer, hides your seams, and do you really have a slip JUST the right length?

You now have a front and back section that you will use for your lining pattern.

Make the front lining pattern:  Lay out your front half of the skirt.  Find the center of your skirt, and line the edge of tissue paper at that center of the skirt that divides the left and right halves.  Trace out the top, side and bottom.  This is your front lining pattern piece.  Cut your front lining out with the straight edge (center) on the lining fabric fold.  Serge left and right sides.

Make the back lining pattern:  Lay out the back half of your skirt.  Make a line 5/8 inch from the long edge of your tissue paper you’ll use for your pattern.  Lay this line down the center of your back half of skirt and trace out the top, side and bottom.  Mark along the 5/8 inch line where the zip ends, and add half an inch.  This is your back lining pattern piece.  Cut two pieces.  Serge four long outer edges.   At zip mark, cut from edge into fabric 5/8 inch.  Stitch from bottom of lining to zip mark cut, then fold back cut section, and stitch to top (see photo).  Serge from sip line to bottom hem line along already sewn seam to neaten.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 10

Back Lining detail at zip

Press.  You should now have a front lining and back lining section that match your skirt front and back.

Sew the lining and facing

Sew your back facings to the back of your skirt, with rough (unserged) edges matched.   Remember, this seam allowance here is just 1/2 inch.  The longer edge will get turned under and sewn later.  Repeat for front facing and front of skirt.  Keep facings turned so the right side of facing faces the right side of the skirt.  

Study Hall Skirt Photo 11

Back Facing Alignment to skirt body

Sew in place the lining, basting it in place.  When certain that facing, lining and skirt body are all in exact place, serge all three together close to the 1/2 inch seam to neaten and reduce bulk. Please note the below photo shows the lining below the skirt, just so you can see the pieces.  When you sew the lining and facing to the skirt body, all pieces meet at the top.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 12

back lining placement to skirt body. Note facing is down (under skirt body)

Repeat with front lining and skirt front and facing.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 12

Back lining attachment showing all three layers
(fold facing down towards skirt body before basting and serging)
Top piece of fabric is the front lining piece (on top of back lining)

You should now have two pieces; the front with front lining, and the back with back lining.  Pull the lining piece up away from the skirt body.  Your piece will look like lining, facing, skirt body.  You now have just two pieces, the skirt front with lining, and the skirt back with lining.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 13

Front Lining prior to serging to skirt body and facing


Press the skirt and press the facing so that the facing follows the lining, not the skirt body.  This will ensure the facing catches the lining when you fold the lining back inside.  With right sides together, baste the lining, lining/facing (remember, they overlap here) and skirt body together.   You’ll have one long continuous run that bastes the lining to the lining, then lining/facing to lining/facing then skirt body to skirt body. Turn right side out to ensure that everything has been stitched properly and lines up.  If it does, machine stitch at the 5/8 inch allowance, then machine serge to neaten and trim.  Of course, you may be unlike me, and able to go directly to serge and forget the baste part…


Serge your lining bottom raw edge, and hem.

Press and hem your study hall skirt hem.

Sew your back facing to the skirt back by folding under the serged edge and hand stitching to the zip.

Study Hall Skirt Photo 14

Back Facing at Zip

At four box pleat lines, stitch in the ditch to attach the skirt to the back facing to keep it in place.

Attach your hook and eye.


Enjoy your Study Hall Skirt with permanent pleating!