Vintage McCalls 3842: The Kick-Pleat Skirt

I bought the McCall’s 3842 vintage secretary-esque skirt pattern on etsy about a month and a half ago, and I set to work on it immediately because it was too cute to sit on my shelf, unused.

Being a vintage pattern, I’m always surprised at how long all of the pattern pieces are.  I know I’m short, but for some reason I though people were a bit shorter back in the day, not bigger.  I swear I had to remove at least 4 inches from the lengthen/shorten line as well as another inch or two in the kick-pleat area.  Craziness.

I’ve had some bright purple in a light Italian, stretch wool in my stash that has been begging me to turn it into a skirt.  So I finally obliged, and turned him into my new vintage kick-pleat skirt. 

I thought it would be fun to go to the Chicago Public Libary and take some pictures in the stacks.  Unfortunatly the lighting was terrible, but being around 20 degrees in the Windy City, it wasn’t really possible to take the pictures outside. 

You can see from the picture above (and the one below) I included side-seam pockets as well as a matching purple lining to the whole skirt.

This picture below was aslo taken in our city library.  There’s an atrium at the very top, which is used for public and private events.  I wish I could have taken more photos up here since the lighting was wonderful and it really shows off the true color of the skirt.  But there were folks trying to read and I didn’t want to disturbe anyone more than I already had. 

Here’s the detail shot of the kick-pleat, complete with covered buttons. 

It looks lovely now, but little did I know how difficult it is to insert a kick-pleat when there is no corresponding back seams to work with.  Watch out for that when you’re buying a kick-pleat skirt pattern.  This was truly a challenge and I felt like crying at several points during the construction; slowly but surely, I managed to get it all sewn together.

 The other tricky thing I learnt the hard way was trying to hem the pleated section.  I always hem my garnments as the final step to ensure I have a perfectly even hem all the way around.  But the trouble on this skirt is the pleats; it seems easier said then done, to hem pleats, especially when there is an angular-vertical seam involved.  And if (when) I make this skirt again, I would be hemming this kick-pleat area, prior to setting it into the main skirt piece and I would also be hemming it prior to pressing the pleats. 

And to leave you with something silly, I snagged a book cart that was left by the stacks where we were taking pictures.  I could be a librarian, don’t you think?!  heh

In: Sewing

Blogger for 6 years and counting, I am a passionate creator who loves to tinker.

Comments (14)

  1. Gina February 24, 2011 — 3:41 PM

    Wow, this is so pretty, love the color, those shoe are perfect. The back pleat looks like one of those things that would leave me crying too, but you did an awesome job with it. You don’t see that kind of details on the skirts they sell at the mall. It’s worth sewing for all the vintage charm you get in the end. Great Job!

  2. Tasha February 24, 2011 — 6:35 PM

    I love it! I’m super impressed with the kick pleats. That looks like a world of work. It looks gorgeous, and with the covered buttons? Ooh la la. Perfect (and fits in very well in the library).

  3. Mia February 25, 2011 — 7:41 AM

    I love this skirt! The color is fab and pleat detail are great!

  4. Liz February 25, 2011 — 9:29 AM

    Thanks so much Gina, Tasha, and Mia for your sweet comments.

    I’ve seen a few modern patterns today that have the the kickpleat detail, but it’s always accompanied by an extra 2 seams down the back of the skirt. I think I’d like to try those versions to see how much easier it is than this vintage style. Although this one hits the spot with the buttons. :)

  5. Madonna February 25, 2011 — 10:29 AM

    I love you. This skirt is awesome. The pictures are great!

  6. Letty February 25, 2011 — 11:23 AM

    Your skirt is so sweet, i adore simple skirts with lovely details.

  7. Lee April 18, 2011 — 6:34 PM

    THAT’S IT! THAT’S THE SKIRT PATTERN I HAVE BEEN HUNTING FOR A LONG TIME! I remember WEARING a skirt that my mother made me that was exactly that pattern. You did a great job!
    Where did you find it?

    1. Liz April 18, 2011 — 9:12 PM

      I found it on etsy! And I saw it again on there for sale, not one month ago. Keep checking and I’m sure another one will pop up. :)
      Have you tried ebay?

  8. Susan August 6, 2011 — 12:22 PM

    Any tips on kick pleat installation? I am currently working on it now and it’s a mess of trouble.

    1. Liz August 8, 2011 — 4:24 PM

      What pattern are you working on? Curious what kind of kick-pleat it is… square, on a seam line, triangular?

  9. Susan August 24, 2011 — 6:44 PM

    I have the same as you.. I think I figured it out!

  10. Karri January 26, 2012 — 11:24 AM


    I know that there is a chance that you wont answer but I sure would love you to..I am getting married in June and I need to find two vintage patterns to purchase to fit together to make my soon to be 17 Year old her bridesmaid’s dress the first is the one for this kick pleat here she loves it and I can’t figure out where to go to get this pattern and second is Simplicity 5486 vintage scoop neck dress I have been searching for a week and with no luck If you or anyone that might see this could help me I would be so very grateful…… Thank You so Much for the time Karri

    1. Liz January 26, 2012 — 12:39 PM

      Of course I’ll answer… I try and answer everyone who leaves me comments! :)

      For the bodice piece, I think this pattern from simplicity could work quite nicely. It has a the ruffles and a scooped neckline. In order to make the bodice fitted you could just make darts instead of the gathers. I can’t see what the back looks like from the simplicity website, but a basic scopped back neckline shouldn’t be too terribly hard to find in a modern pattern.

      I do see that skirt pattern popping up every now and then on etsy. Since you have till June, I’d say you have a bit of time still to find it. If in a month’s time you’re stressing out and unable to find it, message me again and I’ll see what I can do for you! :)

  11. Jyo September 9, 2015 — 9:00 AM

    Hi Liz,

    I love the pleat detail. I’ve tried a hundred times to do it but cant seem to get it right. Wd love it if you could post a DIY.

Leave a Comment