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» photos: Jennifer Casa » models: S&N

Old Skool

By Jennifer Casa

I love the look of vintage cheerleader uniforms and kilts – all those pleats add depth and movement, calling to mind images of the good old days. Old Skool is an updated take on this design, with visual interest created by juxtaposing the direction of the knitting. The vertical stripes drape and twirl – and we all know little girls love to twirl – while the top band of the skirt gathers with an elasticized waistband to fit your girly for years and years.

This is a perfect on-the-go knit that you’ll have completed in a few days and will surely bring a smile to any girl’s face. Whether she’s headed to her first day of kindergarten, a pep rally, somewhere fancy or just into the backyard, every girl is certain to love her Old Skool.


2 [4, 6, 8]
Shown in size 4


Waist: Fits a 20[21, 22, 23] inch waist with elastic in the waistband
Hips: 22[24, 26, 28] inches
Length: 10[12, 14, 15] inches after blocking


Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece [80% cotton, 20% merino wool; 215 yards/197meters per 3.5oz/100 gram skein]; all sizes use 2 skeins MC and 1 skein CC

Both versions shown in #CW-135 Slate Charcoal and #CW-935 Salmon Berry Red

Recommended needle sizes

US #6/4mm 24 inch circular needle


1 yard of .75 inch elastic
Stitch marker
Tapestry needle
Sewing machine or sewing needle and thread


19 sts and 26 rows = 4 inches St st


This skirt is worked bottom-up in two different directions. The pleated section is worked as a long striped rectangle with a garter ridge at the beginning and end of each MC stripe, accentuating the pleats while helping them drape properly. The short ends are joined and six box pleats are tacked in place with simple basting stitches, then the piece is turned sideways. Stitches are picked up along the pleated edge and the top section of the skirt is worked in the round. Finishing involves forming a casing for the elasticized waist, and removing the basting stitches as each of the pleats is sewn in place on the completed garment.


Bottom Pleated Section


With CC, cast on 33[38, 48, 48] sts.
Beginning with a knit row, work 4 rows in St st.

Stripe sequence
Switch to MC and knit 2 rows (garter ridge).
Beginning with a knit row, work 22 [24, 28, 30] rows in St st.
Purl 2 rows (garter ridge).
* Switch to CC and beginning with a knit row, work in St st for 18 [20, 20, 22] rows.
Switch to MC and knit 2 rows (garter ridge).
Beginning with a knit row, work 22 [24, 28, 30] rows in St st.
Purl 2 rows (garter ridge).
Repeat from * 4 more times.
Switch to CC and beginning with a knit row, work 14 [16, 16, 18] rows in St st.
Bind off all sts knitwise.


With RS of both short edges together, sew seam forming tube. This seam will be hidden from view, tucked away inside a pleat on the finished garment.

Form the pleats

Note: I find it helpful to lightly steam-block the piece first, but it is not necessary.
With RS facing, fold along the garter ridges of two adjacent MC stripes, forcing CC section to background. Using a tapestry needle and scrap yarn, temporarily secure each pleat at the top edge with a few basting stitches (the edge with all of the yarn tails), drawing the yarn through the front and back of the pleat a few inches apart.
Repeat this process for each of the five remaining pleats. These basting stitches will help the skirt maintain its shape and keep the pleats from pulling as you work the top section. They will be removed when each of the pleats is permanently sewn in place on the completed garment.

Top Banded section

With RS facing and working along that top pleated edge, pick up 17[19, 21, 22] sts evenly spaced across each of the six MC sections. In the end, you have picked up 102[114, 126, 132] sts along the pleated edge, PM and join to work in the round.
Knit 26[30, 30, 34] rounds.
Bind off all sts knitwise.


LadybugFold the top edge over 1 inch toward the inside, creating a casing for the elastic. Use the tapestry needle and MC yarn to stitch the casing in place, leaving a few inches open to insert the elastic. Cut the elastic to 19[20, 21, 22] inches - this shortage in the elastic allows for stretching to comfortably fit the waist and hold up the skirt. Slip it through the waistband casing, being careful not to twist. Overlap the ends of the elastic by 1 inch and sew them together. I suggest using a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine for added strength, but a needle and thread will do the trick just fine.
Finish stitching the waistband closed with the tapestry needle and MC yarn.



Block the entire piece, paying particularly close attention to forming each of the pleats using the purled MC edges as a guide. I used steam, but you can use whatever blocking method you prefer.
Remove the basting stitches for each pleat one at a time as you permanently sew the pleats in place with a tapestry needle as follows:
RS facing: line up the MC garter ridges and sew together the top three adjacent sts.
WS facing: stitch the very top (open) edge of the CC pleat to itself using CC yarn.
RS facing: stitch the MC front section to the CC pleat using MC yarn.
Weave in all ends.

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Jennifer Casa

Jennifer learned to knit a long time ago while an exchange student in Germany. She lives in Ohio with her husband and their twin daughters, who enthusiastically support and inspire her crafting endeavors, and only occasionally roll their eyes at her ever-expanding yarn and fabric stash. Visit her blog to try out more of her knitting + sewing designs and follow her musings on the simple pleasures of everyday life.

Pattern & images © 2009 Jennifer Casa. Contact