In this quick video tutorial, Haley covers pleat anatomy, five common types of pleats, as well as some pleat sewing tips. After watching, you’ll feel ready sew your next pleated project!
- Steam iron
- Glasshead pins
- Clear ruler
- Water soluble marking tool
- 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water solution
Hi, I’m Haley. I’m the designer here at Seamwork. You can find us at Seamwork.com. We’re a community of sewists that are all about designing and sewing our own wardrobes so check us out. Pleats are a beautiful design feature and they can add a lot of depth and texture to your project, and a lot of people can find them intimidating but the truth is that they’re really easy and all they require is a little additional time marking and time with the iron.
Today, I’m going to teach you the basics of pleats. I’ll be going over the anatomy of a pleat, different types of pleats, and then finally how to sew a pleat. So let’s get started.
Understanding some basic pleat vocabulary is really going to help you navigate sewing instructions a lot easier so let’s go over some basic pleat terms. In this example, I’m gonna be showing you the anatomy on a knife pleat. Let’s start with pleat depth. Pleat depth is going to be the distance between the outside fold and the inside fold. And then we have pleat underlay. Pleat underlay is actually the distance of the pleat depth times two, so it’s the distance between this outside fold back under to the inside fold and then back out again. And then we have pleat spacing. Pleat spacing is pretty simple to remember because it’s just the space between each individual pleat.
There are a ton of different kinds of pleats but today I’m going to show you five of the most basic pleats that you’ll encounter. First, we have knife pleats. Knife pleats are a type of pleat where all of the exterior folds are facing one direction. If you’ve ever seen pintucks, pintucks are actually a variation of a knife pleat. If you’re interested in seeing a tutorial on pintucks, let me know in the comments below. Accordion pleats are a variation on a knife pleat they’re just much closer placed. And then we have box pleats. Box pleats have the exterior folds facing opposite directions of one another creating this box right down the center. And then we have an inverted box pleat. An inverted box pleat is really similar to a box pleat except that exterior folds are facing each other rather than away from each other. And then we have radiating pleats. Radiating plates are actually very similar to knife pleats but they radiate out from a single point. And those are basic types of pleats.
Next, I’m going to cover the basics of how to sew a pleat. I’ll be demonstrating on a knife pleat but you can take these sameOprinciples and apply them to any other kind of pleat. First, you’re going to want to mark your fold lines and your placement lines with a clear ruler and a water soluble marking tool. When I was cutting out my pattern I marked all of my pleat placement with a dot but going ahead and creating lines is going to make this a lot easier when we’re pressing in the next step. Once my pleat lines and my placement lines are all marked, I can go ahead and start pinning things into place. I like to use glass head pins because they have glass heads and I can press right over them and that makes it really, really easy. So I’m going to take my pleat line and I’m just gonna bring it right over to my placement line and pin it in place, again just using a glass head pin and you can put in a couple of pins on the length of the pleat to keep everything really stable when you’re pressing. And again just bringing my pleat line over to my placement line and pinning in place with my glass head pin. Once everything is all pinned it’s ready to get pressed into place. When you’re pressing your pleats in place make sure that you’re using the hottest temperature that your fabric will tolerate. Also just make sure that you’re using a pressing motion and not an ironing motion that’s gonna just make sure that things don’t get distorted.
Here is a pleat tip for you: if you want to make sure that your pleats stay really well in place you can use a solution of water and vinegar in a spray bottle just like this one and spray your fabric down. You’re gonna want to use one part vinegar and three parts water and this just helps everything set into place really nicely.
Once everything is all pressed you’re ready to stay stitch everything in place you might find it helpful to take your pins out and reposition them so they’re just along the stitch line before you get started, otherwise you might poke yourself. And once your pins are all repositioned you can go ahead and stitch along the stitch line. I like to do something similar to gathers in that I stitch one eighth of an inch outside of the stitch line and then one eighth of an inch inside of the stitch line so when I’m constructing my garment nothing shifts around on me. After that’s done you can go ahead and start constructing your garment according to the pattern’s instructions.
And that is it, all of the pleat basics you need to get you started on your first project that involves pleats - you’re a pleat master! If you liked this video, make sure to subscribe and follow us on Instagram to stay up to date on all things Seamwork! Thanks for joining me and happy sewing!