Pleating

Mary from the ID Dressmaking group asked how I made my pleats on the last 2 dresses. As usual I figured this out by myself, meaning, “If I had just looked up some pictorial instructions on the internet I would have wasted MUCH LESS time!” Sounds like a man, huh?

I had no idea what a pleater looked like. Susan said she had one I could borrow and truthfully, I was expecting something metal and machine-like because when I looked them up on the internet, I found smocking pleaters which look like medievel torture devices.

But Susan’s pleater was this one from Clotilde. (Could not seem to locate it on the Clotilde website, so here it is on Amazon.)
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This is the pretty back…
…and this is the functional front. Quite ingenious, really.
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Close up.
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Close up of the open pleats.
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So, now what?

The first pleats I had to make were for the flower dress. Yards & yards of pleats. But by the end, I had a groove going!

For the flower dress, I did not interface the fabric. As you can see, there were 2 rows of pleats and I felt that stiffening them at all would just add bulk.
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I also decided that I did not want a hem on the pleats because, quite simply, it would not have looked nice on the lining side of the skirt! I decided how long the pleats needed to be, added a seam allowance, then doubled the measurement so I could press the long width of fabric in half.
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Another reason not to interface the pleat was that the dancer wanted the sleeve pleat insert to have a bit of movement.
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The iridescent pleats on Aislinn’s Teal solo were a different challenge because the fabric was quite different than the cotton seersucker used on the flower dress. The iridescent overlay was fused to a shiny white fabric using Misty Fuse. I had fused it to satin first, but the result was heavy and very, very stiff. I ended up finding a shiny but very fine white lining fabric (that I did NOT interface) which cut way down on the bulk of the finished fused fabric. But because of the type of fabric that the iridescent fabric is, there was an over all stiffness to the fusion that made doubling this for pleats unwieldy, so I did put a hem on this before I began pleating.
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The rest of the process was the same for both fabrics. I decided to skip every other groove on the pleater.
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You start at the bottom of the pleater with the edge of your fabric. Remember that unless you want all of your pleats folding the same way, you have to do a new length of fabric with the hem on the other side of the pleater. The pleats below overlap to the left.

Open up a groove and press the fabric into it. You want to press from the middle out to each side of the fabric as this helps you line up the hem. I have seen a “tool” for doing this that looks like a ruler that helps press a whole length into the groove…I might try that next time. But I had a built in tool…my fingernails! Long enough to press the fabric all the way in and then run it all into the groove! Think I can write off my manicures on my taxes now since my fingernails are sewing tools!?!
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When it is all folded into the pleater, you press it. I used a pressing cloth over this so I wouldn’t melt the fabric and so the steam would go through. I tried it with parchment paper, but the steam could not get through and it is the steam that gets through all the layers of fabric and pleater to set the creases.
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After I press and steam thoroughly, I let it cool. Takes a bit (pleating is not a fast process…get a stool, a glass of wine, and watch a good movie while you do this as you are waiting more than you are pleating!). I remove the pleats by curling the pleater and gently pulling the fabric out. Then, I begin again by inserting the last pleat made into the pleater and continue up the fabric.

When I was done with the full length of fabric, I then laid the whole thing on my ironing board, arranged all the pleats correctly, laid a pressing cloth over the whole thing, and pressed it all again. I left the pressing cloth on it this time to let it cool as the cloth held it all flat. With the stiffer fabric, I also laid one of my really long, wide rulers on the hem to make sure it laid as flat as possible. When it was cooled, I then ran a straight stitch along the top so that sewing it to my other fabric would be easy.

Here is the finished sleeve.
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Here is the center front panel. The pleats are not attached to the panel except at the sides and top. Even though there is not a lot of swing in this fabric, it is still loose.
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Today I did find these instructions here.

Happy pleating!

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susan
    Jun 22, 2007 @ 12:03:00

    Oh, I also have one of those smocking pleaters in my stash, too. AND I know how to use it!!! I even have a book on how to use it. Makes awesome pleats. I keep envisioning ways to incorporate some in dresses.

    Susan

  2. Gina Foster
    Jun 22, 2007 @ 17:09:00

    “But I had a built in tool…my fingernails! Long enough to press the fabric all the way in and then run it all into the groove! Think I can write off my manicures on my taxes now since my fingernails are sewing tools!?!”

    another tool I’ve heard used is an old credit card … better in a pleater than in my hands…

  3. Ann
    Jun 22, 2007 @ 19:37:00

    LOL!!! Good idea! Then I can tell the hubby that the credit card is REALLY working for me!

  4. picperfic
    Jun 23, 2007 @ 06:11:00

    wow…impressive stuff, you never cease to amaze me! Your work is so precise and extremely perfect! So glad i know you!

  5. Trackback: Dressmaking for Experienced FDS « Taoknitter

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