Pleats are neat! That has a smart ring to it and it is exactly how to view pleats. Neat and smart, they create a professional finish to dressmaking, upholstery, decor items and curtaining. Once you know the simple steps behind how to sew pleats you may be tempted to use them everywhere!
Fabrics for Sewing Pleats
The right type of fabric for sewing pleats is the first consideration.
Cotton and linen are great choices as they make up into crisp, neat pleats.
Slippery synthetic fabric is generally more difficult to work with and may require more careful preparation with extra pins and hand basting.
Heavyweight fabric is often difficult to pleat as it becomes too bulky to sew neatly.
Types of Pleats
The three basic types of pleats are knife pleats, box pleats and inverted box pleats.
Interesting effects can be achieved by using contrasting inserts and topstitching. Pleats really give the seamstress so many creative options.
The actual measurements and spacing of your pleats will depend on the article and the size or width to be pleated. You will normally find the measurements or markings in your pattern pieces.
How to Sew Pleats: The Video
Here is a short video on how to sew the 3 types of pleats. Subscribe to the Treasurie YouTube channel for weekly sewing videos.
Press play below >>
How to Sew Knife Pleats
Step one: Mark out your pleats according to your sewing pattern. I drew parallel lines 1 inch (2.5cm) apart.
Step two: Once you have marked the pleats the next step is to fold and pin them. Fold and pin on the right side of the fabric.
Fold along the first pink line and bring the folded edge to the next pink line. The fabric will naturally fold inwards at the middle blue line.
Step three: Press the pleats firmly in place and baste across the top of the pleats where you see my pins.
Following on from knife pleats, the box and inverted box pleat are just variations of the same pleat method.
How to Sew Box Pleats
Box pleats use a similar method but instead of the pleats all facing the same way, the first pleat faces outwards and the second pleat faces the opposite way.
Step one: Transfer the markings from the pattern. I have created a box pleat with a 2 inch (5cm) width and a 1 inch (2.5cm) depth.
Step two: One the right side, fold along the pink lines and bring the crease over to the blue line. Notice that each side is folding in the opposite direction.
Step three: Press the folds of the pleat and baste across the top.
How to Sew an Inverted Box Pleat
The inverted box pleat follows the same principles as the box pleat, but both edges of the pleat face each other.
Step one: Draw 3 parallel lines. I have drawn lines 2 inches (5cm) apart.
Step two: On the right side, fold along the pink lines and bring the creased edge in to meet at the center blue line.
Step three: Press along the pleat edges and baste across the top edge
After you have pressed and basted the top of your pleats, attach them to the rest of the article. This may be a waistband, a yolk, or a tape for curtaining.
You may leave the pleats loose or topstitch the pleats down for a short way. The topstitching serves as a neatening of the pleat and a way to keep the pleat secure, as well as not too full over a waistline.
Tips for sewing pleats
- The hem is best finished before setting in the pleats.
- The box or inverted pleat is a great way to add a little detail or fullness to a garment or to home decor ideas.
- The back of a shirt or little kick pleats on a skirt can show off the style and add some detail to any project. Look in decor magazines and fashion pages to see how the humble pleat is used to enhance the world of couture.
Tools for Pleating
Other pleats like concertina pleats, accordion pleats, crystal pleats, and sunray pleats follow the same principles and give opportunities to add variety and interest to your sewing. The downside is however that they may need the help of a professional pleater.
Pleating boards can help you create accurate pleats on larger projects. They have evenly spaced slats where you insert your fabric and then press. They can be purchased in different pleat widths and various sizes.
Ruffler feet are also useful for creating small pleats.