Pintucks are an amazing detail that you can add to just about any article of clothing. They don’t take very long and can add texture and creativity to an otherwise boring garment. Watch how they catch the light and can be used in hundreds of different ways.
Ready to start learning how to sew pintucks?
What are Pintucks?
Pintucks are simply a small tuck in the fabric. Most commonly they are stitched in place but they can also be folded and pressed without stitching. Here I will show you the stitched version.
Once you have a piece of fabric with pintucks sewn into it, you can lay your pattern piece on top and cut out your desired piece. This dress by Preen was worn by Kate Bosworth. Notice the beautiful pintucks in the side panel which add texture and interest to an otherwise plain dress. I’m in love with that color too!
Special Feet for Sewing Pintucks
Many machines come with a seam guide foot and you could also use a 1/4 inch presser foot. Both of these sewing machine feet simply make it easier to sew in a straight line as they have a guide on the side which touches the edge of the fabric.
The seam guide foot on the left of the photo can adjust to different widths by screwing the guide at different distances so has greater flexibility.
Note: You can also purchase pintuck feet with grooves in the bottom that are designed for use with twin needles. Read here how to use a specialized pin tuck foot with grooves.)
If you don’t have either of these feet with guides in your sewing kit, then just use your regular straight stitching foot. The technique will be the same but you will need to concentrate a little more to guide the fabric through straight.
Mark the Lines for Pintucks
Mark your pintuck lines on your fabric with either removable pen or tailor’s chalk on the right side of the fabric. Marking enables you to get nice even, symmetrical lines.
ALTERNATIVE: If you have a delicate fabric that you don’t want to risk marking with chalk or pen, you can use a long basting stitch to mark the lines. Pull out those stitches when you have finished.
Decide on the width you would like between the tucks. You may want the tucks to completely overlap each other or you may want a nice space between the pintucks. It can take a little experimenting to get the look you would like.
I experimented with 3/4 inch (2cm), 1 inch (2.5cm) and 1 1/2 inch (3.8cm) marked lines.
OPTIONAL: After I have marked the lines to sew along, I often like to press a crease into each one. This increases accuracy for me as there is little chance of the tuck slipping in the sewing machine but this is not traditionally done so may just be an extra step for you. Press the creases with the fabric with wrong sides together.
How to Sew Pintucks
I have used a contrast thread in this tutorial so you can see the stitching, but a matching thread is amazingly forgiving of any crooked stitching or uneven pintucks.
Fold the fabric along the first mark with wrong sides together and put it under your presser foot.
Start stitching 1/4 inch (6mm) or your desired width from the fold. You can see how my 1/4 inch (6mm) foot guide is right on the edge of the folded fabric.
After you have finished the first tuck, keep repeating along all the marked lines until you have enough pintucks for your project.
Personally, I quite like the texture of all the pintucks standing up straight but it makes it harder to put into a garment.
So grab your iron and press all the pintucks to the one side.
PHOTO – From left to right you can see the 3/4 inch (2cm), 1 1/2 inch (3.8cm) and 1 inch (2.5cm) pintucks.
The 3/4 inch (far left) ones were really hard to sew as they were almost on top of each other. My preference is the look of the 1 inch apart ones which are on the far right.
You can create fancy looks with your pintucks by stitching vertical lines through the tucks. Here I sewed a series of 1/4 inch (6mm) pintucks placed an inch apart.
I then stitched down the outside of the pintucks in one direction and the center in the alternate direction. When you use a matching thread you get a really interesting and textural result with this technique. It looks amazing on pillows and is a great insert for larger areas of clothing.
Thanks for reading!