How to Sew Pleats | Step by Step Easiest Methods

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Once you know the simple steps behind how to sew pleats, you may be tempted to use them everywhere! 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. 

how to sew pleatsPinHow to Sew Pleats

Contents

How to Sew Pleats – Best Fabrics for PleatsDifferent Types of PleatsHow to Sew Pleats – Video TutorialSupplies to Sew PleatsHow to Sew Knife PleatsStep One – MarkingStep Two – Fold PleatsStep Three -BasteHow to Sew Box PleatsStep One – MarkingStep Two – Fold PleatsStep Three – BasteHow to Sew an Inverted Box PleatStep One – Marking Step Two – Fold PleatsStep Three – BasteTips for Sewing PleatsTools for PleatingHow to Sew Pleats – In ConclusionMore Dressmaking Articles

How to Sew Pleats – Best Fabrics for Pleats

The right type of fabric for sewing pleats is the first consideration. Cotton, wool and linen are excellent choices as they make up into crisp, neat pleats. You will get the best results with natural fabrics that press easily.

Slippery synthetic fabric is generally more challenging to work with and may require more careful preparation with extra pins and hand basting. Synthetics cannot be ironed at high heat and so is not suitable for pleating.

Heavyweight fabric is often tricky to pleat as it becomes too bulky to sew neatly. Lightweight or sheer fabrics such as silk and chiffon are also hard to pleat as they don`t hold creases well. If you do need to pleat difficult fabrics, use wide pleats for heavy fabric and narrow pleats for fine fabric.

Different Types of Pleats

The three most basic types of pleats are knife pleats, box pleats, and inverted box pleats. These are the ones this article will focus on.

how to sew pleatshow to sew pleatsPinHow to Sew Pleats – Types

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 typically find the measurements or placement lines on your pattern pieces.

Different Types of PleatsDifferent Types of PleatsPinDifferent Types of Pleats

How to Sew Pleats – Video Tutorial

Here is a short video on how to sew pleats. Subscribe to the Treasurie YouTube channel for weekly sewing videos. Press play below >>

How to Sew Pleats VIDEO

Supplies to Sew Pleats

BASIC SEWING SUPPLIES – Sewing machine, thread, scissors, pinsPRESSING TOOLS – Iron and ironing board.MARKING TOOLS – Removeable fabric marker or chalk.

How to Sew Knife Pleats

Knife pleats are simple pleats of equal sizes that are all pressed in one direction. They are commonly found in pleated skirts. Where you find the pleat pressed down the whole length of the skirt, permanent pleating is often used so that the pleats remain even after the skirt is washed.

How to Sew Pleats - Knife PleatsHow to Sew Pleats - Knife PleatsPinHow to Sew Pleats – Knife Pleats

Step One – Marking

Mark out your pleats according to your sewing pattern. I drew parallel lines 1 inch (2.5cm) apart. It is best to mark with chalk or a removable pen. Sometimes I mark the lines with rows of pins.

Step Two – Fold Pleats

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. 

How to Sew Pleats - Knife PleatsHow to Sew Pleats - Knife PleatsPin How to Sew Pleats – Knife Pleats

Step Three -Baste

Press the pleats firmly in place and baste across the top of the pleats where you see my pins. 

How to Sew Pleats - Knife PleatsHow to Sew Pleats - Knife PleatsPin How to Sew Pleats – Knife Pleats

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. They are similar to knife pleats but they face in opposite directions instead of all the one direction.

Step One – Marking

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 – Fold Pleats

On 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. 

How to Sew Pleats - Box PleatsHow to Sew Pleats - Box PleatsPinHow to Sew Pleats – Box Pleats

Step Three – Baste

Press the folds of the pleat and baste across the top. 

How to Sew Pleats - Box PleatsHow to Sew Pleats - Box PleatsPin How to Sew Pleats – Box Pleats

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 – Marking

Draw 3 parallel lines. I have drawn lines 2 inches (5cm) apart.

Step Two – Fold Pleats

On the right side, fold along the pink lines and bring the creased edge in to meet at the center blue line. 

 How to Sew Pleats - Inverted Box Pleats  How to Sew Pleats - Inverted Box Pleats Pin How to Sew Pleats – Inverted Box Pleats

Step Three – Baste

Press along the pleat edges and baste across the top edge

 How to Sew Pleats - Inverted Box Pleats  How to Sew Pleats - Inverted Box Pleats Pin How to Sew Pleats – Inverted Box Pleats  How to Sew Pleats - Inverted Box Pleats  How to Sew Pleats - Inverted Box Pleats Pin How to Sew Pleats – Inverted Box Pleats

Tips for Sewing Pleats

The hem is best stitched 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.For skirts, sew the side seams before pleating to get a more accurate continuous look.

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. 

how to use a rufflerhow to use a rufflerPinHow to Sew Pleats with a Ruffler

How to Sew Pleats – In Conclusion

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.

how to sew pleatshow to sew pleatsPinHow to Sew Pleats – Finishing

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