Types of Pleats – 6 Main Types with Pictures

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There are 6 main types of pleats used to create shape and volume in clothing and home decor sewing projects. This tutorial will show you examples and drawings of the different types of pleats and how they can be used. For truly creative and unique pieces, different pleats may be used in conjunction or layered.

Types of PleatsPinTypes of Pleats


What is the Purpose of PleatsTypes of PleatsBox PleatsInverted PleatsKick PleatsKnife PleatsAccordion PleatsPinTucksControlling PeatsSewing PleatsMore Fabric Manipulation Tutorials

What is the Purpose of Pleats

A pleat is a fold of fabric that is held in place by stitching either at the top, bottom, or both. It adds volume and interest to otherwise flat, boring fabric. In clothing, it fits the curves of the body and gives shape and volume where needed. Pleats can be functional or purely decorative. You will also find pleats on home decor items such as the corners of couches and at the tops of curtains.

Pleats are often pressed along their entire length but they can also just be pressed at the top. It is easier to hem the bottom of a garment before you start pleating.

The depth of pleat can be shallow or deep to reflect the amount of volume you wish to have. Tiny pleats like those formed by a ruffler become gathered in appearance.

Types of Pleats

Box Pleats

Box pleats have the fabric pressed outwards and are more commonly used in curtains and other sewing projects rather than clothing. The box pleats can be singular or double-layered.

In the yellow dress the box pleats are so close together they form inverted pleats in-between.

Box pleats are created by pressing equal distances of fabric outwards. The inside corners may be touching or separated.

Types of Pleats - Box PleatsTypes of Pleats - Box PleatsPinTypes of Pleats – Box Pleats

Inverted Pleats

Most skirts and dresses use inverted pleats. The underneath fabric can be the same or sometimes an insert is used for a pop of color. Usually, when inverted pleats are sewn, they are only secured at the top and are not pressed all the way down.

If you compare this picture and that of the box pleat above, you will see that an inverted pleat is really just an upside-down box pleat. The fabric is folded in instead of out.

 Types of Pleats - Inverted Pleats  Types of Pleats - Inverted Pleats PinTypes of Pleats – Inverted Pleats

Kick Pleats

Kick Pleats are a type of inverted pleats that you will find on tight skirts to enable you to be able to walk. Any tight skirt below the knee will need some kind of pleat or spit if you want to take steps that are more than a few inches at a time.

Types of Pleats - Kick Pleats Types of Pleats - Kick Pleats Pin Types of Pleats – Kick Pleats

Knife Pleats

Knife pleats can be large or small and all face the same direction. They are commonly used in skirts. The pleats can be attached to the waistband or start below the hips and are pressed all the way down.

 Types of Pleats - Knife Pleats  Types of Pleats - Knife Pleats PinTypes of Pleats – Knife Pleats

Accordion Pleats

Accordion pleats are evenly spaced in and out pleats used for dresses and skirts. They are often made in permanent press types of fabric so that the pleat extends all the way down the skirt to the hem.

 Types of Pleats - Accordion Pleats  Types of Pleats - Accordion Pleats Pin Types of Pleats – Accordion Pleats


Pintucks are small pleats that are stitched along their length. Moreover, they add interest and texture to clothing rather than volume. Many tuxedo skirts have fine pintucks along the front. Pintucks can also be sewn across in different directions to add a 3-dimensional look.

When pintucks are sewn close together and overlapping you can`t see the stitching so they look more like tiny little folded pleats. You can see this in the tuxedo shirt as opposed to the blue samples where you can see the stitching.

Further Reading:How to do Pintucks

 Types of Pleats - Pintucks Types of Pleats - PintucksPin Types of Pleats – Pintucks

Controlling Peats

Pleats can be controlled by stitching the top of them down or by using a permanent press in synthetic fabrics so the pleats remain even after washing.

Sewing Pleats

See my full tutorial on how to sew pleats. This video will show you how to sew a box pleat, inverted pleat, and knife pleat. Subscribe to the Treasurie YouTube channel for weekly sewing videos. 

Press play below >>

How to Sew Pleats VIDEO

Tiny pleats can be sewn with a ruffler foot. This large sewing foot has a mechanism that moves back and forth to create small pleats. It can even join fabric at the same time.

how to use a rufflerhow to use a rufflerPinPleatsrufflerrufflerPinHow to use a Ruffler

More Fabric Manipulation Tutorials

Fabric ManipulationGathering FabricPintucksHow to Sew PleatsAppliqueReverse AppliqueRuffler Foot

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