Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pleat Me To The Moon ( Perfect Pleats tutorial)

This is a step by step photo tutorial on how to make pleats- easy way!

I have been inspired my Burdastyle member Julia Bobbin's Tessutti Dress and have been since quite obsessed with an idea of adding pleats to my old pal- Houndtooth Cocktail dress. (Check it out in my Burdastyle studio). So here is that little dream accomplished together with a detailed description.

Step 1: Width and lots of PINS!

First, you need to determine what width and style your pleated part must be. As in my case it was an extention to the hem of the dress, I just wanted to have my pleats around 2.5 inches long. The distinct print dictated the width. You can go for a harmonica style pleats or have outer and inner sides of the pleat different width. In my case I needed to keep the pattern flowing from the dress down, so the outer side of the pleat is wider. Before you commence actual pleating, make sure you have done your hemming and taken care of the raw fabric edges ( mine frays like crazy) Pin your desired pleats along the fold, a few times if necessary . There is never too little pinning in this step! Now press over the pleats with steam ( fabric allowing), I use silk organza to prevent my fabric from burning/shining from over pressing. Luckily this particular wool blend is very iron-friendly!

Step 2: Topstitch Pleats

Here is the main trick- and it is simple. All you have to do is topstitch the inner fold of the pleat on the reverse side. I stitch towards the hem and just before the edge backstitch good bit, to prevent threads sticking out at the hem after a while. Press again.

Step 3: If Your Pleated Piece is shorter than you need

As I was adding a pleated piece to the hem, it took a very very VERY long stripe. And as the dress has been already made, there was no patterns/instructions handy to calculate exactly how wide the piece should be. And even if they were handy, I would not have a piece of fabric so long that it would fit the whole hem after pleating. So I had to make it out of few parts. Here is a tip on how to attach the parts together: Pleat both pieces as described above, but DO NOT TOPSTITCH THE PLEATS ON THE ENDS. Press them and find an inner fold line on each. I drew a line with my red chalk to show where it is, but you don't have to do that- the pressed line will be there anyway. Very carefully ford two pleated parts right side together with the inner fold line matching. Pin and stitch down the fold line, backstitching at the hem ( to hide those nasty thread ends).

Cut the excess allowance along the stitch, I used overlock to finish the edges, fold to the main part and topstitch. I like pushing the bit at the hem up a little, so you cannot see it from the right side, even though it looks a bit funny on the inside ( don't forget all this business in happening on the inner fold of the pleat- so it is very unlikely to show) Here is a view of the right side- the topstitched seam is inside the fold.

To keep the pleats in place for further work with your pleated piece, pin each pleat again and topstitch the top end across the entire piece ( below)

Step 4 - Do Whatever you like with it!

Whatever is on your mind to do with those pleats- it is entirely up to you! As mentioned- in my case it was meant to be an alternative hem to my dress. Normally, I would fold two pieces right side together, the hem allowances together and stitch, but due to the complicated houndtooth pattern i just pinned the pleated hem just under the old hem of the dress and topstitched very close to the edge.

And here is my dress. This is actually it's second time being re-fashioned, but this time it is a keeper!


  1. thank you, it is one of my favourite dresses now, and I am planning to use this pleating technique on more hems in the future

  2. Great looking dress.

  3. Ooo i like that pleated hem. gives the skirt a groovier look. Love it.

  4. Exquisite!

    Great job, you look lovely. The pleats are a pretty detail.


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