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How To Sew Pleats? Our Guide Here!

What’s the difference between a dress, a skirt and a pair of pants? It’s all in the pleats—and with the right sewing machine, you can master the art of pleating.

Pleats are a great way to add volume and interest to your garment, and you can choose to sew them in all different ways.

Most of us have seen the typical pleated skirt, but when the pleats are placed in a row instead of side by side, the result is a western shirt with a very different look.

But what is pleating? Pleating is the process of gathering fabric so that it can be pressed flat, usually to allow it to expand to fit another piece of material inside.

This is usually done to allow extra fabric in the area of a garment to allow for movement or to reduce the amount of fabric to be used in an area. This article shows you how to sew pleats on a western shirt. 

You will learn how to sew pleats, how to attach the pleats, and how to sew your seam. The technique works for any type of material, from denim to linen and cotton, to chiffon.

Tools for pleating

Sewing tools are an essential part of the sewing machine.  It is important that you have the right tools to make your sewing projects a success.  A few of the most common sewing tools you will need are thimble, seam gauge, and thread.

You may use a single needle for straight stitching over a short distance. You may also use the decorative stitches on your sewing machine to create pleats.

Parchment paper and a bowl are all you need to get started pleating. While parchment paper is a low-cost alternative, any bowl or flat container will do. 

You can use a sewing machine to make pleats. The first step is to measure the amount of fabric you have and then cut out the pattern accordingly. You can make pleats with a sewing machine by adjusting the machine’s setting.

Steps to sew pleats

Step 1: To sew pleats, first iron a piece of fabric with the right sides together to make sure the edges are clean.

Step 2: Then, lay the fabric right side down and fold the top edge down 1/2 inch, forming a crease.

Step 3: Fold the fabric again, 1/2 inch, parallel to the first fold. The top edge should be even now so that the pleats are symmetrical.

Step 4: Place the fabric on the sewing machine. With the needle down, rock the presser foot back and forth 1/2 inch to create a narrow zigzag stitch. Lower the presser foot.

Step 5: Lay the pleat on the sewing machine bed in line with the needle. Adjust the stitch length to 2.0 mm. The fabric should be against the right side of the sewing machine bed.

Step 6: Place the tip of the right-hand needle 1/2 inch from the edge of the pleat. Lower the presser foot.

Step 7: Now, run the sewing machine over the gathered pleat. Repeat the process to sew on the other side of the pleat.

Types of pleats

Did you know that there are different types of pleating? There’s the Crossover Pleat, the Longitudinal Pleat, and the French Pleat. Each of these pleating methods can be used to create a completely different effect, and how you use them will determine the look of your garment.

  • Crossover pleat

A crossover pleat is a type of construction found in skirts and pants. It is made by sewn folds of cloth that overlap one another to allow for greater freedom of movement.

It is a type of flat-folded pleat where the fold is at an angle to the vertical axis which is usually used as a decoration on curtains, clothing, and upholstery.

  • Longitudinal pleat

Longitudinal pleats are folds that go from the top to the bottom of the garment. A longitudinal pleat is one that is parallel to the length of the material.

They are also referred to as knife pleats. It is usually used to add fullness to an area of a garment.

  • French pleat

French pleats are folds at the top of a garment that allow it to expand when the wearer moves, and to contract when the wearer stops moving.

It is a type of pleat that folds back on itself, creating a neat, flat surface on both sides.

Tips for sewing pleats

1. Use the right fabric

For sewing pleats, use fabric that is easy to sew, with a high thread count, and one that has a subtle print. Use a lightweight fabric that is not too thick for sewing pleats. Heavy fabrics can be hard to sew through, and will be uncomfortable to wear.

2. Always cut the fabric on the fold

Always cut the fabric on the fold to prevent fraying and make a nicer appearance while sewing. Also to prevent the fabric from fraying and to ensure a more accurate fit.

3. Sewing the pleats

To sew the pleats, you have to prepare a pattern with pleats in the fabric you want. Then, you can make the pleats by using the sewing machine the way you would sew any other design.

4. Turning the pleats

To turn the pleats, align the edge of the fabric with the edge of the presser foot. Press the foot pedal and make a stitch.

To ensure that the fabric on your machine is properly supported when you want to sew the pleats, use the pleat guide on your sewing machine.

Kirsten Carter

Kirsten Carter

Kirsten Carter is a freelance content writer who specialises in writing about travel, technology and health. When she's not traveling between her home of Tanzania and England, she writes for her blog Rightminded Travelling and features on a variety of different travel and technology sites.View Author posts

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