How To Sew Pleats

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One of the best ways to add character to a piece of otherwise plain fabric is to add pleats. Today, I’m going to show you How To Sew Pleats! This is a great way to learn just how easy it is to make a pleated piece.
Whether you’re looking to make a skirt with fun pleats to allow you some freedom of movement or just want to give your new curtains a sharp and crisp look with some strategically-placed pleats, you’ll find these 5 easy pleat methods very accessible. A little bit of sewing knowledge is handy for understanding how to make pleats but is not necessary. Even a beginner can learn how to sew pleats. You’re going to need some scrap fabric. If you plan to make a piece with pleats but have never made pleats before, I strongly recommend practicing on a piece of scrap fabric before trying to make pleats on your final fabric. That way you know what style you want to use before you mar the fabric you’ve chosen. If you are choosing to do practice pleats, take care to make sure that your scrap fabric is the same weight and type as the final fabric, that way you can better gauge how the pleats will look on the final piece, as the weight and type of fabric will affect the drape and body of the pleats.

Oh, and the tools? Yeah, you’re going to want: needle and thread, sewing pins or clips (depending on the type of pleat, you may prefer one over the other), sewing machine, optional, and a washable fabric pencil or other fabric marking device. I strongly recommend that you take the time to mark the pleat details onto the noted side of your fabric. While I love a washable fabric pencil you can use carbon paper, chalk, a removable pen, thread tracing, and tailor’s tacks or simply clip the fabric with scissors in little notches at the top of the pleat as a marker. The markings are very important to keep the pleats looking neat and tidy. This is not a project I would recommend “eyeballing it” on.

How To Sew Pleats

What You’ll Need:

How To Sew Pleats

How to Make Box Pleats
Place your fabric right-side-up on your work surface.

Mark 2-inch increments on the fabric.

Identify a center “box” and, working on the marked line to the left one over from the edge of the identified box, fold one pleat left-to-right, folding it under the box by 1-inch then pinning it in place. Working on the marked line to the right one over from the edge of the identified box, fold one pleat right-to-left, folding it under the box by 1-inch then pinning it in place. This should leave you with a box pleat raised between the two sides tucked under with the two folded pieces underneath meeting in the middle under the center of the box.

Sew across to secure your pleat in place.

How to Make Inverted Pleats
Next, we will show you how to make inverted pleats. Place your fabric right-side up on your work surface. Mark 1-inch increments on the fabric.

Fold one marked line left-to-right over and pin it at the next marked line.

Moving to the line over to the right of the one you just pinned along, pinch and fold right-to-left, folding it back toward the first folded pleat, pinning this one in place at the marked line so that the two pleats meet. This should leave you with an inverted version of the box pleat. Sew to secure.

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How to Make Knife Pleats
Place your fabric right-side-up on your work surface. Mark 1-inch increments on the fabric.

Fold one marked line left-to-right over and pin it at the next marked line. Move to the next mark and repeat. The pleats should be overlapping. Sew across end to secure.

How to Make Accordion Pleats
Place your fabric wrong-side-up on your work surface. Mark ½-inch increments.

Pinch the fabric up on one of the marked lines, then pin in place. Skip one of the marked lines, then pinch the next up and pin in place. Repeat.

This should leave you with a tightly folded piece, reminiscent of a folded paper fan.

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How to Make Folding Knife Pleats
Place your fabric right-side-up on your work surface. Mark 1-inch increments on the fabric. Fold one marked line left to right over and pin it at the next marked line.

Moving right, skip one marked line and fold the next left to right, then pin it. Repeat. This should leave you with a wide overlapping pleat.

How to Finish Pleats
Sew the pleats in place along the entire width of the pleat near or on the stitching line of your pattern. This can be done by hand or on the sewing machine. I recommend that, if you’re not adding an additional permanent stitch (adding on a waistband or hem), use a standard 2.5mm stitch length on the sewing machine, taking care to back-stitch at the start and end of the seam to ensure that it won’t unravel. I also recommend that you press the pleats in position, either all the way down the fabric piece or along one edge.

Making pleats is just such a fast and easy way to add character to a project, I can’t tell you how excited I am to have all five methods at my fingertips to make any style pleat in minutes. I mean, there are a lot of ways to make a project your own, but whether it calls for pleats or not, if you want to really make a piece your own, adding a pleat is sometimes definitely called for! LOL!

If you liked learning how to sew pleats, make sure to pin it to your favorite Pinterest board or share it with friends on social media. If you decide to make this simple project on your own, make certain that you take a picture afterward and tag us on social media as we love seeing the fabrics and color choices that people use!

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