How to: Fabric Pleating

Written by christanl
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How to: Fabric Pleating
A finely pleated skirt (Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Pleating is an easy way to spruce up an outfit or home decoration. You can pleat almost any fabric, though fabrics made from natural fibres hold pleats better. There are many different types of pleats, and many ways to do each of them.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Clean fabric
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Clear ruler marked on both edges
  • Straight pins

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  1. 1

    Clean and press your fabric. If you have just bought your fabric from the fabric store, it should be clean and pressed already, though you may need to iron out the ends. If you are using old or used fabric, wash and press the fabric to make your pleats look best. If either end of your pleated fabric will be exposed, hem the fabric before you pleat it. Hemming the fabric afterward will be difficult and will likely ruin your pleats.

    How to: Fabric Pleating
    Start with clean and pressed fabric. ( Images)
  2. 2

    Lay the clean and pressed fabric on your ironing board and spray lightly with a solution of one part white vinegar and two parts water. This will help the fabric hold the pleats. Skip this step if you are using satin or any other fabric that is stained by water.

  3. 3

    Fold the end of your fabric to the desired length of the pleat, with the right side of the fabric up, using your clear ruler to make sure your fold is straight. Press the fold in place and pin it on each end with a straight pin.

  4. 4

    Turn your piece of fabric over and fold the fabric the opposite way, using the technique in Step 3. The length of this fold will depend on the desired style of pleats. Knife pleats are one of the most common pleats, utilising a 3:1 drop ratio between folds, so three inches of fabric become one inch of pleat. After folding, press and pin the pleat and turn the fabric over again.

  5. 5

    Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the length of the fabric or for the length you desire.

  6. 6

    Top stitch your pinned pleats into place. If you are leaving the other end of the pleats exposed, avoid washing the fabric with water as this will ruin the integrity of your pleats.

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