I have a fondness for pleats, I love the texture and depth they bring to an item whether it be a dressmaking project, home furnishings or other accessories. As our latest pattern for Sewing World Magazine (the Ava Skirt) features inverted box pleats I thought it was time I filmed a ‘how to’ tutorial, sharing tips and techniques for both a Box Pleat and Inverted Box Pleat.
What are pleats?
Let’s start by looking at the basics. Pleats are folds in fabric to create, volume, texture and detail. There are a number of different ways to pleat fabric and the method you use will depend on the project you are working on. Pleats can be used for design and / or function on garments, home furnishings or other accessories.
Difference between Box Pleat & Inverted Box Pleat…
There is little difference between a Box Pleat and Inverted Box Pleat. In fact they are the same thing! The difference is what you see on the RIGHT side of the fabric. The back of a box pleat will look like an inverted pleat and vice versa. Therefore the methodology is the same, you just have to decide which pleat you want to show on the RIGHT side of your product.
Image above shows the RIGHT side of both fabrics. The pink fabric is a Box Pleat and the green fabric is an Inverted Box Pleat.
How to create a Box Pleat & Inverted Box Pleat:
For this tutorial I am going to presume that you are working with a pattern that has pleats. The pleats will be marked on the pattern with solid or dotted lines and arrows (for the direction to fold / press the pleat).
You are going to need to start by marking the pleat details onto the WRONG side of your fabric, you can use carbon paper, chalk, a removable pen, thread tracing and tailor’s tacks or simply clip to create notches at the top of the pleat. If you are creating a inverted pleat it is useful to have these markings on the RIGHT side of the fabric. The safest way to take markings from the wrong side of the fabric to the right size is using thread tracing and stitching a row of basting / tacking stitches along your markings. You are welcome to use other methods but you don’t want to damage the fabric on the right side or mark it permanently.
Inverted Box Pleat: To complete an Inverted Pleat, work from the RIGHT side of the fabric. Use the markings (thread tracing completed above) visible on the right side of the fabric, pinch and crease the line on the left and move the line to meet the centre line. Complete for the right side, so that the left and right lines meet with a fold at the centre line.
Box Pleat: To complete the Box Pleat, work from the WRONG side of the fabric. As above pinch and crease the line on the left and move the line to meet the centre line. Complete for the right side, so that the two lines meet with a fold at the centre line.
As you can see both techniques are in fact the same, what matters if whether you create them on the wrong or right side of the fabric.
Above Image: WRONG side of the fabric facing up.
Above Image: RIGHT side of the fabric facing up.
You will need to hold the pleats in position, this will allow you to attach a waistband or binding to the edge of the pleat. If you are planning on sewing across the edge with a permanent stitch you only need to baste / tack the pleats in position at this stage.
This can be completed by hand or on the sewing machine (use stitch length 4mm, no back-stitch), stitch near or on the stitching line, complete this for the width of the pleat.
It is important that you hold the folds of the pleat close together (on the stitching line) so that they meet at the centre line, you don’t want this to gape when you stitch your next seam (e.g. a waistband). However there are occasions when you might want to have a gap at the centre of the pleats, this will depend on your design but there should only be a gap if you designed it!
If your not sewing another permanent seam across the pleats (e.g. attaching a waistband) I would recommend that you stitch across the the pleats more securely, use a standard 2.5mm stitch length on the sewing machine, back-stitch at the start and end of the seam.
Press the pleats in position, either the full way down the product or just at one edge. Again this will depend on the look you are after!
Why not watch our tutorial on YouTube to see the pleats in action: Sewing Box Pleats & Inverted Box Pleats.