Tutorial: Add Pleats to Any Sewing Pattern

Daisy Chain Square copy


Written by Vanessa of @eastandeden

Have you ever finished a garment and thought, "Something seems to be missing..."? Sometimes what really makes a garment special is the little details. A great way to embellish a simple pattern is to add pleating. Pleating adds interesting texture without being overwhelming or distracting from the original design. I especially love pleats on thin or light colored fabric as pleating makes the fabric much less sheer.

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Today I am teaching how to add pleats to a simple bodice. I will be using the Daisy Chain Top pattern designed by Lily Sage & Co. (available in the UpCraft Club Catalog) but this technique could be applied to almost any pattern.

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Pattern Details The Daisy Chain Top pattern is a baby doll tunic for girls sized 3 - 10. It is cut very full and has "tons of Twirl Power" according to my daughter. The Daisy Chain Top has a darling high/low hemline and option sleeve flutters. The pattern file has layers to select just the size you need and the pattern pieces together nicely.

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The sleeves, neckline and hem are finished nicely with bias tape. The flutter sleeves from the pattern are squared off. I altered them slightly by rounding the corners for a softer look.

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As mentioned before, the pattern definitely produces a loose fitting garment. It was a bit full for my daughter's personal taste, so I added in-seam ties 3.5" out from the midline where the bodice and skirt meet. The ties pull the silhouette in a bit without taking away from the character of the design.

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... And those buttons down the back! Back buttons provide that perfect feminine touch.

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Pleating Tutorial To begin pleating you will need:

  • Fabric wider than your pattern piece
  • Ruler
  • Iron
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Sewing machine

Step 1 Start by folding your fabric in half. Line your pattern piece up on the fold line.

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Step 2 Next, we will trim the top and bottom of the fabric, leaving about an inch of excess above and below the pattern piece.

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Step 3 Now trim along the vertical edge of the pattern. I have chosen to do three 1/2" pleats on each side of the bodice; therefore, I will need at least 3" of extra width (each 1/2" pleat requires 1" of fabric). I leave a margin of 3.25" in case of slight folding errors.

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Here is a look at our trimmed fabric piece (see below).

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Step 4 Now mark the pleating lines. Mark your center line with small notches and then draw lines the width of your desired pleats. I marked every 1/2" for my desired 1/2" pleats. I marked 8 lines per side for my 3 pleats per side. (Tip: To keep things straight, you may want to write small numbers next to each of the lines. Start with 1's at the two most center lines and counting up as you make your way to the outer lines, so the last line on each side is labeled "8".)

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Step 5 Take the fabric to your ironing board. Fold wrong sides together and iron along the first pleating line from the center.

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Repeat for the other side. The fabric will have two creases along the center when opened (see below).

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Step 6 Now fold your fabric piece in half wrong sides together along the mid-line. You may want to pin/wonder clip the fabric in position to prepare for sewing.

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Step 7 Sew a straight line following the second from center pleat line you drew.

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Step 8 Open your fabric back up. Iron the pleat that you just formed. The creases that we created earlier in Step 5 should help make this step easier.

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Step 9 Now we will prepare the next pleat. (We will make all of the pleats along one side of the bodice and then repeat the steps for the other side). Fold the fabric wrong sides together along the fourth line from center. Press with iron to get a nice crease.

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The other side of your fabric will look like the photo below (one 1/2" pleat next to the center pleat).

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Step 11 Now sew to secure this new pleat. You will be sewing along the third pleat line from center. Lift the center pleat out of the way so it doesn't get caught in the stitching.

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Step 12 Open your fabric up along the line your just stitched and press until it lays flat.

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Step 13 We will now create the final pleat on this side of the bodice. Fold wrong sides together along the seventh (second to last) pleat line.

Press well with iron. E&E Pleated Daisy Chain-1-30

Step 14 While still folded, flip your fabric piece over and sew along the sixth line from center. Lift the previously created 1/2" pleat out of the way while stitching.

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Step 15 Open your fabric up along the line your just stitched and press until it lays flat.

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Step 16 Flip your fabric over. You have finished half of the bodice pleating.

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Repeat steps 9 - 15 to complete the pleating on the other side of the bodice.

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Yay! The hard part is done!

Step 17 Fold your pleated bodice fabric in half wrong sides together. Place your Front Bodice pattern piece along the fold line. Hold down the pleats down firmly as you cut out the piece.

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Open up your bodice piece and smile at your beautiful work!

E&E Pleated Daisy Chain-1-36 Step 18 Baste the pleats down within the seam allowance along the neckline and at the base of the bodice. E&E Pleated Daisy Chain-1-38 E&E Pleated Daisy Chain-1-37

You did it!!! You're finished! Now treat this piece as a regular front bodice piece and follow the instructions from the pattern. Your finished product will be extra special and super stylish!

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You can do it! Get your own copy of the Daisy Chain Top and get pleating today. We would love to see your pleating projects and Daisy Chain Tops! Tag us on Instagram @upcraftclub and @eastandeden to share your creations. #daisychaintop

August 28, 2015 by UpCraft Club
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Deah said:

Incredibly helpful and easy to follow. You do beautiful work!

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