How To Make Accordion Pleats

Many people shy away from making pleats because they think that they are too hard to achieve.  That's far from the truth!  Making pleats is one of the easiest techniques in sewing, and you don't even need a pattern.  You simply pleat what you need for your garment.  Below I've listed simple and easy steps to add professional looking pleats to your garment.

In my sample, I have just a basic simple rectangular piece of cotton fabric.  You can use any fabric that you like because most fabrics are suitable for making pleats.  Knits, however can be tricky.  I don't suggest using knits unless you are going to stitch your pleats down.  (that's another blog and another video)
 I'm using a 12" ruler to measure my pleats.
 I want my pleats to be 1/2" apart as well as the depth.  When you look at the fabric from the outside or the inside, the pleats will be the same on both sides of the fabric.
 When I'm marking my pleats, I'm using short marks for the 1/2" mark, and I'm using long marks for the 1" mark.  This will make folding the pleats a lot easier and insure that they stay uniform.
 I'm using a pen to make the makings on my fabric.  Using the ruler, I put a long mark for every 1" on the ruler and I'm making a short mark for every 1/2" on the ruler.
 For this tutorial, I'm using an ink pen, but I suggest that you use chalk as your maker. The reason for using chalk is, the chalk is not permanent like the pen is.  The chalk can be easily removed after your stitching.  Here, I'm showing a chalk pencil that I purchased from JoAnn's Fabrics.  You can also order this pen.  It comes with replaceable chalk in many colors.  If you don't have, or don't want to purchase this pen, you can use simple "chalk board" chalk...it works just as good.
 In this photo, I have made all the marks on my fabric and now I'm ready to start pleating.
 For this sample, remember you have a long, mark, then a short mark, a long mark, then a short mark...and so on.
 Take the long mark, and match it up with the 2nd short mark.  This will make your pleats 1/2" on the right side as well as the wrong side.  Every "long mark" or 1" mark will be where the actual pleat will be on either side. You will continue this process until you have pleated all of your fabric.
 Once you fold the pleat over, you want to pin it in place.  I've pinned just a few here in this sample.  You can, however, press these pleats in place rather than pinning them...as you will see in the next photo.
 Here, I've pressed each of my pleats in place, and as you see they are "perfectly" unifom.
 To secure my pleats in place for sewing, I'm using simple...TAPE!  I cut the tape in half so that when I place it over the pleats, the tape will be narrower than my seam allousnc
 Just place the tape over your pressed pleats.  I wrapped the edges around the outside of each end of the pleats.
 I put the other piece of tape, that I cut, on the bottom of the pleats to keep them in place as well.
 My tape is measuring 1/4" which is perfect for sewing a 5/8" seam allowance  That way, I won't sew through the tape, which would make it a little challenging to remove.
 I've stitched the pleats in place, and as you see, my stitching line is just below the tape line.
 Now that the stitching is done, I simply remove the tape!
 After removing the tape, you see that the pleats stay completely in place.
I like to leave the tape at the bottom until I'm ready to hem my garment.  Once my garment is hemmed and pressed, I replace the tape so that my pleats stay in place and set before my garment is ready to wear.  And making accordion pleats is as simple as that!  There's no major fuss, just simple fabric folding pinning, and pressing.  I hope that you try this technique in your next garment...Happy Sewing!

For those of you (like myself) who love video tutorials of things you are interested in, here is the tutorial video on how to make accordion pleats.

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