Types of Pleats

Pleats are folds in the fabric which add interest and style to a garment or project.  In some cases, pleats add ease of wear to the garment, as well.

There are several different kinds of pleats.

Knife pleats are the most common type of pleat use in dressmaking. They are so called because they have sharp, crisp folds which run down the entire length of the pleat; knife pleats all face the same direction. Although a bit time consuming to make,  they are easily accomplished with proper marking and pressing.

Knife pleats add interesting detail to this women’s shirt.

Accordion pleats look like knife pleats, but they are faced in opposite directions.  Accordion pleats are more tricky to make than knife pleats and are seldom used in garments.

Boxed pleats are folded to meet at the top, while the rest of the pleat remains open. They are frequently used for fitting purposes, such on the backs of jackets and they can be used instead of gathers. Boxed pleats are easy to learn to make and can be mastered by beginning sewers.

Boxed pleats are easy to make.

Pleats are easiest to make in fabrics such as cotton, wool and linen which can be pressed with high heat when setting the pleats before sewing.  Special fabric pleaters can be used on delicate sheers which cannot take heat.

Natural fiber fabrics, such as broadcloth, which can be pressed with high heat, are easy to use for pleated garments.