The Talk is Pleating with Designer Babette Pinsky
For Threads no. 159, I interviewed designer Babette Pinsky for the Designer Spotlight series. If you aren't familiar with her work, she creates fascinating garments with textiles that she pleats, folds, scrunches, and otherwise manipulates into unique and very flattering designs.
We didn't have enough room on the printed page to cover the techniques she uses in her Oakland, California, factory, to pleat fabric by hand and machine. There was more to my interview with Babette, and you can read it here, including her description of three methods she uses to create textures in her garments. You can view the new Babette collections for 2012 at BabetteSF.com.
THREADS: Do you pleat the fabric or the garment?
BABETTE PINSKY: We never manipulate yardage. We design the garment, cut it, try to anticipate how much fabric will be consumed by pleats and then try a sample. The garment is cut first. Sometimes each piece is pleated, sometimes part of the garment is pleated, and sometimes the whole garment is pleated.
TH: What qualities do you look for in a fabric?
BP: All of the pleated fabrics are either polyester or nylon, because nothing else will hold a pleat permanently. So we look for interesting polyester fabrics.
TH: Tell us how you manipulate fabric.
BP: We use three types of pleating. The first is hand-pleating, in which someone sits at the table with a cut piece or the whole garment in front of them. With their hands they twist, fold or bunch it. After it is ready, the fabric is tied in shape, and then it is baked in an autoclave.
TH: How hot does the autoclave get?
BP: I think it’s about 240 degrees. It’s not terribly hot, but it applies heat and pressure to set the pleats. The autoclave is maybe 6 feet by 10 feet long. It looks like what dentists used to have in their offices for cleaning instruments.