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How to Add a Sheer Kick Pleat

A pleat in sheer fabric is an unexpected and unique detail on a straight skirt in paisley cotton twill. This pleat was made from curtain fabric. Pattern: Vogue 8063.
A pleat in sheer fabric is an unexpected and unique detail on a straight skirt in paisley cotton twill. This pleat was made from curtain fabric. Pattern: Vogue 8063.

A pleat in sheer fabric is an unexpected and unique detail on a straight skirt in paisley cotton twill. This pleat was made from curtain fabric. Pattern: Vogue 8063.

Photo: Jack Deutsch

In "Designer Details" from Threads #167, author Jacque Goldsmith shared four techniques for finishing and sewing high-fashion clothes. In this excerpt, she shows you how to add a sheer kick pleat.

This pleat, inspired by a Zac Posen design, is a pretty detail that gives you leg room and allows for a higher slit on a slim pencil skirt. It has a light and airy look, and you can create it in any coordinating sheer fabric or lace. I call it a hanging kick pleat because it is connected to the center-back zipper tape.

1. Begin with a skirt pattern with a center-back seam. The seam should have a 5⁄8-inch seam allowance to the hem edge. If you use a pattern with a back vent, remove the fold-back facing⁄extension. You determine the length of the kick pleat opening. It is usually 6 inches to 9 inches. Calculate the pleat's width, usually 1-1⁄2 inches to 2 inches. I like to use 1-3⁄4 inches for the pleat width.

2. On a large sheet of paper, trace the skirt's center-back seam. Mark the zipper end point.



3. Draw a rectangle to represent the pleat fabric. Draw a line 3-1⁄2 inches from and parallel to the center-back seam. Extend it from the hem edge to the desired pleat length. Draw a dotted line 1-3⁄4 inches from and parallel to the center-back seam. This is the foldline. Add 5⁄8-inch seam allowances to the kick pleat's side and top edges.



4. Draw the hanger. Above the pleat opening, draw a line 3⁄4 inch from and parallel to the center back. Add a 5⁄8-inch seam allowance to the top edge. Blend the foldline to the 3⁄4-inch line with a smooth curve.



5. Fold the paper in half along the center-back seamline. Trace the half to make a full pattern piece. Cut one pleat piece from a single layer of sheer fabric.

  Draft a pleat and hanger pattern 

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Comments (14)

SarahsMom SarahsMom writes: GREAT IDEA !!! The request for comments is a request for comments ON THE TECHNIQUE folks - not a request for your opinion of the particular fabrics used in this one skirt, etc. THIS IS A GREAT IDEA. I love kick pleats as opposed to mere slits and think they offer possibilities for all sorts of interesting combinations of fabrics.The more usual method of applying a kick pleat entails a vertical line of stitching showing outside at the top of the pleat itself. This method avoids that line of stitching and allows for more flexibility in fabric selection, I think.

On a slightly different subject, what do you folks think of those skirts/dresses/jumpers, etc that have TWO slits - one on each side? I despise them! I am a fast walker and I find that my legs end up poking out of those side slits and I feel as if I am walking with a big diaper around me. Very unattractive.

Again, love this posted technique and thank you for sharing it. I DEFINITELY will do this.
Posted: 10:28 am on June 20th

zorrrotextile zorrrotextile writes: I am very pleased to have this tutorial. I like straight skirts but don't like to show the back of my knee which can happen even with a normal kick pleat. This fully encloses the vent. It can be made with sheer or the main fabric depending on fashion or personal preference. In fact, I saw this enclosed style of kick pleat on the uniform of the air steward on a recent trip to Europe. The oleat was made in the same fabric. Very stylish.
Posted: 8:13 am on September 9th

LaurieDiane LaurieDiane writes: My gosh...What a bunch of negative comments. I like this idea and I think the paisley skirt with the "sheer" insetis very on trend. Box pleat... side pleatkick pleat...this was just one way of showing how it could be done. I know I am late to post a comment but hopefully it will do some good to neutralize the other comments of ugh...etc. In my opinion are just plain rude. We are looking for creative ways to a means and this is very creative.Thanks for a great idea. I'll try this.
Posted: 1:54 pm on June 19th

ILike2Sew ILike2Sew writes: I have tried to locate the pattern to this article but I cant seem to locate it on Vogue? Perhaps the number is incorrect. I really like the paisley skirt with the kick pleat and denium jacket very different!
Posted: 9:28 am on June 18th

SewingLady42 SewingLady42 writes: I nearly always change back slits to kick pleats to prevent tears; however, I would be embarrassed to use such contrasting fabric. It looks like her slip is showing. Ugh!
Posted: 1:43 pm on June 4th

flatCAD flatCAD writes: I agree with most of the comments. I would use a lighter weight matching color fabric but would have the seam where the inner fold is, NOT at the CB. The stitching at the outside fold adds nothing to the aesthetic...
Posted: 2:47 pm on May 28th

MarshaR MarshaR writes: It appears from the photograph that sheer fabric is applied over a backing of the skirt's own print fabric. This seems to tie them together better than the heavy curtain sheer used in the demo.
Posted: 12:18 pm on May 24th

Corrales Corrales writes: Why would anyone want this? Have to agree with everyone else on this one. Pretty ugly skirt.Same fabric should be used for kick pleat instead of that heavy looking sheer.Don't think it would look well with any sheer.Should also use invisible zipper in more neutral color. Calls too much attention to rear. Sorry.
Posted: 12:54 pm on May 22nd

CFields CFields writes: I might use this technique but I wouldn't use such a contrasting fabric. I would use a sheer fabric the same color as the skirt so it didn't look like an add-on. I would also make a single pleat pressed to one side instead of a box pleat.

It seems like some attention should be paid to the weight of the pleat fabric. The sheer fabric in these pictures looks like it would sag more than the skirt fabric and end up dragging. I personally don't like the skirt in the example. The pleat looks like it was cut from an old curtain.
Posted: 8:23 am on May 22nd

Molly_55 Molly_55 writes: Does this pattern apply to all straight skirts that you might want to put a kick pleat in. It would seem so? No?

Has anyone tried?
Posted: 9:35 pm on May 21st

Muppet Muppet writes: Tacky looking in my opinion.
Posted: 9:07 pm on May 21st

Samuela Samuela writes: I would rather see just a split than using a different fabric for a pleat. In my opinion it looks patchy. Like you didn't have enough fabric. I would never use this technique.
Posted: 6:39 pm on May 21st

MrsHGW MrsHGW writes: I have wanted to do this for a long time but this is the first set of instructions I've seen. Very clear instructions. Thank you
Posted: 6:32 pm on May 21st

RedPointTailor RedPointTailor writes: I am usually making kick pleats to avoid tearing of the back seam. I am making then the splits on the sites in the lining.
Very often I am using different fabric - contrasting in colour or structure.
The idea with share fabric is great. I will use it to summer dresses.
Posted: 3:59 pm on May 21st

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