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Re-Create Pleated Edging

I recently found this embroidered cushion cover at a flea market. I bought it because I liked the edge trim around the outside of the piece, and wanted to figure out how to reproduce it.

Follow along for the results!

Here’s a detail of the edge, from the front.

And this is the reverse. As you can see, it looks similar, front and back.

As I’ve done in the past, I’m using the unit of “ribbon width” in this lesson. With this unit of measurment, the trim can be scaled up or down, to any size. I’ll also use numbers here, so you can see how the “ribbon width” proportions work.

This strip is cut on the straight grain, 1 ribbon width (4-inches) wide. Since this trim begins with knife pleats, I marked the crease lines onto the strip.

You can see that these lines alternate, 1/4 ribbon width (or 1-inch), and 1/2 ribbon width (2-inches) apart.

Press the knife pleats into position, as shown. The distance between the leading edges of the pleats is 1/4 ribbon width (or 1-inch).

Machine baste 1/4-inch from one of the edges to hold the pleats in place.

Next, along the opposite edge, fold the pleats in the opposite direction, matching the leading edge to the back of the previous pleat. Pin.

This is the work pinned, ready for sewing. Machine sew the opposite edge.

This is what the front of the work looks like when both edges are sewn.

Turn the work over–this is the work’s wrong side.

You can see that the strip wants to shift, indicated by the arrows in the photo. This is normal, and we’ll make use of this shift in the next step.


We’re still looking at the wrong side of the work.

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  1. User avater
    angelap | | #1

    Yes, I would like to try this method for trimming children's clothes. I think I will use a light weight fabric so it won't be bulky. Thank you for figuring it out & sharing it.

  2. user-1057488 | | #2

    I saw this years ago, wondered how it was made! It was a very tiny, maybe 3/8's inch, insertion between a coat front facing and lining. Very pretty and very sophisticated! I can't remember if there was a tiny piping on the edge, too, might have been. That's how I'd like to use it, maybe in a jacket or a swing coat, where it would peek out sometimes. :-)

  3. stsimon | | #3

    I saw this trim on a garment in the Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity exhibit that just closed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. (It will reopen in Chicago on June 26.) It was thrilling to see several of the actual dresses that appeared in the Impressionist paintings on the walls. And oh, the hand work that must have taken many Mimi's hours and hours!

  4. User avater
    susannah_sews | | #4

    Looks just lovely - can't wait to experiment!

    Any tips on calculating how much ribbon length is required for a given length of finished trim?

  5. User avater
    Yumjo | | #5

    Kenneth, Thank you so much for figuring this edging out for us. I've decided to use it on a summer hat. I make hats for cancer victims. Each hat is different and original. I have some basic patterns which I change so that none are alike. I donate them to the local cancer unit. The word has spread and I now have orders from all of the US and one waiting in England. This edge will make a lovely, interesting addition to the brim of a hat or as the bottom edge on a cloche. I can also visualize it as a hat band. I've got several ideas. Thanks again, Ymana Johnson

  6. user-2228870 | | #6

    I have seen round cushions with edge just like the pink one in the picture and wondered how it's done. I would like to make my next cushion and shirt with a trim like that. Thank you for sharing it. Can you give us a guide on the length of the cut fabric? - does that just depend on the size of the pleats?

  7. sewright4you | | #7

    Beautiful. Can not wait to try it on a pillow edge. I think I will also try some very thin fabric also. Thanks.

  8. fergus4 | | #8

    Thanks, Kenneth, for another wonderful How To. I will take this method and use it to trim a purse. Very delicate and pretty. Nice!

  9. User avater
    kennethdking | | #9

    Thanks for the kind comments!

    In regards to the amount of ribbon length needed, it is approximately 3-4 times the finished length. I generally assume I'll need a little more here, but that is a good round number.

    I saw the Fashion and Impressionism show at the Met, and it was indeed dazzling--if you have a chance, and are in Chicago, it's a must-see. The clothes, some of them actual garments depicted in the paintings, are worth the trip!

  10. trica | | #10

    i would put this trim on the hem of a jacket.

  11. Buttonscreates | | #11

    You never fail to amaze me! This is brilliant and beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. My first thought would be trim on pockets of the evening jacket. Then I started thinking about trim around bottom of a child's dress. I look forward to maybe adding it to trim for a bereavement gown for our local hospital.

  12. User avater
    pjwhite530 | | #12


  13. KelleyHighway | | #13

    I have seen this on ready-to-wear, both retail and resale. When I saw it, I was so intrigued and took iPhoto shots of it. HA! NOW I know how it's done! Thanks again.

    Kelley (Manila, Philippines)

  14. Anarchy | | #14

    Amazing! I think this at the hem of a skirt would be smashing.

  15. NinaLBoston | | #15

    I think this might make a nice neckline trim -- in black organza -- for an LBD.

  16. User avater
    thepkl | | #16

    I think that this could be used very nicely to edge a quilt.

  17. user-2239776 | | #17

    A big thank you! I have nothing in mind for it at the moment, but I will tuck it away and it's surprising to me how well I remember techniques like this when I want to use them.

    For those who ask how much fabric, I would try a test strip of the size I want to use on a scrap of similar material. The amount will vary depending on how wide the pleats are and how wide the finished strip is.

  18. pursonalissues | | #18

    Thank you Kenneth, for finding and sharing with us! The project I have in mind is to remake a pillow my mother made to show off a beautiful sampler she created of 9 different flowers meticulously hand sewn in a variety of stitches that include perfectly formed candle wicking & French knots. Mum has won awards in craft shows for her needle work. I always thought her needle work was a dying art & now Mum has dementia. The pillow itself is a very crude 'frame' for this treasured needle craft, with just a bit of lace to fancy it up. I intend to remake the pillow using this delicate pleated trim to frame this family heirloom forever. I hope to post pictures of before and after.

  19. User avater
    Muffin58 | | #19

    That's a beautiful trim! I think it would be lovely, in a smaller size, for trimming the edge of a neckline & sleeves on a dress or shell, or around the edge of a jacket & its sleeves. I'm eager to experiment!

  20. User avater
    reynalay | | #20

    Thank you so much! What a great tutorial! Love the step by step pictures and instructions. Usually the tutorials are so hard to follow, but this one is perfect! I'm going to try it, on a smaller scale, on the hem of a dress! It would be gorgeous on the neckline also! Thank you!!

  21. kne5017894 | | #21

    I did a trim(ready-made, I confess) down the outseam of some men's pants. We nicknamed them the 'crocodile pants' and it added some nice interest. i have also seen this used down the front of a women's winter coat where 2 of the trim was used in parrallel as the button placket and the button tucked into the pleats. BTW, anyone lucky enough to be in Paris between now and July 7, there is an exhibit of vintage haute couture in the Hotle de Ville in the 4e. Sadly, I don't get to see this one, but there's also an accompanying booklet "Paris Haute Couture"
    By: Olivier Saillard

  22. Missyme | | #22

    I think it can be used on so many projects. I can't wait to try it out!
    Thanks for sharing!

  23. User avater
    kennethdking | | #23

    I'm glad you all are liking this! It was a lot of fun to puzzle through...

  24. User avater
    jennyebner | | #24

    Great. I am looking forward to trying these out in one of my upcoming sewing projects. Thanks again.

  25. User avater
    jennyebner | | #25

    Great. I am looking forward to trying these out in one of my upcoming sewing projects. Thanks again.

  26. MeMo3 | | #26

    I found a photo of your work (not the original pillow) on Pinterest and had a plan in my mind for a way to copy the photo. Now that I'm ready to sew this trim, I've come back to look at the photo again and I'm pleasantly surprised to see that there are directions for it and that they are completely different from the way that I had imagined making this trim. Thank you for taking the time to figure it out correctly and posting it. I plan to make this in a contrasting color with a cotton fabric and add it to the bottom of a white denim curtain that will cover the storage cube on the wall of my laundry area. I am making a second curtain to hang below the cube but behind the washer and dryer to cover cords and pipes that I plan to add storage pockets to and this trim will finish off the pocket edges in a really cute way pulling both pieces together for a uniform look. I can't wait to get started now. Thanks for sharing!

  27. user-3116476 | | #27

    I am going to try this method on a purse front edge.

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