How to Sew Decorative Tucks
A little bite at the fold becomes sculpture
This 1940s dress is the perfect choice for afternoon teas, bridal showers, or charity events. The deep red rayon crepe frock stands out with a stunning array of carved tucks running down the bodice’s left side and releasing into pleats at the waist. The notched tucks create a diamond shape that frames an intricately embroidered and beaded motif. To see how these tucks were made, read this article from Threads #163 below.
Where to use the decorative tucks
You can use this irresistible tuck treatment on anything you sew. It would look great on a decorative pillow, a lovely blouse, or, as shown, on a sophisticated crepe dress. Plan the tucks before you cut the fabric. Then, add the necessary space to your pattern. Sew the tucks before cutting the pattern so you’ll have some room to adjust, if needed. This amazing effect comes together far more easily than you would guess.
Line up and baste folds into shape
Start by planning a template for the tucks. The tucks shown were drafted on graph paper spaced six squares to the inch. The template is indispensable and will help you get accurate spacing and consistent, well-placed notches. The template shown is for half of the tucked unit. The wide blue lines are the vertical and horizontal centers of the complete tucked motif. For each tuck, you form the notches first, then stitch the tuck.
1. Chart the pattern. Plan the tuck and notch spacing on graph paper, following the diagram at right. Draw a vertical red line every 10 squares for five lines. These are the mountain folds. Draw a blue line four squares to the left of each red line for the valley folds and tuck stitching line. Follow the spacing on the illustration for placing the notches and center each on a red line.
2. Machine- or hand-baste the tuck foldlines on your fabric that match the red lines on the template.
3. Cut the notches from the graph paper to use the resulting void spaces as a template for sewing. Fold the fabric along the outside tuck line, with right sides together. Position the folded template over the double-layered fabric, aligning the folds. With your sewing machine set at a short 1.0-mm to 1.5-mm stitch, follow the cut edge of the notches. Then trim the seam allowance to 1/8 inch or less and clip into the point.
4. Turn the tuck right side out and press a crisp edge. Stitch through both tuck layers 5/8 inch from the fold to make the tuck. Proceed to the next foldline and repeat for each tuck. Turn over the template and continue in the same manner on the other tucked section half to complete the full design. Remove the basting stitches. Embroider over the tucks if desired.
Judith Neukam is Threads senior technical editor.
Photos: Jack Deutsch; all others, Sloan Howard. Illustrations: Emily Bronson.
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