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Expert Advice Needed: Two-Tone Pleating

abcameo | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I’ve got a gauzy-type fabric with a plain and a satin stripe. I don’t if there’s a name for this technique, but I’d like to stitch in pleats in a way that would hold the shiny satin stripe facing outward, and the gauze stripe on the inside, but billowing open when you move.

I’m going to pleat the fabric first then cut out my pattern (so that I’m sure I end up with the proper width of fabric).

I don’t own a pleater gadget, but I have a trusty iron and a metal hemming guide that I thought I’d use that as a straight edge for ironing the pleats down prior to stitching in place.

My questions:
1. Is there an official name for this look?
2. Is there a “best way” to stitch the top to manage the pleats as I sew?
3. Should I take a stitch somewhere on the inside gauze part of each pleat to help it sit properly?
4. What should I do about hemming the bottom?
a. If I go with a typical turned up hem, should I hem it before I pleat or after I’m done creating the garment–how do I handle the now gently-folded hemline?
b. I’m also thinking of leaving the bottom with a small frayed edge–it would look appropriate with my design. The satin won’t fray, though, but the gauze will. Can someone recommend how to edge the hem using my serger that would look attractive for both types of pleat?

I’m working on this project today, so I’d really appreciate quick help before I either try doing it myself and risk a botched job or I run out of steam (it’s going up to the 100’s here again today).
Many thanks,


  1. clsosa | | #1

    Since you are going to pleat the fabric before you cut your garment, be sure to baste the pleats all the way down to the hemline before you cut (this should give you more stability).  You don't say how wide the stripes are, and that will have some bearing on how you handle the design.

    I don't know that there is any other name for what your doing but pleating your skirt.  It is just a fun way to make your fabric a larger part of your design.  I think the idea of the guaze inside the pleat is a nice touch.

    Practice with your serger to see if you can get a nice and consistant rolled hem (like on napkin edges).  That will probably be the lightest finish you could get.  If you want to keep the pleat in tact to the hemline (meaning your skirt looks like a satin skirt when your not walking), you would be better off making a larger hem (1") and stitching the hem on the inside fold to help keep it closed.  Using a regular small turned hem (1/4") probably won't stay closed.  Because of the different textures (the satin and the gauze) you may want to see how it looks during construction before making this decision.  Just be sure to leave yourself an extra inch on the bottom in case you want the larger hem. 

    I hope this helps. 

    1. abcameo | | #2

      Thanks so much for the advice, Clsosa.Oh, gosh--basting the bottom pleat as well as the top before cutting--that's a good point. I don't even know what I had in mind for cutting out the pattern when I got to the sides and bottom! I wasn't thinking about that, just worrying about the top portion.I don't want to keep the pleat intact at the bottom. I do want them to open up and show the inside gauze. A rolled hem would be a good choice. I was also thinking, maybe a satin stitch with shiny thread that matched the shiny satin fabric...

      1. abcameo | | #3

        The official name of this technique just popped in my head. It's called "Shadow Pleats." Glad I finally remembered that--it's been driving me crazy because I knew an official name existed but I just couldn't think of it.

  2. mem | | #4

    Well I would just sew up the pleats from the inside by folding down the middle of the gauze stripe and having the seam line down the join between the gauze and the satin stripe . do this for the length that will go around you hips and then join the fabric into a cylinder with the seam at the center back the if you need to shape between hip and waist I would make two darts where you side seams would be These can be cut open and finished as per usual. This avoids the problem of seams disrupting the float effect that you are after. Then apply the waist band  treatment and maybe include an invisible zip. I would do a rolled hem on the serger to finsh it off . That way you wont impeded the movement of your skirt.

    1. abcameo | | #5

      Well, I worked on it yesterday, I'm almost done with it. BTW, it's not a skirt, it's a blouse. :-) So, rats, Mem, it's too late for your idea, but now I'm thinking of adding some shaping at the waistline to pull it in a little, so I may incorporate your suggestion.It's looking pretty, and I cut the hem really long to leave room for corrections just in case, so now I'm thinking of turning it into a dress or tunic top. The fabric is more sheer than I thought once I held it up, and now I'm probably going to have to add a lining if I leave it the a longer length. I was thinking of adding little pintucks or something to take it in at the waist, but I'm an intermediate sewer, and I'm afraid of wrecking this, so I think I'll just add a satin ribbon as a belt. I'm intrigued with the shadow pleating, so I think I'll go buy some more striped fabric and try some other effects and see how they turn out. Many thanks for the advice,

      1. Josefly | | #6

        Your blouse sounds very interesting and pretty. How about posting a photo?

        1. abcameo | | #7

          Hi, Josefly:
          Thanks for asking to see my blouse, which has now turned into a tunic or dress. I created my own computerized pattern, and since it doesn't print out with instructions, I'm on my own trying to figure out the step-by-step order and what technique to use for what. I'm a beginner-intermediate sewer (with a new serger!)--definitely not all that experienced, so it's challenging for me. It's coming along, and I'm learning as I go, so I think I'll buy some more stripe fabric and try the shadow pleats again. I made a mistake with mine and should have probably gone with either just pleating or gathering, but I did both here. I think it's pretty-looking, but the shadow pleats aren't showing up the way I imagined. It looks more gathered than anything. I left the bottom long (in case I needed emergency changes), and I ended up liking the fabric so much, I've decided to leave it as is and turn it into a dress. When I held it up to show my Sig. Other, he commented that it was extremely sheer. I hadn't realized that until we saw it with light coming from behind. So now that I've serged (and cut) the bodice seams, I've got to add a lining. Fortunately, I got some advice on how to add this on at this stage from another forum.Here are some photos of my work in progress.
          http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/abcam...4a3ascd&.src=phFor not exactly knowing what I'm doing, I'm pleased with how it's progressing. Next time around though, I'm going to try just pleating. to achieve the look I envision.
          P.S. If you have a chance, browse my website and, please, do me a favor and tell everyone you know... ;-)
          The Wear-with-All - Online Boutique

          1. Josefly | | #8

            I haven't been able to see the pictures of your project. When I click on the link I get an error message. But I enjoyed browsing your web-site: lovely knitted things and the jewelry, too. It appears you have many talents. Thank you for the info.Good luck with finishing your pleated dress. It really sounds intriguing.

          2. abcameo | | #9

            Thanks so much for the lovely compliments. If you send me your e-mail, I'll send the photos as an attachment so you can take a look. Or can I post them privately to you somehow from here? I'd be hesitant to post them here (I don't know how anyway), with all these expert sewers. Geez, I just hate the the word sew-ers looks and reads like we're all going down the drain... :-0

          3. Josefly | | #10

            Thank you for e-mailing me your photos. I got a much better idea of what you're doing. Your dress is going to be very pretty, an example of a good choice of style to suit the fabric. I really like the pleating idea, and I wonder if, to emphasize the pleats, you could stitch them down with maybe two or three parallel rows of stitching running around the top of the skirt part, rows 1/2 inch or so apart, below the seam attaching the skirt to the high-waist bodice? I don't know how it would look, since you've had to gather the pleated fabric to fit the bodice, but it reminds me...A couple of years ago there was a great skirt shown in Threads, which many people apparently copied, judging by postings in Gatherings, made up of many random-width (2 to 5 inches wide, if I remember correctly) vertical strips of several (5 different?) prints, all sheer fabrics; strips joined, then pleated and pressed onto a fusible-woven interfacing which tapered from waist to fullest part of hips, where the interfacing ended; so the pleats were deeper at the waist than at the hips. THEN THE PLEATS WERE STITCHED DOWN with curvy rows of decorative stitching, seams crossing each other at places, dipping up and down around the skirt over the interfacing. The stitching held the pleats in place, so you could see that the fabric was pleated, but then they were released into a softly flowing, feminine, airy skirt. My daughter copied the skirt and has enjoyed it very much. Maybe you saw this skirt, or maybe other readers can remember which issue it was in?...I can't seem to lay my hands on it just now. This stitching is the part that I remembered when thinking of your dress, but I think even, parallel rows of straight stitches would be better on your dress. Something to think about, maybe, when you try your next pleated stripe?

          4. abcameo | | #11

            Thanks for the info. I searched the Magazine Index and found this one. Is this the one you're referring to? http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/th_120_029.aspI'm pretty sure I have this magazine. I'll read the article.I went to see my sewing/serging mentor at the JoAnn's sewing center yesterday. Machine sales are run by a different sewing store within JoAnn's. The mgr. there has a degree in sewing/patternmaking, all that, and she's great about telling me to bring my project in so she can advise me.She gave me some tips, and I went home and followed them last night. It was going great till I accidentally caught a wrong section of the lining I was serging on and the knife stitched it in to the seam. When I undid the mistake, sure enough, there was a hole in the main part of the lining fabric. GRRRR! @#$%&*() Now I've got to go buy replacement lining.Aside from that, it's going well and looking pretty. One of her suggestions was to stitch the side seams of the lining and main garment together as one, then stitch in the ditch of that seam to hold the slippery fabric and strengthen the seam. Wouldn't you know, the lining color I bought yesterday was very limited supply. I bought it all. I think they had a second bolt with even less fabric on it. I only need 1 yd to correct the problem piece.

          5. Josefly | | #12

            I'll bet it is that issue, since #120 is the only one I can't find right now, and I probably gave it to my daughter when she was making the skirt.I feel your pain. I've done the same kind of thing, but cutting my fashion fabric by mistake when trying to trim seams! It usually only happens once! Good luck finding replacement fabric. I know you're going to enjoy this dress.

      2. mygaley | | #13

        Please allow me to encourage you to the utmost to sew down some of your pleats at the waistline to shape your garment.  I have seen this done on 40's garments and it looks fabulous (think Norma Shearer).  If that is not your design choice, then remember a satin ribbon on a satin fabric is going to be pretty slippery.  Galey

        1. abcameo | | #14

          Since my dress went from shadow pleating to a combo pleat/gather, I don't think stitchint down the waist is going to do anything to make it look more attractive.I bought some matching satin ribbon, and I now thought I'd add some small faux pearls along the 2 length edges with my serger (watched a how-to demo on this last week). Also thinking I'll add a matching rosette with pearl edges.First though, I've got issues with the side seams and the hems that I've got to figure out. Probably will go traipsing back to JoAnn's, to consult with my new, official sewing mentor there for advice before I proceed. I hesitate at each step because I'd like the thing to look pretty and not get ruined along the way...

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