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Making very tiny pleats on silk

zusan | Posted in General Sewing Info on

How could I make tiny little pleats on a piece of silk without using a special sewing machine attachment?  This is for a very elaborate doll outfit for an 11 1/2 inch fashion doll and the pleats must be very small.  Silk is so slippery that it is hard to do.  Any hints would be very much appreciated.




  1. carolfresia | | #1

    Zu, I'm not sure what effect you're after, but you might consider using a twin needle and sewing pin-tucks, with a pin-tuck foot. Check the Threads website; there's a chart on how to get various effects with the twin needle...


  2. ElonaM | | #2

    Zu, before cutting out the pattern, here's what I probably would do: Wash and dry the silk (silk was invented long before there was dry cleaning), then lay it out nice and flat on a sheet, and spray it all over with spray starch. When it dries, it will have a slightly "papery" hand and be very easy to work with. After the dress was complete, I'd wash it again to get the starch out.

    I've done this with lots of slippery silks, and it works great (though I always pre-test the wash and starch thing with a fabric scrap, just to be sure).

  3. rjf | | #3

    You've probably already decided to pleat before cutting the pattern piece.  Starching sounds like a good idea.  Are you talking about pressed pleats, or sewn pintucks?  Is it a bodice or part of the skirt?     rjf

    1. zusan | | #4

      Pressed pleats was the original intent,  both on the skirt and on the front of the bodice.  Maybe pintucks would be better on the bodice?  I have done pintucks by hand before but never by machine and never on silk.  Holding the little tiny pleats in place to even iron them is difficult.  They slip around so much!

      1. rjf | | #5

        For pintucks, I used to press a crease where I wanted it and then carefully stitched on the folded edge.  When they're all stitched, you can press them to the side.  I've done pleats in a similar way:  press the pleats and topstitch the inside fold.  Then the pleats stay in place and you have a guide to arrange them for a final pressing.  But I would have to practice on silk.  It seems that it shouldn't be that much harder than any other fabric but silk seems to have a mystique (sp?) that makes us nervous.   rjf

        1. zusan | | #6

          Thank you for the directions and tips!  I am sure they will help. 


  4. SewTruTerry | | #7

    I'm with Carol when it comes to using the pintuck foot and the double needle. I used to make the 18" doll clothes when my dsd was younger and if I wanted to add that kind of detail it was easy with the double needle. If you really want the crisp edge just iron it after sewing.

  5. MollieS | | #8

    If you have access to a smocking pleater, it would make great tiny and uniform pleats.

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