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small silk knife pleats

barbara310 | Posted in Feedback on Threads on



I have a very expensive silk dress that I wore to a wedding last month.

Someone spilled a glass of red wine down the side of me and I immediately ran in the bathroom and ran cool water over the area.

The knife pleats fell out of 1/4 of the dress bottom.

I am trying to get the knife pleats re-set and 2 cleaners have said it can not be done.

Can I baste and iron them back in place? The dress has a full skirt and the small knife pleats run around the whole dress.Do I need some kind of stabilizer before heat setting?

Please help if you know what should be done




  1. HelgaPataki | | #1

    putting knife pleats back in silk dress

    I made a silk dupioni tarten with narrow pleats.  although i wear this casually, I like the pleats to stay in.  I usually use fine headed pins and pin the pleats back in place on an ironing board, and block each panel a few at a time.  I would remove the pins and continue on with the next panel.  Some professional cleaners do this service but it is very timely and costly.  It is possible to do it yourself.  It takes a lot of time and effort.  Don't forget to use a pressing cloth to prevent scorching!

  2. User avater
    JunkQueen | | #2

    Not easy

    But Helga's suggestion is exactly how I do knife pleats also.   Your thought on basting would workwell,too.  The cleaners you contacted simply do not want to do this .   It is labor intensive, to say the least, but the results are worth it.  And as helga said, be sure to use a press cloth because you will want to have plenty of contact with the iron.

    Good luck, and let us know how it turns out.

    1. HelgaPataki | | #3

      creating the knife pleats / storage

      This reminds me of when I made the tarten kilt:  I based all the pleats by hand down to the hemline and everytime I finished working with it, I stored it between the mattress so it would press it and keep it flat. If did this repeated until I finished this kilt. 

       I guess you could also hand base your pleats and remove them before you wear it.  It sounds like a lot of work, but if it is for a special occasion it wouldn't be like doing this tacking down job weekly.  I guess you could store it elsewhere but my home is so small the mattress is the only large flat storage area I could think of. 

  3. alotofstitches | | #4

    knife pleats

    I think the pleats came out when wet because it is a natural fiber and cannot be set permanently.  To set pleats or creases I use the pinning into the ironing board too but after I steam the fabric well, then I use a "clapper" (a wooden pressing aide).  Immediately after steaming I set the "clapper" over the area and leave it until the fabric cools.  The wood helps to draw the moisture away, the weight of the wood helps set the crease and leaving it alone until it's cool is important too.  I also use that "clapper" when pressing poly seams open and they stay open using the same method.

    1. HelgaPataki | | #5

      ironing board linings for steaming in pleats

      Hi, I am not sure what a clapper is.  But I learned that an ironing board is recommended to be lined heavily with dense wool and natural fibers only so that the steam can escape  and not cause any dampness.  there is a method for ironing creases, such as the crease line down the front of pant legs:  Use bond paper against the crease folded and then iron, and you get this razor sharp crease.  This might not be a realistic approach for knife pleats because there are so many  unless you do several pleats at a time like this,  but perhaps any wider pleats, you could try this method using strips of bond paper. 

  4. Teaf5 | | #6

    silk pleats

    Yes, basting and ironing will help to re-set the pleats.  However, the water has probably dissolved the sizing from the silk.  If you have an inconspicuous area to test, try some fabric starch or spray starch on the fabric; it will restore the stiffness in the silk and set the pleats more permanently.

  5. Ocrafty1 | | #7

    Resetting pleats

    I made a wedding gown a couple of yrs. ago that included starburst pleats. While it was made of polyester, I still measured and pleated all of the pleats by hand...on my ironing board. I used lots of steam, pressure, and made sure the fabric had cooled before I moved it.  I learned the hard way that if you move it before it has cooled you have to re do the pleating.  I have since learned (through Gatherings) that you can send fabric out to be pleated...that might be an option.  Also, there was an article in Threads that told about a cleaners that could repair and restore garments. I don't know how expensive it is, but you might look in the Archives and see if you can find the article and contact the company.  They might be able to tell you how to do it best.  If you can't find the article in Archives, you might email Threads and ask them for the info.  Hope this helps, and good luck!


  6. lou19 | | #8

    I have sent panels away to be pleated for wedding dresses. (skirts, godets etc)

    Why not remove and flatten whole panel then have it repleated and then sew back in.


  7. HelgaPataki | | #9

    tailor affiliated service

    Maybe if you took your dress to a tailor they will know who to send it to to get it repressed and knife pleats put back in.

  8. woodruff | | #10

    small silk knife pleats

    This is a tough one, and not even the great Fortuny, so well known for his silk gowns with their tiny pleats, was able to make those pleats permanent (the books say they were permanent when dry cleaned, but that the pleats fell out when exposed to water).  Synthetics can be permanently crimped, but apparently that is still impossible with silk.

    My best guess would go along with that of another poster who suggested taking the dress apart and having it professionally re-pleated by specialists.  Then stay away from water, alas.

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