Thursday, September 03, 2009

Professional Pleats for the Home Sewer

Aren't these knife pleated skirts great? Click on the picture for a larger view. In 1950, Simplicity Patterns contracted with Superior Dress Trimming Co. to offer commercial pleating for home sewers. You simply purchased your pattern and fabric, prepared the pieces by cutting them out, marking the center fronts and back with basting threads, and mailed the pieces off to Ohio with payment for pleating. The pleating ran between $2.00 - $3.50 depending on the pattern you chose. That compares to about $18 - $31 in today's dollar.

I did a search for commercial pleating on the web, but could only find companies that offer this service in large quantities to the trade. However, I'll bet if you checked locally with your dry cleaner or tailor, you might be able to find someone to do this for you. The pleats are heat set, so some natural fibers will shrink during the process and you should allow extra fabric for this. You should choose a pattern that is designed for pleats, as the pattern pieces will be much wider than normal.

According to Claire Schaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide, most fabrics will pleat well. The exceptions are wool gabardine and cotton. The durability of the pleats depends on the fiber content of your fabric. Polyester and nylon hold pleats extremely well. Wool, silk, and rayon will have to be dry cleaned and pressed to maintain sharp pleats.