How to Make Pleats on Fabric


Pleats are evenly measured folds along the edge of a fabric, created for various purposes. Pleating gives a bit of a flared effect. Some pleats are added along the bottom of a sofa or chair, some on the top of draperies and others can be for clothing such as a skirt. They can be created by hand for small projects or by machines for large, commercial ones.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinated thread
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Decide on the kind of pleats are desired, whether they are in one direction or spaced centerfold pleats (see diagrams and photos). To make 1/2-inch measured pleats in one direction, measure 1 inch of fabric with a ruler and fold in 1/2 inch. Fold the fabric back again and pin the pleat with a straight pin.

  • Continue measuring and pinning one-direction pleats as described in Step 1 above. Space individual pleats as desired (see drawing above to view example), about 1 inch apart, but the spacing can be as desired for the particular sewing project at hand.

  • Slip the fabric with the pinned pleats under the presser foot of the sewing machine threaded with coordinated thread. Straight stitch on the machine to secure the pleats. After sewing, remove the straight pins.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pleats can be unpinned and repinned as desired before sewing.
  • Practice pinning pleats and sewing before working on a real project.

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  • Photo Credit Images by Natasha Lawrence
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