How to Make Pleats on the Back of a Shirt


Pleats are a simple yet stylish detail that can be added to clothing. Pleats can alter the way something fits by either taking the garment in or adding volume, depending on their placement and how the pleats are used. While sewing a pleat is not complicated, it requires very precise measuring and sewing, so it is important to take your time and measure everything accurately.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric you wish to pleat
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread to match garment
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Straight pins
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Mark the placement of your pleats using the tailor's chalk. Typically pleats are measured with a 3 to 1 ratio, meaning 3 inches of fabric will create a 1-inch pleat. Use this as a guide when determining how to space your pleats. Mark one line of the pleats with a solid line, and the other with a dotted line, so you can tell them apart easily.

  • Mark the rest of the pleat lines using the straight pins. Two different colored pins are helpful here so you do not confuse which direction the pleat is going. One color pin should go along the dotted line and another along the solid line.

  • Crease the fabric along one of the lines, then press with an iron to make it stay.

  • Bring the pressed edge from the last step to meet the other line of pins you created and pin the pleats in place.

  • Repeat the above steps until all the pleats have been formed. Use a basting stitch to sew the pleats into place, going along the length of the pleat. This will help the pleats retain their shape while you perform the next step.

  • Press all your pleats into place very carefully once they have been basted. It is best to leave the basting in for a day or two, or at least until you need to take it out to finish your garment. The basting will help the pleats hold their shape. Once the remainder of the garment is finished, take the basting out and the pleats should stay nicely in place.

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