Since the time of ancient Egypt, pleats have been used by tailors and designers to give clothing the desired amount of fullness, texture, and depth. This dynamic folding technique now is used for everything from pants with a pleated front to skirts and dresses with accordion pleats.
So, what are pleated fabrics? Let’s see.
Understanding Pleated Fabric
Pleated fabrics have got creases or wrinkles running either vertically or horizontally. They are widely distributed in uniforms, curtains, and other similar items.
Their creases are an intentional design feature of pleated fabrics and are created with the same properties as conventional fabrics. They are sought for use in textile production for the fashion industry.
Some materials are better suited to pleating than others, and the thickness of the fabric can be utilized to great effect. Less dense fabrics are easy to pleat and will puff out slightly.
Pleating a slippery fabric like silk or viscose won’t do much more than add bulk to the garment. In comparison, fabrics like cotton and linen retain their crispness and integrity after being pleated and providing depth.
In addition to using stitching patterns, mechanical and chemical processes can be used to generate pleated fabrics, making full use of the fiber qualities of the textile materials.
In garments like skirts, dresses, and pants, pleated fabrics are either utilized as a full overlay or as an integral component of the design. Most synthetic textiles, naturally thermoplastic, have fabric pleats set permanently by thermal fixation. And the end effect is beautiful clothing that flows freely.
Fabrics with higher thread count and less drape tend to be thicker and more difficult to pleat. Because of this, you might want to think about these characteristics as you select a fabric for your pleated creation.
How Pleated Fabric Is Made
When any fabric is pleated, it is folded in various ways to alter its volume and feel. A mold is constructed from two pieces of card that are folded similarly to fit together, with an outer wrapper to safeguard the pattern while it is heated.
Fabric can be pleated by hand, with a pattern, or on a machine. One can achieve different outcomes and textures of pleats on the fabrics by employing these techniques singly or in various combinations.
- Hand Pleating
The fabric is folded by hand, and pleat by pleat, when using the hand pleating method. Fabrics featuring tartans, plaids, or stripes make hand pleating, fold by fold, a lot simpler.
- Machine Pleating
Because they need less time and effort to create, simple pleats like side pleats, box pleats, and crystal pleats can be made on a machine at a lower cost and with less effort.
Machine pleating is advantageous since the entire roll of fabric may be pleated at once and put to multiple uses.
A pleating machine can be constructed in several different methods, each achieving the same result. Pleating machines used to create these folds have lengthy blades that compress the cloth throughout its width.
- Pattern Pleating
This pleating technique requires either a cardboard pattern or a piece of special equipment called a “pleaters board,” into which the fabric is inserted and pressed with a steam iron.
In most cases, it is usually placed between two pieces of card spread out on a level surface. The fabric is put on the bottom, the lower card, and finally, the top card creating something like a card sandwich.
Afterward, they’re folded, pleated, and coiled up tightly to form the desired shape. Then, the cloth is heated and set into the desired shape in a steam cabinet, and it is protected from moisture by an outer wrapper before being sent.
The fabric is removed from the pattern once it has cooled down to the point where it will not distort the shape of the pattern used to pleat it.
A Brief Recount Of Pleated Fabric History
Garments with pleats were reserved for ancient Egyptian royalty because of their elegance and status. They used a hefty tool, similar to an iron, to give the fabric a sort of ironing stir after dipping it in a liquid gum solution to create the pleats in such expensive garments.
In 1909, Mariano Fortuny was inspired by the process and patented a pleat he named after the technique. The long pleated skirt known as the “Delphos” was designed by the Spanish fashion designer specifically for celebrities and fashion icons like Eleonora Duse and Peggy Guggenheim.
Machines were developed to speed up the process of creating pleats, making them accessible to a wider population. Recently, pleated fabric for ready-to-wear apparel has been almost exclusively machine-made. The only clothes still pleated by hand are haute couture pieces, which explains why they are so expensive.
Some Varieties Of Pleated Fabric
Pleated fabrics vary according to the type of pleating method used to produce them. Some common pleated fabric types include;
- Accordion pleats
Accordion pleated fabric is a type of tight pleated fabric that is equally folded throughout and goes by various other names, including knife pleats, sunburst pleats, and fan pleats.
The fabric has in-and-out pleats that are uniformly spaced and typically used to add volume to dresses and skirts.
Apparel produced from this type of pleated fabric often features a zigzag hem pattern and is constructed from a permanent press fabric with pleats that run the length of the skirt.
- Kick pleated fabrics
Kick pleated fabrics work best for A-line skirts because of the ease with which they are worn. They add a touch of volume to the garment and take the form of inverted pleats, typically located at the back.
Tight skirts with kick pleats make it easier to walk.
If you wear a tight skirt that ends at or below the knee and wants to take steps that are longer than a few inches, you will need to kick pleat the skirt.
- Cartridge pleated fabric
Cartridge pleated fabrics are typically used to make sleeves and skirts because they add fullness without adding bulk to the seam. Instead of folding the fabric in half, two rows of loose stitches are stitched, and the thread is pulled to gather the fabric. This creates a tiny pleat used to pleat puffy sleeves and flared skirts.
- Honeycomb pleated fabric
This fabric is commonly seen on collars and cuffs and serves a purely aesthetic purpose.
The fabric possesses honeycomb pleats which are folds in the cloth that create a honeycomb-like pattern.
The fabric is used much in smocking, an embroidery method used to produce motifs on different pleated fabrics.
- Box pleated fabric
Skirts made from box pleated fabrics are quite familiar and popular because of the definition they give the waist. To create a box pleat, fold two lengths of fabric in opposite directions, meeting in the middle of the fold’s reverse side.
Fabrics with box pleats can also be utilized for home decorating other than garments because of their outwardly pressed appearance.
Average Cost Of Pleated Fabric By The Yard
Many factors affect how much-pleated the fabric costs. Sometimes, it depends on the fabric used in the pleating process and at other times, the fiber content, the design, and the delivery costs.
To give you a final cost of pleated fabric per yard. The market price for these textiles would be between $12 to $15 for pleated chiffon fabric and $5 to $15 for pleated lace, and Pleated organza goes for over $7 per yard.
Pleated Fabric Applications
Popular applications of pleated fabric that you’ll commonly see around include;
- Pleated blinds
Many pleated curtains are constructed of a dense fabric that can be folded up like an accordion. The curtains were first introduced in Germany, but their practicality, aesthetic diversity, and reliable UV protection have made them quite popular worldwide.
- Vests and T-Shirts
Pleats on the back and the arm where the sleeve tapers to the cuff are common on jackets and other apparel like blouses for active outdoor wear.
Typically, men’s shirts have box pleats in the back, right below the shoulder, or two basic pleats, one on each side. A good example is the double-ended inverted box pleats on the chest and back of a Norfolk jacket.
Cargo pants, safari jackets, and other workwear frequently feature bellow pockets.
To accommodate the bulge caused by its contents, bellows pockets are patch pockets with inset box pleats.
- Pants and shorts
Pleats of varying types can be added to skirts, dresses, and kilts to provide extra volume in strategic places (the waist, the hips, and the hem) for comfort, mobility, and aesthetic effect. You’ll commonly see these in uniform clothing.
Care Tips For Pleated Fabric
You can properly care for and maintain your pleated clothing if you adhere to these simple care tips.
- You can wrap your pleated fabric in a laundry net and wash it in the washing machine on a delicate cycle with water no hotter than 30 degrees Celsius or give it a gentle hand washing.
- To dry the garment properly, remove excess water, reshape it in the direction of the pleats, and hang it up somewhere out of direct sunlight and with good ventilation.
- Washing your pleated clothing after each wear is recommended to help the pleats keep their shape for longer. However, it’s not okay to put it on while damp since this could cause the pleats to expand out of shape.
- It would be best to not iron some types of pleated clothing because improper ironing procedures can destroy the pleats. If you must iron it, choose the coolest setting to protect the pleats as much as possible. If you can’t iron the pleats by hand, consider steaming them on low heat.
- When storing the garment, roll it in the direction of the pleats. Much pressure can easily stretch pleated fabrics, so, You should avoid any extended pressure.