How to manually pleat checked/gingham/stripe garments
Pleating a fabric for smocking is a simple and quick task with a pleater machine. Although for checked, ginghams or stripes fabrics, machine pleating results in an uneven colored panel. For example, a pink and white striped fabric can either be pleated into all pink or all white panel for smocking. But with machine pleating, one cannot get such results. Hence, pleating manually is the only way to achieve beautiful and even panel.
Pleating these fabrics are not that complicated since the design of the fabric is already in checks. (For stripes, you would have to draw straight lines across the garment)
1. Before beginning to pleat, choose a contrast colored thread, and make sure it is not in the color group of your smocking. You can easily identify this pleating thread to pull out later on.
2. The thread has to be the same length of the garment to be pleated, with an extra 4 inches on each side to hang loose.
3. Decide which color you want to appear as the background panel for your smocking. The way you pleat will determine which color as the background, so if you are unsure, try a few stitches first. The thread should go under on the part of the color you want. Confused? You will see what I’m trying to say in the next few steps.
4. For this tutorial, I used a blue and white checked fabric, and chose to have a blue background as my smocking panel. Note the contrasting colored thread I used: orange.
1. Starting 1cm from the top edge of your garment, stitch a straight running stitch (jelujur). Thread your needle through the first checks, making sure you thread under the color that you want. See picture. Each stitch should be about 2mm apart. The finer this gap is, the thinner your smocked panel will be, and neater.
2. Leave about 4inches of thread to hang loose on both sides. You will need this when you pull your pleats together to be blocked.
3. Continue stitching the length of your garment. Repeat for every row, gap between rows should be about 1cm or following the design of your garment.
4. Finished pleated garment ready to be blocked.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will explain about blocking your garment.