Pleats! Watch out!

Pleats are generally described as a type of fold formed by doubling fabric back upon itself and securing it in place. There are several types of pleats and few different ways of forming them starting from time consuming hand pleating and finishing with a super fast and less expensive machine pleating.

I don’t want to repeat already written endless articles about pleats classification and types of process. Instead I would like to share most common issues with pleated garments, which we came across over time working at our sampling studio.

One of the most important factors to consider is obvious; it’s your choice of fabric. Natural fiber fabrics lend themselves to be better for pleats as they are easier to control and in general would have a crisper look. The downside of using natural fiber fabric for the pleating is their longevity. Garments with such pleats would have only dry-cleaned any contact with moisture would destroy the shape and crispiness of the pleats. In contrary pleats on polyester or polyester mix fabrics have the ability to survive even washing in the washing machine on delicate cycle. We would always advise our designers to consider carefully instructions on the garment care label for the pleated garments, it’s essential to run washing and dry-cleaning tests on your luxury garments to identify possible problems and avoid costly customer returns unacceptable for the high-end or ready-to-wear designer reputation.


In addition, the weight of your selected fabric is also a factor. Think twice about pleats placement and seams finishing. Avoid layered pleating on heavier weight fabrics.  Finer fabrics, such as georgettes are usually don’t create extra bulk but could be tricky to deal with and often get caught in the zips when fastening damaging luxurious garment and a zip. In our manufacturing unit we would usually make a holding stitch or hand tacks around zip to hold material in place.

To conclude possible problems associated with fabrics, it is the shrinkage. Due to the extensive heat applied to the fabric during pleating process the shrinkage is almost unavoidable. At Plus Samples we strongly urge our clients to test amount of shrinkage by pleating a small piece of fabric and apply shrinkage percent to the pattern.

Please consult us before making the first sample so we could save you from countless hours of trial and error. In our studio we have vast experience dealing with problems like that and our pattern cutters and garment technicians would be always happy to help you to resolve this problem.

Another possible issues you’d have to plan in advance is the PATTERN GRADING. Depending on the garment style and type of pleat there are three typical ways  of pattern gradation to accomplish this.  First is to size the inlay fabric of the pleats different though the size range.  A box pleat would be a good example of this.  The second way would be to add more pleats as the sizing increases.

This would be ideal for a smaller knife pleat.  The last method would be cutting a different shape/size of fabric.  This method would be used for a sunburst pleating. If you are not sure we could always the best way of garment grading for your particular style get in touch with us. Unfortunately some of the methods above could be only achieved with manual pattern grading. We could offer a mix of both to keep your grading costs down as the manual pattern grading is more time consuming therefore more expensive than computerized pattern grading.

At last but not least, one of the most common questions we are being asked is whether to hem or not to hem pleats prior pleating. I would say yes, if you would like the hem to look sharp and crisp. Make sure any bias-cut garments are being hanged to drop and leveled prior hemming and pleating.

One of the examples of pre-hemmed pleating is Georgia’s Hardinge SS16 collection. Also there is another challenge it’s a laser cut motifs which would have to be done prior pleating.