Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Pleating Without A Pleater
Before pleaters for smocking became popular in the mid 1980's, we pleated the fabric by hand. Since recent changes in the sewing industry have made pleaters harder to find, it is time to look back at this method. Patterns that called for smocking had dots that were transferred to the fabric to form a grid for pleating. You can make your own grid for pleating by using a quilter's ruler and a wash-away marker to mark the fabric. Gingham fabric is great to start with, since it practially has a built in grid.
First, starch and press the fabric. The horizontal lines are 3/8" apart and the vertical lines are 1/8" apart. Using quilting thread and a hand sewing needle, knot the thread at one end and following the horizontal lines, bring the needle and thread up through the vertical lines and back down.
After all the stitching is completed, draw the threads up to about 15 pleats per inch and knot the thread. You now have a piece of fabric ready for smocking. *The fabric is drawn up to about a 3 to 1 ratio, so 9" of fabric draws up to about 3".
If you are new to smocking or need to brush up on an old skill the "Beginning Smocking Book" will take you through step by step and includes several smocking designs.