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Basic Sewing Designs and Techniques: Frills & Pleats

Frills and Pleats

Frills are most often used on bedlinen and scatter cushions. Use single frills for a delicate effect, double frills for a robust finish, or for furnishings with different fabrics on each side.

Frills need from one-and-a-half to three times their finished length in fabric: gather heavy fabric gently, light ones more tightly. Pleats, which need two-and-a-half to three times their finished length in fabric, give a formal look. Use tailors tacks to align pieces, and allow extra fabric at corners.

Single Frill

Cat a strip of fabric to the width and length required, allowing extra fabric for the seam you choose for joins. Hem the bottom edge by hand or machine, as shown in the image. Neaten the top edge of the fabric and gather it using, one of the methods shown here.

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Double Frill

Cut a strip of fabric to the length required and double the finished depth plus 3 cm. Join lengths as necessary and press the seams flat.

Fold the strip in half lengthways, wrong sides together, and press. Gather the fabric through both edges.

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Hand Gathering

1. Gathering Stitch Use this method for medium-to-heavyweight fabrics and double frills. Using a strong thread, tie a knot in the end that will not pull through the fabric. On the seam line, make stitches as if tacking, adjusting the length to suit.

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2. Gathering Fabric When you reach the end, hold the free end of the thread firmly. Ease the fabric towards the knotted end to the correct length and fullness, and knot the free end. Even the gathers out, and pin and tack in place.

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Machine Gathering for Lightweight Fabrics

1. Long Stitching Set the machine to the longest stitch. Slightly increase the top tension to make the gathers easy to pull up. Sew 1 to 1.5 cm from the edge, leaving the edge free.

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2. Gathering Fabric Run a second row of stitches close to the first. Pull up the free ends of the thread, making sure that the secured ends stay in place. Knot the gathering threads.

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Machine ZigZag for Heavyweight Fabrics

1. Securing Thread Cut a piece of strong thread or fine twine to the length of the fabric band and lay it on the band about 1.5 cm from the raw edge. Carefully zigzag over it.

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2. Making Gathers Stitch over one end of the strong thread several times, and gather the fabric by holding the free end and easing the fabric along towards the secured end.

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Single or Double Layered Knife Pleats

1. Making a Sample Decide on the size of the pleat, make a strip of four or five pleats, and pin and press it. Make the pleats deep enough to give a firm edge, but do not overlap them, except at corners. Measure the length of the sample section.

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2. Calculating Lengths Unpin and measure the strip. Divide the length of edging you need by the length of the pleated strip. Multiply this by the length of the sample piece when unpleated. The result is the length of fabric needed.

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3. Marking Pleats Make up the edging, joining with plain or flat fell seams as required. Mark up the wrong side with lines for folding as you join the lengths, ensuring that joins will be hidden in the folding back section of a pleat.

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4. Stitching Pleats Fold the pleats o the lines and pin them. When all the pleats are pinned, tack along the seam line about 1.5 cm from the top edge. Press the strip sew along the seam line and remove the tacking stitches.

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Box Pleats

1. Marking Up Box pleats take three times the final length in fabric, so multiply the length to be edged by three for the fabric needed. Mark lines for pleating on the wrong side of the strip.

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2. Making Up Fold and pin the fabric on the marked lines to form the box pleats. To secure the pleats, tack along the seam line, and press and sew the pleated strip.

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3. Turning Corners At a corner, fold the pleated strip, and attach as necessary. The corner fold should run down the middle of a pleat. Finished box pleats make a very formal decoration.

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Bows - A bow can either be used as a simple trimming or act as a fastener. Cut a strip of fabric to the length and double the finished width required, adding 2 cm each way for seam allowances. Fold the strip in half lengthways. Pin, tack, and sew 1 cm from the raw edge.

Leave a gap in the centre of the seam on the long edge to allow for turning the right side out, and sew across the ends diagonally. Snip the seam allowances at the corners, turn right side out, and press. Slipstitch the opening close and tie in a bow.

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Ready Made Trimmings

Fringes, colourful ribbons and cords, and delicate lace can be found in department stores and haberdashers. Allow for seams, corners, and neatening, and check that trimmings are preshrunk and colourfast if they will be washed. If a trimming needs two rows of machine sewing, sew the same way both times, to prevent puckering.

Fringing In a Seam

1. Applying Fringe If there is a line of "stay" stitches on the fringe edge, leave them in. Lay the fringe face down on the right side of the fabric, with the part you will sew through on the seam line. Pin and tack in place, butting the ends at any joins.

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2. Stitching In Lay the second panel of fabric right side down on top of the first piece and the fringe, aligning the edges. Pin and take through all three layers along the seam line. Sew along the tacking line, and remove the tacking. Turn right sides out.

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3. Finishing Seam If necessary, remove the manufacturer's stay stitches from the fringe by unfastening them at one end and gently pulling them out. Fringes can also be sewn on the edge of the fabric, or over the stitches of a hem, on the right side.

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Lace

1. Folding Corners If lace is sewn into or onto an edge, it must be mitred at corners. Fold it back on itself, right sides together, and press. Fold one end back diagonally, and press.

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2. Sewing Across Fold the top end flat on the other again. Pin, tack, and sew along the diagonal fold. Remove the tacks and trim the excess lace. Press, and neaten the edges.

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Ribbon

1. Tacking Always mark the position and tack ribbon first. Needles mark some satin ribbon, so tack this at the edges. At corners, fold narrow ribbon, and mitre bulky ribbon as for lace.

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2. Joining Ends At corners, diagonally fold one end under and sew it on top of the other. On a straight length, fold one end under by 1 cm, lay it over the other, and slipstitch.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Temoor Dar

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