How to Create Pleats

Pleats are one of the best ways to make your clothing designs look more stylish, fun, and flattering. In today’s post, we’re going to learn how to make two different types of pleats as well as create a beautifully pleated dress that is one of our DesignX challenges with the help from one of our DesignX students, Mackenzie. 

The materials you’ll need to practice your pleating are:

  1. Fabric

  2. Ribbon

  3. Pins

  4. DesignX mannequin

Knife edge pleats:

First, we’re going to learn how to make knife-edge pleats! These are the simplest pleats to make, so they’re perfect if you’re new to pleating. They can be used to give body and fullness to your clothing piece and can create a very flowy look depending on what type of fabric you use. Here’s how to create knife edge pleats in two simple steps:

  1. Pin your fabric to the bottom half of your mannequin, forming a skirt

  2. Pinch the fabric from one end and fold down

  3. Pin the pinched fabric down, and you now have a pleat! 

  4. Keep creating as many pleats as you desire by going in the same direction 

Box pleats:

Next up we have box pleats! These pleats create a box shape and are very common for skirts. Here’s how you’ll create your box pleats:

  1. Pin your fabric to the bottom half of your mannequin, forming a skirt

  2. Make two pleats facing each other using the same method from the knife edge pleat instructions so that they make a box shape

  3. Continue creating little boxes with two pleats facing each other along the fabric

Shoulder pleats:

Pleats don’t just have to be for skirts and can also be used for shirts as well. Here’s how:

  1. Drape one piece of fabric across the shoulder of your mannequin 

  2. Use the same method as the knife edge pleats, creating as many pleats as you desire

Time to pull it together

And now we tie everything from above into one beautiful, pleated creation! For our DesignX Challenge, we’re going to be creating a dress with knife edge pleats on the top and box pleats on the bottom. Here’s how you can create this dress in five easy steps:

  1. Take three pieces of fabric

  2. Use one piece of fabric and drape it off one of the shoulders of the mannequin and create 3-4 pleats

  3. Make pleats off of both shoulders, continuing the pleats down to create a shirt 

  4. Pin the fabric on the bottom of the mannequin to make a shirt and create box pleats on the back 

  5. Pin ribbon to the back of the dress to create straps for it

And that’s how you can use your pleating skills to create something as intricate and stunning as a dress! If you participate in our DesignX challenge by re-creating this pleated dress, be sure to show us your finished product by tagging us on Instagram @designxcompany. If you’re interested in learning more about fashion illustration and prototyping, be sure to check out our programs here. Happy sewing!