Making a Pleating Board

We are so excited about the upcoming trim classes with Professor Kenneth King on January 4, 11, and 18, 2021.

Psst. You can still sign up at: https://twinsnneedles.com/january-2021-kenneth-d-king-class-sessions/

One of the notions he uses to create consistent, reproducible pleats is a Magic Pleater. It’s a type of Pleating Board that’s sadly no longer in production. Some people have them in their stash, but for those who don’t, I wanted to share one way to replace the board with a customized tool you can make at home using commonly available notions.

Stuff you will need:

– Scraps of your fabric, cut on grain or on the bias, depending on your planned project
– Strips of paper to test pleat frequency and depth
– A firm backing fabric such as denim, heavy linen, or buckram. I used pieces that were about 12″ X 5″ for my samples.
– Craft freezer paper or brown packing paper
– A pencil
– A clear ruler
– Micropore tape
– Double- sided fusible tape, like Steam a Seam or Stitch Witch
– A tailor’s clapper or block of unsealed wood
– An iron and ironing surface

First, decide what pleat depth and repeat you want. I like to use strips of paper to play around with the repeat.
You can cut your own strips, or you can use adding machine paper.
Once you have decided on your pleats, draw a plumb pencil line on a strip of your freezer paper and pleat it on the matte side using your sample as a guide. I like to tape them together at the edge with micropore tape.
Fuse the freezer paper to your backing fabric, shiny side down. Craft freezer paper has a little “fuse” by itself, but you can add some fusible strips to give it more security. Then you can press your fabric into the pleats in the paper, being sure to use plenty of steam if the fabric needs it and using a clapper to let the fabric cool in the board.
A series of samples using this board, from top to bottom: cotton flannel cut on grain, quilting cotton cut on grain, and silk satin cut on the bias.
If you don’t have fusible freezer paper, you can also use brown packing paper for your pleat board, but you won’t be able to use steam so it is only for fabrics that will take a press with only heat and pressure.
Match your strip of brown paper to your sample, as before. Be sure to press it flat with a dry iron if it is rumpled.
The brown paper has no “fuse” by itself, so be sure to use some double-sided fusible to secure the pleats.
No steam!
Push your fabric into the folds. This is a piece of on-grain silk taffeta.
Give it a good, long press without steam.
Put a clapper on it and don’t move it for at least 2 minutes. I literally use a sand timer and take a moment to sip tea, look around, and notice the plastic horse my family has left out in the dining room.
Lovely, crisp pleats.

How do you decide what depth/return/ pleat pattern to use? What are reliable, stress-free ways to apply pleated trim?

Sign up for the class and find out!

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