Introduction to pleats
A pleat is a fold formed in fabric which consists out of an inside and outside part. There are following ways to form pleats; by hand, by machine or with the use of a frame. Out of them the machine pleating is an industrial procedure where the pleats are formed with a slat machine and then set with a heated roll. Frame pleating is more commonly used in haute couture where pleats are formed between two paper sheets and afterwards fixed in hot-air steam cabined. Finally plating by hand is what I will talk about in more detail since you can easily do it at home.
Before we start it is important to note that each fabric has a different pleat memory therefore you should choose your materials well. You can test your fabric beforehand by forming few test pleats and by fixing them with steam or with the help of a wet cloth. For this skirt I used a heavy cotton denim that was quite easy to work with. Actually it was almost like folding the paper.
To form the pleats you will need:
a solid ground for ironing ( I used my cutting table with a piece of wool fabric on the top of if)
a chalk or thread for marking the pleats
thread for basting (optional)
a steam iron
a damp pressing cloth (optional, for me steam worked just fine)
Let's do this!
1. Form your hem and baste it in place.
2. Mark your pleats with a chalk or basting thread depending on the quality and the colour of your fabric
3. Form your pleat. First I folded and then held it in place with my fingers. If you're working with a longer pleat or with a difficult fabric it is better to baste your pleat in order to avoid creating any misplaced folds in your fabric. Just keep in mind that some fabrics get easily marked and you might end up with marks of your basting thread imprinted after ironing. Once again make a test before.
4. Press your pleat with the steam or by using a damp pressing cloth. This will fix your pleat better.
5. Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the pleats.
In my case the fabric was quite forgiving and didn't mark easily therefore I allowed myself to press directly on the face side of the fabric. If you're working with a more delicate fabric you should try pressing from the inside and you can also try placing a piece of paper under each of the pleats while ironing so that there won't be any unwanted folds forming.