Pleat and Fold

Part 1 of a series of blog posts exploring my new book Fabric Manipulation in more detail, looking at the history of the techniques and how I have used them in my own work.

I first became fascinated by pleating when I started studying 18th century costume. The most luxurious women’s gowns have lavish decorations down the front, often made from pleating, folded, stitched or gathered fabric.

Once I started to explore, I found all sorted of pleated and folded decoration on costume from all kinds of periods and from all over the world. One of my favourite pieces is a 1940s hat with a pleated grosgrain trim which I bought in a vintage dress shop.  It took some experimentation to work out the technique used to make it but I got it eventually; this is the Arrowhead fold in page 60. I’ve also made a necklace using this technique (more about this in a future post).

Other techniques in the book have also come directly from historic clothing, although I tend to add my own interpretation to them. The Dips and Diamonds fold on page 46 is inspired by a Victorian dress in the V&A which you can also see in 19th century Dress in Detail, .

Decorative box pleating has been one of my favourites for years; I originally learned the technique from 1980s books about soft furnishings, used to create decorative trim from ribbons. I have used the technique to create embellished cushions  and cuffs and a few years ago developed the technique further to create the double-sided Box Pleat Neckpiece from silk organza.

Other techniques in this chapter have come from Indian dress; the Pointed Ribbon Fold (p59) and similar techniques are based on an old technique called Gota using real metal ribbon which I researched when I visited India in 2003 There’s a nice example of Gota work here.  Most modern gota-style work is made using synthetic ribbon, and finding the real metal ribbon is a challenge, but it can sometimes be found in vintage fabric shops or specialist ribbon shops.

I’ve included a selection of quite well-known techniques that I have seen around for a few years, such as Tuck and Fold, as well as some origami techniques transposed to fabric like Trefoil Fold and techniques that I have created myself through experimenting, such as Wings and Aeroplanes folds.

A shorter version of this post appears on Stitch, Craft, Create.

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