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).
18th century dress trimming with box pleats
Necklace using folded ribbon
Origami fold brooch
Aeroplane folds panel
Pleated cushion pattern
Pleat cuff pattern
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.