How To Make Knife Pleats

There are many different types of pleats, knife pleats are the simplest of the group. These are often used in garments such as skirts and dresses.

But that is not the only place you can use them, many have incorporated pleats into cushion covers, used them as a design feature on a quilt and also on handbag decoration.

The possibilities are endless, but before I was at University I had no idea how to make these. But don’t worry they are simple, I still struggle from time to time and the key is to make sure your fabric is pressed and properly marked up.

*Remember if you are creating the pleats from a pattern to follow that, mark out your spacing and follow the instructions.

Equipment And Materials

  • Fabric to your selected size and length
  • Tape Measure
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Chalk Pen/ Tailors Chalk
  • Ruler
  • Pins
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron/Ironing Board

Step One

To get started you want to create the length of fabric you require, this is only if you are making the pleats to attach to a garment or project. If you are pleating a skirt it will vary slightly.

You need to remember that if you are working with pleats that the fabric folds in so you are losing inches. When you are measuring out how much fabric you need it is always best to double/triple the length.

This will depend on how deep you wish you pleats to be. To find a more accurate way I took a 9-inch length of fabric and created 1/2 inch pleats which then left me with 3 1/2 inch length of pleats. This will help you work out how much fabric you will require.

Step Two

Start by making sure your fabric is squared off and pressed. If you are pleating a skirt or garment just make sure your fabric is pressed.

If working from a strip of fabric take your raw edge to the ironing board and fold up 1cm and press, fold over 1cm again and press. This should stay in place for you to sew into place. This is a hem for your pleats, if you are hiding both edges of your pleats this won’t be necessary.

Step Three

Start creating your knife pleats by working out how deep you want the pleat to be. You can make the pleats as deep as you like, knife pleats all fold over to one side and usually towards the right.

I usually work with 1/2 inch deep or 1 inch as it is easier to work out. Start by marking out the lines of your 1-inch marks along the fabric. Make these into solid lines going from top to bottom on the fabric this way you keep the fold equal.

Step Four

Start folding from 1 line to another, this will create the fold/pleat. Repeat this process and pin the pleats at the top and the bottom and if a wide pleat the middle too to hold everything in place.

This will create the knife pleats, always remember to create them going the same way.

Step Five

Take your knife pleats to the ironing board and press into place, remove any pins before ironing as they will either melt (if plastic like I use) or will indentations on your fabric.

Step Six

Sew your pleats together to hold them into place. I would advise doing this even if you are sewing the pleats into a seam as it reduces the amount of pinning and fuss. Then you are all done!

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