Monday, May 13, 2013

3D Pleated Summer Dress Tutorial

Hi! I'm Marta and I'm from Portugal. I live in Guincho, a beautiful place by the beach near Lisbon. That's why my blog name is doguincho (that's from guincho).  I'm so excited to be here at Project Run and Play sharing my tutorial!

Thank you so much Liz and Elizabeth for inviting me and congratulations on this amazing contest!

Here is the tutorial for the pleated A-line dresses I made for the last edition of PR&P!
The instructions are only for the pleats but you can use any A-line pattern you have or draft your own pattern using a dress you like (that’s what I did).
These pleats can also be done in other projects such as handbags (here is one) or pillows. And, one day, I will turn them into pockets for a skirt...

Besides the pattern, you will need:
-Fabric (see quantity in the first part of the tutorial)
- Thread matching the fabric color and (optional) thread in a contrasting color,
- Sewing machine and iron,
- Scissors, pins and hand sewing needles,
- Tape measure, ruler and a water-soluble fabric marker,
- Scotch tape (for an unconventional technique...)

Start cutting the fabric having in mind that, in the place where the pleats will be executed, you'll need a piece of fabric 3 times wider than the final width of the dress in that same area. 
This dress will have 9 pleats and each one will be 1cm wide, ie:
3 x 9 pleats x 1cm wide = 27cm
It means that a piece of fabric with 27cm is required, to obtain a final width of 9cm at the place where the pleats will be done. 
You can adapt the original pattern to this version of the dress, simply subtracting the total width of the fabric necessary to form the pleats with the final width of the pleats (because that final width is actually already included in the pattern), ie:
27cm - 9cm = 18cm
In conclusion, you will need to add 18cm to the original pattern in order to make the 9 pleats without changing the width of the dress.

At this stage, it is not necessary to cut the fabric in the neck area according to the original pattern. It is better to leave some extra fabric, cutting it in a straight line, and "trimming it" only after finishing the pleats.

For the pleating, you should start by tracing the vertical lines that define all the pleats. Trace them on the right side of the fabric with a water-soluble fabric marker (or use your daughter’s super-washable pens, as I do!)
As this dress pleats are 1cm wide, the tracing should be done like this: starting at one edge, trace 0.5cm, then 2cm and 1cm and then trace alternately spaces with 2cm and 1cm. When you reach the other edge you should have a final space 0.5cm wide.

It is also time to trace the pleats’ height. To do this you will need the dress pattern. Start marking the lowest point of the collar (don’t forget to deduct the seam allowance). Then mark the pleats’ horizontal upper edge, roughly 1cm or 1.5 cm below that neck line mark you did earlier. And finally, mark the pleats’horizontal lower edge. This dress will have 7 folds, 2cm height each, so the total height is 14cm.

Make the pleats folding the fabric (wrong sides together) with the 2cm marks aligned. Pin and sew with running stitch along the traced line of each pleat. Do not forget to finish off the seam at the bottom end. I usually like to handmade this (because I'm kind of picky ...) but it is perfectly fine to finish it with the sewing machine. In this dress, the upper end of the seam does not need to be finished off as it will be cut out later (when assembling the dress this will be where the main fabric and the lining fabric will be sewn together in order to form the neck line). 
Repeat this step with all the pleats.
The pleats are made! Now it’s time to "flatten" them. Start by holding the fabric tight to the ironing board with some pins. Then iron each pleat trying to distribute the fabric evenly to both sides of the stitching (if you are using plastic headed pins, be careful not to iron them!). When finished, the pleats should touch each other, without ever overlapping themselves, and have a homogeneous look.

For sewing the horizontal lines that define the pleats you should try an unconventional technique ... Instead of attaching the pleats with pins and marking the sewing line with a water-soluble fabric marker, try using scotch tape. The scotch tape is a "two in one" tool as it keeps the pleats in place and it also works as a guiding line.
You should definitely try this! Cut 7 strips of scotch tape and stick them to the fabric at the exact place where the pleats are supposed to be (use the marks you did earlier with the help of the pattern). Now sew carefully in between the strips of scotch tape, starting and ending just before and just after each pleat. Hand finish each one of the seam lines.

Remove the scotch tape and iron the pleats (this will be the last time you will be able to do it!).

The pleats’ "pitching" technique is all handmade. Start inserting the needle, back to front, in the center of the pleat, then insert it in one side edge and then on the other, and pull the thread in order to join those edges. Then just make a few more stitches to attach those edges tight together and finish it with a little knot at the wrong side of the fabric.

Repeat this for the remaining pleats. It is a bit time consuming technique, but it is also great to see the fabric getting three-dimensional ...

You can now return to the original pattern by putting it on top of the pleated fabric, so you can trim the neck line to the right shape. Then just follow the instructions to finish the dress.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and, if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to tell me! 
Have a great time sewing! (Can’t wait to see you’re results!)

Don't want to draft your own pattern? The Infinite A-line Dress Pattern from our shop would work great for this tutorial. Want to save this for later? Pin this image below: 

3D Pleated Dress tutorial

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  1. These dresses are stunning!!!! An amazing effect - off to check out your blog!

  2. beautiful beautiful - you may have just given me a version of smocking that I'd be willing to try!

  3. Fantastic tutorial, can't wait to try it :)

  4. I just love this simple detail! It is so eye catching and would work with so many different things. Great job!

  5. Wow!Dress is beautiful. I just love the way you have taken through the steps. And also love your blog with so many projects.

  6. Love it❤ I will be trying this, one day.. When my machine gets
    Back from the shop! Craving to sew

  7. So cool thanks for sharing how you did this. I am pinning this for future note.

  8. Wow, that is crazy beautiful. And such nice and bright photos!!

  9. Wow! I loved these dresses from the begining, I am so glad you did this tutorial. Thanks!

  10. Okay - this is lovely and inspiring and exciting and I LOVE it. Thank you so much for sharing - definitely want to try!!!!!



  11. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I am just in awe of this dress and can't wait to make some for my girls!

  12. Marta--That is some SERIOUS detail! Absolutely beautiful...I think I would go bonkers doing that!

  13. I loved these when you first made them..thanks for sharing the technique! They are beautiful, and I love that they are in a solid color to really showcase the pleat detail.

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  15. Super cute, great way to do the detailed pleating.

  16. Wow! Such beautiful dresses.
    This is one of the few times I wish I had a little girl...

    1. Hi! This pleats also look great on pillows or handbags!

  17. Wow! I'm amazed with all your comments! Thank you so much!

  18. I am so excited that you did a tutorial for these pleats. I fell in love with them during Project Run & Play. I think the results are just so beautiful. Also, I had the opportunity to visit Lisbon for a couple days, and I would love to go back sometime. It was absolutely beautiful and interesting and the Pasteis de Belem were delicious!

  19. My aunt had made a dress with similar pleats when I was a kid. I loved that dress. Simple detail adds a new dimension to the desa, well done and thanks for sharing the tute!

  20. Your instructions are very clear. I can't wait to make this for my grand daughter. Thank you so much!

  21. Thanks for the great instructions. I am planning on making my granddaughter a capri length romper. I will share the finished project with you.

  22. Ooh, I love the tape tip. I love pleats but always have trouble with the edges flipping up if I sew over them, no matter how much I pin... tape is the perfect solution!

  23. The tape tip is genius! At first I thought won't my needle get all gummy, but sewing BETWEEN the strips is amazing. I love this detail.

  24. Beautiful detail! Definitely adding to my to sew list. :)

  25. OH MY! You make me wish I had a little girl to make this for! So very beautiful! JUST LOVE! Thanks so much for sharing!

  26. Simply brilliant idea! Love the outfit and will make it for my LO for sure!

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  27. This is so very cute! Wonderful tutorial!

  28. It looks kind of like smocking. I was a little confused near the beginning when it says to press pleats are they opened up and pressed flat? I was thinking this would be the only way both sides of the pleat would come up when doing the handstitching. I had just assumed the ones on the left were pressed flat to the left and the ones on the right were pressed flat to the right? But then this wouldn't look right when you go to do the hand stitching. If the poster of this is long gone to answer, perhaps another poster here could answer my question if you understand what I am trying to say?

  29. Love it! I am so going to try this!

  30. Love love love!! Definitely going on my "to try" list! :)

  31. Fabulous! Your tutorial is very easy to follow and the pleats are gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing!

  32. Great tute. Thank you. I would like to practice this by sewing a decorative pillow. Think of a striped fabric. One color would be under the pleat. It would only show when you did the hand work at the end. Wow! I'll have to try this. Thanks again.

  33. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your tecnhiques, the end result is so beautiful, love the scotch tape hack too. I also use my daughter´s washable markers on fabric!

  34. I hope I am right in that these are box pleats?

  35. Oh wow! What a great idea. I love it.

  36. Beautiful dresses and a clear instrunctive tutorial. Thanks.


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