What are Cartridge Pleats?
Cartridge pleats can be found on skirts, collars and sleeves as hand-sewn, gathered fabric foldeds. Cartridge pleating, also known as gauging, is a hand-sewing technique that involves tightly stacking layers gathered fabric and attaching them onto a garment. The fabric is gathered by hand by a seamstress who then attaches it to a garment.
This pleat is a favorite for couture designs and historical sewing. You’ll see it on the waistbands of skirts, petticoats, and neck ruffs that are inspired by Elizabethan attire.
How to sew cartridge pleats
These are the steps to make your own garment with intricate cartridge pleats.
- You can practice with scrap fabric. It can be hard to gather thick fabric by hand, but it is possible. The more you practice, however, the better your garments will look. Before you start your first project, purchase extra fabric or scraps. You can make your first hand-sew project by making your cartridge pleats from a separate piece. Then attach them to the finished project (like a finished skirt’s waistband). This method gives you the ability to make any changes to the pleats as needed, before attaching them onto your final product.
- Choose your fabric. Choose a structured fabric that matches your article of clothing to which you are attaching the pleats. If the fabric is too thin or soft, the folds will not look as crisp.
- Gather materials. Gather all the tools that you will need to sew a project. This could include a tape measure and pins as well as sewing needles, tailor chalk, tape measures, tape, tape, and thread (use an upholstery thread). Lay the fabric flat on your workspace and begin to cut it.
- Fold the edge of your fabric. The front and back of your finished pleats should be visible. To do this, fold the top fabric of the garment several inches above the raw edge of your pleats. This will ensure that the right side of your fabric is visible at the front and back.
- You should leave a seam allowance. You should leave a seam allowance of half an inch if you plan on making a pleated waistband to attach to clothing.
- Measure and mark. Mark your fabric with your chalk and measuring tape. The fabric will begin to gather once you have pulled the thread tight. You may need to make up to three rows depending on the size of your pleats.
- Your pleats should be threaded. Make a running stitch in the fabric following the chalk marks.
- Gather your threads. Pull the thread tightly to secure the gathering stitches. Your pleats should look like an accordion.
- Attach the finished product. To keep the gathered fabric in its place, tie knots in the thread. Finally, trim excess thread. Next, attach the pleats using a whip stitch at the top of your skirt or neckline.