Improvisational Pleating

Two days ago, I came across the Straight Grain blog (yes, I’ve been living under a rock with regards to the sewing/blogging world:), which had a post about an improvisational pleating challenge.

improvisational pleating THE CONTEST

I followed the link to the tutorial, and thought to myself “this is awesome… I have to try this”.  I love how these techniques add so much textural interest to an otherwise simple project.  I am often drawn to fabric with a very sparse pattern, or solid-coloured linen with texture in the weave, which would really showcase the pleating.  So, at the eleventh hour, I decided to try making a dress for E using the origami pleating tutorial.  An’s Hanami dress pattern is so well-suited to showcasing this technique, because of the dropped waist, so I bought the pattern and went for it.


The beautiful fabric had been languishing on my shelf for the last year, and seemed a good choice for showcasing the pleating.  It’s the Urchin Shells pattern from Birch Fabric’s Storyboek 2 collection.  It’s the most beautiful warm grey colour, and the fabric is soft and drapes so nicely.  I decided on the crossed-back option, and went with a plain sleeve so that nothing would compete with the pleating:)  The bodice is lined with a turquoise and greyish shot cotton, which is the lightest and most appropriate lining fabric I have in my stash at the moment.  The Hanami pattern sewed up nicely, and resulted in a sweet little dress, of which I am somewhat jealous and wish I had one to fit me.



The dropped waist gives such a nice shape to the dress – E’s other dresses all have a high bodice, so while it is debatable whether it was really necessary to add another one to her wardrobe, it really is quite different from the others:)  And the crossed back detail is very sweet and summery.


The dress has four buttons to close the crossed back – I used plain mother-of-pearl buttons.


From the moment I started ironing the pleated strip, I was totally hooked.  I LOVE how this turned out, and have many other ideas about how to apply decorative pleating.  Next up, I am hoping to try the bamboo pleating technique on some natural-coloured linen, perhaps on a top for myself if I’m feeling adventurous.  Thank you so much to An for the tutorials, and the inspiration to give this a try!

And now for the outtakes.  As usual, photographing the dress was as challenging as the sewing.  E was in the mood to provide action shots today, which was pretty hilarious, but not terribly useful for photographing the dress.  Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens to:)



9 thoughts on “Improvisational Pleating

  1. Love your version of the hanami. Gorgeous fabric. Yep, that’s exactly how it goes when I’m taking photos of my two year old 🙂 I find myself trying to turn it into a game by calling out “freeze:” ever so often.

  2. Beautiful dress! I made the Hanami for my 2 year old and had the same problems as you had. And I think you lucked out with some decent shots where I were left with not a single shot that was in focus…

  3. Well – I had to give up on the photoshoot with my daughter, she was just way to lively…
    So no, you’re not the only one…
    I love the way the detalis really stand out on your dress – so beautiful!

    • I guess that’s part of the illusion of blogging – everyone’s children always look so well behaved and angelic in the pictures! It is much more difficult in practice:)

  4. The contest is over now, and I just wanted to drop by and thank you for entering! I really love your creation – the fabric is just perfect for this project. And the pictures are a lot of fun 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the tutorial and for hosting the contest – it was so much fun! I am on to my next pleating project now – an experiment combining the crooked bamboo technique with some simple embroidery stitches. Thank you for the inspiration:)

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