I LOVE box pleats and today I’ll show you how to make a box pleat. Pleating a garment is a good way to gather, so you can have volume where you want it (a fuller skirt!) but still have garments nice and tidy around the waist. I prefer box pleats to other forms of gathering because I like how flat my gathered fabric is, my gathering is more even and consistent, and I think it’s faster! I also like the visual interest these pleats add.
Box pleats are a classic and timeless design element that can elevate any garment. They add volume and dimension to clothing, making them perfect for skirts, jackets, and dresses. However, creating a box pleat can be daunting for beginners. Fear not! This post will cover everything you need to know about making a box pleat. From understanding the origin and use of box pleats to the preparatory steps and process of creating one, we will guide you through every step. Follow our step-by-step guide to create beautiful box pleats that will take your fashion game up a notch!
Understanding Box Pleats
Box pleats, known for creating soft folds and adding volume to skirts, are formed by folding equal folds of fabric in opposite directions, resulting in a box-like shape. These versatile pleats can be used in various sewing projects, including dresses and home decor items. They provide both structure and movement to garments, making them a popular choice in fashion design. Mastering the art of box pleating allows you to elevate your sewing skills and create professional-looking garments. Pleated fabric, skirt patterns, and accordion pleats are just some of the elements involved in this process.
Origin and Use of Box Pleats
Box pleats have a rich history in clothing design, dating back to the 14th century. Initially used in traditional garments like kilts and pleated skirts, box pleats continue to be popular in modern fashion. They add elegance and sophistication to various garments, especially formal wear. The structured folds of box pleats create volume, movement, and visual interest, making them a great choice for designers. Pleated skirts, pleated waistbands, and pleated details on blouses and dresses often feature box pleats.
How to Make a Box Pleat
Sewing Pattern & Fabric I Used
My favorite project that uses box pleats is our Edenbrooke dress (which also comes in a kid’s version, the Everly). This pattern makes it easy because the pleats are part of the pattern, no math is required, but once you understand the basics of how a box pleat works, you can add them to just about any project that requires some gathering! That will be a post for another time though, today we are just going to go over the basics of sewing a box pleat.
For this project, I used a super soft Harry Potter rib knit fabric from our sister company, KnitFabric.com. The finished product is so comfortable I could live in this dress. Any light to medium-weight knit with at least 50% stretch is a good choice for this project.
I’ve also made a video walkthrough of sewing a box pleat. You can find that video HERE!
Sewing Box Pleats
Okay, let’s get started! I cut out all my pattern pieces with my projector, and I marked the pleat lines on my garment after deciding the pleat width. In this case, I transferred the pleat size directly from my pattern. I marked the right side of the fabric + wrong sides of my fabric, but that was just overkill; you don’t need both!
Next, with the right sides together, I matched up the first two pleat lines. Fold the fabric with the right sides together until the lines are directly on top of each other. I put a pin through my blue line to make sure everything was lined up and to hold the fabric secure just until I put my sewing machine foot down.
Then, starting at the top of that drawn pleat line, use a regular sewing machine (do NOT use a serger!) with a straight stitch and sew to the bottom of the marked line. Don’t forget to backstitch at the bottom. You don’t need backstitch to at the top because you will sew over those threads again.
After that, open your fabric back up. What you sewed together should make an “o” shape. Flatten the top of that so it lines back up with the top edge of your skirt. Make sure your sewn line (from the step above) is centered with your flattened “o”. You should now have 2 folds in opposite directions.
Sew across the top of that flattened part of the fabric edge within your seam allowance. A baste is fine since we will sew over it again when we attach the skirt to the bodice. Make sure you sew completely over the edge of each fold.
Repeat the above steps with the remaining pleat lines. For this pattern, I had four pleats on each skirt piece (I started with eight drawn lines). You can see from the back of the fabric our pleats created little boxes, and from the front of the skirt, you have nice, neat, gathered sections.
Once my box pleats were done, I followed the rest of the assembly instructions to complete the dress!! I love how smooth the waistline is, with no puckering or extra bulk.
Box pleats are way less work than I first expected, and now it is one of my favorite gathering methods. I especially like knowing that my gathering is exactly the same on all sides of my skirt 🙂 Hopefully, this helps you feel prepared to tackle your own box pleats!
Again, make sure to check out our YouTube Video for more help sewing box pleats:
Best Fabrics for Box Pleating
When making a fabric choice for pleating, it's important to consider their weight and drape. Avoid using thick denim or fabrics with too much bulk, as they may not pleat effectively and can result in a bulky appearance. Remember to choose a fabric that complements the style of your skirt, as box pleats are versatile and can suit various designs. The fabric you choose will greatly impact the overall look of your pleated skirt, so make sure to choose wisely.
Can box pleats be added to any garment or are there specific sewing patterns for them?
Box pleats can be added to any garment as long as you have enough fabric to create the pleat. However, sewing patterns are specifically designed to incorporate box pleats, making it easier to achieve a clean and professional look.
To achieve a perfect box pleat, following the right steps and using the appropriate materials is a good idea. The process involves marking, folding, and stitching the pleat to create a neat and uniform look. Notch markings and waistline shaping play a significant role in achieving the desired outcome. Remember to choose the right fabric for box pleating, as different fabrics behave differently when pleated. The width of the pleat also adds to its unique charm. Lastly, don't forget to add a final touch by marking a drill hole. With these tips in mind, you'll be able to master the art of box pleating and create stunning garments.
Thank you for joining us today to learn how to make a box pleat. If you have questions, need sewing inspiration, or want to show off your completed project, head over to our Facebook Group! We also do weekly giveaways 😉
Happy Sewing 🙂