Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pleating Frustration

What you see at the left here is a study in total frustration. It is also the result of two passes thru the pleater. It seems I got confused with the combination of front, back, armscye seam, and front and back pieces. Confused? Well, I sure was but with the second pass I did get the sequencing fixed. Then it was time to block and smock. I gave up last night on the smocking and in one of my many sleepless night moments decided from my mattress that I would take it apart, cut back the fullness, and repleat the whole thing for the third time. I fell asleep after that decision. The stresses that keep us awake.....................but I know you all understand. You see I had two issues here. The smocking was so tight that I could not make decent stitches. It was also so tight that when I got to the seams, as in Martha's seamless pleating, I couldn't even pull them apart to work with. So fullness has to be removed.

I measured and had the usual 3 inches of fabric equals one inch of smocking. I decided that I needed to take out of the front 4 1/2 inches of FABRIC. So with the dress front folded at CF and armscyes matching I cut back 2 1/4 inches with my rotary cutter. Remember, its folded and therefore double. After that I replaced my pattern and recut the armscyes which you can see at left. That was just the front. Now I had to do the same with the back. Then it was on to the shoulders of the sleeves. I cut out two inches from each, not the same ratio, but enough to maintain the sleeve fullness and still take out some of the bulk. After that it was to the serger to finish the edges. Because this fabric is a bit more bulky than the batistes and cottons traditionally used for smocking I have decided on stitched and serged seams as opposed to French seams, the norm. As the late Roberta Carr always preached. "reduce bulk whenever possible". Was she special or what?

Now I am ready to pleat again, and I won't get the sequencing wrong this time. Three times the charm! For thread colors for the smocking I went with vivids that are in the red/yellow/black/and green plaid that will be the piping and binding. Maybe tonight.................

I have, for the moment anyway, and to at least start dealing with it, just grabbing small amounts from the top of one of the heaps of Ima's goodies. Last night I grabbed a small ziploc of all sorts of embroideries and found these happy flowers and ORANGE sailboats and cattails, just too cute. So I leave you with these joyful little embroideries.....Bunny
(click to enlarge and appreciate)


  1. Those embroideries are cute. Love the little waves under the boats. Too cute. Are you using a home dec weight fabric? I am not a bit surprised that you needed to take out fabric. Kind of like pleating corduroy. Can't wait to see it.

  2. Wow! What a marathon! You have the patience of Job. The sweet little embroideries is a nice note to end on.

  3. Love the embroideries! The flowers almost look printed on -- very cute. Wish I knew an Ima, then again, wish I'd been taught to do french-handsewing by nuns!

    Did you have to iron the pieces in between pleating? I feel your pain. Pleating was never my strong suit, and now I haven't done it in so long, I don't know if I even remember HOW!!

  4. I did have to totally steam out and iron the pleats before pleating again. While I was doing the third pleating I also broke a row of pleating so halfway thru I had to rethread the needle and continue. Then once the dress was off the pleater I had to finish the row by hand. I am just so glad this phase is finally done.

    Martha, this is a home dec fabric but not really heavy. I will post on this later today.

  5. Yes, I have got out of bed to go down the studio to take apart and fix things many times in the middle of the night. I know what you mean. Looks like from your next post, it is finally coming together properly.


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