Simplicity Sewing Tips with Wendy Gardiner –

Simplicity Sewing Tips with Wendy Gardiner –

Simplicity Sewing Tips with Wendy Gardiner –

June 24, 2014 | Skills | No Comments

Aloha to Tuesday my Friends!  Guest posting today is Wendy Gardiner in the third part in her mini series of Simplicity Sewing Tips…

Wendy Gardiner red 2013

Pleats and piping

If you enjoyed the Great British Sewing Bee and feel inspired to recreate your own perfect piping and pleats – as seem in many of the garment on the show, then I’m delighted to provide some simple steps to follow as well as patterns to create your own pleated skirt or PJs!

Pleats – there are three main types of pleats, all formed by taking folds in the fabric and pressing in the fold to form a crisp edge. Knife edge pleats are all folded in the same direction and are often used to completely pleat around the skirt, or the back of a skirt (think kilt). Then there are inverted pleats, where two pleats are folded towards each other and meet in the centre and then box pleats, where two pleats are folded away from each other to form a flat centre panel. (Actually, if you turn an inverted pleat over, you will see it is a box pleat and vis versa). Here is a skirt pattern features elegant pleats, it’s Simplicity which can be made in two lengths and comes in sizes 4-20.
1464The trick with pleats is to ensure you are folding the fabric in a straight line so that the pleats hang down properly so do work on a flat surface. When pattern matching, it is advisable to cut the garment section larger to start with so if you have to take out more fabric in the pleat to match the fabric pattern, you can still have the right width left for the skirt front/back etc.

4188One point to note is that pleats can add inches to the silhouette, which I agree with, but do still love pleats. So, I tend to turn an inverted pleat into a box pleat if it is formed centre front (to lessen the fabric over the tummy area) and stitch down the pleat fold for a few centimetres, which again, minimises the excess fabric around the waist/upper hips. (See Simplicity 4188, sizes 8-24 for this style)

Perfect Piping
Piping defines the edge of a seam on a garment or the edges of cushions and seat pads and makes a simple project look professionally finished. You can buy ready made piping or make your own by covering cord with a bias cut strip of fabric. The advantage of making your own is that you choose the fabric/colour of course.
2317_SP_EN_A.inddThe contestants on the GBSB made PJs recently, which do look great with a bit of piping. Take a look at Simplicity 2317, sizes 8-18 or XS-XL – this is a unisex pack of PJs for him and her.


Making your own piping
Pleats & Piping WG 4
1 To find the bias of the fabric, fold the cut edge of the fabric up to the selvedge, the diagonal fold is on the bias, press to mark the diagonal line. Starting with this diagonal cut strips about 5cm (2”) wide x the length you need. You can of course join strips together to create the necessary length. To maintain the stretch in the fabric, do this by placing ends at right angles to each other, right sides together and then stitch from top left corner to bottom right corner. Trim excess off and open out.
Pleats & Piping WG 12 Fold the fabric strip in half, wrong sides together, and press. Sandwich piping cord within the strip pushing it close to fold. Machine stitch down strip to hold cord in place.
3 Pin and stitch piping to the right side of garment section to be piped, with raw edges of piping fabric and garment fabric even. Use a zipper foot to stitch close to the cord and stitch in place.
4 Now add the facing or other layer of fabric and sandwich the piping cord between them, again with all raw edges even. Move needle a bit further to the left if possible, and stitch again as close to the cord as you can, feeling it through the fabric which is on top as you go.

Attaching piping to a cushion cover – when attaching piping to a cushion cover, you will have ends that need to be joined as neatly as possible. To do this follow these steps:

1 First tuck the fabric end inside the folded strip and press. Starting in the middle of edge of the cushion front, pin piping, RST, matching raw edges, starting with the end that has been tucked inside strip. Start stitching approx 4cm (1 ¾”) from the beginning, stitching close to the piping cord.
Pleats & Piping WG 22 To smoothly take the piping around the corner, stop with needle down 15mm from the corner, raise the presser foot and carefully snip into the piping fabric only so that you can bend it around and along the next edge of the cushion. Take 2-3 stitches at an angle at the corner before pivoting and continuing to next corner.
Pleats & Piping WG 33 When you are nearly back to the beginning, stop with needle down about 4cm (1 ½” from the end and raise presser foot. Unfold the beginning of the piping strip that you left unstitched and lay the end inside the fold, trimming the cord so the ends meet. Refold beginning of strip to encase the end and continue stitching through all layers until you meet the start of the stitching.
4 You are now ready to sew the cushion back to the cushion front as step 4 above, sandwich the piping between cushion front and backs. Use a zipper foot and turn work over and stitch around the edges so cushion front is uppermost and you can see previous stitching. If possible, move needle position to the left so it is as close as possible to piping. Sew around the edges (leave a turning gap if working with a single back, or ensure zip is open for a zipped back).

So there you have it, pleats and piping!

♥ – ♥ – ♥

Wendy Gardiner is Simplicity’s Sewing Guru and loves to share tips and techniques to make sewing easier and fun.
For more tips, fitting advice and to browse and buy Simplicity, New Look and Burda patterns visit

Be sure to check out Wendy’s tips for Learning To Sew and Sewing with Knit FabricsPLUS check back next week for her final guest post sharing tips on Sewing with Special Fabrics!

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