How To Create Chevron Pleats: The Michele Chevron Pleated Dress Sewing Tutorial

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Featured Image

Oh, pleats. It's a love/hate relationship, am I right? Over the last few years, I have actually learned to really love pleats. Especially when said pleats are in an unusual or intricate pattern. That is my JAM. And this week we just so happen to be showing you how to create chevron pleats.. Perhaps the most intricate & complicated pleating technique I have ever encountered.

But first. Last week we introduced chevron pleats with our most recent sewing project, The Michele Chevron Pleated Dress. AKA the sewing project from hell. Not even kidding.

The Michele was the most difficult & advanced sewing project that I have ever attempted, and it gave me a run for my money. Not only did it majorly, majorly test my sewing & pleating skills.. But it also tested my patience, my mindset, and my emotions.

And I'm not going to lie--I cried a few (okay like at least 5) times while sewing up this project. Because it was THAT frustrating. And no, I am NOT the seamstress with the magic hands, where everything sewing comes easily & quickly. I do get frustrated at some point with almost every sewing project.

But nothing like on the level that I experienced with the Michele.

I can usually just put a sewing project down for a few hours, clean the house, then come back feeling refreshed and finish it up.

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial The Michele

But this project.. Oh my. I had to take DAYS off from this project before I could touch it again, it had me that frustrated. Which isn't really a great state to be in, when you are trying to stick to a blogging schedule and get content out weekly. Which just makes it all the most frustrating. It's like a vicious, irritating cycle.

(BTW. I am working on a new post all about HOW to finish a difficult sewing project that seems like it will never end. I'm pulling all of the lessons that I learned from working on the Michele, lessons that I wish I had taped to the wall in my sewing space. Lessons that I wish I would have known when I started working on the project. Stay tuned!)

But anyways, chevron pleats. Ironically, pressing the chevron-style pleating pattern was one of the easier construction details of this particular sewing project. Yes, the pleating technique is complicated & detailed, but once you know the order & direction in which to press each individual pleat, it's really not that bad.

You get into a rhythm of pressing the pleats, one at a time.

And the intricate pleating pattern on the Michele is what MAKES the design.

Also, full disclosure--This actually isn't one of my designs. I saw it in a shop window a while back, and the first thought I had when I saw the dress was "I'm going to make that."

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial The Michele Back View

When I started working on drafting the pattern for the Michele, I had assumed that in one of my many sewing & patten drafting books there would be SOME sort of direction in how to create this intricate pleating pattern. WRONG.

I have multiple sewing books & multiple pattern drafting books from my days at FIDM.. And not a single one of them contained ANY information on anything that looked remotely like a chevron-style pleating pattern.

I essentially had to work backwards when figuring out how to press the pleats to mimic the design of the original dress. And that is exactly what I am going to show you how to do with this sewing tutorial. So. Ready to get started?

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial

How to create chevron pleats: But what IS a chevron pleat?

We all know what a pleat is, right? (If not, check out our sewing tutorial on how to sew knife pleats. Knife pleats are the most basic of all pleats, and I go in to some major detail on them in that post!) And whether you are aware of it or not, I KNOW you have seen a chevron pattern before.

They are ALL over the place, from clothing to furniture to rugs to binder covers. Literally everywhere.

A chevron pattern is a design involving zigzags in a stripe pattern. How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Chevron Pattern Close Up

Designs largely vary (i.e. Horizontal vs. vertical stripes, huge zigs vs. teeny tiny zags, etc.) but the overall pattern remains the same. Instead of having a straight line in a striped pattern, the line is just a zigzag. Nothing too complicated or crazy about the pattern, which I think is what makes it so desirable for such a wide range of products. So how does this transfer to a pleating pattern on a dress?

Well. The chevron pleats on the Michele ascend & descend like a zigzag along the top of the torso, front & back, from the waist up. At the center front & back of the dress, the pleats are at their highest point.

And as you move out from the center pleat, the pleats continue to descend, getting longer and longer.. Until they start to ascend again, getting shorter & shorter. Make sense? Just go for the zig and the zag.

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial

How to create chevron pleats: The overall method

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Different Types Of Pleats

So. Not too bad yet, right? What makes pressing chevron pleats slightly more complicated is that there are both inverted & protruding pleats in the design. So every line in every pleat has to be pressed individually.. And THAT is what makes creating chevron pleats a bit difficult & time consuming.

Not the actual design itself, but the fact that each line has to be pressed one at a time.

Oh, and not to mention that there are protruding pleats in between each chevron pleat. And that there are pleats from the tips of each chevron pleat that flow all the way down to the hem. So yah.. A bit involved, I know.

But once you break it down, I promise it isn't as scary as it seems.

When I create the sewing pattern for the Michele and was drawing out all of the individual pleats, I highlighted the two different types of pleats (i.e. Inverted & protruding) with a different colored pencil.

This helped me IMMENSELY with seeing which direction I needed to press each pleat. I HIGHLY recommend it.

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Color Coded Pleats

On my sewing pattern, the green lines are the INVERTED pleats. And the pink lines are the PROTRUDING pleats. And by inverted, I simply mean that the pleat is pressed IN. By protruding, I mean that the pleat is pressed OUT. I'm not sure if those are the "correct" terms to use, but they are the ones that made the most sense to me.

So let's break it down: GREEN, INVERTED PLEATS:

  • The four sides that make up the "arrow" of the chevron pleat. (i.e. The two long sides, and the two diagonal lines that make up the "tip" of the arrow.)
  • The pleat that flows from the tip of the "arrow" to the hem of the garment.

PINK, PROTRUDING PLEATS:

  • The center line of the "arrows" that make up the chevron pleats.
  • The lines in between each chevron pleat that flow from the top of the garment all the way down to the hem.

And now, let's break it down even further with the order in which to press each individual pleat line.

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial

How to create chevron pleats: The pleating order

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial The Pleating Order

There is a VERY SPECIFIC order in which chevron pleats need to be pressed. I cannot stress that enough. Figuring out the order was perhaps the most difficult part when it came to learning how to create chevron pleats. Because it DOES matter, and it does need to be followed precisely. Otherwise pleats & wrinkles will just be pressed all over the place, or you will iron out what has already been pressed.

Not good. So just follow the order I've laid out here.

And a note: I preferred to work from left to right, but the choice is yours. You can choose to work from right to left.. Just STICK WITH A DIRECTION. Do not go back and forth. Choose a direction to go, and stick with it until the end.

Here is the overall order in which chevron pleats need to be pressed:

  1. The tips of the arrows that make up each chevron pleat. (INVERTED PLEAT)
  2. One side of the arrow that makes up the chevron pleat. (INVERTED PLEAT)
  3. The center of the arrow. (PROTRUDING PLEAT)
  4. Next is the other side of the arrow, to finish off the arrow that makes up the chevron pleat. (INVERTED PLEAT)
  5. The pleat that flows from the tip of the arrow all the way to the hem. (INVERTED PLEAT)
  6. And finally, the pleat in between each chevron pleat that flows from the top of the garment to the hem. (PROTRUDING PLEAT)

Cool! Got it? Now we will be going in to each of the steps above in detail.

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial

How to create chevron pleats sewing tutorial: Step 1

But first. As I mentioned above, before pressing any pleats, I HIGHLY recommend prepping not only the sewing pattern first, but also the fabric.

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Step 1

If you haven't done so yet, draw EVERY SINGLE PLEAT on your sewing pattern, both front & back. (Good news though: If you have a symmetrical design, which I'm thinking you should, then you only need to do this for HALF of the front & back.) I also highly, highly recommend tracing over every single line of every single pleat with two different colors.

As you can see on my sewing pattern, I traced over every inverted pleat with a green colored pencil. And over every protruding pleat with a pink colored pencil. Use whatever colors you want, but it really does help immensely to have the colors traced on the pattern when it comes to the actual pleating process.

How to create chevron pleats sewing tutorial: Step 2

With the sewing pattern prepped, it is now time to prep the fabric. When cutting out the pattern in final fabric, make sure to snip EVERY SINGLE PLEAT. This is the only way you will know how far apart each pleat needs to be.

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Step 2

And after cutting out the sewing pattern, mark the three "tips" of each arrow that makes up the individual chevron pleats. Mark these tiny dots with PENCIL on the WRONG side of the fabric.

REMEMBER: The wrong side of the fabric is the side that no one sees when the garment is being worn. Mark the dots for each arrow on both the front & back pieces of the garment.

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial

How to create chevron pleats sewing tutorial: Step 3

And now it's time to finally start pleating! From this point on, we will be following the pleating order mentioned above.

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Step 3

Start by pressing the tips of the pleat furthest to the left. (Or right, depending on which direction you prefer to go.) Press one tip of the arrow at a time, from the WRONG side of the fabric. (So the fabric should be folded, right side to right side.) Spray starch on the tip before pressing each tip, to ensure that the pleat holds its shape.

ALSO: I highly, highly recommend using a manila envelope as a guard against the rest of the fabric when spraying the fabric starch. No matter what the fabric starch companies say--Starch stains. Avoid spraying it on areas that you are not immediately pressing, otherwise there will be starch stains all over the finished garment. And nobody wants that, after spending so much time on a sewing project.

How to create chevron pleats sewing tutorial: Step 4

With the tips of the chevron arrow pressed, it's time to press the LEFT side that makes up the arrow. (Or right side, depending on which direction you are working.)

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Step 4

As with step 3, the pleat in step 4 is an inverted pleat. So press from the wrong side of the fabric, and remember to spray starch along the pleat line beforehand.

(And don't forget to guard against the rest of the fabric with a manila envelope, so that fabric starch isn't sprayed all over the place! Containment is key.)

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial

How to create chevron pleats sewing tutorial: Step 5

Now it's time to press the middle of the chevron pleat arrow. Since this pleat is a PROTRUDING pleat, we will need to flip the fabric, wrong side to wrong side.

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Step 5

So with this pleat, press from the RIGHT side of the fabric.

As with the other pleats, spray the fabric starch beforehand & press from the top of the garment right to the middle where the two arrow tips from step 3 meet.

How to create chevron pleats sewing tutorial: Step 6

Next, we will be pressing the other side that makes up the arrow of the chevron pleat.

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Step 6

Fold the fabric back right side to right side, and press the other side of the arrow from the WRONG side of the fabric.

And at this point, your first chevron arrow should be complete!

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial

How to create chevron pleats sewing tutorial: Step 7

And now it's time to press the pleat that flows from the tip of the chevron arrow all the way down to the hem of the garment.

This is another inverted pleat, so keep the fabric right side to right side. Fold the fabric from the tip of the arrow all the way down to the corresponding notch on the hem of the garment. Press the pleat a section at a time, spraying fabric starch as you go.

And remember to protect the rest of the garment from the fabric starch with the manila envelope!

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Step 7

NOTE: With this pleat, it is very important to keep the pleat line straight. It is very, very easy to get a curve with this pleat, depending on the length of it.

So just make sure to be cautious and aware of how straight the line is.

How to create chevron pleats sewing tutorial: Step 8

And finally, for the last pleat. This is the pleat that separates each individual chevron arrow, and flows from the top of the garment all the way down to the hem.

This pleat is a protruding pleat, so fold the fabric back wrong side to wrong side. Create the line that flows from the top notch to the bottom notch.

And again: Make sure the line is straight. It is even easier with this pleat to curve the line, which will mess with all of the corresponding pleats to come. So be very, very careful, and make sure to keep the pleat line straight.

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial Step 8

Press the pleat a section at a time, spraying the fabric starch as you go. And, as always, use the manila envelope as a guard against the starch for the rest of the garment.

And that's it! Repeat the process until all of the pleats are pressed and finished.

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial

How to create chevron pleats: Are you ready to start pressing?

So. While this chevron-style pleating pattern is a very intricate design, once you break it down.. It really isn't that bad. It just takes a lot of time, and a whole lot of patience.

How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial The Michele Final

And if attempting to create a project with this style of pleat, I would highly recommend giving yourself about 5x more time than you expect it to take. I was a bit delusional and thought that I could get the Michele done in a week, maybe a week and a half..

And it took about a month, between drafting the pattern, figuring out how to press the pleats on a sample, the actual pleating process, and then the actual sewing of the project. So yah. It's a bit involved.

But if you love the design as much as I did, then I hope that this sewing tutorial will help you! And I hope that you are able to create something as magical and beautiful as my original inspiration.

If any of you actually attempt this pleating technique, I would LOVE to see what you create!

(Ready to learn how to create chevron pleats? Skip all of the hard work that I have already done to figure out the process of pressing this intricate pleating technique. Grab your printable, step-by-step sewing tutorial below!)How To Create Chevron Pleats Sewing Tutorial

Follow @thefloramodiste Instagram @thefloramodiste Facebook @thefloramodiste Pinterest @thefloramodiste

Read more

The Michele Chevron Pleated Dress Sewing Project Featured Image

How I Created The Michele Chevron Pleated Dress {The Flora Modiste Sewing Projects}

A letter to my aspiring modistes featured image

A Letter To My Aspiring Modistes: On How Sewing May Not Come Naturally

How To Finish A Difficult Sewing Project Featured Image

5 Tips On How To Finish A Difficult Sewing Project

Comments

Be the first to comment.
All comments are moderated before being published.