Micropleated Fabrics
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Micropleated Fabrics

    Micropleated fabric is some of the most beautiful fabric you'll ever work with. While most of these fabrics are of synthetic content, there may be an occasional natural fiber inserted. It looks rich and regal, but is quite easy to sew. Just remember the word "simplicity" and you'll enjoy success!


    Do not pretreat this fabric. The pleats have been permanently set in the fabric by use of heat and pressure. You do not want to lose this unique character! Store the fabric on a roll (use an old wrapping paper roll), wrapping tissue paper at the same time as the fabric in order to protect the fabric. This fabric is best dry-cleaned.

    Needles and thread:

    Sharp needles are your best bet, and the smaller the better. Start with a 70/10 universal, or a 70/10 quilting needle if you can find one! Silk thread is a luxury that you will appreciate with this fabric, but polyester will work well also. Do not use all-cotton thread for this fabric.


    No fusibles unless you plan to crush the pleats for artistic effect. Use a very lightweight underlining if you need added strength or to maintain a specific shape. My favorite fabric for this use is silk organza. You might also choose cotton batiste, flannel, or silk charmeuse, depending on the design of the garment.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    Try to stitch the seams in the "valley" of one of the pleats. Then press the seam as it was sewn (to meld the stitching) and trim to a narrow width of ΒΌ inch or less. Overcast by hand or with a zigzag stitch. You could also create your seams with a three-thread serged stitch if the stitching does not show through to the front side. Test your fabric first for best results. Hems are best avoided in this fabric. Cut your garment so the hem falls on the selvedge of the fabric. If you must clean-finish a hem, cut bias strips of the fabric and press them as flat as possible. Then use these strips as a narrow edge binding.

    Pattern suggestions:

    Simplicity is the key here. Use a pattern with as few pattern pieces as possible. When cutting out the fabric, lay the fabric on a flat surface and pat it until it is not stretched. You want the pleats, so take care not to distort the fabric before cutting. Good pattern choices are sleeveless tops, simple skirts, and no-side-seam pants. There are a few independent patterns specifically designed for use with this fabric. (Silhouette Patterns has one of the best.)

    Creative possibilities:

    If you're up to a challenge, use a heat tool to sear a shaped edge on your fabric. Use the instructions with your tool, placing the fabric on a background of glass before etching your design. You can also use the pleats for smocking pleats. Smock a free-form design, adding beads and crystals for a superbly elegant look.

    Additional Tips:

    If you choose to make a more structured garment (like an evening dress), it will be necessary to make an underlining to stay the fabric. Cut your underlining by the actual pattern pieces you are using, then baste the edges of your pleated fabric to the underlining. Catch the pleated fabric to the underlining in several places by hand in order to secure it more carefully. Also, do not be tempted to use the stretch of the fabric as a fitting tool. Fit the garment loosely for the most luxurious effect.

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