Anatomy of a Smocking Pleater

All moms love smocked dresses for their little girls and since small fabric pleaters are very affordable, many moms have taken the leap into making their own smocked dresses at home. This is an economical and memorable way to create an heirloom dress for your little one that she will have as a keepsake for years to come. A problem arises, however, when you purchase your new fabric pleater only to realize that there are no pleating instructions included. Don’t worry, we are here to help!

SETTING UP YOUR PLEATER

(*example given using Amanda-Jane brand smocking pleater)

Out of the box, your pleater will look something like the image you see in Figure 1. As you can see the pleater has the needles included, but not installed. Don’t worry, this is a very simple process and shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes.

Figure 1

FIRST

The first thing that you need to do when you get your pleater is to install the pleater needles. This can be done by removing the pegs on either side of the roller bar that is in the center of the pleater and then removing the roller bar and setting it aside, as seen below in Figures 2-4.

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

NEXT

Next you need to carefully install the pleater needles one at a time making sure that the dip in the needle is facing down. See below, Figures 5-7

 

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

FINALLY

Once the needles have been installed, you are ready to replace the roller and the pins and thread your needles.

Figure 8

 

On average you will use 3 times the width of fabric that you need for your final product. So, once you determine how wide you need your fabric to be, simply triple that. Now you must take your fabric and roll it evenly onto a rod. (In this example I am using a metal rod that I had on hand but a dowel may actually be better since the fabric will slip less.)
See Figure 8.

 

 

 

 


Figure 9

 

As you crank the handle on the end of the pleater, make sure that your fabric is rolling through the pleater evenly. This takes a little practice, but you will get the hang of it over time. See Figure 9.

 

 

 

 

 


Figure 10

 

As  the fabric comes off of the machine, be sure to pull it down gently from the needles so that the rest of the fabric will crank through easily. See Figure 10.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

In the end, you will have a beautifully pleated piece of fabric ready to be smocked and made into a dress for your little girl.

 

*All photos were taken by Holly Upchurch of Hollyhock Clothing.