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Tips & Techniques > Pleater Board - how to make your own

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Posted by: SewVeryTall

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Member since: 3/2/04
Reviews: 161 (tips: 68)
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Posted on: 3/6/08 1:03 PM
Last Updated: 9/15/10 8:44 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 3 people   Very Helpful by 26 people   
This tip was requested when I mentioned using my homemade pleater in a recent purse review.

I'd seen the commercial pleaters for sale, and thought they were neat, but I didn't want to spend that much money, especially considering how seldom it might be used. So I decided to make one. If you'd like to make one too, you'll need:

heavy duty foil
duct tape [thick heavy tape that can withstand heat]
thin cardboard [like a file folder]
see-through ruler [as long as the foil is wide, or you'll also need...]
a yardstick or other straight edge as long as the foil is wide
a dull pencil or a nail file, for "scoring"

The first step is to pull out a good length of the heavy duty foil. The pleater can be as wide as the foil is wide [18"]. The length you pull out needs to be three times as long, as you want the length of your pleater [the length of the pleater determines how many slats or louvers it has, and therefore how many pleats it can make].

As you can see in the link above, you'll need to decide how wide you'll want your pleats, and the return between each pleat. To keep it simple, I made mine with 1/2" pleats and a 1/2" return.

Now this next step will take some time and patience. Using your see-thru ruler, near the beginning of the edge of the foil, score a straight line across the width of the foil. If your ruler isn't as wide as the foil, slide a yardstick up against the ruler, so you know it's straight, then use the yardstick to run your dull pencil or nailfile against, to do the scoring. You want the scoring to leave a nice dent in the foil, but don't press so hard that you make a hole in the foil.

Using the see-thru ruler to measure, slide it over 1/2" from your first line, and score again. Repeat this, every 1/2", for the whole length of your piece of foil.

Once it it completely scored, using the ruler or yardstick as a helper, start to fold the foil into the pleater board slats or louvers. Skip the first line, fold the second line down, then fold the third line up. This makes one louver. Then skip a line [4th], and fold the next line [5th] down, then the next line [6th] up, forming the second louver...repeat for the entire length of foil.

I found it easiest to fold against a yardstick, lifting the foil up...this means I flipped the foil over every other time I folded. Run your finger against the yardstick, to help form the foil into each fold.

Cut the file folder into 1/2" wide strips that are as long as the foil is wide. You'll need one strip for each louver.

Turn the foil over so the louvers are on the bottom. Carefully slide a cardboard strip inside each louver. This is to reinforce the foil. Once all the strips are inside the louvers, cut pieces of duct tape to lay over the entire back of the board, covering it completely. This will hold the strips in place, and reinforce the whole thing, making it sturdier.

Trim off any excess tape, so none of it shows on the front. Remember that you'll be pressing on this with your iron, so the only thing that should be on the front of the board is foil...and the fabric you're pleating.

Tip...I also made a 1/4" version of this, with a 1/4" return. This one doesn't work very well, because a 1/4" return just isn't quite enough. It's difficult to get the fabric to stay under the louver. So this board is really only good for the finest or thinnest fabrics. Learn from my mistake...if you want a board that makes 1/4" pleats, make it so the return is at least 3/8", so it'll be easier to use.

Tip...the straightness of your lines, and the spacing between them, directly corresponds to the straightness and spacing in your pleated fabric. If you're picky [or nuts ;)] like me, you really need to be patient and measure/score the lines as perfectly as possible.

3-11-08 Updated to add...the thicker the fabric, the more difficult it will be to pleat. Thinner fabrics stay under the louvers better. Some fabrics need to be pressed in place each time it's tucked under a louver...other fabrics can be tucked several times before pressing. Practicing on scraps [of different types of fabric] will help you to learn how to use this tool.

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le beau said... (1/10/11 11:00 AM) Reply
I would love to know how to make these pleats permanent once you have created the pleater board and created your pleated fabric. I saw another link that referenced using Oak Tag Paper to make the board. Any thoughts on that?
BunnyK said... (8/14/10 3:37 PM) Reply
THank you so much for this tip! I have been driving myself mad trying to form perfect pleats on a darling blouse I'm creating. I have read and read tips etc., all over the web and frankly they were all somewhat useless. But this is awesome!! Great tip!
LanieP said... (9/14/09 4:06 PM) Reply
Thanks so much for the info Helps a great deal in saving my budget unnecessary expenses.
ryansmumAria said... (10/27/08 9:02 AM) Reply
i love it! I'm going to pass this along to my students...I've always wanted to make one out of a thin tag board I have and now you have motivated me to do just this. I'm envisioning graduated pleats and all kinds of variations on this! Muchos Gracias...
magsann said... (4/9/08 1:24 PM) Reply
Great Idea -Will have to have a go at making one for myself - hopefully soon! Many thanks for this tip/technique.
SewPurple said... (4/8/08 6:34 PM) Reply
Thanks for the great tip! I purchased the kit to make the smaller pleater board last year to do pleating around the edge of a wedding dress but it is just too small for the much larger job I am working on right now. I have to make a prom dress with the bodice that is pleated all the way down past the hip, so I used your idea, and took it a step further. I doubled the width of mine so it's a little over 35 inches wide. This way I can pleat a much larger area of fabric. Works really great!
mis_priss said... (3/28/08 6:40 PM) Reply
What a great idea, Those pleaters are very expensive, especially if you don't plan to use them alot. I will try this out! Thanks
SewVeryTall said... (3/11/08 9:28 PM) Reply
Thank you all for your nice comments!
Linda G said... (3/8/08 9:46 PM) Reply
Wow you are so creative. Thanks for the tutorial. I will try and make one of these some time.
damiller29672 said... (3/8/08 9:46 PM) Reply
double entry, sorry
damiller29672 said... (3/8/08 9:46 PM) Reply
Thanks you for the easy to follow instructions. I will definately make on on my next day off.
dollieo said... (3/7/08 1:52 PM) Reply
True genius. I really enjoy reading and using your tips. They are always so sensible and money savers. Thanks again. Patricia.
Babe B said... (3/7/08 10:42 AM) Reply
Ardis, you. are. AMAZING! Thanks so much for sharing this! 'Wish we were neighbors . . .
Patti B said... (3/7/08 10:07 AM) Reply
Wow! What a great idea. I've been lusting after a pleater and this sounds like a good rainy afternoon project. Thanks!
HeyJane said... (3/7/08 7:28 AM) Reply
I was wondering how you made the pleater, when I saw it. It's so generous of you to take the time to give us the instructions.
nancy2001 said... (3/7/08 6:53 AM) Reply
Thank you SVT for your very helpful review. I bought Clotilde's pleater (with a 3/8" return) two years ago, and unfortunately it's impossible to use. The fabric does not stay under the louver. So my only suggestion to anyone making a pleater would be to increase the size of the return to 1/2" since that size seemed to work for you.
granny geek said... (3/7/08 0:13 AM) Reply
You always have the best tips and ideas...thank you!
lilyofthevalley said... (3/6/08 10:11 PM) Reply
Thank you so much, Ardis, for this wonderful tutorial. A nice weekend project for me, and I see thin pleated leather in my future. Very, very kind of you to take your time to teach. -Lily
Mandolin82 said... (3/6/08 6:22 PM) Reply
Great tip!
Peggy L said... (3/6/08 4:06 PM) Reply
Great directions - and you saved some $$$. I have one of those pleaters. Sure haven't used it very often either.
KempCorr said... (3/6/08 3:35 PM) Reply
Great idea - thanks !
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