Problem Pleats

Some days a seamstress promises her client she can do the job without ever realizing that it is something she should have said “no thanks” to…this is one of those projects.

We all know what full or double pleats look like from the front and assume they look the same from the back only in the reverse…right? So if someone asks if you can let a couple out to gain more ease it should not be that tough…right?

But what happens to your grand plans when you flip the lining up and see this?4-inside-pleat That’s right, the part that is supposed to be there has been cut and serged away (I imagine to reduce bulk) leaving only a scant 1/2 seam beneath that strip. Now this is the client’s old time favorite wool skirt and it comes with a reversible scarf/shawl with pockets…even more precious as a duo act.

ALL she needs is 2 inches more to fit around her. There are over 8 faux double pleats to open up and all I can manage to get is 1/8 inch (1/4 inch total) from 8 of them. They are stitched down to a certain point aka the hips and then also stitched across to hold everything flat inside (lots of deconstruction time here!). Oh yes, there is a lining with a curved top facing that will have to be altered as well but it has no pleats. (Thank God for small mercies!)

Once every pleat is hand basted and re-stitched there is the little strip of twill tape to be pinned and re-attached to the wrong side to keep the waist from stretching.1-attach-tape Here is the end of the facing that will need a panel of new lining (notice it is cut off grain) attached:2-end-of-facing

The pleats from the outside:3-pleats

The pleats from the inside:5-pleat-seam

Then I attach the old facing/lining to the right side.6-attach-facing

The 2 inch gap we are left with:7-two-inches-needed

Let’s open up the lining side seam and fill the gap with a new strip of lining:9-gaping-liningΒ 11-fill-lining-gap Notice the odd shape- 2 inches at the top and 6 inches at the bottom…is this a problem? Nah…let’s get out that ruler and chalk and draw that shape with seam allowances.12-draw-out-shape 13-ready-to-go

Now with Ambiance rayon lining piece cut and ready to go, attach it:14-new-panel-lining Once pressed and pleats steamed inside and out we have the finished product…2 inches bigger and no one will know what went into this transformation…except you and me!


Next time – some dance costumes made from scratch and a little break from the sewing room. I’m hoping that January gets all of you itching to start new projects or at least re-organize/clean out Christmas boxes and wrappings from your sewing room or visit your stash and patterns for ideas.

Still reading the new book Overdressed and understanding what a holy mess the fashion industry is in and why we should continue to make quality clothes at home that will outlive the RTW ones made cheaply…but the book report will be coming as per Anne’s request!

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28 Responses to Problem Pleats

  1. sharon says:

    I recently read Overdressed and found it fascinating. However, I recently purchased a $9 long sleeved stripped tee from Kohls. Fabric is com, fit is really good and every single strip matches its mate on the other seam. What more can you ask for. If it lasts 2 seasons, I certainly have got my money’s worth out of it.

    • Bunny says:

      I think that sums up the problem. We only expect clothes to last a season or two. Personally I like to have in my closet well made classics from quality fabric that will last me 5 to ten years. A great white shirt or pencil skirt is just that and can last many years. We need to stop supporting this type of manufacture for all the many reason illustrated in the book. Everyone should read Overdressed.

      • mrsmole says:

        I agree with you, Bunny and not just sewers, all consumers of all goods that are made to be obsolete in 2 years or less. Seeing documentaries of children in 3rd world countries digging through huge mountains of trashed cell phones and computer monitors for small bits of copper or mercury should make folks sit up and take notice.

    • mrsmole says:

      I guess they other thing to consider is the energy and pollution involved in cranking out one garment that has a life of 2 seasons before it has to be replaced.

  2. sharon says:

    Make that fabric is comfortable. Don’t know where the rest of the word went. Floating around somewhere.

  3. Whew! WHAT a project! Your client must be very happy, though, to have her favorite skirt preserved. Better let her know that she can’t gain any weight at all πŸ˜‰

    • mrsmole says:

      Ha ha, oh Carolina, she knows we have reached “her” limit! She is one of my favored clients who does not get dropped in 2013, she respects my work and efforts.

  4. I think you must be using magic, Mrs Mole!! Fabulous job! Can I come and learn from you, please? πŸ™‚

    • mrsmole says:

      Heaven forbid you should have a project like that! I used to teach 13 students, one to one, in my sewing room but that was before the brides took over. You have to be a detective and like taking out and putting back seams which most seamstresses cannot afford the time nor patience. Thankfully I was blessed with both and a very strong Ott light. Do you live in the Pacific Northwest?

      • Ahhh, no..I see a problem with my cunning plan! I am in the UK. South Wales to be specific! I am just a learner, and your blog has taught me loads! You have the patience of a saint! Thank you for your magic blog!! X

      • mrsmole says:

        Sarah, we used to live closer, I was in Liverpool for 8 years and spent time in Wales…too bad we didn’t have the opportunity then 😦

      • Mrs Mole, you are a secret Scouser!!!! :)) what a small world! It’s such a shame you are not still here! Well, from my point of view!!! Did you enjoy your time in Liverpool?

      • mrsmole says:

        Living just outside Liverpool was a hoot. After getting used to 300 days of rain per year and people telling me they had been to America (meaning Disneyworld) I got my driving license, drove on the left side of the road and loved eating trifles from Tesco and selecting cheese from the hundreds of UK made brands at the local cheese shop. Things you miss….mmmm.

      • But did you try Marmite, Tetley tea, and watch Coronation Street?? Whilst singing ‘Ferry Cross The Mersey’……we have 361 days of rain a year approximately in South Wales. I feel I am hijacking your blog! One last question, ahem…how did the RTW compare in UK? Since I have been sewing, I am obsessed with seams! I cant buy clothes because everything is made so shoddily! And cheaply, usually by children in the Far East. It has opened my eyes, and am going to read ‘Overdressed’.
        Mmmm..cheese….yes, we do good cheese here!! :)) x

      • mrsmole says:

        I’m going to answer you privately since not everyone will grasp the Merseyside thread…no pun intended.

  5. Bunny says:

    That’s an amazing job you’ve done. Mrs. M. Not sure I could ever pull that off.

    • mrsmole says:

      Nor would you want to, Bunny. Eking and easing out 1/8 inch seams is not for everyone without a good light and strong glasses. Wool is nice and forgiving though but I did not mention that being a plaid it did show where I zigged where I should have zagged and needed to be opened up and straightened. Thank you for the thumbs up!

  6. BeaJay says:

    Wow – what patience and skill. Gave me a headache just looking at the pictures. Great job.

  7. Clare S. Lavorgna says:

    Mrs. Mole, have you been in my sewing room unbeknownst to me? When you said reorganize (remove Christmas wrapping, etc.), I knew you were talking to me. Gotta get that done. And by the way, you’re a saint to do the alterations you do for your clients. They’re tricky and require ingenuity and sewing genius to accomplish. Clare in Louisiana

  8. mrsmole says:

    Yes Clare, I meant you. Does anyone remember the kids program back in the 60’s called “Romper Room? The soft spoken lady who was the host held up a magic mirror and it spun around while she recited “”Romper, bomper, stomper, boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me do. Magic Mirror, tell me today. Did all my friends have fun today?” and then the mirror was just a frame and she looked through it to all her TV pals in their homes and called out their names…well that may well be what I have and can see the mess you have…you can’t sew with wrapping paper and seasonal knick knacks hanging around…my own cutting room/sewing annex had the same problem…great place to wrap presents….but Christmas is over…let’s get sewing!

  9. theresa says:

    I buy so few things now. I do have a goal to make more classic pieces out of superior fabrics for 2013. It might be the year of the coats. I have a toggle coat and a classic tailored long riding type frock planned. Nothing with those double pleats though. Gaw, what a nightmare and as always, YOU pull another save from your sewing basket! Kudos, and I remember Romper Room!

    • mrsmole says:

      I’m looking forward to seeing your new luscious wool projects planned and after spying some of your latest wool purchases it makes me wish I had done the same. The question I have is: Did the lady ever call out your name, Theresa?

  10. sharon says:

    OK – a little defense is in order here. My point was it is possible to find a $9 t-shirt that is well made. But, you need to shop well. Don’t accept unmatched stripes, off grain fabrics, etc. If your t-shirt, jacket, pants or whatever loses its integrity after one washing, return it. Don’t accept poor quality. Also, if you make your t-shirt, do you really think it is better than what you by for the same amount of money? Don’t forget you are paying retail for fabric, at least I am. The manufacture is paying wholesale and probably dealt it down for quantity; The old point of you get what you pay for still holds true. If it doesn’t hold up or twists or rips, take it back. If returns doesn’t work for you, speak to the manager, write the company. You not only get what you pay for, you get what you accept.

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, you are right about quality issues, Sharon. My issue is with production over and over using up the earth’s resources. If products were made to last longer, we wouldn’t have to buy them over and over. I have a closet full of clothes I have had for 10-20 years that have lasted and no matter what I paid at the time, I did not have to replace them. If our computers and cars lasted longer we would need less newer versions thus using less plastic/petroleum components and rare metals and energy to create them. We all need to be wise consumers, thank you for clarifying your point.

      • SunGold says:

        Those of us who are older recall that products were meant to be used and repaired, with the repairs often taking place at home. I’m talking toasters, sewing machines (there’s a thriving vintage sewing machine community that still does that), cars … and clothes.

        While I love my technology, and won’t hear a word against technological advances, I do think that the incredibly rapid advances have made people want the newest product out there because in the tech world, new objects actually do more and perform better.

        I give you smartphones, flat-screen TVs, hybrid cars, all manner of medical technologies … You see what I mean? The problem is that many of us don’t distinguish between things that are actually better (tech) and things that are only fashionable (clothing).

  11. Pella says:

    Impressive work ( on the pleats) which I hope never to emulate! Did Liverpool give you the resilience to overcome all odds I wonder?

  12. mrsmole says:

    Just getting there after 44 years in sunny So. California was a hurdle but I grew to appreciate real seasons albeit damp ones and to love riding on trains both local and down to London. Our local pub was built in the 1300’s, warmed with a coal fire, and the neighborhood still had some thatched roofed houses which were re-thatched while I lived there…fascinating to watch. The butcher shops had all sorts of geese and pheasants hanging outside their windows during the holidays for sale. Such a contrast but something that made me understand how my husband grew up there. Like most of England it has striking cathedrals, marvelous museums and green places to walk and appreciate nature.

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