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Pleating by Emily Pitts 05/06/2009

OK, pleating really isn't that hard, but since I promised a tutorial, I give you a tutorial on plain old pleating. I hope to see many many examples of this technique in the gallery now :)

I am so not a measure-it-all-out-neat-and-straight kind of scrapper. I tend to just mess with something until it looks just about right. So the pleating that I've done has always been uneven and not exact at all. I'm the same way when I cook, add a little of this, a little of that until it tastes right. So I hope that I can explain these steps clearly.

For this tutorial, I've used paper and ribbon, but you can use just about anything that will fold and bend. I used the Fabrips that occasionally come in our kits, those work well because you can easily change the size of the folds and not have to deal with creases. Experiment and have fun with pleating, it adds a lot of fun texture to your work.

1. Cut a strip of paper. Any size works, just depends on the look you want.

2. I made a line at the one inch mark and the 1/2 mark following it. Then I continued to make marks one inch after the last mark, followed by 1/2. So I did not mark every inch and 1/2 inch, I just made sure to follow the pattern of 1 inch, 1/2 inch, 1 inch, 1/2 inch until the strip was all marked. You can vary the measurements to get a deeper or more shallow pleat. That is the fun part of this, play with it!

3. I started folding one way, then flipped and folded the opposite way, over and over until I had finished the whole strip.

4. Once your strip is pleated, you'll want to attach it to something, yes? I like Scotch Quick-Dry Adhesive and Zig 2-Way Glue. You'll have to experiment with the best way to get the pleats to lay flat, I find that working against the pleat is best for me. If you want your pleats to go left to right, I start with the right end and work toward the left. Vice versa if you want it to go right to left. Try it both ways, you'll understand more if you just do it... A bit of glue to anchor the starting point then a bead to catch the rest works well. You could also stitch them down with a machine if you wanted.


5. You can see the pleat repeats itself every 1/2 inch, remember our measurements in step 2? You can adjust the repeat by adjusting that second number.

Another example I made up is for pleated ribbons. If you are an exact measurement person, you might want to stop reading here :) I just eyeball ribbon. I think it works best to attach with a sewing machine, glue takes a while to dry on ribbon.

1. Tuck the end of the ribbon under itself and anchor it with a couple of stitches.

2. Start pushing the ribbon under itself to form a pleat, slowly stitch over that pleat and continue pushing, folding, and stitching. You can stop any time. But if you want to turn the corner...

3. Stop stitching about a ribbon's width from the corner and fold the ribbon sideways, so it's heading in the new direction you want it to go. With the needle anchored, turn the paper as well.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have stitched what you've planned. In this example, I stitched a rectangle, almost. I ran out of ribbon with only an inch left.

5. No worries if you run out. Just start a new piece by slipping the new over the old and hiding the new end under the last pleat. It's nearly impossible to see where you stopped and started.

6. The finished product:

I call this technique accordian pleating. In a prior post's comment, ErinM pointed out that she had made an accent for one of her cards using this same technique a month or so ago. I must have stuck that into my subconscious somehow. But last week I was scrapping with my friend Ronda and she had these cute little accents on one of her pages. I asked her how she did it, realized it was pleating, and the whole idea for this week's blog came together. This one is really easy and you can get some really unique looks, depending on how long your strip is, how tight you pleat, and what you use. I used one 12 inch strip, but you could glue two together and get an even tighter look. This technique does need to have a bit more precision, but I'll show you an easy way to do it!

1. Draw a line every 1/4 inch along the strip, a cutting mat is very helpful in this process.

2. Start folding back and forth, it should look like an accordian.

3. Put a dab of glue (again, I used Scotch Quick Dry) on one end of the accordian pleated strip.

4. Attach the glue end to the other end. I tried it first this way, trying to keep the circle flat, but I found it was quicker and easier to attach them the second way, making a ring.

5. Now comes the fun part. It got kind of humorous to get the circle to lay flat, best advice is to tackle from the top, pressing inward and downward. Lightly direct the bottom outward. You can leave it with a hole in the center, or squish the center tightly together, it just depends on the look you want.


6. Here's a really easy way to do it, if you have a way to score paper, like the Scor-Pal, you can just score your lines. Here I scored every 1/2 inch, but I have also done it every 1/2 inch then moved the strip over and ran another score at the 1/4 inch as well. Either way, you have easy easy fold lines now. You can click on the picture to see the details better.

7. Another example of how this works, using a wider strip of paper:

8. Another example of how this should turn into a flat circle:

9. Attach the accordian flower to your project with a nice juicy dollop of glue. It only takes a bit of pressure to make it stick.

The final result:

The surprise? I noticed that the tearstrip from the Sassafras paper I was using had NEARLY even scallops on it. I decided to fold at each scallop and got this, isn't it cute? So using the scallop technique I showed in the first tutorial, you could do something similar. Now I want to try different edges to see what I get. That's the fun thing about experimening. If it doesn't work, I play with it until I get something that does.

So there you have it, the pleating tutorial :) I hope I've been clear enough in my explanation. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm not a measuring kind of gal, so here's hoping it works!