Zoe’s post on Constructing Sparkle inspired me to finally write a post about pleating. Pleating is yet another of my perseverations. First I’d like to draw your attention to a book entitled Haute Couture: Tradesmen’s Entrance. I love this book (only available from Amazon UK but it’s not expensive for what it is). The Tradesman’s Entrance is about the supporting cast of artisans who support Haute Couture; you may have heard of some of them such as the House of Lesage (interesting article). In today’s example, haute couturiers don’t do their own pleating, they outsource it to Lognon. This book covers haute couture artisans working in embroidery, shoes, haberdashery, hats, feathers, lace, enamel and nacre, pleating, costume jewellery, dyeing and fabrics. It’s quite a lovely book, enormous pictures, oversized (10″ x 13″). A tragic and recurring theme of the book is that these artisans are quite elderly, and with the increasing costs of handwork and too few skilled replacements, it’s likely their businesses will eventually close. I’ll be including some of the photos from the book in this post.

First, there are three basic kinds of pleats. They’re either machine or hand set. Below is a photo of a machine pleater, courtesy of Jesse Heap who sells refurbished pleating machines.

This kind of machine does the very fine pleats you see below (from the book).

On Jesse’s website, you can see photos of sewing machines (called “Box” pleaters) that form and sew pleats. These are pleats that are formed during the sewing process and they aren’t heat set like most of what we’d describe as pleating. Speaking of pleating machines, I found two additional pleating equipment sellers. I’ll close this post with their contact information in addition to the list of pleating services I know of. Before I forget, since this post really isn’t about how to do pleating, I won’t be listing any links for instruction. That’s not to say that I don’t have any. Get my related pleating links here (via Unfortunately, there aren’t many.

Back to pleating. The hand made pleats are made by using a mold (also called frame or form), of which there are two layers, inside and outside. You lay the fabric in between the scored and folded oak tag, roll it up and steam it in an oven. On some fabrics, chemicals are used to enhance the effects. Below is a photo of a skirt lying in a mold.

Pleating molds are expensive and time consuming to make and one tiny mistake in one fold ruins the whole thing and you have to start over (don’t ask how I know). Below is a photo of a bunch of pleating forms from the book.

Most of the time we think of pleats as being straight lines but that is not true of all pleats, particularly machine set pleats. It’s much easier to form patterns with machine set pleats. The example shown below comes courtesy of F.Ciment in the UK.

While shaped pleats are largely unknown among the hand made variety, they aren’t impossible (my topic of perseveration). As an example, below is a photo (again from the Tradesmen’s Entrance) of a shaped hand pleating mold (sometimes called “frames”).

I’ve made several different kinds of shaped pleats. Forgive me for the photo below, it’s a terrible sample (a cat peed on it before I could set the dye) but perhaps you can pick out the lines of it. I had better ones but those were lent out and never returned ~sigh~. I was experimenting with painting the fold lines in case you wonder why dye is involved.

An illustration of a more successful design is below. The black lines are raised folds. The grey lines are the under folds. Oh, and I did come up with a way to set these chemically. I’m pleased with how well that works.

It’s only been since I started playing with shaped pleats (it’s easiest to set these chemically) that I’ve become interested in origami. Also, I’ve found a lot of shapes that lend themselves to the process. An example is below. This is an illustration of the electrodynamic properties of a vacuum. Who knew it could also be used as a pleating pattern?

Below are the resources I’ve collected. The first three are equipment suppliers in case you ever need a pleating machine. The resources following those are pleating contractors. By the way, it is rare that a pleating contractor just does pleating only. Rather, these guys are what’s known as “novelty houses”. These people also make custom buttons, belts (out of your fabric to match) and trims of all kinds.

Jesse J Heap & Son Inc
576 South 21 St
Irvington, NJ 07111
Jesse also sells fusing machines, heat transfer and dye sublimation equipment, inspection machines, cutters and other interesting stuff.

Sewmaster Incorporated
P. O. Box 432
Hinton, West Virginia 25951
Phone: (304) 466-3936

Chandler Machine Sales Co, Inc.
690 N. Queens Avenue
Lindenhurst NY 11757
(631)-5861557 (site is not live)

Pleating and novelty contractors
Accurate Pleating Co
445 Richmond St W
Toronto, ON , M5V 1X9
Phone: 416-703-2813

Acme Pleating & Fagoting Corp
147 W 26th St,
New York, NY 10001+6817
(212) 674-3737

Advance Pleating & Buttons Co.
750 Florida Street
San Francisco, CA
415.648.3111 or 415.648.7284.

Alexander Report has seven other pleating services not included in my list. From the link page (free access) type “pleat” in the search box. I’d give you a direct link but there isn’t one.

F.Ciment (Pleating) Ltd.
18a station close
Potters Bar
Herts EN6 1TL
Phone : 01707 661 311

Koppel Pleating, Inc.
890 Garrison Avenue, 3rd Floor
Bronx, NY 10474
718 893-1500

Metro Novelty & Pleating
3030 E. Vernon Avenue
Vernon, CA 90058
213 748-1201
213 582-3248

Perma Pleating & Trim Corp
2171 Anderson Road
Greensville, SC 29611
864 269-0840
864 269-5804

Pleats Plus
867 Isabella Street
Oakland, CA 94607
510 625-8050
510 986-1402

Regal Originals, Inc.
247 West 37th St.
NY NY 10018
212 921-0270
212 302-0809

San Francisco Pleating Company
425 2nd Street, 5th floor,
San Francisco, CA

Stanley Pleating & Stitching Co Inc
242 W 36th St
New York, NY 10018
212 868-2920

US Apparel Solutions
249 West 34th St., Suite 506
Manhattan, NY, 10001
Tel: 212-868-1700
(and a toll free number for customers)

If none of these resources are of use, you might consider searching for a business by SIC code 2395 (NAICS code 314999). This SIC code also includes the following kinds of businesses:
* Quilted fabrics or cloth–mfg
* Quilting, for the trade–mfg
* Appliqueing, for the trade–mfg
* Art needlework–mfpm–mfg
* Buttonhole making, except fur: for the trade–mfg
* Crochet ware, machine-made–mfg
* Decorative stitching, for the trade–mfg
* Emblems, embroidered–mfg
* Embroideries: metallic, beaded, and sequined–mfg
* Embroidery products, except Schiflli machine–mfg
* Eyelet making, for the trade–mfg
* Hemstitching, for the trade–mfg
* Lace, burnt-out–mfg
* Looping, for the trade–mfg
* Needlework, art–mfpm–mfg
* Novelty stitching, for the trade–mfg
* Permanent pleating and pressing, for the trade–mfg
* Pleating, for the trade–mfg
* Ruffling, for the trade–mfg
* Scalloping, for the trade–mfg
* Stitching, decorative and novelty: for the trade–mfg
* Swiss loom embroideries–mfg
* Tucking, for the trade–mfg

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