Pleats Definition - relevant to Sewing & Clothing
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A pleat (older plait) is a type of fold formed by doubling fabric back upon itself and securing it in place. It is commonly used in clothing and upholstery to gather a wide piece of fabric to a narrower circumference. Pleats are categorized as pressed, that is, ironed or otherwise heat-set into a sharp crease, or unpressed, falling in soft rounded folds. Pleats may also be partially sewn flat and allowed to fall open below. Small pleats sewn in place down their entire length are called tucks.
Types of pleats
Clothing features pleats for practical reasons (to provide freedom of movement to the wearer) as well as for purely stylistic reasons.
Shirts, blouses, jackets
Shirts and blouses typically have pleats on the back to provide freedom of movement and on the arm where the sleeve tapers to meet the cuff. The standard men's shirt has a box pleat in the center of the back just below the shoulder or alternately one simple pleat on each side of the back.
Jackets designed for active outdoor wear frequently have pleats (usually inverted box pleats) to allow for freedom of movement. Norfolk jackets have double-ended inverted box pleats at the chest and back.
Skirts and kilts
Pleats just below the waistband on the front of the garment are typical of many styles of formal and casual trousers including suit trousers and khakis. There may be one, two, three, or no pleats, which may face either direction. When the pleats open towards the pockets they are called reverse pleats (typical of khakis and corduroy trousers) and when they open toward the zipper, they are known as forward pleats.
You may also want to learn about sewing darts.
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