Pleat: Meaning and Types

Prior to beginning the pleating process, it is simpler to hem the bottom of a garment. Depending on how much volume you want, the pleat depth can be shallow or deep. Pleats can be regulated by sewing the tops of them down or, in synthetic materials, by using a permanent press so the pleats stay in even after washing.

What is a Pleat?

Clothes are shaped by folds called pleats. These folds might be big or little, rectangular, triangle-shaped, irregular, or even rolled. From skirts and dresses to pants and jackets, you may discover a variety of pleat styles on a variety of various types of apparel. Pleats make garments appear fuller. A skirt with pleats, for instance, has sharp folds close to the waist. Nothing keeps the folds in place farther down the skirt, so when you walk, they are free to flare out around your knees or ankles, giving you freedom of movement.

So, a pleat is a fold in cloth that is secured in place at the top, bottom, or both by sewing. It gives a flat, uninteresting cloth some volume and interest. It accommodates the body’s curves and adds shape and volume where it is needed in garments. Pleats might be purely beautiful or utilitarian. Additionally, pleats can be seen on furniture corners and curtain tops that are part of the house’s décor. Pleats can be pushed only at the top or down the entire length.

Types of Pleat

There are many different types of pleats used in skirts and dresses in the fashion business, each with a specific name and function. The accordion, knife, and cascade pleats are a few examples. Having said that, to pleat fabric is just to give it a folded shape, so if you want, you may get creative and make all kinds of interesting folds. However, ready-to-wear apparel uses this kind of complex, origami-like fabric manipulation much less frequently than high fashion does.

Box Pleats

Box pleats, in which the fabric is forced outward, are more frequently employed in sewing projects such as curtains than in apparel. The box pleats might have one layer or two layers. The box pleats in the yellow dress are placed so closely together that they create inverted pleats in the middle. Pressing the cloth outward in equal-distance folds produces box pleats. The interior corners could be close together or apart.

Cascade Pleats

Cascade pleats use recurring symmetrical folds that are either inclined at an angle or tapering vertical folds that get larger as they cascade lower down the garment. This kind of fold is used in some sari designs to form six or more yards of silk into a wearable pattern! Cascade pleats are essentially tiny sunray folds that slope at an angle toward the bottom of the garment. These folds may also go by the names sunburst, sari, or sunray folds.

Inverted Pleats

Inverted pleats are commonly used in skirts and dresses. The fabric underneath can be the same, or occasionally an insert is used to add a splash of color. The majority of the time, inverted pleats are merely stitched at the top and not fully pressed. You can see that an inverted pleat is really just an upside-down box pleat by contrasting it with the box pleat shown above. The fabric is folded inward rather than outward.

Cartridge Pleats

Gauging, another name for cartridge pleats, is a technique for compacting several tiny, precisely calibrated folds of fabric into a small area. The technique is similar to using a gathering stitch, but the rows of basting stitches need to be precisely measured to produce tiny folds rather than uneven gathers. In contemporary clothing, cartridge folding isn’t very common. Cartridge pleats gave women’s long, thick garments—like petticoats—the robust, collected fullness required for such heavy apparel a couple hundred years ago. Today, hand sewing of this sort is common among those with an interest in historical reenactment or costumes.


Pintucks are small pleats that are stitched down the length of a garment. Additionally, rather than adding volume to clothing, they add intrigue and texture. Fine pintucks are commonly found along the front of tuxedo skirts. To give the appearance of depth, pintucks can also be sewed across in multiple orientations.

Accordion Pleats

Accordion pleats, which are used for dresses and skirts, are evenly spaced in and out pleats. To ensure that the pleat runs the full length of the skirt, permanent press fabrics are frequently used to create them.

Plisse Pleats

Plisse pleats begin as cartridge pleats but are held by wetting the folds with water, drying them under weight, and then repeating the process. Today, a unique kind of fabric called plisse cloth is where you will most frequently see this method employed. This substance may alternatively be known as crinkle crepe.

Mushroom Pleats

Nearly all mushroom pleats are machine-made and pre-set in cloth. They produce a fanciful, exquisite fabric that is popular for formal wear and has a looser, more linear shape than Fortuny pleats. This fold holds up well in synthetic materials like polyester, in contrast to Fortuny folds, which perform best in silk.

Knife Pleats

Knife pleats can be big or small, but they are all facing the same way. Skirts frequently use them. The pleats can be pressed all the way down, or they can start below the hips and be attached to the waistband.

Kick Pleats

Kick pleats are an inverted pleat style that is used on tight skirts to make walking easier. If you want to move more than a few inches at a time in any tight skirt below the knee, you will need some sort of pleat or spit.

Sunburst Pleats

Sunburst pleats resemble graduated pleats in appearance, but they are cut on the fabric’s bias to provide a distinctive flaring shape. These lovely folds are like rays spreading out from a narrower centre to a wider bottom. This style of fold may be used to fashion classy short sleeves for a dress. The hem of a skirt is sometimes adorned with elaborate sunburst pleats for an exquisite, flaring look. They have a swirly, high-volume skirt that looks far more exquisite than a straightforward gathered skirt since they are narrow at the top and spread at the bottom.


To sum up, all kinds of clothes are given shape and volume by various types of pleats for dresses and skirts. Usually pressed or sewn into place, a pleat is a shaped fold in fabric. Dresses and skirts gain volume thanks to a variety of folded pleat patterns. From a standard accordion shape to a cascading, tapering shape, these folds are available in a wide variety of sizes and configurations.