Fabric Manipulation Techniques | Pleating with Ruth Singer

The art of manipulating fabric has inspired fashion students for decades. There are so many techniques to learn and such a diverse range of practical applications once you have accomplished the skills. Ruth Singer gives an insight into different methods of fabric manipulation and focuses on how pleats can be used in your sewing projects.

Ruth SingerRuth Singer has exhibited extensively in the UK and overseas, and has won several commissions and awards. Ruth’s work is heavily inspired by historic textiles, museum objects and personal heritage. She works with schools and community groups, and runs regular fabric manipulation workshops and creative events from her studio in Leicester. Discover more about Ruth, her inspirations and her background in sewing in my Ruth Singer interview.

Ruth’s brand new book, Fabric Manipulation, offers instruction on 150 creative sewing techniques including folding, gathering, smocking, quilting, trapunto and applique. The book begins with pleating, which is commonly used by dressmakers to add dimension to garments. I chatted to Ruth Singer to learn more about pleating techniques:

“I first became fascinated by pleating when I started studying 18th century costume. The most luxurious women’s gowns have lavish decorations down the front, often made from pleating, folded, stitched or gathered fabric. Once I started to explore, I found all sorted of pleated and folded decoration on costume from all kinds of periods and from all over the world.

Fabric Manipulation Ruth SingerOne of my favourite pieces is a 1940s hat with a pleated grosgrain trim which I bought in a vintage dress shop. It took some experimentation to work out the technique used to make it but I got it eventually. Other techniques in the book have also come directly from historic clothing, although I tend to add my own interpretation to them. The Dips and Diamonds fold is inspired by a Victorian dress in the V&A Museum in London.

Decorative box pleating has been one of my favourites for years; I learnt the technique from 1980s books about soft furnishings where it was created using ribbon to make decorative trim. I have used the technique to create embellished cushions and cuffs and a few years ago developed the technique further to create a double-sided Box Pleat Neckpiece from silk organza.

Fabric Manipulation Ruth SingerOther techniques in the ‘Pleat & Fold’ chapter are a mixture of quite well-known techniques that I have seen around for a few years, some origami techniques transposed to fabric, and my own techniques that I have created simply by experimenting, such as Wings and Aeroplanes.”

Learn all of these techniques and many more in Ruth Singer’s latest book Fabric Manipulation. With diagrams and full colour photographs for 150 creative sewing techniques, along with innovative project ideas, this is an essential resource for all abilities.

Have you made any projects using pleating or folding techniques? Leave a comment or post to our Facebook page to tell me more.

What will you create today?

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