Pleating With or Without Interfacing – That is the question.

Recently we read a discussion on Facebook about pleating with or without a fabric stabilizer. The person writing the post was using one of our recent “Flash Sale” –  Gorgeous Swiss wool-polyester blend challis fabrics!  This drapey fabric seems perfect for many projects. . . warm or cold weather, children’s or adult clothing, dresses, tops, shawls … but what happens when you want to pleat this type of fabric?  The hand of this beautiful fabric is soft, and it drapes beautifully. One would think that because it runs through a smocking pleater like a dream, that surely it wouldn’t become a nightmare after removing it from the pleater needles!
9518 blog 9The drapey hand of this fabric can make pleating seem like a sinister game! haha!   The fabric would not return to its original, crisp, even pleats.  There was too much “bounciness” in the challis.

There were several excellent responses on Facebook to the original post about the struggle to pleat and have a good result.  We were curious about which would work best for us, so gave it a little test! Several folks suggested using a lightweight fusible interfacing on the back of the challis prior to pleating.
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But which interfacing would be the best for the job? We offer several different weights of interfacing that are appropriate for fabrics just like this poly-wool challis.  Baby Interfacing & German Interfacing were our first choices.  They lend themselves to lighter weight fabrics & they adhere to fabrics in a way that helps leave the fabric in it’s original form, not changing the weight or hand drastically.


Ironing on the Baby & German Interfacing: 
When preparing your fabric before attaching interfacing, we want to make sure that the grain of our 2 fabrics is going in the same direction.  This helps to make the fabric & interfacing act as one, moving & stretching in the same direction.  An easy way to do this is line up your selvage edge for both fabrics before ironing!

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The steps we follow for ironing on interfacing
1. Iron the project fabric first so that there are no wrinkles before attaching the interfacing
2. Cut interfacing to the project’s desired size
3. Lay project fabric face down on the ironing board, then place interfacing fabric with fusible side down (this will be on the back side of the project fabric).  The glue/fusible side of the interfacing has a slightly textured feel.
4. Place pressing cloth on top of interfacing fabric & press on a medium heat setting. (We use either a fat quarter of silk organza or a fat quarter of Swiss cotton organdy for a pressing cloth)
5. Make sure that the entire section of interfacing has completely adhered to the fabric before moving on to the next step! This will be important when pleating the two fabrics as one piece. If the interfacing has places that have not completely adhered, the interfacing will wrinkle when it is rolled onto the dowel rod.

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A few pointers that we just learned about our baby interfacing came from Joy Welsh of ‘Applique for Kids’ during her recent trip to Farmhouse Fabrics!
1. To cut on a straight line, a thread can be pulled on Baby Interfacing!!!  And it usually pulls beautifully from one side of the fabric to the other! (Make a small clip into the selvage edge of the interfacing. Find a horizontal thread, and pull across the fabric. The “pulled thread” line will indicate the straight of the grain. Cut, following that line.)
2.  Using a pressing cloth, place your iron on one section of the fabric/interfacing combo and let it rest for 10 seconds before moving to another section.

So, all in all, use an interfacing with a drapey fabric to help make pretty pleats!  But, it depends on what you’re wanting from your project as to which interfacing to use.  Baby Interfacing is a little lighter weight than German Interfacing.  The Baby Interfacing changed the fabric the least, but German Interfacing made the pleats the most straight.  If you are wanting a very defined pleat, use German.  If you are most concerned about the softness of the hand in the pleated area, Baby Interfacing is the stabilizer to use!

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Farmhouse Fabrics had a very fortunate “FIND” with this group of elegant Swiss fabrics!! They are so ideal for our mild winters, and they will make cozy garments for our Northern friends, as well! We love the Swiss poly-wool blends, because they are machine washable, and our little ones can wear them without anyone worrying about the fabric care!!  We have many gorgeous colors – keep watching for more on our website!

Please send us photos of your sewing projects!  We would like to share them to inspire others.

Precious Patterns for Pleating!
9518 blog 13 michie9518 blog 12 michie9518 blog 11 9518 blog 15 elle mc

Other wool fabrics that you might want to try!
9518 froth 49518 froth 29518 froth 3

For great step-by-step video tutorials like using a pleater or construction of some of the above patterns, visit Sarah Classic Sewing YouTube page at!!!

For more products like these, visit Farmhouse Fabrics at

3 thoughts on “Pleating With or Without Interfacing – That is the question.

  1. Rachel says:

    Hi, this is great information but I am a bit confused. The first picture has all of the fabric that is not going to be pleated going through the rollers on the right side. Is this recommended for this kind of fabric? When I was taught to use a pleater, I was taught to only put the fabric through the rollers that you want to be pleated, the rest is kept to the left side, out of the rollers.


    • farmhousefabrics says:

      Hi Rachel, Please don’t let our picture confuse you. We do pleat the way you mentioned – with only the fabric to be pleated going through the rollers. This was just a picture to show the pleating with interfacing behind the fabric – If we were pleating our actual project, the “skirt” part would be hanging off to the left of the pleater, and only the fabric to be pleated would be in the rollers. Sally


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