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This is another cool sculptural technique. However, like the polyhedrons, also this one requires quite a lot of time. You can use accordion-pleats as a way of creating several layers of the same shape, highlighting parts of the garment’s seams. This is the more discreet version. Or you can use it to add sculptural parts to your garment, such as sleeves and collars. At my recent post  http://www.theshapesoffabric.com/2018/01/31/pattern-magic-part-1/ there was an example where the accordion-pleats practically covered the whole bodice. I’ve also done some skirts with this technique. I like to call them lampshade-skirts, as they kind of look like lampshades!

Here’s an example of the layer-version with accordion-pleats inserted into a bodice-front. It was a task at Shingo Sato’s latest Masters’ Challenge.

And the more well-known accordion-collar.

Basic accordion-pleat technique explained

1. First you choose what kind of shape you want to create and draw that. I made examples of three different profiles.

Then you separate the depth of the pleats, which is going to be the pattern for the pleats. Mine have all different depths. The one on the right doesn’t have a separate pleat-pattern, as I made the pleats in maximum depth. However this means that it can’t be opened so it’ll only work in the case of creating layers.

2. Decide how many layers or pleats you want to have. You’ll need to cut double amount of pieces, as they’ll be sewn in pairs. The ”covers” are optional. Usually you’d only need one anyways. They’ll need one pleat-piece each, too. I wanted 5 pleats and I have 2 covers, so my total amount of pieces is 12 per shape.

3. Arrange the pleats in pairs and sew them right sides together from the outer edge. If you’ve chosen to make the maximum depth of pleats, leave space at both ends of the seams. You’ll have to trim off some bulk at those points.

4. Turn around and press.

5. Now you can sew all the pairs together from the inner edge and attach the pile to the covers.

Here are the resulting shapes:

skirt with accordion pleats

An example of adding accordion-pleats to a garment

This is the most recent piece I posted on Instagram.

It’s a bodice with accordion pleats added in between the different seams. This would be a case of creating layers. Now I’ll explain how it was done.

The pattern

I divided the bodice into 4 sections absorbing the bust-dart along the way. The blue-rectangles are my accordion-pleat -patterns. I marked where they are attached to the other pieces. I also added a little facing to get a finished edge.

Cutting and sewing

In this case I only wanted 4 layers, as the fabric isn’t so light-weight. This technique easily creates lots of bulk. My bodice pattern-pieces would be the ”covers” and I also needed one piece underneath to fill up an empty space that remains. So in the end I needed to cut 20x each of the 3 accordion shapes (left and right side). Here are all my pieces after cutting:

At this point I paired the accordion pleats and sewed them together from the outer edge and also sewed one piece to each of the bodice sections, leaving a space at both ends of the seams.

After trimming, I turned all the pieces around and pressed them. Here’s an example of section 4 and its accordion-pleats. Notice one extra bit left stranded.

Before proceeding I cut off some bulk at each end of the seams as shown here.

It was easiest to sew together (from the inner edge) only two pairs at a time, attach the stranded bit under one of them and only then sew the two piles together and finally to the bodice.

2x 2 pairs
Stranded bit sewn under one of the piles

I had to flatten these two angles with some stitches, as they remained too bulky even after trimming. I stitched the black fabric only, not the bodice-part.

Now all the sections were ready.

What was left was to sew everything together. It was quite difficult because of the bulk.

Then it was time to attach the facing, clip the seam-allowance and finish off with edge-stitching. If possible, this part was even more difficult than the previous one, but in the end I managed to sew it.

Final words on accordion-pleats

As general advice I’d say Only use light-weight fabrics in the case of creating layers and it’ll be all much easier. Personally I prefer using this technique to create sculptural shapes. In that case it’s better to use a heavier weight fabric. The skirts would even require some inner wires and hoops to maintain the shape because it’s a heavy construction.

If you decide to use this technique or have already done something, I’m definitely curious to see the results!

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