Fabric Manipulation Tutorial

I love playing around with fabrics, researching different fabric manipulation techniques and developing my own. For my Faces of Water collection, I decided to create a special technique, based on the simple knife pleats. Pleats are a popular because they add dimension and structure to the surface and I decided to take it further. Having my concept in mind, I pondered on the structure and fluidity found in water, how a ripple is created with clean cut lines in water which is so fluid in contrast. So here is how I did it.

faces of water, Alexa Liss

I am a real believer in explorational design, playing around with fabric on the dress form, shaping, forming, manipulating the physical material before the design in finalized on paper.

fabric manipulation1

So I began with making knife pleats. I realized that for this garment, I would have to sew them lose before attaching them onto the fabric. In order to achieve this, I pinned the pleats onto a firm cushion. Then, I sewed each one with a prick stitch, so that the tiniest amount of thread is visible on the right side. It’s not easy to get to the right spot and make sure you don’t catch part of the cushion underneath the fabric, so I used an unwanted plastic card which I slid underneath, pushing it further against each next pin as I removed the ones I didn’t need to hold the sewn pleat down.


tutorial fabric 2

After completing the whole thing, you’re left with a loose pleated application. (I thought it looked rather endearing as a creepy crawly creature, LOL).

I cut off the ends as in this design I did not want them, but in the next example it was the opposite. I left the edges and prick sewed them into wavy abstract forms, leaving the lowest edges long enough to form the top layer of the skirt. See how I used the same technique in a different application for my next dress.

pleats tutorial  4


 fabric manipulation

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