Skein Passion

Luscious 'fioro' hand died merino-silk yarn skeins from The Yarn Bowl in the shades sepia rose, abalone and plum purple As Valentines day approaches sprinklings of pink hearts and cutesy romance sayings start popping up all over the place. Yarn sales are overflowing with red and pink colourways and patterns are dotted with love knots.  But I want to talk about Passion. That deep intense desire you experience when you touch that divine squishy yarn skein, you know the one I'm talking about, that skein that makes your heart sing. It's a magic colour, squishing it is like touching a cloud with the lustre of angels. The yarn of your dreams. Where were you when you had that experience the first time? In a specialty yarn store looking at the silk-alpaca blends? I'm willing to bet it wasn't, more likely it was at the discount store passing the bargain aisle and this little ball of fluff caught your eye and you sighed and squished it and wished you had the skill to turn

Fast Easy Box Pleats

I made a start on the Blue challenge for HSM this morning which is very exciting because the month isn't even half way through yet!

I cut out the tampico style bustle from the new fabric which I have in both Alice blue and a pale ivory. They are meant to be the same fabric however the ivory has a softer hand then the blue.

Easy Box Pleats

Although I had intended to use the ivory for the body of the bustle and blue for the binding I have switched them due to the difference in stiffness even after washing.

The fist thing you'll notice with the tampico bustle is all the pleats. This time I am only using 6 rows of pleats, the same as the bustle at the Met Museum. I am doing 12 pleats per strip. That's 72 box pleats in total.

fabric strip to be pleated

I'm going to show you the fast, easy way to make box pleats in just a moment, but first I want to mention it is far to hot for ironing so please forgive my lack of pressing.Of course you will press yours for a beautiful finish.

This is how I used to pin box pleats.

Don't do pleats like this.

Carefully marking up each pleat pining and pressing everything perfectly into place. All the math would hurt my brain.

If you do this for 72 box pleats you will probably go mad or at the very least be a gibbering mess under your ironing board about half way through.

But don't despair there is a faster way.

Let's get started

First we're going to mark up knife pleats using a spacer. You can cut a sapcer out of cardboard or use whatever you have on hand. I'm doing 1 inch box pleats so I am using my ruler which is 1" wide.

use a spacer to make knife pleats

To mark the first knife pleat wrap your fabric strip around your spacer and pin as close to your spacer as you can. I started 3" from the edge of my fabric but you can start in the middle or wherever works best for your project. 

The folded edge will become the centre of the box pleat. You will see how that works shortly. 

To mark the second box pleat use the first pleat as a spacer, put your ruler underneath the fabric and position it against the folded edge of the first pleat. Fold the strip around the ruler and pin top and bottom as shown.

marking up box pleats the easy way

Rinse and repeat

Here's a top down view. 

marking up box pleats the easy way

You don't have to pin the top and bottom but your fabric will curl all over the place if you don't as pictured below, this will drive you crazy when you try to baste the pleats in place. 

what happens if you don't pin top and bottom

Very quickly you will have a lovely long strip of pleats.

lots of knife pleats ready to become box pleats

 It helps if you fluff the folds open at this point.

knife pleats fluffed open


Set your machine to a long stitch - I generally set mine to 3 - push each pleat open then flatten and baste into place.

baste pleats into position

A seam gauge is very handy to slip into the pleat and push the folds into place if any small adjustments are needed as you're sewing.

That's it! Easy.