Transform plain, flat ribbon into decorative pleated embellishments.

How to Pleat a Ribbon

by Fern Fischer

Simple folds create elegant ribbon pleats that add a special touch to sewing and craft projects. No matter what type of ribbon you use -- florist, gift-wrap or textile -- the folding techniques to make ribbon pleats are the same. Florist or gift-wrap ribbon is easy to crease, and you can simply staple the pleats in place. Working with textile ribbon may be a bit trickier, but if you measure and mark accurately and press carefully, your pleats will be precise and evenly spaced.

1. Knife Pleats

1 Mark the width you want for the pleats on the back of the ribbon with pencil or fabric-marker dots. For example, if you want 1-inch pleats, mark dots at every inch along one edge of the ribbon back.

2. Knife Pleats

2 Imagine the dots being numbered in sequence starting at one end of the ribbon. With the ribbon facing up, fold the ribbon at the "dot two" point, bringing dots one and three to meet on the back of the ribbon. Flatten the dot-two fold to meet dot four, creasing at dot three. The dot-two fold is now on top of the ribbon with the first pleated layers under it. Secure the pleat with a straight pin.

3. Knife Pleats

3 Fold at dot five, and flatten it to make a crease underneath at dot six. Pin the dot five pleat in place. Fold at dot eight and flatten it to make a crease underneath at dot nine. Pin the dot eight pleat in place. Continue in this manner along the length of the ribbon until it's pleated the way you want it.

4. Knife Pleats

4 Remove the pins, and press the pleat folds with a dry iron to set the creases.

5. Box Pleats

1 Mark the pleat width on the back of the ribbon with dots at each half-interval. For example, to make a 2-inch box pleat, mark at 1-inch intervals.

6. Box Pleats

2 Assign each dot an imaginary sequential number, beginning at one end of the ribbon. Fold up at the dot three point and bring the fold to meet dot one, with a crease under the pleat at dot two. Pin the pleat. Fold up at the dot five point and bring the fold to meet dot seven, with a crease under the pleat at dot six. Pin the pleat. Dot four remains uncreased, becoming the center top of the box pleat. One box pleat is completed. Notice that one fold extends in each direction along the ribbon, creating a pocket, or box, on the back of the ribbon.

7. Box Pleats

3 Fold up at the dot nine point and bring the fold to meet dot seven, with a crease under the pleat at dot eight. Pin the pleat. Fold up at the dot 11 point and bring the fold to meet dot 13, with a crease under the pleat at dot 12. Pin the pleat. Dot 10 is the uncreased center top of the second box pleat. Continue folding and pinning box pleats along the ribbon.

8. Box Pleats

4 Press the pleat folds, removing the pins before pressing, as you work along the length of ribbon.

Items you will need

  • Pencil or fabric marker
  • Ruler
  • Straight sewing pins
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Hand-sewing needle (optional)
  • Thread (optional)
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Fabric glue (optional)
  • Narrow masking tape (optional)

Tips

  • Test-pleat with paper strips to practice your technique and to calculate the total length of ribbon you’ll need.
  • Baste along a pleated edge after pressing to hold the pleats in place as you sew the ribbon into your project. You can also secure the folds with a drop of fabric glue at each fold or by applying a narrow strip of masking tape along the pleated edge. Remove the tape and basting stitches after the ribbon is permanently applied to the project.

Warning

  • Unplug the iron when you're not using it. Keep irons, scissors and pins out of the reach of children.

Photo Credits

  • Maria Teijeiro/Photodisc/Getty Images