Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Visit to International Pleating

Do you ever look down at what you're wearing and comtemplate the construction of your clothes? Look and wonder how exactly it was done? Look at the stitching and wonder about that french seam, the top stitch on your jeans, the serged edge of a t-shirt, or the pleats in your skirt? Well the pleats in general have always been something I never understood but also never looked into, to understand how exactly they become pleated. This recently changed after my New York trip.

International Pleating is a family owned and operated textile pleating business that has been in operation since 1931. Located in the heart of the garment district of NYC, I first found them on Instagram a few months ago, and was fascinated at their behind the scenes photos of their couture pleating company. They are truly masters in their field. After an email exchange with George, I set up a visit during my recent trip to NYC. It was so amazing to see first hand, a textiles business in action. They showed me all around their shop, and I even sat down and enjoyed some homemade apple pie and coffee with them!

Did you know there are three methods used to pleat fabric. One, hand pleating. Folding the fabric pleat by pleat. Two, pattern pleating. This method employs the use of cardboard pattern, a pleater's board. The fabric is sandwiched between the cardboard pieces of the pattern and exposed to high heats, to set the pleat in the fabric. Three, machine pleating, above. The use of a pleating machine is the least labor intensive of all the other methods. It uses a machine for simpler pleats like a box or crystal pleat. Read more about the three methods on their blog.

It was incredible to see how fabric is pleated, first hand. Take the above pink silk, available here, for example. It was once just plain pink silk, and after International Pleating is done with it, the fabric takes on a whole new look. Makes me wish I have the resources to pleat my own fabric.

George, the fourth generation pleater in his family, taught me so much in my hour long visit to his shop, I can't wait to continue to read his blog and improve my own skills in cutting fabric and garment construction. For all you fellow designers out there, check out their site. He is very passionate about helping young people out, showing them insights into cutting and pleating to help eliminate possible headaches we'll inevitably encounter. I love when experts in their field are so willing to pay it forward. 

I can't wait for my next visit to the city, when I'll be able to see more of the Garment District and companies like this. Meeting more future colleagues and possibly coworkers. Someday very soon.


All pictures taken from International Pleating.

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  1. I've always wondered about pleats! Pleated skirts and dresses are some of my favorite, most flattering, and fun fancy things to wear! Seriously in love with that city-scape print and the gorgeous colors and textures International Pleating is able to produce! What a treat :) Really enjoyed this post, and so glad you took advantage of the Garment District and shared your experience with us <3

  2. You used to be able to buy your own press and pleat boards in the early 2000s from fabric stores (similar to the 2nd method you described) but they seem to be hard to come by in recent years. I wish I had bought one then, but I'll have to keep looking/still do big hand pleats. They might still exist!

  3. That's pretty incredible...so excited for you new ventures! You are so talented!