Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Pleater Machine

Ever wondered how in the world people who do hand smocking on children's clothes make those perfect little pleats without wanting to blow their brains out?  It's very simple, they use a pleater machine.  Also called a smocking machine (because you use it to make the pleats for smocking).  I have the pleasure right now of borrowing one of these fantastically simple but effective machines.  it kind of looks like a pasta press of death. I spent all day Sunday learning it and some sample stitching while "slaying" to approx 8 hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the hubby and kitties.

 This is the set up.
Fabric rolled evenly on a dowl rod inserted into the back holder of the Pleater machine
Pleater Rollers filled with fabric
Special Curved Pleater Needles
Thread for each needle
Fabric already worked
Bin of threads

The hot mess that keeps the rest of the fabric and machine in order.  There really isn't a better way that I can think of then putting them in a basket and paying that they stay reasonably untagled as they are slowly threading out.

 As the Fabric is pleated it is also forced onto the pleater needles to keep their shape.  you use bright and different colored threads so that you can easily see and place the different stitches.  When the fabric starts to get clustered you have to pull it down through the needles and thread to keep moving the fabric through.  It's a little unnerving to rely all these perfect tiny pleats on some needles and thread that seem so delicate in comparison to the rest of the machine.

This was about one yard of fabric densely condensed into about a foot of yardage after the pleats.

 Once you  have your machine set up you do NOT want to cut the threads until you think you have done all the fabric you need for that time.  Also make sure you pull out enough space between all the fabric so you can cut the thread and tie them off as you like for security so the pleats don't become unraveled.  I did a sample of Muslin to start, Silk Organza and then this green cotton that I have ideas for.  I'm not looking to put any of these into clothing but I do want to get the maximum potential in manipulation and surface textures.

This was my sampler on the muslin of some traditional smocking patterns and stitches before I decide on what I am going to do with my other lovelies!  As I make the stitches I pull a little bit of the pleat open so that I can see the colored threads and it helps to keep this straight as well as pattern out the design.  I'm really looking forward to pushing the extent of what I can do with this.  Especially with the Silk Organza where it has transparency.

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