For a while now, I’ve wondered how to create one of those pleated necklines so often seen on Ready-To-Wear tops and dresses like this. Were the pleats a part of the pattern? Could I pleat the fabric first and place the basic block on top afterwards (er, no…)? Where would I place the pleats and how wide should they be?
My questions were answered by my pattern-cutting tutor who showed me how to adapt my bodice block into a pattern for a wide-necked, pleated top that would need no zips or closures. I sewed the top impatiently one weekend afternoon, desperate to see how it would turn out but not holding out much hope for making a wearable garment. No money was spent: the thread had been a giveaway and the green bias tape was a remnant so old that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thrown it away! The fabric – a beautifully printed Alexander Henry poplin - was also a freebie. I doubted that I’d ever be able to create a wearable garment out of it, on account of its strange background colour which I can only describe as Nicotine! So, imagine my surprise when this first draft, my glorified calico, turned out to be quite graceful and a real pleasure to wear.
My Nicotine Surprise is not without its faults. The poplin is too stiff to show off the design to any advantage. The pleats point downwards towards the bust point whereas ideally they should radiate out like sun rays from a circular neck. Also, the next time I make this top, I’ll place the neckline on the bottoms of the pleat stitching, so that their construction is entirely hidden in the seam allowance.
All I need is a trip to Goldhawk Road for the right fabric and lots of tracing papers to show you guys how to do it too!