Sunday, March 18, 2012

pleater anatomy

There seems to be quite a few new smockers (is that a word?)out in the sewing world, and they always have questions about pleaters and how they work. There is a wide range of pleater brands to choose from. My first pleater was a Read 16-row pleater, which after a few years I upgraded and bought a Sally Stanley 24-row pleater. I recently purchased a Pullen 16-row pleater at an Estate Sale, but haven't had a chance to try it out. 
Since I took so many pictures, I will be splitting this into a two-part series on pleaters and pleating. Hopefully it will answer a lot of questions that anyone might have about pleaters and pleating.
 This is my Sally Stanley Pleater on a
Pleating Thread Box 
 The box is hinged and holds 24 spools of thread, altho I currently have only 18 - I wanted you to see the dowel that the spools ride on. The ends of the thread slide between 2 pieces of velcro tape. I use quilting thread in my pleater, as the thread is stronger and won't break when pulling it thru the pleats. I also try to use lights and darks in colors - the white I use for holding rows and black is used on light fabrics and yellow on darker fabrics. Sometimes I alternate yellow and black on items pleated with many rows. 
This is what the pleater needles look like. They are "S" shaped at the pointed end, which allows them to ride between the pleater rollers.
The far right side of the pleater has a hand crank - this is how you crank the fabric thru the pleater to get your pleats.
Either end of the pleater has a screw, which allows for removal of a pleating roller so that needles can be inserted.
Once both screws are loosened, the little metal holder can be moved out of the way so that the pleater roller can be removed.
Once the pleating roller is removed, you can see how the needles are set within the other pleating rollers.
On my Sally Stanley, there are grooves to place needles for 1/2-space rows if desired. I don't usually pleat 1/2 rows, but they are very helpful especially for those learning to smock or for smocking doll or preemie clothes.
Each needle is carefully placed into the grooves, then the pleating roller is put back in place and tighten down the screws to hold in place. You want to make sure not to tighten the screws too hard, or the roller will be hard to move - if it's too loose the screws tend to make the roller push outward, which will make needles bend or break.
Once the pleating roller is in, you will thread the needles from the top and thru the eye.
Next Sewing Journal entry will be on prepping fabric and pleating. I hope you enjoyed the anatomy of the pleater. As always, if you have any questions, just leave a comment here and I will do my best to answer!

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Linda Kay said...

I am interested in purchasing a 24 needle pleater and would like your opinion as to the best pleater as far as ease of use, results and value for the price,

Vicki Freeman said...

Great info - thanks so much for posting this! :)

Susan Ross said...

Hey Laurie, I ask everyone I can and so far noone has an answer... I had an heirloom sewing and smocking shop and when it closed, I sold my 24 row Read, thinking I had a 16 row Read and wouldn't need the bigger one. Well, I had a hard time with the smaller one, so bought another 24 row online, a Sally Stanley. It pleats with the long thread on the right side! It really doesn't matter on an insert, but on some things, like a bishop it matters! On those I have just been smocking on the side with the long stitches, and I guess it doesn't matter really, but what the heck?? Why is it doing this?

Laurie said...

Susan, I always pleat with the right side of the fabric up and the long stitches are on the back - which way are you pleating? right-side up or down? Really on my SS pleater it's hard to even see which side has the long stitches - they are soooo close to being the same.

Elsie said...

Laurie you are so lucky to get that presser. I have always wanted one too but like you say they are pricey. I love your pillowcase dress, sooo cute. I've made a few of those. I love to create different ones. Thanks again for refreshing my memory on smocking.
I really appreciate your time you take to teach me all over again.

Unknown said...

I have decided to start smocking again after many years of absence. I still have my pleater but I am looking for a thread box like yours. Where may I purchase one?
Thank you in advance.

clee said...

Im a beginner and want to learn how to smocked Bishop dress, I wonder if I can use sewing machine to do the pleater or better pleat by hand? I am lost. Would you please help. Thank you very much


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