In the course of my reading about constructing Victorian ensembles, I’d come across various methods for making lengths of pleated trim– using a ruffler foot, fork-pleating, eyeballing it, and the “Perfect Pleater.” That last is basically a length of pleated cardboard that you tuck your fabric into and iron to form uniform pleats. Unfortunately name-brand Perfect Pleaters can cost upwards of $150.00, which is kind of insane for something that simple. I knew I’d be making my own at some point, so when I started on my 1880s Squirrel Bustle Dress I figured it was time.
After viewing a couple of online tutorials I decided to follow this one, which seemed the most straightforward and efficient. Instead of posterboard it uses unpasted wallpaper lining paper, which is a nice, heavy paper that comes in rolls so you can make a long pleated section without having to join up separate sheets. Once you’ve marked off your pleating lines and folded them together, you use spray adhesive to glue the whole thing to a fabric backing so it stays together.
I decided to make my pleater board 12×24″ to fit onto my fold-down ironing board– that meant the total length of paper pre-pleating would be three times that long (plus an inch on either end). Since my wallpaper lining was something like 27″ wide, I figured I’d just cut it in half, lengthwise, to make two identical pleater boards– obviously, I did this *after* measuring, marking, and forming my pleats, to avoid having to do twice as much work.
For 1″ pleats with a 1″ return, I marked off alternate lengths of 2″ and 1″ on each side of the paper, then drew in the fold lines with a pencil. Using the tip of a butter knife, I scored the lines to make it easier to fold them later.
I used my metal yardstick to help fold the paper along the scored lines, then ironed the paper flat– or at least, as flat as I could. The large sheet of paper was a little unwieldy to work with at first, but I managed to wrangle it into pleats. Since the iron didn’t do the best job and making those pleats stay flat for long, afterwards I weighed down the whole thing under a flat surface to encourage it to stay flat in preparation for my next step.Continue reading