Lessons in Pleatership

Readers,

Jack prepares to take down the pegboard and pull off the grasscloth wallpaper.

Jack prepares to take down the pegboard and pull off the grass cloth wallpaper.

I miss my sewing domain.

A week ago Jack and I folded up my worktables and took my pegboard, which stored a lot of sewing tools, down from the walls. Jack pulled off most of the grasscloth wallpaper that a previous owner had put up.  Sunday I started scraping off any remaining paper backing and dried adhesive still on the walls. I was pleasantly surprised that in an hour I’d cleaned up about 50 square feet.

My turn! Ready to sponge the walls with warm water and scrape paper scraps and adhesive off.

My turn! Ready to sponge the walls with warm water and scrape off paper scraps and adhesive.

I have to be careful not to overdo pressure on my elbows and wrists, so I’m breaking up the scraping job into more hour-long segments over the next several days.

I have a bunch of sewing projects started. They are either on the runway waiting for takeoff or flying in circles overhead waiting for the signal to land. They’ll have to wait a while longer.  I could set up a temporary sewing space, but it might not be worth the trouble.

Our builder expects to come next week. The plan is to make a finished storage space behind the mystery door, refinish the staircase, install recessed lights in the ceiling and put some shelves in an alcove.  Jack and I will prime and paint the walls.

Once the work starts it may go quickly. But not quickly enough for me.

I miss my sewing domain.

Catalog# 1983.050.001: Circular red and green wool plaid cape, 1890-1899.

Catalog# 1983.050.001: Circular red and green wool plaid cape, 1890-1899. (Photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

In the meantime, I’m continuing my one volunteer morning a week at the Goldstein Museum of Design, sifting through the donor files. I always like to see whether  the donated clothing, shoes, hats, or other accessories have been photographed yet for the image database.

This week I handled the file of Mary Sue Reed, who donated this magnificent cape made in the 1890s. And, happily, it had been photographed. Isn’t this detail amazing?

When I got a closer look at the trim, I said to myself,

“That’s box pleating!”

Box pleating finishes the hood and collar. (photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

Box pleating finishes the hood and collar. (photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

 

Good old box pleating. I had made yards and yards of it for the draperies, valances and pillows that now grace our living room and dining room.

And now I was seeing it on a garment, used to great effect.

As I looked more closely I realized that I had relegated box pleating to the realm of soft furnishings. But now I saw how versatile this technique could be.

Shelly Isaacson could have told me that.

Box pleating run riot. (photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

Box pleating run riot. (photo: Goldstein Museum of Design)

She’s the one who designed all the draperies, valances, upholstery, seat cushions and pillows in the living room and dining room, and who taught me how to sew most of them. (The upholstery I farmed out to a pro.)

Shelly doesn’t create artificial boundaries between dressmaking and soft furnishings. Things must be designed for their purpose, of course, understanding the requirements of the wearer–be it a person, a sofa, or a window.

But a technique like box pleating can work within those requirements just fine. Here are examples.

Small box pleating finishes the edge of the valance, while the leading edge of the drapery has a large version.

Small box pleating finishes the edge of the valance, while the leading edge of the drapery has a large version.

 

Closeup: small and large box pleats

Closeup: small and large box pleats

 

Box pleats similar in size, but different in bulk, complementing the neighboring fabric.

Box pleats similar in size, but different in bulk, complementing the neighboring fabric.

Box pleats serve as a transition between the two main fabrics in these draperies.

Box pleats serve as a transition between the two main fabrics in these draperies.

A reward for getting up close.

A reward for getting up close.

Box pleating finishes the edge of a pillow.

Box pleating finishes the edge of a pillow.

A closer look.

A closer look.

So, what is my lesson in pleatership?

Don’t box yourself in.

Start here.

Start here.

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2 thoughts on “Lessons in Pleatership

  1. What a great tribute to the tedious work you did on the box pleats. The pleats are a gorgeous detail connecting the soft furnishings in your LR/DR. A personal collection, which reflects your self expression and lovingly integrates with the beauty that you have created for yourself.

    • The wonderful effect was definitely worth it, Shelly! And okay, sometimes the pleating was tedious, but there’s also something satisfyingly rhythmic about doing it, too.

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