Doll Clothing

Cartridge Pleating

I love cartridge pleating! No other hand-sewing technique is more beautiful.  Used extensively during the 15th and 16th centuries, cartridge pleating had a resurgence in 1830’s – 1860’s.


Click on this link to watch the 14 minute video :  Link to Learning Cartridge Pleating video

Yesterday I was cartridge pleating the skirt of a reproduction c.1830’s baby dress and on the spur of the moment decided to make a quick how-to video.  Totally unscripted and off the cuff 🙂 , but hopefully helpful to any of you who would like to add more fullness and a marvelous period detail to your reproduction Izannah Walker doll clothing.  You can easily modify the skirt of my Izannah Walker Doll Clothes Pattern to change from a gathered to cartridge pleated skirt.

Dress made using my Izannah Walker dress pattern, with the addition of a cartridge pleated skirt and contrasting fabric trim.
Cartridge pleated dress made of antique double pink fabric.
Close-up showing a cartridge pleated skirt and bodice on a woman's reproduction c. 1830's gown.
Close-up of cartridge pleating at the top of an 1830's sleeve.
The inside of a cartridge pleated skirt. Notice that the amount of fabric turned down for the cartridge pleating increases by 1/2 inch from the right side of the photo to the left. This is intentional.
This is what the baby dress shown in the video looks like now that I have completed it.
Close-up of the waistband and pleating on my reproduction c.1830's baby dress.

8 thoughts on “Cartridge Pleating

    1. Jan,
      I’m glad you liked it 🙂 The dress in the video has a skirt width of 66 inches and it is pleated on to an 18 inch waistband, so that’s a little more than 3x the waist measurement. You can use more fabric in a cartridge pleated skirt than you can a gathered skirt – but it is possible to get too much – so that you won’t be able to make it small enough to sew on to the waistband! There are no hard and fast rules that I know of. You can adjust the pleats to be deeper – and use more fabric – by using a longer stitch length when you make your two parallel rows of running stitches. Conversely, if you do not have very much fabric available for your skirt, but still want to make cartridge pleats, you can make shorter, tinier, running stitches and have shallower pleats that use less fabric (and you can spread them out a bit so they aren’t so close together when you sew them on to the waistband). So you actually have a fair amount of flexibility, just like when using gathers.

      1. Thanks! I’m looking forward to trying this…and you made it awfully easy. Now to see how one uses one of those “pleaters” you mentioned. :~}

      2. Jan,
        Next time I have the box out that has my pleater in it, I’ll try to remember to take a few shots of it in action. You can probably find some videos floating around somewhere that show one. It’s the Martha Pullen Pleater and it is usually used for English smocking. To use it for cartridge pleating you have to remove most of the needles, so that it only stitches two rows (or tops 3 if you a nervous about the thread breaking). The current going price for a pleater is $160.00, so I suggest that everyone, who is considering buying one, try cartridge pleating first to see if it is something that you like to do. 🙂

        When you do give it a try, I’d love to see a photo of how it turns out!


  1. Thank you for doing this! I am making an 1860-era dress, and the written instructions for cartridge pleats was vague, to say the least. Now I think I am capable of finishing this project!

  2. A warm welcome to you for sharing your cartridge pleating video. I have attempted my first cartridge pleating for a dress I made my doll. (Hope to take your classes one day)

    Bethann Scott

    1. Bethann,

      I’m glad that you found my video useful 🙂 Cartridge pleating is the best!!! Just let me know when you are ready, I’d be thrilled to have you in my Izannah class.


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