How to Take Pleats Out Of a Skirt, Dress, or Pants Easily

Pleats.. some people love them, some people hate them. If you fall into the second category, you've probably abandoned more than just a few items of pleated clothing to the back of your closet.

But is it really necessary? Is there a way to safely remove pleats without causing irreparable damage? Surprisingly, there is. Depending on the item in question, pleats can often be removed without any ill-effects.

Curious to learn more? Then you've come to the right place. Stay tuned as we guide you through how to safely and easily take pleats out of pants, skirts, dresses, and even jackets.

Can You Take Pleats Out of a Skirt?


Maybe a kind relative has treated you to a nice skirt with some ugly pleats. Maybe you've been tempted by a thrift store skirt with a gorgeous pattern but some frumpy pleats at the front. Regardless of how you came by your pleated skirt, there's no need to give up on it.

Those ill-placed pleats needn't be permanent. Best of all, you don't have to be a skilled tailor to get rid of them. With a little knowledge, a pair of scissors, and about 30 minutes of your time, those pleats will be history before you know it.

How to Take Pleats Out of a Skirt

Love the skirt but hate those pleats? Keep the one but not the other with this easy pleat-removal method.

  • Step 1 - Lay the skirt on a flat surface.
  • Step 2 - Using a pair of small-bladed scissors with a sharp tip (embroidery scissors or trimming scissors work well), snip along the tacking threads that are holding the pleat fingers together. Clip any additional tacking threads that run along the top edge of the pleats.
  • Step 3 - Gently pull the pleats away from the body of the skirt, opening up the fabric from which the pleat was made.
  • Step 4 - Once all the pleat stitching is removed, use a lint roller to pick up any snipped thread ends.
  • Step 5 - Press the skirt carefully at each pleat location. Use the most powerful setting the fabric of the skirt can take. Turn the skirt inside out and iron the pleat crases from the opposite side.

The more heat and steam you can apply to the marks, the more easily they'll be removed. If the crease lines are still obvious after you've finished ironing, spray them with a mixture of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water. If the material is delicate, test the solution on a small, inconspicuous part first.

Can You Remove Pleats From Pants?


Life would be so much easier if every question came with a straight yes or no answer. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way. Can you remove pleats from pants? It depends...

While most pants can be easily altered to remove the pleats, you might come across a problem when you try. When a pleat is added to a pattern, extra fabric is added from the waist to the hem to accommodate the pleat.

Take the pleat out, and you're suddenly facing a lot of excess material. If you simply try to slide this excess fabric out of the side seams, you'll end up distorting the grainline.

Depending on the style of the pants, this might not matter at all. The pants will still be wearable and it would take an eagle eye to spot the distortion. But it's worth bearing in mind that the pair of pants you end up with might look and feel a little different from the pair you started out with.

If you're happy enough to take the chance, then you shouldn't have too many problems in removing the pleats. If the pleats are located at the front or side of the pants, rather than the reverse, so much the better. Pleats like this can make your pants look outdated and frumpy, but can be easily removed with a bit of know-how.

How to Take Pleats Out of Pants

Are pleats making your pants look frumpy? Here's how to remove them.

  • Step 1 - Start by carefully removing the seams along the waistband where the pleats meet the band. Remove them all the way from the inside pleat to the pocket. Rip out any seams holding the pleats in place.
  • Step 2 - Remove the seam below the pockets by about 10 inches. Be careful to leave the top stitch of the pocket in place.
  • Step 3 - Beginning from just inside the topstitch on the pocket front, cut the pants down to where the pocket meets the side seam.
  • Step 4 - Pull the excess fabric released by the pleat and wrap it around the edge of the pocket. Smooth and pin in place, working with the grain of the fabric to ensure an even line.
  • Step 5 - Create a new topstitch by sewing along the edge of the pocket. Trim the excess fabric inside the pocket to around 2 inches. Use a zig-zag stitch to stop it from fraying. If you have a serger, you can serge it instead.
  • Step 6 - Make a cut at a 90-degree angle to the pocket on the excess fabric at the base of the pocket.
  • Step 7 - Flip the pants inside out. Pin any excess fabric below the pocket, paying careful attention to the grain of the fabric to ensure a smooth line. Flip the trousers right side out after you've finished and make sure the outside seam is smooth.
  • Step 8 - Once you're happy that the seam is smooth, turn the pants wrong side out and sew the seam in place.
  • Step 9 - Turn the pants right side out. Sew a 1/4 whip stitch along the bottom of the pocket to secure it against the inside of the pocket. Pin the top back in place and sew an invisible stitch at the base of the waistband and the base of each belt loop. And voila - from pleated to flat fronted in 9 easy steps.

Removing Pleats from a Pants Pattern


If you've got a great pattern that's ruined by some pesky pleats, don't panic. Removing the pleats from a pants pattern is actually far less challenging than you might think.

Where the pleat folds, simply fold it toward you and make a dart measuring around 4" in length. If the pleat is wide, you might prefer to divide it into two darts. Make the dart that's farthest out around 0.5 inch shorter than the other. And that's it.

Should Suit Pants Have Pleats?


If just the idea of pleated pants is enough to make you nauseous, you're not alone. Pleated pants awaken images of the very worst of 80s and 90s fashion. If you were around to experience the style the first time around, it's very unlikely you want to revisit it all these years later.

Current fashions tend to favor flat -front cuts, and for most people, that's just fine.

But what about those people who still think that suit pants should have pleats? That a pair of pants without a pleat or two is just too casual for a formal event. Do they have a point? Maybe, but as with most things, it all comes down to personal taste.

For most of us, all those pleats are just a nuisance. Not only can pleats instantly date an outfit, but they can look downright unattractive. As pleats pull a load of excess fabric into the rise area of pants (the area just below the waist), they can end up leading to some very unflattering 'ballooning' in the groin area....a look that even the best of us would struggle to pull off.

There is, however, an alternative. That ballooning look is typically only found on outward facing pleats, a style favored by Italian designers circa 1988.

The British style of pleat is quite different. Rather than facing outwards, the British style of pleat faces inward. The result is a crisp look that remains flat and avoids the dreaded ballooning.

Of course, you could just avoid the problem altogether and stick to flat-fronted cuts, a style that, no matter what the naysayers say, is actually more than smart enough to pull off even the most formal look.

How do You Take Pleats Out of a Dress?

Is your gorgeous frock being ruined by some nasty pleats? Here's how to take them out.

  • Step 1 - Turn the dress inside out. Inspect the pleats for stitching, which can sometimes be used to hold the pleat in place.
  • Step 2 - Use a pair of scissors or seam rippers to snip the stitches holding the pleat in place and release the fabric. Be careful to avoid damaging the seams or fabric.
  • Step 3 - Turn the dress right-side out and wash. While it's still wet, shake it out and attach it to a hanger to dry. Once dry, use a hot iron with plenty of steam to iron out any last traces of pleats.

How to Remove Pleats From a Jacket

The method for removing pleats from a jacket will often depend on the positioning of the pleats themselves. However, in most cases, the following method should work a treat.

  • Step 1 - Flip the jacket inside out. If the pleats have been stitched in place, use a pair of small, sharp-tipped scissors to carefully snip the stitches. If you have a seam ripper, you can use this to release the fabric instead.

Take care to avoid ripping the hem or seams. Once all the stitching has been removed, turn the jacket right- side out in preparation for the next step.

  • Step 2 - Wash the jacket according to its care instructions. Once it's done washing, lay it out while it's still wet on a clean, flat surface. Attach the jacket to a hanger, taking care to ensure its positioned evenly across the center of the hanger.
  • Step 3 - Hang the jacket in a clean place to dry. Shake out the jacket before you hang it up to make sure no wrinkles form. Once the jacket is dry, unclip it from the hanger. Cast your eye over the previously pleated areas.

If there's still any trace of a pleat, use an iron to press it away. Use as much heat and steam as the fabric can take.

How to Remove Pleat Lines

You've spent the past hour unpicking every last stitch from your pleats. And yet somehow, there they still are... or at least, there their lines still are.

Pleats like to leave a little something behind for us to remember them by. Which is very nice of them, but sometimes, we'd rather erase any memory of them altogether.

Fortunately, there's plenty of ways you can get rid of any lingering pleat marks. Here, we'll look at some of the ways you can remove pleat lines from pants, but they'll work equally well on other garments.

  • Method 1 - Fill a bottle with water. If you can, use distilled water to reduce any mineral buildup on the pants. Lay the pants on an ironing board and spray the water along the length of the pleats marks you want to remove. Set your iron to the hottest setting the fabric will tolerate. Slowly run the iron across the pants, applying additional pressure as you smooth out the pleats.
  • Method 2 - Spay starch over the pants, concentrating on the pleats. If you haven't any commercial starch to hand, you can make your own by mixing one tablespoon of cornstarch with two cups of water. Set the iron to a medium heat and iron the pants, concentrating the pressure on the pleat marks.
  • Method 3 - Turn the pants inside-out. Rub a bar of soap lightly along the line of the pleat. Flip the pants right side out and iron as normal.
  • Method 4 - Dip a clean cloth in white vinegar. Rub the cloth along the length of the pleat. Iron as usual, taking care to apply extra pressure to the pleated areas.

Wash the pants to remove the smell of the vinegar and allow them to dry. Iron again to remove any last traces of the pleat.

Can a Tailor Take Out Pleats?


If you're holding onto a pair of pants or a dress from a time when pleats were all the rage, it's time to get with the program. Removing pleats can be challenging, but it's by no means impossible... especially when you use a tailor.

If the thought of trying to remove pleats yourself is too much to handle, then panic not. Just ask a tailor to remove them for you. Depending on the garment, it can either involve a minor alteration or major surgery.

Pants are typically the most bothersome, especially if the pleats are the front-facing kind. But if the tailor knows their stuff, it's more than possible. Expect to pay around $50 to $75 for a major pleat operation, and around $20 for operations of the less laborious kind.

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