Old Tips for Making Tucks and Pleats (Plaits)

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, December 16, 1911: Mater is making a skirt for me. Had it fitted this afternoon. It is navy blue and am going to wear it to school. While doing a little bit of sashing, which took some rubbing this afternoon I had the misfortune to make four blisters grow on four fingers. One blister pains somewhat in hot water. It is rather hard on the dishwasher, who has blistered fingers.

Source of Pictures: Ladies Home Journal, January 1912

Source of drawings: Ladies Home Journal, January 1912

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma’s mother (Mater) probably used a treadle sewing machine to make the skirt. I wonder if the skirt had any tucks or pleats.  The January 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal had an article titled, “How to Make Tucks and Plaits.”  (A hundred years ago pleats were often called plaits.)

Here a few quotes:

  • When using a pattern there must be taken up in each tuck or plait the exact amount that was allowed by the maker of the pattern.
  • Patterns are perforated; that is, holes are punched through them at the points where the allowances have been made for forming the tucks or plaits, so that the goods may be marked at these points. . .
  • Tucks and plaits that are marked by two lines of perforations which are to be brought together in forming are easily handled as follows: Lay the goods with the marks on the wrong side up, and put a pin from the under or right side of the good up through one point and down through the other, pinning the two points together. Proceed in like manner with the other points forming the lines, and you will have the fold securely pinned and extending on the right side of the goods. Baste of the right side of the goods in line with the row of pins, and try on the garment before stitching or pressing the tucks or plaits, for the tucks or plaits may be taken up or let out so as to make the garment conform to the shape of the individual.
  • As forms vary so much in shape it may be necessary to take up goods in one tuck or plait and let out the goods in another, thus changing the shape of the garment but not changing the size.

4 Responses

  1. My favorite part of this diary entry was the “dishwasher whine.” Seemed so familiar — heard that whine. oh, so many times.

  2. Oh the joys of sewing both pleats and tucks and the need for precision sewing and measuring.

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