Dresses and Skirts: Here Are the Various Kinds of Pleats!

woman wearing skirt

A pleat is a shaped fold in fabric, often but not always stitched into place. This fold adds volume to skirts and dresses, and comes in many different shapes. In this blog, we're going to explore the various kinds of peats available out there used on both dresses and skirts.

The Folds

A key factor to pleats is their folds, since that's what shapes garments in the first place. Aside from being either small or large, they come in a number of shapes:

  • Rectangular
  • Rolled
  • Triangular
  • Uneven

Here are the various kinds of pleats that are found in dresses and skirts:

Accordion Pleats

Accordion pleats have narrow parallel folds that appear to be evenly spaced. Usually, they're no larger than half an inch wide, and they're used to finish the edges of garments. A good example of this is accordion fold skirts.

Those skirts have tiny folds in the hundreds, all of which are held in place by the waistband. They go on to swirl out into a zigzag shape that's more open, found at the full skirt's hem.

Box Pleats

Box pleats essentially use a pair of knife pleats that line up with each other so that the folds are on opposite sides of the garment. When viewed from the front, this looks like a wide fold running across the box pleat that is tucked under at each side.

These are often found in "schoolgirl" plaid skirts, as well as the backside of men's dress shirts that are cut classically.

Cascade Pleats

Cascade pleats are vertical folds that get larger as they flow lower down the garment. They may also be curved in repeating symmetric patterns. The fold it has is vertical and tapered. In some cases, a minimum of six yards of silk are needed before a design is wearable!

When it comes to technical terms, they're essentially thin sunray folds, falling at an angle. Other names for it includes sari/saree folds or sunburst folds.

Cartridge Pleats

Cartridge pleats are a method of gathering fabric using small rectangular patches, which are stitched together using hundreds of tiny parallel rows of basting stitches. The method works a lot like making a gather with a basting stitch (shown below), except that the gathering is done with rows instead of lines. Rows must be perfectly parallel to create tiny folds instead of uneven gathers.

Fancy Pleats

Couture clothing and formal evening wear often use elaborate folding methods. Some of these methods include intricate pleats and pleats used to add texture to a garment. 

Honeycomb Pleats

Also referred to as honeycomb smocking, honeycomb pleats have a pattern that resembles honeycombs courtesy of tiny gathered folds that are spaced out in rows.

Knife Pleats

A kind of fold that uses a flat rectangle of fabric, knife pleats are made by folding over the fabric’s exterior and hiding the interior. Knife pleats are often large in width, sometimes as wide as three inches or a quarter of an inch.


Pleats are a great addition to dresses and skirts, giving them a new dimension. There are various kinds of pleats that appeal to varying style requirements. Popular ones include knife pleats, box pleats and honeycomb pleats.

Want to wear cute, pleated dresses under the sun? Shop at Bou N’ u today! We’ve got affordable high-quality clothing for any occasion. 

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