I messed up the accordion pleats on my wool skirt
May 15, 2016 7:06 PM   Subscribe

Is there anyone in New York who can restore them (without breaking the bank)?

I have a long jersey skirt with accordion pleats that I'm rather fond of. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the skirt was 100% wool, meaning that pleats are easily undone if they come into contact with water or too much physical activity—both of which happened when I foolishly wore it while biking around Manhattan in all sorts of weather last summer.

The pleats aren't entirely lost, but they have lost a lot of their definition, especially near the bottom and under the seat.

I took the skirt to a couple of regular dry cleaners in my neighborhood who said they could restore the pleats but ended up not fixing anything. Some googling led me to the specialty dry cleaner Jeeves of Belgravia, which offers repleating for $250. I originally bought the skirt at a thrift store, and I don't think I can spend more than $50 fixing it.

Do any New Yorkers / textile buffs have any ideas how I can restore them to their original accordion glory without breaking the bank? Or maybe I just need to chalk this up as a lesson learned...

Thanks for your help!
posted by coastisclear to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Without seeing exactly what the pleats look like, it is difficult to say what is a good amount to spend in restoring it, however, I would suggest you trying to do it yourself. It will take a little time and some patience. I would mix starch myself and spray it, but if you are not knowledgable, I suggest you buy spray starch. You will need an iron with steam and a couple of handkerchiefs (or something that is cotton and thin that you can wet.)

Keep some water handy in a mixing bowl and wet the handkerchiefs and wring them dry.

Set your iron to the hottest setting and make sure it is filled for steam.

Turn the skirt inside out and spray the inside of the skirt with the spray starch. Try to do a small and even amount, a little area at a time.

Following the pleat of the skirt, fold it properly. If you are not able to hold it and iron, try something heavy to hold the pleat. Place the wet handkerchiefs on the starched area and carefully place the hot iron and steam the pleat. When the handkerchief is ironed dry, lift it off of the skirt and hopefully you are admiring a restored pleat.

Repeat until you have finished doing the entire skirt.

The reason why it is expensive to do it is it really is time consuming. The dry cleaners have better chemicals and a large steam press to do the work, but they charge because even though it is an easy job for them, the job isn't exactly easy.

If for some reason what I have taught you doesn't work, there would be no harm done, they can wash the starch right out of the skirt.

Good luck.
posted by Yellow at 7:28 PM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Some of the techniques used on kilts might work. The link is the first thing I found on google that might be worth trying, but I'm sure there's more info out there.
posted by kjs4 at 8:40 PM on May 15, 2016

I don't personally know of anyone who can do it for you, but there are definitely ways you can do it yourself. Before you start, watch this amazing video that shows the making of a Dior accordion-pleated dress. At around 1:10, you can see that they use heavy paper patterns called "pleater boards" to create very fine uniform pleats. Now, take a moment to lament the fact that you don't have a laboratoire full of white-coated pleating artistes...and then take comfort in the fact that there are several ways you can approximate this technique at home.

You can, as noted above, hand fold and press the pleats back into your skirt. This will be very time-consuming and painstaking work, and it probably won't look as perfectly uniform as the original pleats.

Here's another method that only requires clips or clothespins. The blogger describes putting the pleats back into a wool skirt by drip-drying it with carefully placed clips to re-form the pleats. It might or might not work depending on the fabric type, how fine the pleats are, and how much of the pleat structure is still in your skirt.

You can get a pleating tool like this for only about $40 that you can use to speed up the process and make the pleats more uniform. Check out the video at the bottom for a demonstration of how it works, and see this detailed blog post for more on how to use it. Of course, you'll need to measure and make sure that you get a pleating tool that is the right depth for the pleats in your skirt.

You can also make your own custom pleater board with some posterboard and careful measuring.

Good luck!
posted by ourobouros at 8:28 AM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

The wet handkerchief method is what I'd recommend too. When I iron wool, I use linen dishtowels. They just give more surface area to work with so you don't have to keep re-wetting and moving.
posted by PJMoore at 8:51 AM on May 16, 2016

I screwed up* the pleats on no fewer than three thrift store garments that I was quite fond of, but unwilling to pay more than say, $25, to get re-pleated. So I did it myself using a hot iron, and bobby pins which I used to hold the pleats while I ironed over. It was time-consuming and it took a while to get the hang of it, but it did work.

*for some reason it didn't occur to me that pleats would not withstand a washing machine. Learned my lesson.
posted by Aubergine at 8:57 AM on May 16, 2016

I would bet that there's someone at FIT who either teaches a course or is learning to be an expert in this. You could try giving their fashion design department a call, or drop by the campus and put a sign on one of the student bulletin boards.
posted by Mchelly at 10:15 AM on May 16, 2016

Thanks so much for your suggestions! I'm going to give this a shot. All hope is not lost!
posted by coastisclear at 9:25 PM on May 24, 2016

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