How to mark pleats with an awl

Thank you for all the comments on the Karl Lagerfeld skirt. I wore it to work today and it is just as comfortable as I had hoped for. Obvislouly this is a skirt that will only work in seasons where opaque tights is suitable, but since I live in Sweden that means a pretty good chunk of the year.

The skirt has kick pleats and I wanted to show a simple method for how to mark the pleats using an awl. A few years ago I got really tired of tracing paper, they are messy to use and don’t work on fine fabrics. So I decided to try using the awl method instead, apparently this is a standard procedure in the garment industry. And for kick pleats and such this is really a fantastic and quick method. And don’t worry about ruining the fabric, mostly you’ll just push away the threads and after washing (or just a dab of water) most holes will be invisible. Also I have two awls, one smaller for delicate fabrics and one thicker which is great for sturdy fabrics

Usually folds are marked with dots on the pattern. Just poke holes through the dots using the awl.
Clip the upper edges where the pleats should meet.
Sometimes the holes are too small in the lower layer. If so, just poke through the fabric a second time.
The holes and clipping are now in place.
Make sure the holes and clipping align. Put a needle into the hole and attach the fold.
Sew the pleat, starting at the top clipping. Make the seam end just to the left side of hole, and backstitch.
Press the pleat and top stitch for durability if you like. Finished!


  • molly
    February 7, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I would have never thought to use an awl, but it's a great idea. Also I love the skirt, sometime this year I need to make it too

  • wendy
    February 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    i've been thinking about how to thread trace the pleats on my wedding dress skirt, this looks SO MUCH EASIER. 🙂

  • Johanna
    February 7, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Yes it is so much easier than thread tracing. If the pleats are longer, just make a few more holes along the line. Makes it very easy to sew a straight line.

  • sdBev-NL6538
    February 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Ths is really informative. I will try it out and look for a ??slimmer??/??finer? awl. I'd much prefer to mark with the awl than the routine I'm presently using

  • Marie-Christine
    February 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Oh, this is brilliant! Thank you!

    Most good-looking version of this skirt too, although I can't help feeling sorry for the tights-and-Sweden comment :-).

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