Pintucks are tiny tucks, usually sewn in rows, which give a lovely texture to the fabric. They work best on light weight fabrics such as cotton lawn, poplin or voile. There are a few different ways of sewing pintucks, so choose the method that best suits the result you are hoping to achieve. Pintucks can be used purely for their decorate effect, or they can be used to help create shape in a garment by controlling fullness. For example, rows of vertical pintucks around the waist of a bodice makes the waist section tighter, while still allowing fullness around the bust and hips. Or pintucks can be sewn in rows covering certain areas, or the entire piece of fabric before the pattern pieces are cut out.
Pintucks are pretty easy to sew as you are essentially just sewing in a straight line.
The first way is to simply fold your fabric where you want the pintuck to be and mark your starting and finishing points with pins.
Sew very close to the fold (1- 2 mm or 1/16″) for the length of your pintuck, back-tacking for just a couple of stitches at each end to secure the tuck.
Unfold it and marvel at how simple it was!
If you find the back-tacking looks a bit bulky and ugly, you can try this method. Again fold the fabric and mark the starting and finishing points with pins, but this time when you stitch it, don’t back tack. Instead, leave tails of thread at each end. unfold the fabric and turn it over.
Using a pin, gently pull the loops thread at the end of the pin tuck to pull the tails of thread to this side.
Tie the two tails in three knots and then cut the threads.
Sometimes the trickiest thing about sewing pintucks is keeping them even and straight, particularly if you are sewing lots of rows of them. This difficulty can be overcome by ruling the fold/tuck lines before you commence stitching. Use tailor’s chalk or a pencil that will fade or wash out. Always test the chalk/pencil on a scrap of fabric before using it on your project just to make sure it comes off okay. I am using tailor’s chalk, but I think a pencil would allow for greater accuracy. Also, say your tucks are to be spaced 1 cm (3/8″) apart, don’t rule one line then measure the next line 1 cm further away, then the next line 1 cm further away and so on. It’s more accurate to use your ruler to measure dots at 1 cm increments along the two opposite edges of your fabric, then rule a line to join them. (Or if you’re confident you could just fold using the dots as your guide without ruling the adjoining line.)
Back-tacking at the beginning and end of every pintuck is much quicker, but as you can see, knotting the thread on the back by hand gives a much neater finish. Of course, pintucks sometimes go right to the edge of the fabric. In such instances, the edge of the fabric will likely end up hemmed or in a seam, so any back-tacking won’t be visible anyway.
You can also use twin needles to create a pintuck type effect. If you want to try this method, you should use a narrow twin needle (i.e. the two needles should be quite close together) and play around with the tension so the stitching causes the fabric to pull up and cause a ridge similar to the look of a pintuck. You can also place a piece of very narrow cord underneath the fabric so it sits between the two rows of stitching from the twin needle and emphasises the ridge formed between them. I learned how to do this at TAFE, but I haven’t done it since then. I think it’s a bit tricker and more time consuming than the method of sewing pintucks that I have shown you above because you have to make sure the cord lines up perfectly beneath the fabric. It’s also a bit more expensive because you need to purchase a narrow twin needle and cord.
I also know one other clever method for sewing pintucks in sheer fabrics, which I will show you soon!
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