Wide-Leg Trousers—to Pleat or Not to Pleat

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This is the new Palmer/Pletsch Butterick trouser B6973. I call it the Tammie Trouser, for Tammie Pontsler who sewed the pants and culottes for photography and wrote the guidesheet. Tammie heads up our new online Zoom location from her studio in Grand Rapids, MI. (link)

Tammie and I decided that with the very wide legs, we would leave the pleats uncreased for a soft drape. Therefore, the placement of the pleat lines on the tissue didn’t matter.

However, Lyndsey Stanfill who offers Palmer/Pletsch Workshops at another new location for us in her Louisville, KY, school, wanted creased pleats. That meant repositioning the pleats. She tells you how in this guest blog.

FYI, she also teaches Palmer/Pletsch pant tissue-fitting and sewing classes in Louisville!! Visit https://madestitch.co/

I love that talented young women are heading up new Palmer/Pletsch “locations.”


We included these pleat tips in the guidesheet for unpressed pleats. See Tammie’s blog on sewing trousers HERE.

pleat trip from Palmer/Pletsch Butterick pant pattern B6973 guide sheet

The guidesheet is full of excellent tips that can be used for any trouser pattern such as the narrow-leg Palmer/Pletsch trouser B6878.

Creasing Trousers

by Lyndsey Stanfill

I decided I wanted a crease to give me a crisp vertical line. The crease will hold well in my poly/rayon/linen fabric. I prefer the crease in the middle of the leg. With this pattern I can move the pleats to make that happen. I did this while tissue-fitting. Let me show you how.

Lyndsey Stanfill wearing her pleated trousers made from Palmer/Pletsch Butterick pattern B6973

I tissue-fitted a size 18 pattern. The only alterations were to add ½ inch to the side seams and 3 ½ inches to the length. With the fit adjustments completed, I only needed to adjust the pleat position for a centered crease on the front.

Quick Tip logo

Before moving the pleats, see if you might like the crease as is. Based on the position of the pleats marked on the tissue, the crease would be a bit off center. Match the two lines of each pleat and fold toward the center front as shown in the photo. Start at the top and crease the pleat that is closest to the center front, following the grain to the hem. Pin the tissue together and try on. Do you like where the crease is? It’s up to you

mark crease on tissue

I pulled out Pants for Real People to check crease placement. (See page 69.) It said to fold the front leg in half at the hem and crease to the top, following the grainline.

make crease in trouser tissue

Page 73 of Pants for Real People shows that for a crease to be in the center of the leg it needs to go to the pleat stitching line to the left of this pleat when it is pressed toward the center front. To achieve this, you may need to move the pleats.

move pleats

I folded my front pant leg in half at the hem, creasing on grain to the waistline.

Then I opened it up and marked the crease.

mark the crease

After creasing the front leg in half, I traced the pleats onto tracing paper, which is an easy way to move pleat markings.

I could see that I needed to move the pleat markings on this pattern to the left.

The crease is marked in red.

Move inner circle.

Move the inner circle of the first pleat to line up with the crease. Now the crease will line up with the pleat.

Slide paper up.

Slide the paper up and line up with the top edges.


NOTE: The pleats are slightly wider at the waist. Pin or tape the tracing paper to your pattern. Mark the new pleat lines on your fabric with tailor tacks, tracing paper, or chalk lines.

Fit Tip logo

The pleats are a design detail. If your waist is larger or smaller, we usually adjust at the side seams. However, if you want to change the pleat depth, doing it in tissue will let you see how it looks.

NOTE:  After re-marking the pleats, I found that the one closer to the pocket would be caught in the pocket seam, adding bulk. However, since the pant has a 1” seam allowance at the waist, that area will get trimmed away.

Fabric Fitting with a Front Crease

I thread-traced the front crease and pleats to prepare for fabric fitting, as shown on page 72 in Pants for Real People.

thread tracing

During tissue fitting, I thought the placement of the pleats was flattering. So, time to fabric-fit. I sewed the back darts, pockets, then the zipper per the guidesheet instructions. I pinned the inseams and outseams wrong sides together and the contour waistband to the waist seam.

Helen Bartley



Since Lyndsey was in Portland taking a 4-day pant workshop refresher, she took advantage of having an instructor help her evaluate and “tweak.”


Wow, they look very good for the first fabric fitting! We are always amazed at how well the fit is after just tissue-fitting. Fabric tweaking is important because you’ve tissue-fitted only half of your body.

Lyndsey Stanfill fabric-fitting trouser - front view


The back inseam is perfect. There is no need to take it in or let it out. Amazing! Tissue-fitting is magic.

The darts are too short, but if lengthened to the tailor tack markings they would be a bit long. In between would be just right.


Side seams hang straight.

I pinned the darts a bit longer and they look good. That’s the beauty of taking a class—the instructor can pin the darts to your shape!

This is also why in a class we have you pin the fabric wrong sides together. The teacher can save you time by pinning the sides to your shape! Come to a workshop to experience this for yourself!


Pleated trousers suit Lyndsey beautifully! The creased pleats are very nice with this fabric. The sides hang totally smooth and the pockets fit her shape. The left back seems a little full. Lyndsey says she is smaller on the left and may take the side seam in just a little.

Lyndsey says, “I love the finished pants! I decided to sew a sleeveless version of B6848 View C to pair with my new trousers.”

Lyndsey Stanfill in finished pleated trouser - front view
Lyndsey Stanfill in finished pleated trouser - front view
Lyndsey Stanfill in finished pleated trouser - back view
Lyndsey Stanfill in finished pleated trouser - side view


Visit the Palmer/Pletsch website to view our workshop schedule.

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