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Pleated Linen Jacket

I love linen! Love working with it, love wearing it.

A staple in my warm weather wardrobe is always a linen jacket or shirt in a neutral color that layers over and under other pieces. This spring I chose a metallic gray linen (sold out) in Katherine's recent jacket pattern
Butterick 5891. I tested how this fabric would react to laundering and drying. Cut a 5" wide strip across the width of the fabric, tossed it in the washer on gentle, then cut the piece in half and tossed one in the dryer and hung the other on the line to air dry.

The piece that went in the dryer got too crumpled for my taste. The piece that was air dried had an appealing overall wrinkle, so that is how I pre-treated the fabric. Gave it a light press, then cut the jacket. When it was all sewn and pressed...pressed to a perfect flat linen, I was a bit disappointed. The jacket was too crisp, stood away from the body, I wanted it to hang closer to the body. This was the key piece in my Paris travel wardrobe, so It HAD to work.

So I wet/dampened it and pleated it. Love it. Packing is easy, just roll it up and tuck it in the suitcase. Wore it my first day in Paris. When I walked into
Janssens et Janssens,the most elegant small fabric shop in Paris, the sales staff immediately asked about my jacket and oohed and aaahed over it. So I knew it was a success!

The process is simple and fun. The pleating must be re-done when the jacket is laundered or re-done to refresh the pleats. I learned this technique from Berkeley, CA designer
Carol Lee Shanks.

Butterick 5981

The perfect candidate for a linen jacket or shirt to pleat or not. You could use a more beefy linen like I did, or a lighter weight for a floaty little summer shirt.
Katherine used a black linen for the pattern envelope which shows the shaping in a pressed linen.
Pleated Version

The Pleating Process
This process can be used with any linen garment. I've done it with jackets, shirts and pants. Helps if there is plenty of ease in the garment so the pleats can fall without being stretched out.

Evenly dampen the finished pressed garment. Use a spray bottle or run it through the washing machine on a gentle cycle so the garment is evenly damp, NOT sopping wet.
Fold the damp garment in half and smooth out on a clean surface, keeping the sleeves free and aligning the side seams and center front edges.
Starting at center back and working from the neck edge to the hem, form small pleats, making them as even as you can. The damp fabric will hold the pleats in place. Go for consistency rather than perfection. Pleat from center back to the side seam.
Finished back section
Pleat the top sleeve in the same way.
Keeping the top sleeve out of the way, pleat the front of the jacket in the same way. The front edges of the jacket should not be pleated as tightly as the body of the garment.
Flip the entire piece over to the other side, keeping the pleats in place as best as you can. Finesse/touch up the pleats on this side of the garment and pleat the sleeve. Do your best so the pleating is consistent throughout.
Roll the sleeves into a tighter twist.
Then pleat the collar. Work from center front and center back toward the shoulder seam, keeping the pleats small and even.
Finished pleated collar.
Gently but firmly, keep the pleating in place and roll the entire piece into a twisted bundle.

Put the damp twisted bundle in a warm dry place and allow to dry. In summer I put it on a table in the sun. In winter I place it on a towel close to a heater.

It does not have to be bone dry to untwist. I keep and eye on it and open the bundle gradually to check on the moisture. When it is almost dry, shake it out and hang on a shaped/padded hanger to dry completely. At this stage, I smooth out the front edges, sometimes give it a VERY light touch up press so that the front buttons smoothly, but not too much, you want to keep the pleats.

The pleats WILL relax as you wear the garment. I re-twist to store the jacket in between wearings.
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