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What Is a Pintuck?

A pintuck is a narrow fold of fabric stitched to create a decorative raised line, often used to add texture and detail to clothing and linens. This subtle, yet elegant feature can transform simple designs into works of art. How might pintucks elevate your next sewing project? Discover the possibilities as we explore the art of pintucking.
Lou Paun
Lou Paun

A pintuck is a fold of fabric that has been stitched to hold it in place, much like a pleat. Pintucks give a decorative effect to the fabric, creating a visual line at a chosen point. They are often seen in vintage clothing, but they can be used to create a very modern look as well.

Usually, this type of fold is very narrow, although sometimes wider pintucks are used on pillows or upholstery. A wide pintuck can be folded flat against the base fabric. Typically each fold in a group is the same size, although a change in size can be used to create special visual effects. Pintucks are often spaced evenly across the fabric.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Pintucks are typically created in a group, with each tuck is parallel to next one. They are often placed on the bodice of a blouse or dress, where they usually have a vertical orientation. Another popular pattern is to place each pintuck so that the lines form a ray. Sometimes a single tuck is used to create a simple line, and that line can curve and wander randomly across the surface of the fabric, even crossing earlier lines.

A pintuck can be placed so that each end is enclosed in a seam, or it can be placed like a pleat so that one end is in the middle of the fabric. In that case, the pintuck must be tied off so that it will not come unstitched. A group of open-ended pintucks can control fullness in the finished object, just like a dart.

Although sewing machine attachments to assist in making even spaced tucks have been long available, the process has been made further easier today. Many contemporary sewing machines have a special foot that allows for better control of the width and spacing.

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Discussion Comments


Sewing machine attachments to make tucks perfectly parallell and evenly spaced have been available since the 1890s, and came in the box with Singer machines as well as other brands.


Thankfully, pleats are really making a comeback, especially in wedding dresses.

Designers seem to love playing with pleat sizes on skirts and pintuck patterns on bodices.

Two or three larger pleats on the front and back of a skirt are great for making a dress look more old fashioned, or vintage, as is all the rage right now, without giving the appearance of a bunch of small, full-skirt pleats that may give the appearance of a little girl's dress.

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    • Woman holding a book
      Woman holding a book