How to Pleat & Tie Off a Bishop Sleeve

Do you know the proper way to pleat and tie off a bishop sleeve? If not, you are in luck! I have a great tutorial from our friend and master children’s garment constructor Connie Palmer to share with you. Be sure to check out Connie’s DVD Smocked Bishop Construction, available to purchase in our online store, for her complete step-by-step guide on making a beautiful smocked bishop dress.


Photo 1

1. To save time, place the side on the fold and cut out both sleeves simultaneously (photo 1).


Photo 2

2. Roll sleeves on your dowel and pleat four rows – the edge of the sleeve should be 1-1/2 spaces from the last needle threaded (photo 2). Make sure you leave plenty of thread at the end.


Photo 3

3. Flatten out the sleeves (photo 3). This was why you needed to leave pleating threads extra long at each end.


Photo 4

4. Finish the bottom edge of the sleeve using a hem finish of your choice (photo 4). NOTE: In this photo, I used lace edging to finish the sleeves. In photo 5, I used a shirt-tail hem created with a rolled hem foot. On the DVD, I offer several other ways you can finish the sleeves.


Photo 5

5. Cut the sleeve apart at the side (photo 5).


Photo 6

6. On the wrong side, remove threads 1-1/2 inch from each side (photo 6).


Photo 7

7. Draw up the pleats close together and tie off (photo 7).


Photo 8

8. Now, you are ready to smock the two middle rows on the right side (photo 8).

In addition to our Smocked Bishop Construction DVD, we also recently restocked the 24-Row Read Pleater, 32-Row Read Pleater and replacement needles in our store to help with all your smocking needs.

Do you have any pleating tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.

Happy Sewing,



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