Saturday, 9 February 2013

Sewing Beautiful Tucks

I love tucks! These little stitched folds of fabric can make a garment look so pretty. The Mathilde Blouse includes six rows of tucks draping down over the front bodice.

Tucks are constructed by stitching and pressing excess fabric to form folds. The pattern lines can seem a little confusing the first time you make tucks, but it’ll all make sense once you’ve done it once. Basically a tuck is formed as follows:

- The central line of each tuck ("tuck fold line") is folded, wrong sides together, to bring the excess fabric up.
- This brings the outer lines ("tuck stitching line") of the tuck together – these lines can then be sewn together.
- The tuck is then pressed down to one side over the space between them.

They’re not the easiest thing to get right first time, so if you haven't made them before it's worth practising on some spare fabric before taking the plunge on your garment. The key to tucks that make your heart sing is to stitch the lines as straight as you can and keep the width of each tuck the same. They're much easier to make on cotton than on slippery fabrics (but not impossible!).

Here's the method I like to use:

1) Before you start sewing, mark the tuck lines onto the right side of the fabric. You should have already transferred the ends of each tuck line onto your fabric. Double check they’re spaced evenly - the gaps between the lines on the Mathilde Blouse should be 15mm / just under 5/8”. Now use a long ruler to connect up the lines, using dressmakers’ carbon, sharp chalk pencil or contrast thread stitching. (Whatever marking tools you use, test them on a scrap of fabric first to check they come off, especially as you’re marking the right side of the fabric.) To avoid confusion, mark the fold lines and stitching lines differently, for example, with full vs. dashed lines.

2) To avoid the adjacent tucks getting in the way while you're working on them, I like to work on two at a time - one on the left side of the bodice and one on the right - before moving on to the next pair.

Fold along the middle ("fold line") of each tuck, bringing wrong sides of the fabric together. Press along the fold to keep it crisp. (If your fabric is slippery, you could use a piece of card to press the folds neatly in place before stitching.) Pin directly along the stitching lines. That way you can check the pins are exactly aligned with the marking lines on both sides of fabric.

3) Sew along the stitching line, taking your time to keep the line as straight as you can. You can use both the lines you drew on the fabric and the seam guide on your sewing machine to help keep your stitching as straight as possible.

4) Press the tucks flat. On the Mathilde Blouse, press the bodice tucks towards the bodice side seams, on both the right and wrong sides of the fabric.

5) Now stay stitch across the top of each section of darts, within the seam allowance (so the stitching doesn’t show). This will help hold them down neatly when you sew the seams.

Don’t those tucks look awesome?!


  1. Thanks so much for sHARING THIS. It will be of great use for beginners.. I was making a dress from stylish dress book .. And it had tucks .. The instructions were not clear.. and I practiced to get them right.. Wish this tute was up then LOL :)

  2. Great tutorial! Love this!!

  3. Yey! Thanks for this, I've been waiting for the how to do tucks post, because I haven't tried them before. I'm hoping to start my Mathilde next week. :)

    1. Brilliant! Please send me a photo when you do - I can't wait to see it...

  4. Absolutely crystal, thanks Tilly!

  5. Thanks for this! I'm looking forward to putting my top together. I am also going to try to put some tucks into a dress I'm making so thank you for making it so clear.xx

  6. Thank you so much for this detailed tutorial. As a relative beginner (about a year of sewing), I have shied away from tucks, but this will definitely encourage me to try.

    1. Great! They're not that difficult as long as the fabric isn't too slippery. They just take a bit of patience.

  7. I just came across your blog. It's so inspiring! I started following you!

    Breathe Me

  8. Nice! I have a friend who needs to see this post as the tucks in her dress pattern are driving her nuts.

  9. Hi Tilly

    Just a question on the tucks - once you get to the second and third ones, should they be picking up the fabric on the previous tuck or should they all be loose to allow the material to move?

    Sorry if that's not very clear?


    1. The tucks should be separate from each other, with a space between them. When you then press them flat, they'll be lying side-by-side, just touching.


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