Tutorial: no-sew wave tucks.


Feat-tutorial-wave-tucksThe wave tucks is a very pretty pleating technique I used on my white Askim dress!

Used like this they resemble a rib cage. Pretty cool in my opinion…


It looks complicated but with this tutorial you will find it easy!


The pattern hack!

As this dress has a bib in the front, it is easy to experiment with contrasting fabric and/or different fabric treatments, like tucks.

But I made a few changes to the original pattern:

-This pleated surface makes buttons and buttonholes overly complicated, so I added a separate button placket for closure.

-I also made two separate pattern pieces out of the bib, as I didn’t want to include all the pleats in the collar seam.


A basic instruction for easy, classic pin tucks is included in the original pattern. ( for additional basic instructions you can watch this short video )

This tutorial is about a more advanced type, called wave tucks! There are many types of tucks, read more here!


First, you start with a piece of the fabric that is much bigger than the final pattern piece. The tucks use a lot of fabric, mostly in height but add on the sides too. In general you need as much as 3 times the height of fabric.

The technique I show here do not use sewn pleats, they are only pressed.

The pattern piece you are going to cut from it( in this case, the bib) will be put to the side while you complete the tucks. Later it will be cut out across all the finished tucks and seams.This means you can experiment as you like, as long as you have enough fabric! If you don’t like it, make a new one!



I use a paper template to use for pleating the fabric.

Either you print out my template from here, or you make one on paper yourself. Ordinary printer paper works fine. If you print the template, remember to check that you’re printing it at 100%.

The template is made of parallel lines, from top to bottom of the paper.

You need to mark two distances, one big and one small, I used 2,8 cm  (1 1/8 “)  and   1,2cm (7/16”)

You mark one big gap, one small and keep repeating, alternating between big and small.

2. print mine or do yourself copy

To be able to fold the paper you start with scoring it!

Use a sharp pointy object, I used the tip of one of my scissors.

Hold a ruler along one of the lines and score, (or scratch) all along the line.



This is how the scored paper looks. It’s now very easy to make neat and crisp folds.


You fold the paper back and forth, alternating all the time. The line above the big gap you fold FROM you, and the next one TOWARDS you. Repeat until the paper is all folded.


The height of one paper is not enough for the long bib of this dress. To fix this we re-pin the paper to the fabric several times. It’s easier than creating a longer paper…


Take your fabric, turn it upside down and pin the paper to the lower edge. Make sure that the right edge is following the grain line, on the right side bib. (opposite on the left side, of course)  Pleats open, to start with.



To make the pleats, nip the fabric up, to follow the guide of the pleated paper, tuck it in all the way, and pin in place. It’s important that you keep the grain line on the right side straight, and make the pleats of even depth.


You will probably need to “fiddle around” for some time with this. Use the fingertips to push the fabric in.





Pin the pleats when you are happy with them. Right through the paper too.



Ironing time! Press on the fabric with the paper pinned to the backside. Use a press cloth, unlike me!

16iron on top

When it has cooled, loosen the paper and re-position it by inserting the bottom pleat of THE PAPER into the top pleat  (that you just made ) of the THE FABRIC, and keep on pleating upwards. This is unless you prepared an extra long paper template to begin with…

You secure the pleats that are already made with a seam close to the edge, later hidden in the seam allowance.




Finished piece, pleated from top to bottom! This bib is made in two pieces, one for the left side, and one for the right side. So I repeated the whole pleating once more….

It’s of course possible to make a single, wider pice, and later cut it in half. In that case the paper needs to be made wider too…. just remember, don’t use anything that melts, like tape!

18until it's done

When this is all done you must double check the front edges of your two bib pieces. Use a ruler. The front edge must be cut to a perfect straight line, perpendicular to the pleats, and secured with a seam close to edge.




Time to make waves!

Measure from the placket seam to where the first line of waves go. I put it 5 cm, or 2″, in from the seam.

Here you take hold of each fold and just fold it the other way. Pin or baste them all down.



Mark a sewing line using a ruler and a pen/chalk that will disappear, and sew all the pleats down in one go, from top to bottom.

I made 2 parallel seams, a few mm apart, as seen here.




Now, for the second wave, you have to pin the pleats back up again. The shape of this bib is wider on top, so the distance from the first seam is varying from top to bottom.

Measure to know the distance you need to keep from the first seam. Mark a line to follow, well into the other sides seam allowance.

( you can pin the pattern on top for a double check of this line)


When you pin or baste down the pleats along this side you may feel that there is not “enough fabric”.

This is because the distance between the waves is pretty small. Don’t fight or stretch the fabric, pin it as it “wants to lie”. See the ones to the right in this photo, they are a bit uneven. For me thats totally OK.

(If you want “perfect” pleats you need to experiment with the distance between the seams, how deep the pleats are, and the material you use. )

23fold the pkeats again



Trim all sides of the bib by pinning the pattern on top of it, and cut all the excess fabric away, across all pleats. All the seams should be intact, if they fall outside of the seam allowance, they need to be remade.

24neat edges


Press your pleats lightly. If you want to keep the 3-dimensional quality of the waves, use only the tip of the iron.




Congratulations, you now have two bib pieces! Here I have added the unpleated top part too.

Now on to the separate button placket, which is also a change to the original pattern. Here it’s sewn on to the front edge.

27buttonband on


The front placket is pressed and the edge is folded in on the backside, and stitched in place.

29cover the thread


The 2 bibs, complete with plackets, and pinned together in the front, in their final position.

Time to sew it into the front of the dress, but that is another story 😉




Now, how about the leftovers? I ended up with quite a few bits and pieces, all nicely pleated and ready.

21pin pattern on top


So I made some interesting pockets too…



Good luck with your waves!






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