Some may have noticed that I've been doing lots of pleated things lately. It started with the first skirt for Skirting the Issue, and then while I was at it, I made Grace's first day of school dress and I just finished Nicole's latest outfit. While it's not--exactly--possible to have no maintenance pleats with natural fibers, it is possible to make them easy to reset after washing. Most commercially pleated garments--those with permanent pleats that don't require maintenance--are made from polyesters and other artificial materials. Cotton, linen, and rayon are fairly easy to set pleats into, but they will require the pleats being "reset" when you iron them before wearing. However, if you simply iron the pleats after washing, the pleat lines will be gone and make it very hard to reset them correctly.
I know of two methods of setting in the pleats. 1)There is a commercially available product. I'm told it's a special chemically-treated press cloth. 2)Use what's in your kitchen! Bear with me, and I'll explain.
Next, start basting. I prefer doing this by hand, as it's both easier to pull out, and less likely to leave marks on the fabric. Once you've basted the front, turn the fabric over.
Iron the pleat dry. Now, repeat the process on the rest of the pleats. Finish sewing the garment, leaving the hem for the last. Once you have it sewn together, remove the basting stitches and hem. Now you're going to have to reset the pleats during the final ironing. This will put the lines into the hem, and I count it as extra insurance.