How to Make Pleated Drapes


Don’t turn away assuming you would never be capable of such a feat as sewing professional quality pleated curtains. If you can sew a straight line, you can make pleats!

All it takes is pleat tape.

I showed you the Hidden Workstation I made for the Craft Room Redesign Project. Now I will show you how to sew pleated drapes to turn any corner of your home into a studio, or just to use as regular old curtains. You’re going to be shocked by how simple it really is. This was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve done so I’m really hoping you’ll give it a shot and feel the warmth of crafty satisfaction with me.

Learn How to Make Pleated Drapes after the jump…

How to Sew Pinch Pleat Drapes

First you need to measure.
This can make you insane, but the great news is that using pinch pleat tape makes it all very flexible. So measure the final distance across the area you will be covering with your drapes and create a panel of fabric double the width. You could make them thicker or thinner, but going double will give you the pro quality look. Add an inch on all sides for hems. You may want to add more along the bottom edge if you are using a home decor weight fabric so you can create a thicker hem, or if you are using a lightweight fabric and want to sew a thick hem so you can put curtain weights in it. I used Jay McCarroll Habitat Raise the Roof cotton from Fabricworm, and attached the yardage with french seams. I did not line my curtains because they didn’t need it, but if you want them lined go ahead and do that first.

You will also need supplies.
A Curtain Rod or Track
I love ceiling track curtains because they are hotel-style fancy, and they open and close very easily, which is great for a work station. Because I wanted to be Prudent, I didn’t order a custom curtain rod, I just picked up a complete set from amazon: Levolor Universal Track Rod, which for $26 included track carriers and clips. The only issue with this set is that there is no piece that curves to create the corner around the closet, but that was an easy enough hack which I will explain further below.

Pleat Tape
This is how you will create your pleats easily and quickly. You want to buy enough for the original width of your fabric panel (not the final width of your curtain). So if you are making 5 yards of curtain, then you are sewing a ten yard panel, and buying ten yards of pleat tape. Pleat tape comes in a million varieties to make all sorts of pleat styles. For this project we are using regular old basic pleat tape, which is standard 3 7/8″ wide with pockets about 1 3/4″ apart. You can purchase pleat tape by the yard on amazon here for $1.25 per yard. The white stuff you see here is the pleat tape:

Four Prong Pleat Hooks, also known as Pleater Hooks
We are making triple pinch pleat drapes, so you will use four prong pleat hooks to create them. Get more then you think you’ll need, just in case. I had to go out to a store to buy ONE more hook. Each set also comes with two end hooks (only one prong) so you don’t need to buy those separately. You can get three sets (30 hooks) on amazon for $10 here. You can get hooks for hanging curtains on a wall and hooks for the ceiling. I used wall hooks even though it was going on the ceiling just to make sure my drapes would cover the tracks. I could have used ceiling hooks and sewn my tape on lower to have more of a pinch pleat but I wanted them to be more straight.

Let me show you how this all works together.
The pleat tape has thin pockets at even intervals along the back side, so once you decide how far apart you want your pleats, you take your pleater hook and slip the first prong into a pocket:

Then you pinch the drapes to bring the next prong into the next pocket, until all four prongs are inserted in pockets like this. For fuller drapes and a more pronounced pinch pleat, you can skip a pocket in between each prong.

Here is what it looks like from the front:

So let’s make our pinch pleat curtains!

So now that you have your giant panel of curtain fabric sewn together, you can finish the edges. Just to be safe, I started by using fusible tape (stitch witchery works well, if you are using home decor weight fabric, make sure to use a heavy duty fusible tape) on all four edges of my rectangle curtain panel:

I had meant to hem them all afterward, but I got lazy. So far they are holding up really well without an actual final hem sewn on!

Now to attach your pinch pleat tape. This is the easiest thing in the world. On the wrong side of your fabric along the top edge, sew your pinch pleat tape on along the bottom and the top of the tape. If you want a more pinched pleat, then sew it on a few inches below the top of the fabric instead of right against the top like I did. Make sure the side of the tape with the pockets is facing you, away from the fabric, and make sure the openings of the pockets are at the bottom. The tape is marked with red lines for you to follow as you stitch (to make sure you don’t sew the hook pockets closed).

You want your tape to be 3/4″ or so shorter than your panel at each end. Now fold the end of your fabric panel over the tape and sew in place. This is also where you would actually hem the side of the curtain if you were not lazy like me. The truth is that I was going to beg Jacinda to send me some of her vintage pom pom trim stash, so I was going to wait and attach it, but I think it looks better without any trim – what do you think?

Decide how far apart you want your pleats. One foot of fabric has eight pleat pockets. So I spaced my pleats two pockets apart. There are a zillion online pleat calculators that can help you figure this out, but I did not find them helpful and had to just do it myself to figure the way I liked it best.

The good news is you can always take them out and rearrange if you don’t like the way the final curtains look. The truth is you will probably have to do this once or twice to get it just the way you want it, it’s just the way it goes. So continue to do that until all of your pleater hooks are in place.

On the ends, you will use the single hooks. I used two on this end because i put the bar (what is that called? the thing that allows you to push the curtains opened and closed?) on one hook, and another right next to it, to keep it from sagging:

Now it’s time to hang those babies and see how they look! You just slip the hook through the bottom hole on the track carriers:

And your hand sewn pinch pleat curtains are hung!

Now remember I mentioned the fact that the universal track rod system doesn’t offer a curve? It also doesn’t come in size tiny, so I had to solve this problem:

I simply made another smaller panel of pinch pleat drapes. I held it up to the ceiling and marked where the hooks would go, and used screw hooks (eye hooks would be better but i didn’t have any):

Then hung the panel on them. It doesn’t move, but I don’t need it too:


What do you think of this solution?

So now I have fancy schmancy drapes and my space is starting to feel less like a garage and more like an office. And I love being able to hide all this business away when guests come, now it feels more like a guest room then a scene from craft-hoarders.

So tell me, do you think you might try to make some pinch pleat drapes? Does it look easy enough? I hope so, this was a really rewarding project.

by

44 Comments

horse5chic

OMG these are so gorgeous! I never realized it was that easy. I have been wanting to redo all the curtains in my house and now I'm going to definitely try these. Amazing!

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mommaintraining

AWESOME! although, I wish I would have seen this yesterday as I mad drapes for my nursery and they didn't quite turn out as nice. But they were my first. I'll definitely be referring back to this for my next project!

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Leigh Anne

Great tutorial! Had no idea it was so easy :) They look fab……and LOL about the episode of craft hoarders. That's what my craft room looks like most of the time!! haha!!

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Cheryl

Wow! Back in the 1950's, this was how my mom made drapes. I never attempted it. But this might work for my sewing room, too! I especially like how you solved the corner problem.

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Laura @ ON{thelaundry}LINE

you know what, I have some ugly vertical blinds that I think might need hacking with pinch pleat stuff. Hmmmmmmmm… You have my gears turning. It is mighty convenient to be able to pull it open and closed… and mine part in the middle… it could work!

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:Brittany:

I love this so much! I am going to talk my husband into letting me do these in the basement! So everything is covered. I might even make some curtains for my living room and bedroom windows!

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teatimewithmandy

I needed this tutorial! Our old house has those drapery tracks everywhere, hidden inside nice, original valance boxes, but I had no idea how to make curtains for them. If you need be, I'll be out fabric shopping….

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Shavone

I love it! I have been in my house for almost a year, and I do not even have curtains! This is my first foray into home ownership, and the first time I've furnished anything. I went from my parents house to dorms to a furnished apartment with 3 roommates. I've been afraid to commit to anything pricy. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I'll be hitting up the fabric stores this weekend!

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::The Beetle Shack::

WOW! This is excellent! I also needed this tutorial!! I bought ready made tab top curtains that i have been meaning to alter but have not known where to begin. Now i do! lets see how I go with my amateur skills.

I actually just posted a little tutorial about turning your blouses into bloomers, again it's amateur, but im just beginning. Check it out if you have a second

http://thebeetleshack.blogspot.com/

thanks again for this excellent post!

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Macki West

Holy crap, I think I can make these!!! When I saw your post about how easy they are I thought, 'uh huh, suuure not for fool like me!' But I think I can do this. The problem is that I will end up never hanging them b/c I'm too lazy to deal with screwing stuff into the wall.

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Tina

am totally doing this. love the hotel look too! didn't know it was so cheap to do! thanks for the link to the curtain rod with handle-bar-thingy.

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Alysa

I love pleat tape! I made some curtains for our bedroom with it, and it worked great!

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ppags

Wow! That's amazing! I had never heard of pleat tape. I will have to use that for my bedroom, hubs can't sleep with any light so we are in desperate need of some curtains.

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Tina T

Seriously, I love when I read one of the posts on here and start thinking, where can i do that at my house ? Like right now I am thinking through all of my windows, and assessing which ones I can do this to !! love it !

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Shavone

…Is it crazy that while watching Scream 4 at the theater this weekend, I was deeply engaged in the drapes and wall papers they used in the houses?? I even noticed a decorative owl & thought of PB!

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Scoops

This is so awesome. I have been needing a way to hide my laundry machines and this might be the perfect solutions. Who knew that pleat tape made it so easy.

Thanks for sharing!

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Jennifer

I. Had. No. Idea. We just bought our first house and I have been dying to replace the 1960's drapes it came with, which have these fantastic pleats. I love the style, but not the fabric. So now I'm going to be able to reproduce them with something a little more modern. Thanks!!

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Carolyn

Thanks for this very helpful tutorial…I see you posted almost a year ago, but when I did a google search today it was the first on the list!

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Amber

Absolutely I’m going to make these!! This tutorial is exactly what I needed. I didn’t know pleat tape existed! Would your curtains work with a curtain rod with rings? Is there a way to attach the curtain hooks to the rings?

Thank you so much for posting this!! Also, as to the question you posed, I believe the “bar” is called a “draw rod” ;)

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JAN

OK so I just got a price from a gal that will pleat up my pocket rod sheers. She is so busy I will have to wait awhile before she could get to mine.
Now I am heading to the fabric store to buy some pleating tape to try it myself. You made it sound so easy. And your idea is totally awesome. YOU GO GIRL

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Sharon

WOW! This is great and your instructions and pictures were very easy to understand. I also loved your sewing area and want to do the same thing when my sewing ares is constructed. Thanks for all your helpful information. I now know how much material and supplies I will need to purchase to make my living room curtains. Thanks again!

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Sharon

Thanks for your info. I now know how much fabric and materials I need to make new living room curtains. I love your sewing area too and want to make mine look the same way.

Thanks again.

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Cathy

Great job explaining pleating drapes! I’ve ordered the pleating tape and hardware from your suggested websites and have already started sewing my drapes for my new year’s project! Thank you!

Cathy

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KC

Girl, you saved my life! I didn’t have a clue what to do with my new curtains and weird looking hooks. I am off to start placing the hooks. Wish me luck. Your curtains that you made for this example look wonderful. I like the neat material too. Hopefully my finished product will look as good.

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shower rod cover plastic

Choosing to use a curtain is often a choice made from a design standpoint since these things will still require a liner that is waterproof to help keep
the water from going where it shouldn’t go. Once again, there are many patters and designs of tiles available to choose from. Your big idea is to help hotels to differentiate their sleeping rooms is a bowed shower curtain rod.

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LG

thanks for sharing! I am tempted to make one now! How much fabric we need for this type? 2.25 the width?

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