Friday, January 13, 2012

How to Make Pleated Drapes

I needed a project to complete while my embroidery machine was getting a check up at the shop and while my kitchen is STILL under construction. As part of the kitchen remodel I decided to nix the yellow walls and go for gray in the great room.

Did you know you can make pleated drapes without having to sew the annoying pleats? Super easy. Probably the easiest curtains I’ve ever made. No joke. I made these drapes in one afternoon. It took me maybe 3 hours total to make 2 very long drapes Probably more like two hours because I am a super fast sewer.

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You’ll need pleater hooks, pleating tape and rings (not clip rings). The pleater hooks come in packages of 10 which is enough if your panels are being made from 54” wide home decor fabric. The four-pronged ones are for the pleats. The fish hooks ones are for the ends of the drapes.


To make the drapes, I cut my fabric and lining 7-10” longer than the finished length. That gives me more than enough fabric for a header and for a nice wide hem. My drapes needed to be 89” long so 5.5 yards of fabric was exactly enough for the fabric and lining. No waste at all.

Place your fabric and lining right sides together and sew the sides, as seen below. My fabric was 54” wide and my lining was 52” wide which is exactly how I like it. I want my drapery fabric to be a couple inches wider than my  lining fabric that way the fabric naturally ‘wraps’ around to the back after it is sewn. You’ll see what I mean. Yea, I know it looks like the edges are not even, but the fabric slipped before I took this ph0to with my camera. They don’t have to be 100% even on the sides anyway, as long you sew straight that’s what matters.

drapes 2

Slide your drapes over the ironing board and iron seams open. What else is new? In the world of sewing you always iron your seams open as that yields the best looking product. I’m all about cutting corners, but sometimes you can’t.

drapes 3

Turn the drapes right sides out. Because the drapery fabric is wider than our lining by 2 inches, you’ll get a 1 inch “wrap around” on the sides. Iron in place with lots of steam.  (No photo but you can scroll down to see how the sides naturally folded towards the back.) I chose not to do this next step, but if you want to, you can sew a topstitching seam down the sides of the drapes now. I didn’t. That’s the whole purpose to having the drapery fabric wider than the lining.

Now you’ll fold the raw edge top down 1-2 inches. Iron with lots of steam. The pins were only used to hold the fabric in place until I could steam into place. This is where using the pleater tape saves loads of time over just making flat panels that you’d use with clip rings. You don’t have to worry about the raw edge because it will be covered by the pleater tape. (Obviously straight panels would require you to fold the raw edge over once and then again, iron and sew.)

drapes 4

Sew on the pleating tape within 1/8” inch from the top, making sure you do not sew shut the ‘slots’ for the pleating hooks! Do your math to figure out how you’ll need to space your pleats.  Four slots are needed for one pleat so ideally you’ll have multiples of 4 ‘slots’ on your pleating tape but in reality you’ll need to skip 1-2 slots as I did.

derapes 4

Slide your hooks in.  Once the drapes are hung and “smooshed” to the side of your curtain rod you’ll never notice that they are not spaced 100% evenly. And even if you do draw your drapes closed I bet you still won’t notice. (I don’t) The hardest part about inserting the pleating hooks is getting all four to slide in nicely without ripping through the slots. I poked through quite a few slots, but I just backed up and tried again. Easy! You’ll have to play with the drapery fabric after each pleat is inserted to get the pleats just right in the front.

drapes 5

Hang one of your drapes, measure for the hem, remove drapes from curtain rod and sew hem with a blind hem as seen below. I always hang first to test for the hem length. It’s the only way to get the perfect hem 1/2” from the floor.  If you do not know how to do a blind hem, google it or look it up on you tube. It is by the far the most invaluable stitch you’ll ever learn. Hands down.  It is the difference between a home made look and a professional look. Because I didn’t topstich the sides and because I did a blind hem, the only stitches you see on my finished product are for the pleating tape. And even that you can hardly see because of the pattern of my fabric. Not to mention nobody is 89” tall and will see the tops too much. Why is seeing stitches a bad thing? It’s not, I just think it is a more professional look. But it all depends on the project. Sometimes I love to see topstitching.

Perfect blind hem as seen from the backside of the drapes. On the front you see no stitching.

ddrapes 5

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Total cost:

Premier Print damask fabric from Hancock Fabric store was $9/yd x 5.5 yards = $50.00 (I’ve seen this same fabric at for $7/yd)

Pleater tape from Hancock Fabric store was $2.50/yd. Since my drapes were 54” wide I purchased 3 yds. $7.50

Lining was the El Cheapo stuff as I didn’t need any of the good black-out stuff. $3/yd at Joann $16

Pleater hooks were $4 and I needed 2 packages $8 (Joann)

Rings were $4 and I needed 2 packages $8 (Joann)


I bought all my supplies by noon and the curtains were hanging by 6pm. Way to go me!


QuiltingCyclist said...

You see "WonderTape" Woman! Another amazing talent by Cynthia. You rock! Thanks for a great tutorial.

Brittany said...

Hello! I just found your blog and I am wondering what paint color you used in your living room.


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