Attemping to Make Pinch Pleated Drapes

ambitiousbeginnerJanuary 4, 2009

Hi All and Happy New Year,

First time in the sewing room. I am a pretty good seamstree when it comes to making clothes but I have never attempted to make any type of drapes because I have always has them done professionally through Calico Corner or JC Penney but now it is time to see if I can do this myself. It's getting rather pricey :-)

After looking at the pinch pleated silk drapes Calico Corner did for my family room it looks pretty simple.

Yesterday I went to Hancock Fabric and purchased the pleat tape..there were so many type I was confused as heck until the lady assisted me. I brougt 10 yards just in case I mess up :-).

I already had the fabric which is 54 inches wide. The fabric is on a roll and I am not sure of how many yards it is because I brought some years ago. My measurements for the window I will be sewing the drapes for is 81" wide (which includes the 4" on each side) so in reality the window is only 73" wide.

I will be placing my rod 7" above the top edge of the window so the length will be 86".

I am stuck here. Does anyone know of a website that is great for information and what the termonology mean. Prime example: what does fullness mean in drape terms? Is this related to the pleats? I found this website....

but not sure what this means (Multiply width by fullness factor (2-1/2" or 3).

Can someone please help. I know I can do this. How hard can this be. Oh, the drapes will be lined also.

Any suggestions of websites or any other information would be appreciated.


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I meant seamtress not seamtree :-). One more it better to hange my rod which I will be hanging the drapes on rings or wait to place the rod after I complete the drapes?


    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 2:12PM
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Fullness is width of fabric in ratio to window width. Double is a good guide but it doesn't have to be exact. Depending upon your choice of tape, you can work around this some. If you have tape that uses pronged pleaters stuck into slots to pleat, you have to be precise. Also, before you start on this project, you need to know how much fabric you have as you may not have enough. You will need at least 3 panels for a fullness of 2 times the window width. 2/1/2 to 3 times the width is much better. 3 times would be 4 pieces.These pieces need hem allowances for the bottom & allownaces for the top. 4 pieces would be about 11 yards. Again your pleater tape determines the amount you will need for the width. Figuring this also determines if the drapes will be finished in one piece or two. I always use tape for sewn in pleats. I don't have enough info to really answer all your questions.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 9:05PM
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Your best bet is to get to your local library and check out a book on making drapes. There is an awful lot of measuring and calculating. It isn't that hard, but it is a whole lot easier to see the illustrations and text right in front of you. I don't know, offhand of any website that would provide the quality of instructions that a text would.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 11:21PM
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Today during lunch I went to Hancock Fabrics and boy was the lady there, MaryJo helpful. I took my roll of fabric with me because I wanted to know how much yardage I had and prayed they had this material still in stock or had not been discontinued.

She measured and I only had 5 yards and she checked the store and they had it but only two yards so she ordered me 6.75 yards which will be arrive in the next 10 days.

The repeat of the fabric is every 18 inches because of the pattern. This is what she calculated based on my window measurements I gave her:

my window width: 73"

the fabric is 54 inches wide

I will need 3 - 3 yards of each 54 width where I will divide one and sew each half to each of the two 54 width; this will give my two panel a length of 108 inches (3 yds times 36 is 108) This will also allow for my 8 inches on top and 8 inches on the bottom giving me the final length I want at 86.

The width across for each panel will be 81 (54 plus 27 (1/2 of 54) equals 81.

My window is 73 inches wide so 73 divided by 2 equals 36.5 or 37Âthis is the magic number when I start to pleat.

When I pleat them I will have to ensure the finished width will be 36.5 or 37

I also went to Borders and brought a sewing book called "The Complete Photo Guide To Sewing" which has 1100 Full-Color How-To Photos and on page 226 Â Pinch Pleated Draperies are fully illustrated with all the instructions. The book is by Singer and I only paid $3.00 for it because it is used but in good condition.

So what do you all think? Does all this information sounds like MaryJo has put me on the right track? Can I do this? MaryJo said I could :-) She told me to just take my timeÂif I get frustrated just walk away and come back. When I finish I will take pictures.

This book is awesomeÂit has so much info on how to make just about anything for the home especially cornice boards which I truly love. So if anyone needs to know anything just let me know and I will look it up, make copies and provide :-)

God gave me the gift of sewing and I need to use it!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 6:38PM
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I have used the Singer books for making pinch pleats several times. The instructions are excellent. You really need to mount your rod first. Your panels should be wider than 36.5 - 37" because you need to allow for the overlap in the center and the returns on the side ( the part of the panel that covers the side bracket of the rod).

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 10:49AM
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Thought so...forgot to mention that to MaryJo. The pinch pleats Calico Corners did for me has the overlap in the center as well and the return on the side but I would not really call it a return because those drapes are hung on wooden rings and what they did is put one ring on each side (left and right) on the outside. So the left end and the right end does not move...they are stable.

In your opinion how much wider should they be?


    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 7:47PM
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I'm out of town right now and don't have access to my home dec sewing books, but I would imagine it would be at least 3-4 inches per panel. The Sunset book, Curtains, Draperies, and Shades is also an excellent reference.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 11:20AM
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Hi. I'm new to this forum, but I just wanted to recommend a book you can probably get from the library: "The Complete Book of Curtains and Drapes", by Lady Caroline Wrey. I used this book last year when I made my first set of pinch pleat drapes for my living room. They came out great, and this book was the most helpful I found. I actually bought it I liked so much. Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 4:06PM
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Hello All,

I'm back and it's been 2 months, 11 days since I starting on my pich pleated drapes. WHAT WAS I THINKING??? :-)

So far all is good. I have cut the panels, I have them sewed; I've cut the lining and they are sewed. I have hemed the panels and the lining; only at the bottom...double 4" (8") for the panels and double 2" (4") for the lining.

I measured so many times before I did any sewing. My patterns are a PERFECT whats the problem?

I was reading online and I ran across some information regarding interlining for drapes. Here is the website:

Do you think I need to add the interlining? When I laid the lining..wrong sides together to ensure all sides were even which they were the fabric seems already heavy enough for proper hanging. Do you think if I add the interlining the drapes will be to heavy? Need suggestions and opinions.

Oh and by the way...I will never do this time consuming :-)


    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 12:48PM
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Why would you need an interlining? Are you trying to keep out cold, or create total darkness? If not, I would say you are in good shape now. Glad you got everything to match, because that is the hard part on a large repeat. Good job.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 9:55PM
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Thanks soonergrandmom. No to all your questions. Great, I will proceed with completion w/o the interlining. Yes, matching the pattern was the hardest. The pattern repeated every 18 inches. I will post pictures when they are complete.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 8:07PM
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Have made many curtains over the years, but now am doing pinch pleat drapes. (I didn't really want to do this, but it's a money thing.....) The first of six panels is done, BUT.... I can't get the pinch pleat hook into the pleater tape..... trying to work it into/between the stitches, if you catch my drift, and it is NOT working. I've done this stupid panel about four times and this is pretty close to the very, very, VERY last straw. I have my stitch length set as long as it will go.... now what?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 2:40PM
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I can't understand why you are trying to put the hook between the stitches--it doesn't go between any stitches.

I can help but I need more info.

What kind of tape are you using? There are dozens of kinds of tape for making pinch pleats.
Is it the kind where you measure and create your own pleats or one that has pockets for hooks

If it's the first kind--did you sew your header down--you are not supposed to. You sew the tape to the top of the curtain, fold it over and measure for your pleats. Then you make a loop where the pleats will be and sew it the full length of the header. Then go back and make your pleats in the loop and tack them widthwise on the bottom of the header. The hook goes under the header on each side of the pleat. The header is open between the pleats.

If you are using the kind of tape where you insert hooks to make the pleats or the one where you pull strings to make the pleats you don't sew over the pockets but under neath them.

If I haven't answered your question or you have more questions, I'll check back tomorrow

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 12:08AM
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margomia - have you already made (pinched/gathered together and sewn) the pleats at the top?

It's been a few years since I made pinched pleated drapes. I remember that was a huge challenge for me. I used a book from the library with lots of pictures to help. I used 4" buckram in the header to give it stiffness. I measured and formed the pleats myself (Didn't use the header tape where you pull the string). I do have a couple pictures that show where I placed the hooks.

I placed each hook in the seam in back of each pleat. The only hooks that were not placed into a seam were at the very ends of the panel.

Hello Myrna (oilpainter)! I will soon have another dress to make...dd #2 is engaged to be married next July : )
Hope you and your fam are well.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 7:11PM
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Hi Laurie:

Lovely!! another wedding so soon. I'm sure this one won't be as overwhelming as the first one-ha. Well you're an old pro now. I'll be here and I'm sure Pattie will too although I haven't seen her around this forum lately. I hope everything is OK with her too. Maybe I should drop her a line.

Everything is fine here. I had a good visit with the grandkids this summer. Wait until it's your turn. As much as we love our kids there is something special about grandkids.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 8:50PM
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Laurie; you're an answer to a prayer....
I'm using pleated drapery tape and 4-prong pins. It took me two days to figure out (as you said), the prongs of the pins don't go between the stitches at the bottom row of the tape. (Duh!) One website said this pleater tape has "pin-holes", so I went in search of pin holes. Hmmmmmm well, there is the vaguest hint of a hole along the bottom side of the pockets, but it still has taken some weaponry to loosen those holes enough to get a drapery prong into it. Needless to say, I'm still struggling. It just doesn't seem to me that this should be a contact sport.....but maybe it's just me.....
Please feel free to jump in with any tips at all. This canNOT be this difficult..... can it?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 2:51AM
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Are there yellow lines on your tape? these tell you where the pockets are. Did you sew the tape below these lines, so the pocket is free?

I found a link with a video that tells you how--look below

Here is a link that might be useful: pleats with 4 pronged hooks

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 8:54AM
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Yep, I've looked at that video about 20 times.... and yet.... I STILL sewed the stupid drape tape upside down. OMG, I've done everything wrong on this one panel, 7 more to do, but now that I think I've made all the mistakes I can make, the next 7 will be a breeze. Right? (Does it count if I make one drape 8 times, as opposed to 8 drapes one time?)

Embarrassed, but grateful for your input.

And THEN, I couldn't remember how to post photos here. But if I do remember how to post photos, I'll show you the finished product. (Don't hold your breath.....) :)

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 9:53PM
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If you don't mind me saying, since you're making these for money, you really ought to be figuring and making the pleats yourself, then use the drapery pins as shown in Laurie's pics. Pinch pleat tape is not very professional, anyway.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 2:28PM
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"A money thing" is not making them for money but saving money doing it yourself.

Using tape is much easier than all the measuring and figuring to make pinch pleats and I have seen it on Professionally done drapes--not the 4 pronged ones but others

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 8:34AM
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margomia - How are the drapes coming along? Would love to see pics.

Myrna - I liked that video you posted.
I, too, have not seen Patti on this site in a long time.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 2:23PM
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