Questions for those who have sewn or had made drapes from panels

kaisermustJanuary 13, 2012

I need 144 x 84 drapes for my big LR picture window which I open and close every day with my traverse rod (don't care to have the neighbors seeing me in my PJ's!). It's been over 20 yrs since I last bought ready-made pinch-pleated draperies from JC Penney and now Penney's sells only one style of ready-made pinch-pleats and those too are in the process of being discontinued. I simply can't afford custom-made drapes--even at the size I need still would wind up costing close to $1000. I simply don't have that kind of money for new drapes. So I thought I could buy panels and take them to a seamstress (I don't sew) to either make pinch-pleat drapes or at least sew the panels together. I found the perfect panel (50"x84") at Lowes--a thermal insulated panel which matches my decor great! And it's a back-tab (or reverse-tab I think they call it). For those of you who sew/work with drapes, how difficult is it to sew panels together and how difficult and expensive would it be to have the alterations place put in pinch-pleats? Or--has anyone with back-tab panels just sewn panels together and then use pin-on hooks in the back-tabs on their traverse rod? I've already tried pinning one panel up and closing it on the traverse rod and the material seems willing to fold, i.e. pleat on its own easily. I figure I would need 3 panels per side so my investment in the panels would run about $150. Even with alterations costing say another $150 (guestimate?) this would give me pinch-pleat drapes in the fabric pattern I love for what my budget can afford. If anyone has thought of or tried to do what I'm thinking I would love to hear how successful--or unsuccessful it was.

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well, first off you will need at least six panels and each panel will need to be sewn by hand to each other. I doubt doing the pinch pleats 'after the fact' will be really satisfactory, but perhaps will suffice.

I am attaching info regarding the tape required to make the pinch pleats;

also a link to some drapes you can get the finished product in the size you stated (lined) for about $500.00

good luck with whatever option you select.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 10:42PM
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First you need to find a seamstress that has experience with making home decor items. Not all alterations people are experienced in this. They spend their sewing time altering apparel. (Not all, but some. Just be sure your seamstress is knowledgeable.) Be sure your panels are long enough to accomadate the pinch pleating tape. It comes in more than one width so if I were you I would find the seamstress first and show them the panels you have in mind. She will be able to tell you what you need to buy for her to complete your project. The inside seams on your panels will have to be opened up along with a short section of the hem on either side. By inside seams, I mean the ones that will be sewn together. the outside left and right hems will remain intact.She will sew the panels together and close the hem sections up. Now you have two wider panels instead of 6 narrow ones. The pleater tape is attached to the top of each panel per instructions for the tape. So, to answer your question. Yes, this can be done.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 1:07PM
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Oh yes! You will probably need more than 3 panels per side as you have to allow for the pleats which will take up a lot of the width. Your seamstress will be able to help you there too. I personally don't see a lot of hand sewing here except for the bottom hem sections and that's only if the rest of the hem is hand stitched. All this detail is for you to understand how much work needs to be done. Your seamstress should be able to do this no problem.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 1:24PM
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Rule of thumb: your fabric should be 2 1/2 to three times the width or your window. I would think the project you have in mind would be very doable. I am an amateur but sew a lot for my home and if you use that old fashioned pleating tape that takes the pronged hooks, it is a very simple job. Measure carefully - rod to floor or however long you want them - because the tape and hooks will make them hang shorter than say clip on hooks.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 11:30PM
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I am a seamstress.

The previous posters were correct in suggesting you may need more panels to make your drapes sufficiently full.

No "professional" is going to hand sew your drapes together. As a professional, to do a professional job, she will have open the seams at the sides, which means undoing the top and hem as well, to stitch the panels together. She should either serge the seams together or use a French seam.

The entire top seam will have to be ripped open to add the pleating tape and re-stitched. Generally, there needs to be four inches of fabric at the top to cover the pleating tape. You can have her make the pleats for you, and they will be permanent. Or you can buy the more expensive hooks that make the pleats by themselves.

The work of the seamstress is greater than you'd think, because she has to take the vertical seams apart before she sews the panels together. The entire top hem will need to be picked or razored apart, the tabs removed, pleating tape added and a new seam at the bottom edge of the pleating tape.

She will then re-stitch the hem where she took it apart to stitch the panels together.

Razoring all the seams apart carefully and putting them back together, adding pleating tape, re-doing the hem, I'd estimate $250 to $275. She should ask to see them, first, though, to make sure there's nothing that would make them taking them apart more difficult.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 6:00PM
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I used to work in a custom drapery workroom. It would be a lot more work to piece the panels together than to construct new, sorry. The workroom i was in, owners would've 'taxed' you w/a high price to discourage this endeavor. I'm heading off to a funeral now but later I may be able to read your post more carefully along w/the other responses, maybe there's some solution to your dilemma.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:59AM
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ok time now to reread op's msg.

I totally agree with what eva says, except the price. If you find someone to do this for $250 I'd be surprised, but anything's possible, your region may have lower wages, etc. It's going to take more than a couple hours to do what you need done.
To just sew them together as they are will make VERY bulky seams and pleats will not work well w/bulk. They really need to be taken apart and remade.

It'd be much much easier all around if you could find drapes ready made that are too wide and/or too long and have them sized down than this project.

Also, have you exhausted looking for ready-made? On in a few minutes I found your size, neutral color, for under $200. I'll add a link to it, but be forewarned I know nothing about the mfr. You can go to amazon, maybe ebay, and use their search engines, you may be pleasantly surprised. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: pair found on amazon

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 6:27PM
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As a professional seamstress, I'd refuse the job. I hate "unsewing" or ripping apart, and the panels will never go together as well as making them from scratch.

Draperies ARE expensive, and they are time consuming to construct well. If I have to spend hours ripping stuff apart and then try to "make them fit" and jury rig pleater tape where there isn't enough fabric - well, I'd rather just construct new, and have it all square and well fitted from the start.

I don't know what prices are like in your area, but I would be charging much more than a couple of hundred dollars. MUCH more.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 9:16PM
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Found this in a catalogue I get in the mail:

The classic, sophisticated look of pinch pleat draperies combined with the technology of thermal design! Like extra insulation for your windows, these thermal panels keep hot and cold air outside �leaving you more comfortable inside. Woven polyester with bonded thermal acrylic backing. Machine wash. Imported.

More Details About this Item
Please select:
144" w x 84" l #DI79737 $109.95
48" w x 84" l #DI79738 $39.95
96" w x 84" l #DI79739 $79.95

Chocolate, navy, light blue, burgundy, hunter, camel, moss or cream - you can see this on-line also. Company is Seventh Avenue,

Perhaps one of these colors will work for you. I have no connection with Seventh Avenue other than as a customer.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 9:18AM
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I, too, second the notion that it would be easier and better to make new, rather than to alter.
I used to have a workroom and I accepted a job from a woman to do something akin to this. It was twice the work, and I swore that I would never do it again!

An alternative for you would be to change the rod from the traverse rod to a simple pole and use rings to attach your drapes. That is what I do in my own home. I love it! They will still close, just like your traverse ones. You are just using flat panels. They are easy to construct and easy to buy in many different flavors from many different sources.
I used to sell drapes at Penneys. I will bet those are those "antique satin" ones that Penneys used to sell.
Changing your rod and using a different type of drape would be a more economical choice.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 8:24AM
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I also have a custom workroom and when clients want an expensive fabric I sometimes recommend a ceiling mounted track with a Ripplefold header. It uses much less fabric, will traverse, and is a clean, modern look. It may not be your taste, but thought I would throw out a different idea.
I also hate to take apart and remake drapes. I charge big bucks to discourage the client at the least, or in any case make it worth it to me.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 8:55AM
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I think Kaisermust didn't like any of our answers. Ah, well...

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 9:11PM
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You need to remember if the window is say 80 inches wide you will need 160 or slightly over in width. Half of the fabric will be pleated up... You basically will be buying panels for the fabric you want, taking out all the seams and putting it back together. SO REMEMBERalso, consider that what you are doing is STILL getting custom made drapes. It is actually MORE work intensive to take these panels apart to get the fabric than if you just bought the fabric in the first place! You might find a seamstress who won't charge as much as an interior decorator, but it's still custom work wether or not you call it that.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 5:34PM
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As some of us already said, onefineseamstres.

Some people just do not want to hear, nor do they wish to pay someone with skills they do not have.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 8:05PM
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