Reader Brenny wants to know if anyone has good instructions on how to make pinch-pleat draperies. Drats, I do – somewhere. But I cannot find them! Help! Maybe while you’re tidying up for guests… you’ll uncover your instructions?

One tip I have immediately: You can spray paint your traverse rod to match your wall or wall covering. I did this (barkcloth pinch pleats in my dining room, above) and it turned out great.

I wonder if it would be possible to pry some good pinch pleat drapery instructions from you. I have searched the net on how to make them, but all the instructions seem to be a bit vague. Do you have any that you could share? I have some barkcloth that is the atomic bomb and would love to get my sew on.

  1. Brenny says:

    Thank you soooo much for the pdf instructions. I am printing them as we speak. I did a quick calculation with my kick ass barkcloth, and it doesn’t look like I am going to have enough to do my double-set curtains for my kitchen, so I am on the prowl again for fabric.
    Cindy Sew-Sew……don’t go anywhere. I may have to hire you, yet.

  2. Barbie says:

    I am trying for the first time to make draperies. The fabric is 54 inches and has a 27 in drop. I need to have two lengths of fabric. What kind of seam do I use and how do I make the fabric match?Since I assume (you know what that does) I will be sewing the fabric with the right sides together I don’t know how to pin or otherwise make sure my fabric is matching. Can someone help me?
    Thank you.

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Barbie, good for you. I have been sewing since I was about 8 years old, my grandmother taught me. What you are trying to do is not hard it just is going to take patience. I am assuming that your fabric has a pattern – and this is what you want to match up when you sew your two lengths together to make one. (If there is no pattern, you don’t need to worry about matching). The easiest instructions I think I can give are to: Line the two panels up, right side up, side by side. Match them first right side up. Now imagine and look where you are going to sew them together – again, match them up. Now every three inches or so – scissor-clip matching little notches, just 1/4″ in each piece where they need to be matched. When you are done, put the fabric together again right sides together. Match up the notches. Pin the pieced together with the pins running horizontally so that the sewing needle will go right over the pins (the sewing foot will approach the pins at a right angle.) When you are sewing – use a long basting stitch firs and do not lock your stitches when you stop and start. Go very easy as you sew…ease the fabric up push it almost… one length or another may want to ‘stretch’ as you sew and this will get the notches “off” so the farther down you sew the farther you get off-match… also if the stitching is too tight the fabric will want to pucker up. A 27″ drop is not bad to work with, you really shouldn’t have too much trouble over this short a length. When you are done basting…take out all the pins, open up the piece and see if looks all lined up. If it’s not, you are going to have to rip out the basting and try again. Also, eyeball it. If it’s not ‘perfect’ will you really see it? I mean, will someone else really see it? We always tend to know and focus on the imperfections in our design – but things no one else but us would ever ever notice in a million years.

      Hey: practice first on some spare fabric if you have it? If your matching looks good – sew the seam again at 12 stitches per inch, right over the basting. You’ll then want to iron the seam open on the wrong side so it’s all nice and flat and smooth. Be careful not to make the iron so hot that you see the selvage/seam from the right side.

      PS – Remember also, that you will want your two curtain panels (the final panels) to match up in the CENTER where they meet every time you close them. Don’t forget to think about this and plan for this in your fabric cutting!

      Does that help? I guess I need a video cam now!

  3. Barb Scott says:

    Found a set of beautiful pinch pleate drapes at a thrift store today for $6.00! They are going in our den….in need of a good ironing, but otherwise in great shape!

  4. pam kane says:

    I tried to bring up the pdf of the pinch pleat drapes by that site now under construction. Is there anyway that you can send them to me. I have the Drapes all made and used the pinch pleat tape for the hooks. However, the fabric I used is really heavy and does not look good with the 4 pronged hooks. I would like to sew in the pleats. Thanks.

  5. Sweet Lady Jane says:

    I just made pinch pleated drapes for the first time WITHOUT PLEAT TAPE, and not being and spent so much time researching how to and made dozens of trips to Joanne’s Fabrics to buy everything “on sale”.
    The book I used after looking through many was “Sew a Beautiful Window by Sally Cowan.(pgs 118-120) There was another in the sewing store that also had good instruction but I still needed to see some videos on Youtube to get the visual. The measurements I used came from the book formulas. The fabric I used was a bronze silk look alike (Joann Fabric brand) with emroidered scroll design which I found out after making the first panel the light came through the embrodery even with a lining. Back to the sewing store to buy “interlining” which is supposed to help the pleats look better and provide insulation. If I had it to do over, I would have bought the blackout lining instead as the cost would have been less but maybe not hung as well?
    My fabric is 58″ wide and linings 54″ which worked out perfect as my finished panels are 22.5″ with one hanging on each side of the window. Using the formula from the book: Each panel has 5 pleats and 6 spaces with 2″ on each edge. Each pleat part measured 6.25″ and then I made the triple pleat and sewed across the bottom of each pleat.
    For the header of the drapes, the book said to use “Buckram” but Jo-Ann Fabric calls it 3″ drapery header .99 yd in the store or cheaper by the roll online at $26.99 for 50 yds. This is substantially less than pleater tape and Sally Cowan’s book said: “Professional decorators rarely or never use pleater tapes because they are trained and skilled at making their own pleats.”
    This gave me the courage to try doing it myself.
    I got confused with the all the different instructions for attaching drapery hooks and rings, etc. and returned the original ring/hooks. For whatever reason, it must be that I sewed my pleats shut, I cannot insert the drapery hooks so I used wooden rings with clips hanging down. I think there may have been a way for me to have left part of the pleat open for a drapery hook to install but if I wanted to, I could use the pin style hooks and then attach them to the eye hooks on the wooden rings. These I found half price at Bed Bath & Beyond 7 for 9.99. The cheaper hooks are all metal and because the clip is directly attached to the ring instead of an eye hook and then the clip, they wouldn’t hang right.
    Another thing that made my drapes easier was the finished length is 2″ longer for a small puddle effect. The really expensive silk drapes can sometimes have a 5″ puddle. I love the look of the drapes puddling on the fllor and then there is no stress about having the hem perfect.
    Another note for those of you afraid to try this at home. Once I got the first panel done, the rest went twice as fast, and I could have hired someone to do it for me but I saved $500-$2000. for 8 panels by doing it myself depending on what the drapery experts charge. My sewing machine is 20 yrs old and reverse stich is broken. I don’t have, nor could I get a blind hem foot for it so I did the blind stitch without one and just sewed slower so I could guide the fabric by hand. Oh yes! I didn’t even know that I could do a blind stitch with my machine as I have never sewed one but Youtube had a video clip that showed me in 1 minute how easy it was. I almost did the blind stitching by hand since I had never done it on the machine before, then I read my old singer manual. So I am a total novice sewer who only uses my machine for very simple things like recovering pillows or tie on seat cushions (no zippers or buttons 🙂

  6. Sweet Lady Jane says:

    forgot to add one measurement:
    2″ return at each end of the panel and 4″ between pleats, 6 spaces, 5 pleats with 6.25″ being the full pleat size before pinching. based on a finished panel of 22.5″ wide by 98″ long. Each panel started out with 3 yards or 108″ fto get the finished length of 98″ including the 2″ puddle.
    The book Sew a Beautiful Window” by Sally Cowan, also has instructions for unlined or lined pleated curtains and one on with pleater tape or without. (pgs 110-120).
    FYI: If you don’t have the time to spare or the temprement to experiment without getting frustrated, you may want to pay someone to do it for you. As with anything new, there will mistakes that have to be reworked and it’s all part of the learning process. My neighbor had hers made by an upholsterer even though she is quite a good seamstress and said they were quite reasonable and they hung them for her and put up the rods, etc.
    Maybe that’s why they call it “seam-stress”.

  7. Femme1 says:

    Wow, Jane, you are inspiring me. I’m an experienced seamstress but I’ve been putting off doing my own pinch pleats, just because of the sheer size of the project.

    I just love it when people jump in and do something like you did!

  8. srweezy says:

    I am making pinch pleat drapes for my mother-in-laws room. She is bed ridden and has nothing to do each day but look at 4 walls, so I want these to turn out pretty and professional looking. I bought pleater tape and pleater hooks at Hancocks fabric. I have used these before. I always take a couple quick stitches by hand to hold the pleats together after I put in the hooks. This gives them that stitched look. When I take them down to launder, I clip the stitches, giving me flat panels to wash and press. It may take extra time, but it isn’t that hard.

  9. Jan says:

    I found the tape and the hooks at Joann Fabrics last weekend, at least in my area. The tape was under $1 per yard. The hooks were a little more expensive at about $4 for a bag of 10 hooks and 4 end hooks. I remember those end hooks – poked my finger a few times on the sharp point when I used to have that job during my grandma’s spring cleaning (no child safety issues back then!).

  10. Angela says:

    I have a picture window in my living room that is 11 foot wide by 7 feet tall. We purchased this 1956 ranch 4 years ago, and I believe the drapes hanging up are the original pinch pleated draperies. The slides in the traverse rods are breaking, so the drapes are “falling down” in places. The are very heavy drapes and lined, too. I don’t really care for the color and was thinking that if I could somehow replace the sliders and cords on the traverse rod I could just keep the draperies. My friend said I should just dye them the color I want, but they are HUGE and how would I do that without dying the lining. Do you think my local cleaners could handle a dye job of this size or would I be better off making new pinch pleated draperies. The only place I know that sells them premade is JC Penney and they do not have the size I need or the color I want. Help!

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