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.
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.