Friday, January 25, 2008

How-To: Pinch Pleat Curtains


In order to achieve the desired look for your window treatment a few initial decisions and measurements must be made.


Accurate measurements are essential for a professional look. You will need to measure the exact area that the window treatment will cover. This
could be floor to ceiling, wall to wall; or from just above the window frame to just below the sill with the width just outside the window frame. These are personal decisions determined by the look you want to achieve with your window treatment.

Decide on where you want the top of the curtain to be and measure down to the desired length of the finished curtain. Most window treatments will look best with, at least, a double three inch bottom hem and a double four inch header at the top. To determine the cutting length of each panel add 6 inches for the bottom hem and 8 inches for the header to the desired finished length of your curtain.

For example:

Window length is 40"

+ double 3" hem 6"

+ double 4" hem 8"

54" Length of Panel

Certain fullness is determined by your tape. Each tape is designed to give a specific fullness when the cords are drawn. To determine the width of fabric for the panel, take the finished window width (including the rod returns and/or overlaps) and multiply by the fullness of the tape, then add 4" for a double 1" hem on either side of the panel. For example:

Window treatment width is 36"

Curtain tape is 2 ½ to1 fullness

36" x 2 ½ =90", add 4" for side hems-for a total of 94" needed for width of fabric for single panel treatment such as a valance or a one way draw curtain.

For center draw curtains, the same procedure would apply, but a total of 8" would be added for the side hems (double 1" hem each side of both panels)

The cutting width of your curtain may exceed the width of your fabric. You will need to seam panels together before you cut the final width.

Cutting width of the curtain divided by the fabric width = numbers of panels needed. (Round up to the nearest whole number.) To determine how much fabric you need, multiply the number of panels by the finished cutting length.

If your fabric repeats a printed design periodically, you will need to add the length of the repeat for each panel to ensure you have enough fabric to match that design at panel seams.The fabric width measurement that you have determined will be the measurement you will use for purchasing the curtain tape that you will need. Always buy a little extra, so that you can lay out your pleats symmetrically, ie. pleats begin and end at edge of panels. Unless absolutely unavoidable, you do not want to have half a pleat at the opening edge of your curtain, for instance.


  1. Cut and piece fabric to achieve the measurements that you have worked out. Remember to trim off fabric selvages.

  2. Press to Wrong side 1", then over 1" again on the Length of each side of panel to form 1" double side hem. Stitch.

  3. Press to Wrong side 4", then over 4" again on Top of curtain to form a 4" double header and pin in place.

  4. Place the curtain tape, with the pastel marking line Visible On The Face, And At The Top Edge Of The Tape, on your header. Fold under raw edge on starting end and secure draw cords with knots to prevent cords from being pulled out when you are forming the pleats.

  5. Pin end even with the side hem on the Wrong side of the curtain and down from the top of the header the desired distance.

  6. On the other side edge, fold under about 1" of the curtain tape and stitch down, to prevent fraying, being careful not to catch the draw cords in your stitching.

  7. Pin curtain tape in place along the length of the header to keep it from shifting when you sew.

  8. Stitch the curtain tape to the header along the top of tape, being careful not to catch the draw cords in your stitching. Stitch again along the bottom edge, always stitching in the same direction. You may want to add additional stitching lines in the body of the tape.
    This will depend on the design of the tape, the weight of your fabric and the look you are trying to achieve.

  9. To achieve the best results when drawing the cords, use someone's assistance to keep the fabric taunt while you draw the cords. Hold the cords in one hand, while you move the fabric along the cords. Do Not Force the pleats. The curtain tape forms the pleat. When
    the cords that sit on the surface of the tape disappear into the pleat without puckering, you have successfully attained the perfect pleat. Knot the cords securely, close to the last pleat, and either cut off the excess cord or wrap it, so that you can release the knots later
    for ease in laundering.

  10. Insert your hooks into the tapes and hang your curtains.

  11. Always pin the hem of your curtains after they are hung to ensure that the hem will be even and the length will be perfect. Remember that you have allowed for a double 3" hem (an extra 6").

  12. Remove curtains from rods, stitch hem and re-hang.


The pinch pleat tapes (style 145-2008-001: 2 to 1 ½ to fullness & style 145-2009-001: 3 to 1 fullness) should be sewn on in the same manner as all the wider tapes; along the top and in the bottom edges of the tapes, and once or twice in between. To create a decorator look, we
suggest that after you created the pleats, tack each pleat at the bottom, either by hand or machine. This will give your header a real custom look.


Two cord shirring tape (style 145-2004-001) and mini-pleat (style 145-2005-001) are best used in shorter curtains (63" or shorter). They also are best applied by sewing along the top and bottom edge of the tape, with the tape at least ½" from the top edge of the curtain header.

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