How To Make Double-Width Lined Pinch-Pleated Draperies – Part 2

Well, I didn’t get my own draperies finished, but I did get one panel completely finished and hung so that I can show y’all the rest of this “how to” for making your own lined, pinch pleated draperies.  Here’s how my one finished panel looks:

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*Note:  I opted for a softer look for my panels, where the folds in the fabric at each pleat aren’t really defined and structured.  However, if you prefer a more structured, tailored look and want the perfect folds, I show you how to do that at the end of this post.  I generally opt for the more structured look, but I’m going to live with this softer look for a while and see how I like it.

If you missed Part 1 of this tutorial, you can see it here.

So at the end of yesterday’s post, I had finished up with the sides of the drapery panel using a blind hem stitch.  That means that the bottom hem was finished, and the sides were finished, so all I had left was the header.

Finishing the header

Using a measuring tape, I measured up from the bottom hem of the panel and marked my finished length using straight pins.  I did this in several places going all the way across the top of the panel.  (Note:  It’s actually easier if you mark the front of the panel rather than the back.)

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Then I folded the top along the pinned line, removed the pins, and repinned along the top fold.  And then I ironed in the fold really well.

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I placed the panel back on the floor, unfolded the top, and trimmed off the excess lining along the ironed-in crease.  This is optional, but I do this to eliminate bulk, which makes it easier when putting in pleats later.

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And with the excess lining trimmed off along the crease, it looked like this…

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Next I took my roll of buckram (at JoAnn’s, it’s called something like Woven Drapery Header Tape)…

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…and I cut a strip long enough for the top of my drapery panel.  I lined it up with the top of the lining I had just cut.

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And then using the buckram as a guide, I measured an additional 2.5 inches on the fabric, and cut off the excess.  So the fabric above the cut edge of the lining was 2.5 inches longer than the buckram (header tape).

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Then I moved the buckram so that the top edge of the buckram lined up with the top edge of the lining, and starting in the middle of the drapery panel, I folded the fabric over the buckram and tucked the extra 2.5 inches under the buckram and pinned into place.

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And of course, I did this all the way across the top of the drapery panel.

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With the fabric folded over and tucked under the buckram all the way across, the top of the panel looked like this…

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Adding the pleats:

Before the pleats can be added, I had to first determine how much space I needed at the end of my drapery panel for the return.  To do this, I simply measured from the eye hook on the drapery ring to the wall.  That gave me a measurement of 5.5 inches for my return.

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So I marked that measurement with a pin on one end of my drapery panel.

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And then on the other end, I measured and marked 4 inches for the leading edge.

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Then I measured the space I had left between the pin marking the return, and the pin marking the leading edge.  That left me with 91 inches of drapery header in the area between those two pins.

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Now I’m not going to lie.  Figuring the spacing for pleats is always the biggest headache for me, and I usually have to do it at least two, if not three times before I get the spacing right.

But here’s the basic concept:

In the space between the pins marking the return and the leading edge, that area needs to start and end with a pleat.  Obviously between each pleat, there needs to be a flat area.  That means that I needed to mark off an odd number of spaces (one more pleat than flat areas means an odd number), and the spacing between pins needs to be as close to four inches as possible.  (Using less than 4 inches of header for each pleat becomes a really difficult.)

So the area I had to work with was 91 inches.  I divided that by four just to get my starting point and see what needed to be tweaked.  That gave me 22.75 spaces.  Somehow I needed to tweak my spacing to bump that up to 23 spaces.  23 spaces would give me 12 pleats and 11 flat areas between pleats.

So what I decided to do is to mark off all of the spaces that would be pleats as an even 4 inches, and then mark off all of the spaces that would be flat areas as just a hair under 4 inches.

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Now to sew in the pleats, I started with the first space after the leading edge.

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And I folded that space in half so that the pins lined up.

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Then I removed one of the pins, and used the other to pin the fold in place.  I continued along the top, pinning all of the pleat spaces together like that until I had this…

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Then I used my machine and sewed in the folds.  I started with my machine needle lined up with the pin, and then sewed a straight line down until I reached the bottom edge of the buckram.

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And I did that with each pleat fold until I had them all sewn in.

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To form the pinch pleats, I squeezed the folded part together close to the fold, and pushed it down through the middle to form the other two folds.

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Then I used my fingers to crease all three folds into place.

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I threaded my needle so that the thread was doubled…

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And then pushed the needle through all of the folds of the pleat.  Then I moved the needle over about 1/4 inch, and pushed it back through.  Since I had doubled the thread, I was actually using four strands of thread at once.  This makes it so much easier, and allows me to just do one stitch in each direction, rather than stitching back and forth and back and forth several times.

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I removed the needle, tied the threads in a tight double knot, and then trimmed off the excess thread.

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And of course, I repeated that with each pleat.  (Note:  If your pleats aren’t staying neatly folded at the top, you can use a steam iron to iron in the folds.  Just be careful you don’t burn your fabric!!)

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The finishing details:

The pleats are the biggest hurdle, so once those are done, there are just a few small details that have to be taken care of before this panel can be called finished.

First, on the very ends of the header (return and leading edge), the folds will still be loose since there are no pleats sewn in to hold the fabric together.

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These areas need to be hand stitched along the very edge.  Using my needle, I carefully grabbed the two outside layers with the needle, avoiding the middle layer.

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That way, when the edge was all stitched up, the middle layer would be hidden with the outside layers pulled to hide that inside layer.  And of course, I stitched all the way up to the top corner.  I repeated this on the other side of the drapery panel.

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The last detail is the bottom corners that still just have folds but no stitching to hold them in place.

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These can be finished one of two ways.

The first way is to unfold the fabric…

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And then fold the corner up diagonally along the side crease.

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And then refold the side to give a nice angled corner.  That would need to be hand stitched and ironed into place.

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The other option (the one I used on this drapery panel), is to hand stitch the bottom in the very same way that I just hand stitched the top edges.

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Again, grabbing only the outside layers of fabric with the needle, and avoiding the middle layer so that it gets enclosed completely as the stitching is pulled.

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And then I also hand stitched along this folded area, from the bottom of the panel up onto the lining about three inches (until the hand stitching met where my machine stitching had stopped).

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And with those final details finished, the drapery panel is complete!  :)

Hanging the drapery panel:

Drapery panels should be hung with drapery pins on drapery rings, not with clip rings.

Wood rings used to come with the clip rings attached, and I’d have to detach the clip rings before hanging the draperies.  So I was pretty thrilled to see that the Allen + Roth brand rings (from Lowe’s) now come with the clip rings detached.  You can just throw those away, or use them on another creative project, because you won’t need them for draperies.

drapery rings

One drapery pin goes behind each pleat, and then one drapery pin goes on the leading edge (about an inch or so in from the edge), and one more drapery pin goes on the return (about 1/2-inch from the edge).

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Hang the panel so that the pins on each of the pleats and the leading edge are hung on a drapery ring.  But do not attach the pin on the return edge to a drapery ring.  This pin gets attached to the wall.  (It returns to the wall.  Thus the name “return.”)

This is done by attaching an eye screw directly into the wall at the same height as the eyes on the drapery rings, and placed so that the return can be hooked to the wall at a 90-degree angle.

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And then simply hook the drapery hook over the eye screw.  (Note:  I always place my pin behind the eye on the eye screw, rather than through the eye on the eye screw.  That just helps it hold closer to the wall.)

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And its done!

Now if you like a more casual, softer look to your draperies, you can leave them just like this with soft, non-defined folds in the fabric.  (I think I’m going to leave mine like this, but I haven’t decided for sure yet.)

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But if you like a more structured, tailored look, you’ll need to grab some strips of fabric scraps (about three).  Then spend some time working with the folds of the pleats so that they’re lined up perfectly, and then use the scrap fabric to gently tie around the drapery panel.

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Do this in about three places (top, middle, and bottom), making sure that the folds are perfectly folded and perfectly spaced all the way down.  Leave them that way for a day or two to “train” the fabric.  You can even use a steamer or steam iron to gently steam the folds into the fabric.  Then once the fabric ties are removed, you’ll have a very structured and tailored look to your pinch pleated draperies.

I’m hoping that I’ll get my second panel done today, and be able to show y’all my finished draperies, plus a full room view with the new artwork, painted sofa, and new draperies tomorrow!

In the meantime, I know y’all had lots of questions on yesterday’s post, and will probably have more today.  I’m going to do my best to also get those questions answered today.  You CAN do this!  It’s a long process, and it’s time-consuming, but it’s not difficult.  :)

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Comments

  1. Brent says

    This was super informative, thanks Kristi! Is there a specific variety of liner fabric you prefer, or is it just a standard white drapery cotton?

  2. Cyndi L says

    I have been making drapes and curtains for years and they never come out looking as nice as yours do! Your tutorial addressed a couple of things that I should have been doing that will make all the difference. Thanks! I’m so glad I found your blog a few months ago. I love that you’re redoing an older home within a budget and it’s looking fantastic. Look forward to your posts every day!

  3. Bobbi Jo Thompson says

    What a difference drapes have made in your livingroom. Nice Job! And I will be making my our drapes, thanks to your instructions. Thanks for making it so understandable. ~Bobbi Jo

  4. diane says

    Best tutorial on this process I have viewed! If using lighter weight fabric, you can buy small square flat drapery weights (dritz makes these) to put in the corner of the bottom hem to help the drapes hang nicely. Once again, great job explainin how to measure and make the pleats!

  5. Krikit says

    I’m so grateful for who you are as a designer and DIY’er; that you so graciously give of yourself, your talents, your skills to enable and encourage learning for the rest of us. Thank you! ~:0)

  6. says

    Thank you Kristi for the very nice step by step.
    I’ve made many curtains in the past, though never tackled pinch pleated before even though I do know how to do them. Bookmarking yours for the future. :)

  7. Dawn-Mari says

    Great job! Another way to train them is to put a “Memory Thread” in the bottom hem. You fold it, either on a table, floor or even hanging. Then on the back side of the folds (closest to the wall) run a thread through the back folds all along. Just about 1/4-1/2″ in. Tie off and cut the thread so that it is the width of the drape when closed together and evenly space out the thread so that when it opens and closes it is even. It will keep the folds in place and not flare out when open or closed. You can also gently steam and finger press the folds while hanging to quicken the process. If it is linen. Just a gentle finger press down the folds in the front and back will put a memory in them as well. I live that you don’t cut corners. You do things the proper way. It makes them look professionally done and will make tem last for years!! I love your blog and enjoy seeing all it do. Thank you.

  8. Denise Thousand says

    Thanks so much for your lesson on draperies. What did you mean in the last step? (That you put the hook behind the eye instead of through?)

  9. Alta says

    I like the unstructured folds for a more casual look, but I really like the more structured folds because of the folds in the roman shades. The draperies are beautiful and add a wonderful richness and softness to the room. Are you planning to add wooden blinds to be front windows too?

  10. Liz says

    Oh Wow. Thanks for the tutorial. I think I don’t have anymore excuses to delay making those curtains that I have been putting off since 5 years.

  11. Kathy in Mukilteo, WA says

    I adore you! I own and have studied books, tapes, e-books and classes on how to make lined and pleated drapes and this is the first straight forward understandable instructions I have seen! I can hardly wait to make some drapes now and will forget my complicated failures. Thank you thank you thank you!

  12. Sue says

    Those are beautifully made! I can tell that when the other panel gets finished and hung that the window will be well-dressed! I love it!

  13. says

    Hi Kristi:
    Nice job on the tutorial. Just a quick tip to make things easier. Since you’re working on a home sewing machine you can use it to sew your pleats rather than doing them by hand. (I’ll go to great lengths to avoid hand sewing.)
    If you’re machine has a zig zag stitch set it to that and put your stitch length to 0. Drop the feed dogs down to make it easier to fit the pleat under the presser foot and stich away. Instead of a long zig zag stitch the machine will make a small dash and go back and forth in the same place, making a nice strong tack.

    • says

      Thank you so much for adding that, Sydney! I meant to add that to the tutorial in case people want to use that method and their sewing machines can handle it. When I had my old Kenmore machine (which was actually much newer than the one I’m currently using, probably by three decades) I would do it that way. Sadly, that machine quit working.

      I’m now using a much older machine that my grandmother gave me (the brand is Necchi, which I had never heard of before). It’s a workhorse and actually a much better machine than the much newer Kenmore I was using. The one thing it can’t do is sew through a pleat. :(

      I’m sure the needle could power through quite easily if I could just get the fabric under the foot, but I’ve tried everything, and it just won’t lift up enough to get the pleat under there so I can sew through it. So I now have to sew them by hand. It’s not too bad since I basically quadruple the thread and do it all in one stitch. But I sure wish my machine could handle it! :)

  14. debbie says

    These look beautiful and love when they are hung as high as possible. I love your window treatments fabric too. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Lisa says

    They look beautiful! Great job! And even though fabric can be expensive, I bet you still saved a bundle by making them yourself!

  16. Betty says

    Kristi,
    Thanks for the tutorial. Have you found any benefit of hanging your fabric before construction to allow it to relax?
    I grew up using a Necchi machine. It’s an awesome machine, all metal, and will last forever.

  17. Debbie says

    Kristi, Thanks for clear, easy instructions. Your curtains finish the living room beautifully. Yes, I can do this! I want new curtains in my dining room. One question; Do curtains need to match from the dining room to the kitchen? I am struggling to find fabric that balances the kitchen yet gives the dining room a little elegance.

  18. Jane says

    Your drapes are gorgeous! I can’t wait to see the entire room completed!
    I am so happy that I read and studied each step. I understand each step completely and will now make my own drapes! Thank you so much for the great tutorial!!!

  19. Anne says

    You are so talented. I was just about to give up and order new drapes for my daughter and son in law’s new home!!! I wanted to make them though!!!! And thanks to you I can do that. What a wonderful, easy to follow tutorial. Again, thank you!!!! Thank you!!!!!

  20. Jan Bradford says

    Kristi, my mother-in- law has her Ph.D in home economics and demanded I learn how to make “proper” pinch – pleated draperies as a young bride instead of the more casual country ruffles, balloon shades, Roman shades, and draped valances I really preferred at the time. I also learned a little about piping and upholstery from her. I am so glad I learned how to do it now, and have used her sewing instructions many times over the years. Sshh, don’t tell her! (Of course, I’ve been able to turn the tables on her over the years and teach her how to garden and cook. She hadn’t a clue.) I have never seen anyone explain it so well as you have, though. I hope those following your blog print out the instructions and keep them handy. Someday, they will be very glad they did! Thanks!

  21. says

    This was super informative, absolutely wonderful. Thank you for taking the time for posting. Truly inspiring. I love that you are redoing an older home within a budget and it is looking fantastic. Look forward to your posts every day! Best tutorial on this process. Great tutorial! Very easy to understand with great pictures.

  22. says

    So glad you had the guts to tell people to put down the iron-on hem tape! Sewing is really intimidating to those of us who didn’t grow up around it. I took a sewing class at a local fabric shop about 10 years ago but their machines were state-of-the-art, and mine was a starter model from a discount store. Just threading the machine made me so intimidated! That, and not having someone to tell me step-by-step what to do.

    Of course, now there are wonderful blogs with people like you who are wiling to share your wisdom. I know it takes 1000 times the time and effort to complete a project when you have to stop for photos constantly!

    I eventually got over my sewing machine intimidation and taught myself to make pillow covers with invisible zippers. I fell in love with the process (and fabrics!!!) and even started a business, selling decorative pillow covers on Etsy.

    I have yet to make my own curtains because my husband is obsessed with our Shaker-style window molding and refuses to let me cover it up. But I’m working on him … maybe at least I can do Roman shades that fit inside the window, so no trim is covered in the process!

  23. Mary says

    Great instructions. I’ve been trying to make my own drapes & my biggest headache is getting the correct length. I like my drapes to just kiss the floor. I measure & measure again but somehow they end up too short. Especially at the sides. Someone told me that using weights in the corners of the hem would help.
    Your drapes are the perfect length, even the edges. And you didn’t use weights. Please share your tricks for getting the exact length.
    Could you also share how you got such a perfect match with the pattern repeat in the middle of your panels? There must be a trick to it that escapes me.
    Thanks in advance.

  24. Cindy says

    Hi Kristi-

    Great, great tutorial. If I were going to follow this tutorial to the letter (which I fully plan on doing in our master bedroom), how high should I hang my curtain rod so the curtains are just barely above the ground? Same situation as yours: 8 foot ceilings, high and wide, etc.

  25. Fran Rizzo says

    Kristi,

    I came across your blog the other day when I went searching for how to reupholster dining room chairs with welting. Thanks for the wonderful tutorials!! They are very clear and so simply done that I now have the confidence to move forth with my remodel’s finishing touches. You are way better than all the books I have. One question: How do you add interlining between the fabric and the black out liner? Or is it not needed if you use blackout liner? I live in the Northeast and we have been experiencing brutally cold winters and would like the extra insulation. Thanks again for your time and effort helping decorate smarter.

    • says

      If I were you (and lived where you do) I’d add the interlining for sure. There’s even a really thick interlining called English Bump. That would be the most insulating option if you can find it.

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