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:
*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.)
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.
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.
And with the excess lining trimmed off along the crease, it looked like this…
Next I took my roll of buckram (at JoAnn’s, it’s called something like Woven Drapery Header Tape)…
…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.
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).
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.
And of course, I did this all the way across the top of the drapery panel.
With the fabric folded over and tucked under the buckram all the way across, the top of the panel looked like this…
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.
So I marked that measurement with a pin on one end of my drapery panel.
And then on the other end, I measured and marked 4 inches for the leading edge.
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.
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.
Now to sew in the pleats, I started with the first space after the leading edge.
And I folded that space in half so that the pins lined up.
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…
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.
And I did that with each pleat fold until I had them all sewn in.
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.
Then I used my fingers to crease all three folds into place.
I threaded my needle so that the thread was doubled…
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.
I removed the needle, tied the threads in a tight double knot, and then trimmed off the excess thread.
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!!)
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.
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.
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.
The last detail is the bottom corners that still just have folds but no stitching to hold them in place.
These can be finished one of two ways.
The first way is to unfold the fabric…
And then fold the corner up diagonally along the side crease.
And then refold the side to give a nice angled corner. That would need to be hand stitched and ironed into place.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.)
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.)
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.
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.