Unlined Pinch Pleated Draperies
Last night I came across some pictures for a tutorial that, for some reason, I never wrote! This is a bit of a blast from the past, but do you remember Gwen’s bathroom makeover? She had a shower with a brass frame, and to camouflage it a bit, I made an unlined pinch pleated drapery panel with a contrasting fabric band along the edge to use as a curtain in front of the shower.
So if you’d like to know how to make your own unlined pinch pleated curtains, here are the details:
Tools & Supplies:
- Main fabric for drapery panels,
- Contrasting fabric for accent band on bottom of panels,
- Coordinating thread,
- Crinoline (aka, buckram),
- Drapery hooks (aka, drapery pins),
- Sewing needle,
- Thimble (optional),
- Tape measure, and
- Sewing machine.
1. Determine how much fabric you’ll need. I suggest hanging your drapery rod, with the rings, before making draperies. Then measure from the bottom of the drapery rings to the floor. This will give you your finished length for your drapery panels.
For the contrast fabric band: You’ll need the desired height of the band, plus 3 5/8 inches.
For the main fabric: You’ll need the finished height of the draperies, minus the desired height of the contrast band, plus ten inches.
If you’d like to make your panels double width (as I will show in this tutorial, and which I strongly recommend for wide windows) then double the amount of each fabric. Please note, this is how much you’ll need per drapery panel.
If you’re making single-width drapery panels, skip to step #4.
2. Take the main fabric, and sew the two widths together lengthwise, matching the pattern if necessary. (I had to match the pattern on this fabric, which is why the seam is so far over on the fabric.)
3. Also sew the two widths of contrast fabric together lengthwise.
4. With the right sides of the fabric together, pin the top edge of the contrast fabric band to the bottom edge of the main fabric. Sew together with a 5/8” seam.
5. Because these draperies are unlined, I suggest finished off all of the raw fabric edges on the seams by doing a zigzag stitch right next to the seam, and then trimming off the extra fabric. This makes the seams look cleaner, and also prevents the exposed raw edges from fraying.
6. Along the bottom edge of the panel (on the contrast band), with the back side of the fabric facing up, fold the bottom edge of the fabric up 1.5 inches, and then fold again another 1.5 inches to hide the raw edge of fabric. Pin the hem in place. Then do this very same thing on both side edges of the drapery panel.
7. With the bottom and side hems pinned in place, and with the drapery panel lying flat, use a tape measure to measure up from the bottom edge of the drapery panel and mark the finished length with several pins. With the finished length marked in several places across the top, fold the fabric along the marks and re-pin. Iron this fold in place.
8. With the back side of the fabric facing up, remove the pins along the top of the panel. This is optional, but I could only find 5” crinoline, and I wanted a smaller header on my panel, so I cut the crinoline down to 3”.
9. Starting at one side, place the top edge of the crinoline along the ironed-in crease.
10. Fold the flap of fabric down over the crinoline.
11. Then tuck the raw edge of the fabric under the bottom edge of the crinoline and pin in place.
12. At this point, all four edges of the drapery panel should be pinned in place (no raw edges of fabric showing). Sew the sides and bottom edge about 1” from the edge of the drapery panel, and sew the top of the panel about 1/4” from the bottom of the crinoline. Remove all of the pins.
13. Now it’s time to mark where the pleats will go along the top of the drapery panel. On my panel, the spacing worked out to about 4.25 inches.
Whether you’re using a single width of fabric, or two widths of fabric, you want to end up with an odd number of sections (using an even number of pins), with each section as close to 4” wide as possible. Every other section will be a pleat (do not pleat the first or last sections; start pleating on the second section—see picture below).
I don’t recommend trying to pleat a section that is less than 4” wide. The fabric becomes very difficult to work with. If needed, you can make the pleat sections and the non-pleat sections different widths. For example, if you need to make the pleat sections 4”, and the non-pleat sections 3.75” in order to end up with enough sections, that’s fine.
14. Once you’re clear which sections will be pleats, begin on the first pleated section and fold in half (with the back sides of the panel together) so that the pins on either side touch.
15. Starting at the pins, sew parallel to the fold from the top of the crinoline to the bottom of the crinoline.
16. Repeat this on all of the pleated sections. The panel should look like this.
17. To finish the pleats, pinch the top portion of the fabric along the fold, and push it down through the middle so that two other folds form, one on either side. (Sorry for the blurry picture!)
18. Now bring the two new folds forward, and pinch the pleat together from top to bottom to permanently crease the crinoline and form the triple pleat.
19. Sew the pleat in place. I always sew my pleats in place by hand with a needle and thread (and a thimble to save my fingers, because pushing a needle through that much fabric can be painful!!). On this particular panel, I decided to sew the pleats at the top. This is called a Parisian pleat. If you prefer a standard pinch pleat, sew closer to the bottom of the crinoline.
20. Repeat this on all of the pleat sections until they’re all triple pleated.
21. Now you’re ready to insert the drapery hooks (drapery pins) into the back of each pleat, and hang your drapery panel!
I’m generally not a fan of unlined drapery panels, but when I’m using them in place of a standard shower curtain, I never line them.
Don’t pretty draperies make everything better? I sure think so!
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
Great tutorial! I may need to use this for making drapes for my living room, since no-sew shades are out of the picture.
Great tutorial – as usual!
As always I love your tutorials.
Makes everything much easier.
I have been wanting to create drapes. I have searched web extensively on the matter and I found your method of explaining it the best. I am a new fan. 🙂 Please post a tutorial on lined pinch pleat curtains also… if it is not too inconvenient that is… Thanks bunch and will be checking your blog regularly.
Thanks so much for the description. I would like to create pinch pleated curtains for my windows. Only problem is that the windows are angled, and I’d like the pleats to fall vertically and perfectly! Do you have instructions/basic pattern on how to deal with this for curtains for an angled line?
Regards and thanks,