How to make -
Hand Pleated Interlined Curtains
  •   Sewing Machine
  • - Tape Measure
  • - Needles
  • - Pins
  • - Scissors
  • - Set Square
  • - Straight Edge
  •   Pencil
  • - Vanishing Marker
  • - Clamps
  • Step 9: Form the Pleats


    Measure the width of your unpleated curtain panel.(PAN)

    To do this we already know:

    • The finished width of the curtain (FW)

    Now Choose:

    • The width of your RETURN* - we recommend 8cm. (R)
    • The width of your LEADING EDGE - we recommend 8cm.(LE)

    *Note if you are returning to the wall make this the distance from the pole to the wall plus 1cm.



    To calculate the width of fabric available to form pleats simply subtract the finished curtain width (STEP 2) from the width of the panel to be pleated.

    • WFP = PAN - FW


    You now know how much fabric you have to form pleats (WFP). Next you need to decide how many pleats you want your curtain to have (NP).

    As a guide if you have been working with our recommended fullness ratios, we would usually look to use the following number of pleats per width.

    • Double Pleat 5-6 pleats
    • Triple Pleat 4 pleats
    • Cartridge Pleat 6 pleats
    • Goblet Pleat 4-5 pleats

    For example if you are using 6 pleats for every fabric width used to make the curtain panel and you have used 2 widths of fabric to make your panel we would recommend 12 pleats, if you have used 1.5 widths we would recommend 9 pleats etc.



    To calculate your pleat size divide the fabric available for pleats by the number of pleats.

    • PS = WFP ÷ NP


    You will always have one space less than the number of pleats. For example 12 pleats - 11 spaces, 10 pleats-9 spaces. To find the size of the space between pleats

    • Subtract the size of the RETURN and LEADING EDGE from the finished curtain width
    • Divide the result by (the number of pleats minus 1)
    • SS = (FW - LE - R) ÷ (NP-1)

    You should now know

    • The width of the fabric panel to be pleated
    • The number of pleats per curtain.
    • The size of each pleat
    • The space between each pleat
    • The size of the RETURN
    • The size of the LEADING EDGE


    If you are new to curtain making, fold a sample pleat with some buckramc the size of the pleat you have calculated (see STEP 9b - How to fold the Pleat). If you are not happy with size of pleat and the space sizes start the calculation again using a smaller number of pleats for a larger pleat, or a higher number of pleats to make your pleats smaller.


    • Lay the curtain down, right side facing up.
    • Mark along the top of the curtain where each pleat will start and stop with a pin
    • Check the size of your RETURN, LEADING EDGE and the spaces between the pleats add up to the finished width of the curtain.
    • With a vanishing marker draw a vertical line down from each pin to the bottom of the buckram to mark the edge of each pleat.
    • Remove the pins
    • Pinch the back of each pleat together so the lines match up.
    • Machine stitch down the line to the bottom of the buckram (to hold the back of each pleat together).
    • Once you have sewn in all the pleats check the width of the heading is now the finished width of the curtain.
    This video shows you
    • How to mark out your pleats
    • How to deal with small errors
    • How to sew in your pleats
    • Where to start your stitching (important)
    • How we sew the pleat in without marking vertical lines

    Questions & Comments


    Hi, I have purchased the videos for lined and interlined double pleat curtains and would be very grateful if you could confirm that the space size is usually larger than the pleat size - I have a panel 260cms wide (using double width fabric) and a finished curtain width of 135cm, which I think gives me a fullness ratio of 2.1. I know that you recommend 6 pleats per width but I am worried that the pleat size may be too small. I have used the pleat calculator for 12 or 11 pleats, which do you think would be the better option? Would be very grateful for your advice.

    12 Pleats - PS = 10.41 SS = 10.81

    11 Pleats - PS = 11.36 SS - 11.9


    Hi Irene 

    We just replied to your question about double width fabric (apologies for time delay as we were away on holiday). We can see you have progressed with the making. Of the 2 options we would go for 11 pleats. The ratios are offered as a guide but there is generally wriggle room. With interlined curtains, bigger pleats are better.


    My fabric is quite heavy velvet & my sewing machine needles keep breaking within seconds when sewing the pleats. What is the strongest needle I could try- the 110/18 just snapped again?



    Hi Clare

    I feel your pain as this is such a frustrating thing to happen when so close to finishing!

    I generally switch to a needle for denim when sewing the backs of pleats (100) so you’re using the right needle. It sounds like your machine simply isn’t strong enough - is it a standard domestic?

    The minute your needle jams, the tip will be bent so you have to bin that needle and switch immediately. The tip will be bent and you may not be able to see it but it will NOT sew another pleat without breaking. I would have a stack of heavy duty needles on hand. The minute one jams, switch it.

    This is all I can recommend other than upgrading your machine. Apologies that I cannot offer more advice.

    Good Luck



    Thanks for the advice.

    I thought my machine was quite good- a Bernina B330, but maybe not intended for this use. It's also quite tricky to fit the bulk of the fabric under the presser foot, I am using a walking foot- is that the best type for pleats? Would you keep the foot raised while sewing?


    Bernina make great machines but still no guarantee of success with bulky pleats. Don’t keep your foot raised though. All you can do is persevere with lots of spare needles and change as soon as one jams.



    What's the recommended fullness and pleats per width for a single pleat curtain?

    Honor Young Interiors

    Hello loving your videos btw......what if the fabric bouces back after installing the pleats at the appropriate space measurement?? Should I iron the pleats flat first then add in the crease in the middle to make a double pleat?

    Thankyou for your help happy christmas


    Hi Honor

    The pleats will not sit exactly flat and that is why we build in ease in STEP 2. If you do this then you won’t have a problem and I have never ironed a pleat in before.

    Good luck with your project and please send us pics as we love to see them.

    Also, follow the pro workshop on Dolman and Taylor on Instagram!




    Hi, I am making a single double pleated curtain with a return to the wall on the right hand leading edge. The curtain is covering a doorway so the non-leading edge will be flush against a wall. Should I allow for a return on the non leading edge just to keep it tidy? Thank you, Amy


    We don't 100% understand because you a saying the non leading edge is flush to the wall already so why would you return it to the wall? Of course you always end on a space not on a pleat.

    Lynn Huntingford

    How do you ensure that the seam is not at the front of the pleat? Do you do a pleat over the seam and work back calculating the pleats? It seems no matter which way I space pleats I always have the seam in the middle which would be at front of pleat when finished. Have I calculated spacing wrong?


    Normally  if you have 6 double pleats or 4 triple pleats per width you shouldn't have a pleat on a seam. If you do end up with one on a pleat you just have to work with it.


    I am making double pinch pleat curtains in very heavy fabric with interlining. My machine was struggling to cope with the pleats and the needle kept breaking. I found a suggestion on line to sew from the bottom up. This worked. I based to and bottom and also pinned the pleats in place to ensure the tops of the pleats match up. Just a suggestion for those who may come across a similar problem. My curtains are almost finished. Fantastic tutorials on line. Couldn't have done this without them. Thank you.


    When making interlined curtains with a thick fabric, it can be a real problem for the machine to get through all the layers. I frequently change needles on my machine for this reason - a thicker one for heavier fabrics and a fine one for sheers/silks etc. So a combination of the correct needle and having a machine with a strong enough engine to power through thick layers are key when facing thick fabrics. Another issue is getting the pressure foot high enough to get the bulky layers under. All these things should be considered before choosing fabrics/ interlining and making a mock up is very helpful before committing to a sewing project that your machine can’t cope with.

    Well done you for persevering and finding your own solution to this very tricky problem and for sharing your ideas. I hope you are thrilled with your finished curtains and will be moving on to another project in the future.
    Kind regards
    Clare Suart

    Thank you for your very clear instructions. I would like to make a suggestion about the number of pleats per width. You recommend 4 per width/drop, which is good. And I would like to suggest that when TWO drops are used and the width of the curtain becomes Double because TWO width are sewn together, then an extra pleat is needed. So 8 becomes 9. In my experience this looks very good, better than simply 8.

    Many thanks


    Excellent tutorials, thank you.

    i have a thick fabric, interlining and lining which once folded to sew the pleats in place is too thick to go in my sewing machine. Is it possible to hand stitch the pleats and if so how is best to stitch these?


    I have never hand stitched a pleat as I have a sewing machine that will deal with the thickness. I cannot comment on hand stitching - it will be very hard going if your machine can’t cope.

    Do you have a friend with a better machine you can borrow?


    Hi, loving your incredibly helpful tutorial.

    I'm making quite heavy interlined curtains for a draughty bay window. Because of the sheer weight of the total fabric, the price and the work involved, i've gone for quite a low fullness ratio - it'll be 1.6 or 1.7 ish. I'm wondering what kind of pleat would be best under these circumstances. Or would it be best to use heading tape? Have you got any advice? Thanks!


    With a Tab top or eyelet heading you can get away with a less fullness, but this wont work in a bay.

    Pencil pleat (heading tape) does not look good if the fullness ratio is less than 2.2.

    Hand pleated -the pleats will be small and the gaps large with that fullness ratio. Interlined curtains due to their bulk do not make up well with small dainty pleats.

    We would not make up with those fullness ratios. We think  you need more fabric. When cost is an issue we always recommend going for a cheaper fabric but making up well. We never skimp on the fullness of fabric. 


    Thank you so much for your great tutorials. Are you using a walking foot when you sew the pleats?


    Yes I am in the videos, you don't have to use one, but it does help with slippage between the layers.


    Should the return and the leading edge always be the same amount?

    My pole length is 360cm do you still recommend 8 cm for this length of pole?

    Thank you


    That’s how we do it , you can vary it but the longer you make them the flappier they get.

    (obviously if you are returning your curtain to the wall the return may be different)


    Please can you clarify..does my first pleat start at 8cm (LE) in from the edge of the curtain panel or at my calculated space size (14.4cm)? Thank you


    Yes the there will be the LE then a pleat, gap, pleat, gap, pleat etc to the last pleat, then the RETURN.

    When you are making a pair make sure you get your LE and RETURN  on the correct side of each curtain if the are not the same figure.

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