How to make - (Double Pleat)
Pinch Pleat Lined Curtains
Materials
  • - Fabric
  • - Lining
  • - Thread
  • - Buckram
  • - Weights
  • - Curtain Hooks
  • Tools
  • - Sewing Machine
  • - Needles
  • - Pins
  • - Clamps
  • - Scissors
  • - Set Square
  • - Straight Edge
  • - Invisible Marker
  • Step 9: Form the Pleats
    Printable Worksheet
    Printable Worksheet

    CALCULATE YOUR PLEAT SIZES & SPACING

    To do this we already know:

    • The finished width of the curtain (FW)
    • The width of the made up curtain panel to be pleated - measure now. (PAN)

    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.

    Next

    1. CALCULATE WIDTH OF FABRIC AVAILABLE TO FORM PLEATS (WFP)

    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

    2. DECIDE THE NUMBER OF PLEATS (NP)

    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).

    When working with the recommended 1.9 to 2.2 fullness ratio (STEP 2) we suggest using 6 pleats for every fabric width used to make the curtain panel. For example if 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.

    This would usually give you a pleat size of 10-13cm with similar sized spaces which we think is a good ratio for this type of curtain. You may want to vary this depending on the size of pleat you want, this number is usually a good place to start.

    3. CALCULATE THE ACTUAL PLEAT SIZE & SPACE SIZE

    PLEAT SIZE (PS)

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

    • PS = WFP ÷ NP

    SPACE SIZE (SS)

    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

    CHECK YOUR RESULTS

    If you are new to curtain making fold a sample pleat with some lining or spare fabric 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.

    MARK OUT AND SEW IN YOUR PLEAT SECTIONS

    • 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)

    Your Questions & Comments

    Angela

    I have got myself in a muddle. I am trying to make double pleats as each curtain is only 131 cms wide. 262 cms for the pair.

    Should I make triple pinch pleats instead or will I not have enough material to do this

    SewHelpful:

    We can't answer that with the info you have supplied. If your fullness ratio is more than 2.2 then we would consider triple pleat.

    Jane

    Hi,

    Is the FW (in point 1 on this page (step 9) the same as FCW found at step 2?

    SewHelpful:

    Yes the FW is the finished curtain width in step 2.

    Pam

    I am doing curtains with double pinch pleat but trying to match a pattern. Have worked it out with pleats 18cm and spaces 15cm. Is this too big for pleats and spaces? Only have 6 pleats per curtain 197cm (PAN)width to go on pole 150cm long. Have 2 curtains. Will this look O.K.

    SewHelpful:

    That pleat size, space ratio sounds perfect for a triple pleat but too big for a double pleat in our experience

    Wendy

    I have used two widths in my curtain panel. One of my pleats sits where they join. Should I have worked out my NP, PS and SS so that the seam sat in a space when marking out my pleats? The seam sits on a fold pointing into the room and I am not overly happy with it. I'd like to unpick the pleats but I'm guessing the buckram will be too bent. Any advise

    SewHelpful:

    We try and avoid the join down the centre of a pleat when marking out and calculating, (its not always possible). If you unpick and remake you may find small pinprick holes in the fabric heading being the problem rather than the buckram being bent.

    Rachel

    HI, I've just your site so much...thanks.

    quick question though...I'm making 1 curtain (for a door). I've ended up with 10 pleats (5 in each of 2 widths). PS =10cm....whereas SS= 17.4.

    My previous understanding is that these 2 figures were in the end very similar...mine seem too far apart. HELP!

    SewHelpful:

    Not enough pleats and big gaps, implies you haven't used a high enough fullness ratio (ie your panel  to pleat up isnt wide enough) Looking at your figures we are guessing you have a pole approx 170cm wide. With your 2 widths of 137cm. That gives you a fullness ratio of approx 1.6 (not enough).

    If you had used 2.5 widths your fullness ratio would be just over 2  which would be about right and have given you 15 pleats approx 11cm with approx 11cm spaces.

    Carolyn

    I put in the measurements for a curtain using double pleats with a ratio of 2. Bearing in mind that you recommend a ratio of 1.9 - 2.2 I find it strange that you came back with the fabric calculated using a ratio of 2.6 - far too much!!! How can that really be correct?

    SewHelpful:

    Hi Carolyn I assume you are talking about the curtain fabric calculator. It rounds up the number of widths by default. With the number of widths you have a choice of rounding up or down to the nearest whole number when making the calculation, thus increasing or decreasing the fullness ratio.  I am currently working on the calculator adding interlined curtains, I will add the choice to round up or down.

    A more advanced method is to actually make your curtain panel to be pleated to an exact width (rather than a number of fabric widths) to give you the exact fullness ratio you want which we sometimes do when pleating to pattern repeat, that is beyond the scope of this tutorial though. We did put that information in initially but it made the instructions very complicated and confusing trying to have 2 different options running at the same time.

    Jeorgia

    I have made a lined and interlined curtain and I'm in the process of doing double pleats. Someone told me that where the panels/widths are joined you should try keep it to the side of the pleat and never in the middle of the space as it looks better like that. Does it is apply to you as well? I currentlyI have a curtain made of plain linen fabric and the joints are in the middle of the space and I don't have a problem with that. The new curtain are in a patterned fabric. Is it down to personal preferences as well?

    SewHelpful:

    You have to work with the panel you have and the pleats and spacing you have calculated that will work best. We generally try and have a join in a space, as it sits at the back of the wave of the curtain and can be bulky in a pleat. But sometimes it doesn't work out that way.

    If you are really particular about where you want to place a join, you would have to work out your pleats and spacing before hand and make the pre-pleated curtain panel to a specific width with the join in your calculated position. Generally we only  do that kind of extra work when we are looking to pleat a curtain to pattern repeat (get each pleat to fall in the same position on the horizontal pattern).

    Alexandra

    I'm making curtains across a door and window and the pole is very offset (total pole width 269, but split in 96.5:172.5), would you calculate the pleats over the total, or each separately, possibly giving different pleat/space measurements?

    SewHelpful:

    Over the total, keep the pleat and space sizes the same, You may have to trim one panel down to get this right.

    Sarah

    In your experience, does it work best to have fewer, bigger pleats with larger gaps or a larger number of smaller pleats/gaps? I know my fullness is only just OK (around 1.9), using beautiful vintage William Morris fabric and I can't get any more. It's annoyingly narrower than modern fabrics, which I didn't realise. I am determined to make this work!

    SewHelpful:

    Really our advice on this is above in the tutorial at 6 pleats per width. Big gaps (a low number of pleats) can look odd. At that relatively low  fullness ratio it will probably be about 11cm pleats  12cm gaps (make sure the gaps stack back not forward for a better look).

    Emma

    I've got an entire house to make curtains for. In the past I've made curtains and had them dry cleaned later only for them to shrink.

    Is shrinkage a one-off phenomenon? If so, could I get the fabric and lining dry cleaned before I make up the curtains, and then if they need cleaning again in years to come shrinkage wouldn't be an issue? Or will they shrink every time they're cleaned?

    Also, what would happen to the tops? I've heard buckram tape might not dry clean well. Is rufflette tape any better, and again do the tapes need pre-cleaning? Thanks, Emma

    SewHelpful:

    I‘m afraid we do not get involved with dry cleaning curtains due to all the problems with shrinkage you list above as well as potential fading, change in lustre of the fabric etc. The linings, buckram and fabric can shrink at different rates causing puckering.

    We have never sent fabrics and linings to be dry cleaned before make up, then dry cleaned the curtains after making so can’t advise on how effective that is.

    Christina Bowen

    I am so confused! Going by your way of calculating the pleat/space sizes, my pleats would only be 7” with a 10” space. That honestly looks ridiculous.

    SewHelpful:

       1.   It looks like you are not using enough pleats as your pleat size is too big, the instructions say vary the number of pleats until you get the right pleat size. try using more pleats and the pleat size and space size will reduce.

       2.   Also what fullness ratio are you using? it should be about 2, it looks from those figures your fullness ratio is quite a bit less than that so you may not have enough fabric.

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