VIDEO INSTRUCTOR

  Cindy Taylor


Cindy is the owner of Dolman & Taylor specialist curtain and blind makers. She has over 15 years of experience, curtain making, blind making, working with fabrics and making soft furnishings. In the videos she clearly explains and demonstrates the methods and techniques used in her workroom .
How to make a curtain - by Sew-Helpful. Full Tutorial, FREE online instructions and advice from a curtain making workroom. Make your own beautiful soft furnishings, it's easier when a professional shows you how.

Lined Pencil Pleat Curtains

Learn how to make Pencil Pleat curtains the way they are made in a professional workroom.

This tutorial includes

  • Full Written Instructions
  • 16 Videos
  • Diagrams
  • Tips
  • Definitions
  • Example Calculations
  • Tools Required
  • Materials Required
  • Extra Help

We also cover how to deal with a patterned fabric as well as plain fabric when making the curtain. These instructions have been developed by Cindy Taylor an experienced curtain maker. There are tips included and with the benefit of her experience you will avoid common mistakes that can be made and get a professional finish.

You will not be using the "Bag Method" to make the curtains, which you will probably find in most online tutorials. You are taught the way a professional curtain maker would make your curtains. It's NO more difficult than the "Bag Method", but your curtains will have a better finish and will be weighted at the bottom so they hang well.

The other advantage of making them this way is that it lays the foundations for learning how to make more advanced interlined curtains and hand pleated curtains.

Tutorial Steps

Our tutorial is made up of the following steps.

Each step is described in detail with demonstration videos also available.

           

        VIDEO INSTRUCTOR - Cindy Taylor

Owner of Dolman & Taylor specialist curtain and blind makers.

Here is Cindy's must have and nice to have materials and tools lists to make a Pencil Pleat Lined Curtain. (Click on each item for more information)

MATERIALS

MUST HAVE

  1.   Fabric
  2. - Lining
  3. - Thread
  4. - Heading Tape
  5. - Weights
  6. - Curtain Hooks

TOOLS

MUST HAVE

  1.   Sewing Machine
  2. - Tape Measure
  3. - Needles
  4. - Pins
  5. - Scissors
  6. - Set Square
  7. - Straight Edge
  8.   Pencil

NICE TO HAVE

  1. - Vanishing Marker
  2. - Clamps

Questions & Comments

Sarah

Hi there,

Im making rufflecottage top curtains and was reading your advice about fullness ratio. With my window my fullness ratio is 2.16 with 1.5 widths and 2.9 with 2 widths. Which would you recommend? Or would you ever cut a width into quarters!!! It's for a customer so I want it to be as good as poss. I'm going for 5cm above a 1 inch tape with no interlining... do you think this would be ok? Thank you, Sarah

SewHelpful:  

Hi Sarah

I regularly cut down panels to achieve the correct fullness ratio. With tape headers, getting the correct fullness ratio is crucial otherwise the curtains can look very underwhelming and the ruffle with cottage header looks lame.

I would work out how wide the panels need to be to achieve 2.5 x fullness and cut down on outside edges to get it. You definitely don’t want a disappointed customer.

With how big the ruffle is, I have mock ups with various depth headers and let the customer chose. I have learnt that you can never presume to know exactly what the customer wants. Some customers like a small ruffle and others like a very large ruffle so there’s no right or wrong but giving the customer the choice will also ensure that they get the curtain they are expecting.

Good luck with your project. Cindy

Kat

Hello

I have a very heavy pair of cotton curtains that had 3 pleat clusters at the top header. I didn’t like these so I have removed them and pressed them flat. Am I now able to just add Pleat tape To them to re-hang with hooks? And as they are already lined can I hand sew this tape on? My machine won’t manage the thickness of the fabric I don’t think? Many thanks,

Kat

SewHelpful:  

Hand sewing on pencil peat header to fabric that a machine won’t get through will be really hard work. Now they are flat, you can add pencil pleat header but I would try and machine sew - buy some heavy duty sewing machine needles and try that first. Cindy

Harriet

Hi Cindy, Thanks so much for your advice re my cottage pleat curtains. I just have a few more questions before I finalise my measurements and purchase my fabric:

1) Does the fullness ratio have to be 2.5? It's firstly going to send my costs up (given the fabric is quite pricey), although I'm actually more concerned by the number of widths of fabric I'll need to sew together. If I plan on a fullness ratio of 2 instead of 2.5 my curtains will be 4 widths in total. Given I'm making one single panel I feel like that is already intimidating enough and I'm worried about having to sew any more widths than that in one go! I actually made the white striped pair of curtains (that I sent you the picture of) with a fullness ratio of 2 because they were within a recess and we didn't want to block out too much view or light. I'm not a professional so maybe they wouldn't look perfect up close but we are OK with the final look. Do you think I could get away with a ratio of 2 again for this project?

2) When calculating the finished curtain width, do I need to allow any extra with regards to the 5cm standard for ease and overlap? Given it's a single panel made up of 4 widths (if I go with the fullness ratio of 2)? Or is 5cm enough regardless of how many widths the curtain panel is made up of?

3) I'm unsure of how much to adapt the heading allowance for a cottage pleat. My hook to top measurement is 5.2cm (this allows for the ruffle to be 3.2cm above the top of where the header tape finishes). I have very little leeway room as the curtains will almost touch the ceiling since we have very little space above the doors. How much should I allow for the heading allowance, given I have to fold back the fabric for the ruffle and tuck it under the tape?

4) I've decided I like the look of a 2" heading tape. When I spoke to a local sewing shop where I'm buying my lining and accessories, they suggested with the weight of 100% linen that it might be better to use a 3" tape, but to sew 1" up from the bottom of the tape (i.e. so the pleats are only 2" in height, but the curtain has the strength of a 3" tape, given the fabric will be heavy as it is 100% linen and it will be lined). Have you ever done this and would you agree? Or do you think it would be better to just go with a 2" tape and do you think this will be strong enough to handle the fabric? I'm using a fairly lightweight cotton lining.

Many thanks for all your help! Hopefully I can get ordering my fabric once I've heard from you and get started :-)

SewHelpful:  


- If I were making cottage header curtains, I would always work on a 2.5 fullness otherwise the ruffle can look a bit underwhelming. I totally understand your concerns re number of widths for 1 curtain so I would say you have to do what is possible for you. Making at home is a totally different kettle of fish to making in a workroom with a large table to work on and, even then, handling multiple widths can be a juggle. You have to do what is right for you - don’t feel bad about using less fullness if that is what it takes to make your curtain.


- No need to add any ease with header tape as you will just pull the cords to your desired width. With 2.5 x  fullness you have plenty to play with but with 2 x, you will have less. If you add ease I am sure you will go into the next width.


- You have your hook drop measurement and your hook to top (5.2cm) so you need to add on enough fabric to go down the back of the top of the curtain to approx 2cm below the top of the tape. Make a mini mock up with lining to see how that works to avoid cutting your fabric too short. If you have an excess of fabric from your adjusted cut drop, don’t bother trimming it down until you attach header tape.


- I have never done that with 3 inch tape and not sure it would look good. I use 1 “ and it has been fine for every curtain (mostly interlined) I have done. 2 “ will be fine.


Cindy SewHelpful

Here is a photo of cottage header that I hung a couple of weeks ago - interlined and blackout, so pretty heavy, with 1” tape…2.5 fullness. Happy sewing and don’t forget the pics. Cindy

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Harriet

Thank you very much for all your comments. I've ordered my fabric so I'll let you know how I get on and hopefully I'll send some photos of some successfully made curtains!

Liz

How would you adapt these instructions for unlined Voile Pencil Pleat Curtains please? I have been advised to use translucent tape but should I be stiffening with interfacing first? Also would you recommend 2.5 fullness for Voile?

SewHelpful:  


I would definitely use tape that is designed for voile curtains (the translucent tape that you mention) no interfacing needed. Any pencil pleat header looks so much better with the correct fullness of 2.5 but if you wish to save on fabric, you could always hand pleat and possibly go down to as little as 1.6 fullness with dainty double pleats (this would require translucent buckram to stiffen the header).

Good luck and please send us a pic once made.

Cindy

Harriet

Thank you for your incredibly useful lined pencil pleat tutorial and brilliant videos. They were so clear and perfect for a beginner like myself to feel confident enough to tackle making my first pair of curtains. I was very pleased with the results! See photo attached (the white ones).

I am now about to make my second pair of curtains. However I want to try a cottage pleat heading this time. The curtains will be long (from floor to ceiling to cover some doors) and wide (270cm track width). I'm also making them as a single panel rather than a pair of curtains, because the doors go all the way to the wall on the right-hand side and we don't want to obscure any of the light. See photo attached of the doors. My questions I have are:

1) Do you think I can make cottage pleat curtains for this project, given they are full length and wide curtains? I've read that cottage pleat are better for short, narrower windows but I'm not too sure why? I'm using a Vanessa Arbuthnott 100% linen fabric and VA said they regularly make cottage pleat curtains for full length curtains for customers. The person I spoke to wasn't a curtain maker though so I wanted to check this with someone who is experienced such as yourself. I've attached a photo of the VA fabric I'm using (the teal coloured one) and also I would like to replicate this type of cottage heading (I don't want it too ruffled and fancy on the top).

2) If cottage pleat could work for my project, as you don't have a tutorial on this yet, can I follow your instructions for lined pencil pleat curtains and simply change the header tape for a cottage pleat tape? Do I need to change the fullness ratio? Ideally I would prefer the least fullness ratio possible to save costs on fabric, and to avoid having too much fabric when they are pulled open as all the fabric will be pulled to one side. Or is it a very different method of making them? I really want to use one of your tutorials again if possible as it was so clear, but as you don't currently have a cottage pleat tutorial I thought I'd ask about this.

Many thanks for your help!

SewHelpful:  

Your curtains look fantastic. I love the subtle stripe and they have a real scan feel to them. You should be feeling very proud!


In response to your questions..


- I would say that cottage header is absolutely suitable for this window and I think they are better on larger, full length windows. Take a look at the Kate Forman website - she has a gallery full of inspirational images of cottage pleat header and I don’t think any are short.

- The make up process for cottage header is almost identical, just simply placing the header tape lower on the panel to create the ruffle effect. I would not use 3 inch tape but either 1 or 2 inch depending on your preferred look (I tend to use 1 inch). The fullness ratio to achieve a decent ruffle and for this look to work effectively would be 2.5 x fullness. As the tape sits lower, you will need more fabric. Decide on the size of the ruffle (this will have to go up, fold over and down again) to calculate the adjusted cut drop. When I fold the top over, I tack it in place before machine stitching on the tape.

- You are going to need quite a few fabric panels for a single curtain so consider this when planning your curtain as you will have an awful lot to handle.


I hope that helps but please feel free to ask more as you go.

Good luck and thank you so much for showing the pics. Cindy

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Autumn

Hi I hope you can help me.

I am using 15cm heading tape, for the first time, on patterned fabric. I normally allow 15cm for the top hem, how much material should I allow above the first full pattern repeat for the heading tape/top hem using the 15cm tape? Thanks.

SewHelpful:  

I am not sure I fully understand your question. The header tape is not placed on a certain part above a pattern repeat, it is placed where the top of the curtain is. As the tape sits just below the top of the curtain, you only need 5 cm header allowance as the tape will cover it when sewn in place (unless you are making a ruffle/cottage header?

Regards Cindy

Dawn

Hi, I want to make a large pair of interlined pencil pleat top curtains, which video would you recommend me buying please.

SewHelpful:  

I would buy the interlined hand pleated tutorial. When it comes to heading up the curtain, cut the interlining to the finished curtain length and cut the lining to 2 cm less than finished curtain length. Your face fabric will be 5 cm longer than the interlining so fold this over the top of the lining and interlining and pin/tack in place. Then you can machine stitch on your header as in STEP 8 of this tutorial.

If you have any questions during the make up process, please ask.

Good luck with your project. Cindy 

Susan

Good morning,

I wanted to ask whether you would advise ironing the curtains once made or not?

SewHelpful:  

I always iron my fabric before make up so that I can steam them once hung. It will depend on your fabric make up but, if you have already pressed them before make up ( when shrinkage will occur) then you should be able to steam them once hung. Make sure you check with the manufacturers care instructions first though. Cindy

Anna

I am making pencil pleat curtains. Is there a general guide or rule to follow when choosing the depth of a curtain tape or heading? I am making curtains to a sill, with an overall drop of 174cm (still quite long). I am unsure what depth tape to go for. Thank you.

SewHelpful:  

There is no rule at all, it just boils down to personal preference. I tend to use 3 cord variety (depths vary slightly by brand but approx 7.5cm)

Ruth

I’ve been asked to make some floor length, unlined, pencil pleat linen curtains, I’ve never made unlined before but have made plenty of other curtains and blinds, how much will the hem and joins show through the fabric? Should I be trying to persuade my friend to have them lined?

SewHelpful:  

It will depend on the fabric.Not much more we can really say.

Sheridan

Thanks to your videos I have made quite a few blinds and curtains. The one problem I keep having though is that the two top edges on standard pencil pleat curtains are not closing neatly. They are leaving a gap when meeting in the middle. It looks very messy. Which step am I getting wrong?

SewHelpful:  

Looking at your picture try these things

  1. Ensure the pleats are evenly spaced to the edge of the curtain
  2. Slacken off the cord so you have an extra 5cm in each curtain to overlap.
  3. Position your hooks on the leading edges a few pleats back so the curtains can overlap.
Claire Carruthers

I made curtains for our whole house a few years ago following your brilliant instructions and videos. Although I have made curtains before none of them hung as beautifully as these and I think it was a small amount of money (compared to buying curtains!) very well spent!

We have now moved and unfortunately I need to extend some of their lengths by around 30 cm. Because I knew that we were going to move I kept extra fabric in the hem so have just enough fabric for the new length (and fabric hasn't faded fortunately) but my problem is the lining which I unfortunately didn't think of before. Do you have any ideas on ways to lengthen the lining without it looking too amateurish? I'm thinking of simply adding in the extra length and then hemming as I did before with 8cm hems. It won't look great but I think it will look worse having a gap between the two hems. Probably a very unfair question to ask but I thought I'd try in case you had any good ideas!

SewHelpful:  

 Very impressive that you thought ahead with the fabric. We would replace the lining though.

Emma

Hi, I'm planning on making a full length set of curtains my son's room. It gets a bit chilly and I was planning on using interlining for the first time. I want to use a deep pencil pleat rufflette header tape but you don't list a tutorial for this header together with interlining - is there some reason they can't be used together?

Also, if using interlining with header tape would the interlining go all the way to the top of the curtain under the tape, or would it stop short to prevent the top becoming too bulky? Advice gratefully received! Thanks.

SewHelpful:  

Hi Emma

There is absolutely no reason why you can’t use interlining and deep Ruflette heading tape together, we just haven’t got around to making that tutorial yet . The interlining would go to the top of the curtain under the tape.

Depending on the size of the windows - carefully consider the type of interlining that you use. If they are large curtains and you use a very think heavy bump, you may have problems handling so much fabric and interlining being new to this method. 

Might be worth considering INTERTHERM LIGHT WEIGHT SARILLE INTERLINING ( a synthetic, inexpensive interliner that will not shrink, easier to handle and less “movement” - you can get various weights from 180gsm - 285gsm - the lighter the weight, the less bulky and easier to use)

If you prefer natural fabrics then an INTERTHERM COTTON DOMMETT would be the one to go for but make sure it’s pre shrunk (again, various weights to choose from - 200gsm - 400gsm).
Good luck

Cindy 
Mahj

Hi,

I am new to the 'diy curtain making world' and I appreciate the detailed and clear instructions provided here. I wanted to know if you have a list of equipment I need before I start the project? I don't currently own a sewing machine so if there's a brand you can recommend that would be great.

Many thanks

SewHelpful:  

The next page (STEP 1) has a list of materials and tolls on the left side, you wont see it if you are viewing on a mobile phone.


We have 3 Janome machines that we really like, but going to a shop and trying out various machines would be our advice. For curtain making the key factor is the clearance under the foot and the strength of the machine to get through thick layers of fabric and buckram.

Annette

I am making eyelet curtains and am following the first steps of your tutorial. I am about to cut the lining and realise that if I use it "railroad" style I could avoid having to sew up widths of lining fabric. However there would be little left to create a hem. As the side of the lining fabric has a "finished" edge do I need to have a hem at all?

SewHelpful:  

We would never do that.

We would join the lining and make the curtain properly with a hem.

Steph

Hi, I just wanted to thank you for a wonderfully clear, well-written tutorial. I have just hung my first ever set of home-made curtains, made according to your instructions,and I am thrilled with the way they hang and the professional finish.

Stacey P-B

Thank you so much! We are due to move into our first home (owned) and the thought of buying a whole house of curtains daunted me. Yet with this simple guide I am in the middle of making them all. And I was quite an amateur seamstress to begin with. So thank you, because your fab tutorial has saved me a lot of money and meant I could have fitted curtains in whatever fabric I liked!

1 down 11 to go!

Wendy

What a help you have been in reminding me how to make curtains - thank you very much. They look lovely and very professional!

Jules

Thank you so much for this amazing tutorial. I really didn't think I would be able to do it but I did!! I never finish any project normally!

I have started with a single hallway curtain but now have the confidence to do floor length living room curtains.

Alyssa

Thank you so much for this amazing tutorial. I agreed to my husbands suggestion that I make my first pair of curtains for our baby girls room on the proviso I could find a good online tutorial. And you totally delivered! I was so nervous starting out but I now have a pair of curtains hanging that's I'm really proud of. I definitely could do things better next time around, but I never thought my first attempt would turn out so well. Thanks so much for your generosity in providing so much information for free. Amazing!

Susan

Fantastic instructions - thanks very much! I would recommend them to anyone. I have made curtains several times before but they have never looked as good as the ones I've just made following your instructions. I found the videos made things very clear, so I would say it's worth paying a little money to access them.

Jackie

Thanks a lot, i have just made a pair of curtains for my daughters twin baby boys room. Thanks to your tutorial and the excellent videos that make everything really clear. i have made of pair of really professional looking curtains. Great

Maija

Just wanted to say a huge thank you for your tutorial. I made my first curtain and thanks to your guidance I don't think anyone would tell I was a beginner. I made a huge 220cm long curtain for 285cm curtain rail and used 2.5 fullness ratio and it looks absolutely amazing. Not only saved a few hundred pounds but also have got a lot of pride that I made it myself. I think you are a good teacher and your instructions are so clear that during the whole process I did not have any questions or confusions. I think you are great. Thanks!

Lesley

Extremely clear and helpful tutorial, thank you so much.

Caroline Soer

Finished a lovely pair of curtains in a few days with your superb tutorial. Thank you very much! Another roman blind next

Pippa Pugh

Thank you thank you thank you!!!! Such a good tutorial, I have just completed my first set of pencil pleat curtains and am so pleased with the finish. I attribute this entirely to the excellent tuition through the videos

Alison M

I have made 2 pairs of curtains following your tutorials and am very happy with how they have turned out. These are not my first curtains but they are by far the best. The videos are so clear and easy to follow and I am now considering making a roman blind as I trust your tutorials. Thank you!

Tracey Emmerton

These instructions were really clear and easy to follow, I am so pleased with how my curtains have turned out, I think they look professionally made, thank you so much.

Lorraine From Scotland

Hello...

I just want to agree with the lady above. I have found this tutorial EXCELLENT. Each step is so clearly explained. I have just finished a supposed NQ in soft furnishing at a local college and can I say that I have learned more in the couple of hours I have been watching this, than I learned in weeks at the course. Thank you so very much.

Lena

I'm on making my 3rd pair of curtains using your tutorial and the videos are especially useful and excellently made. You help make making curtains easy and straightforward with a professional result if you take your time. Thank you for your excellent website.

Samantha

This was my first ever sewing project, and I am so pleased with how the curtains turned out. I used a beautiful Susie Watson fabric and (I think) they look fab in my daughter's nursery. I will try to add a pic to the 'your makes' section. Thanks so much for the very helpful and thorough videos which have given me the confidence to keep sewing!

Sam

Peter

It's an excellent tutorial on the pencil pleat curtains. I have just completed mine with no previous experience other than making a woodwork apron at school 50 years ago. Thanks for all of the advice and tips.

Dawn Griffiths

Hi, I would like to interline my pencil pleat curtains would I only take the interlining up to just below the heading tape?

I have used your written instructions for Roman Blinds which were brilliant, thank you.

Dawn

SewHelpful:  

You take the interlining to the top of the curtain (therefore top of the tape)

Jane

Excellent tutorial. Very easy to follow.

Laura

If you want to do 'Ruffle' Headed Curtains do you use the same pencil pleat header tape but just move it down so it gives you the fabric hanging along the top?

SewHelpful:  

No  we use  a narrower tape. 

Birtu

I find this is helpful and am learning a lot

I am not a professional person to make curtains, but I always make for family friends.

I got a project to make curtains for the whole house (3 bedrooms + living and dining), which 2 of BayWindow

Using swish aluminium corded tracks,

I want to make all the triple and double pleats, using 15cm & 10cm buckram.

I want to hide the track as well

Do you think might be easier to buy the header instead of buckram for the bigger windows?

Thanks for your help

Birtu

SewHelpful:  

We always make double pleat and triple pleat curtains using buckram (not with a heading tape). 

There are tutorials for both these curtain heading types on the website. In the videos you will see the buckrams and hooks we use for our customers.

If you are looking to hide the track just beware that the fabric between the pleats will push forward when the curtains are stacked back rather than fold back behind. (we show this in the video of STEP 1 of the tutorial). You may need smaller spaces between the pleats to make it look neater when stacked back (which would mean more fabric as you would have more pleats in the curtain).

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