How to Make Pleated Curtains - dummies

By Mark Montano, Carly Sommerstein

Stitched pleats add a flat plushiness to the top of your window treatment, but also maintain a managed, structured fullness at the bottom. They’re great where you don’t want so much billowy fabric represented in the bottom half of your room.

When making stitched-pleated draperies, several steps are vital to keeping the pleats consistent. You want to make sure you get the following correct the first time around:

  • Measuring the fabric is important for creating consistent pleats. If you don’t measure consistently, then your pleats will not be even.

  • Back stitching, or back tacking, at the end of your stitching is essential. If you don’t back stitch, then the pleats may not keep their shape well.

  • Pinning consistently is also important in keeping the pleats even. If you don’t pin consistently, you won’t be able to get the pleats’ shape right.

To determine the fabric needs for this project, double your window width and add 2 inches for a 1-inch seam allowance on both sides. To figure your length, measure from the top of your rod down to where you want treatment to end and add 6-1/2 inches to allow for a 2-1/2-inch hem on the bottom and 4 inches to fold over on the top to create your rod sleeve.

This project uses 3-inch pleats, so you only have to sew a total of five pleats:

  1. Hem the side seams and the bottom of your panel.

    You have a 1-inch seam allowance on each side or your panel. To create the side seams, press the fabric 1/2 inch and fold in another 1/2 inch, sewing along the edge. For the bottom, press 1/2 inch up, fold 2 inches up, and then stitch. Keep your top edge unfinished for now.

  2. Mark your pleats across the top with the chalk.

    Marking the pleats across the top of the curtain.

    Starting from the left-hand seam on the front of the fabric, measure 5 inches from the side seam and make an 8-inch parallel line. Then from that measurement, measure 6 inches in and draw another parallel line.

    Repeat these alternating 5-inch and 6-inch measurements until you reach the right-hand seam.

  3. Pin line 1 to line 2, line 3 to line 4, and so on, and then sew down 8 inches.

  4. Press all the pleats flat with an iron, creating a 3-inch pleat, so that the seam is behind the exact center of the pleat.

    Pressing, pinning and sewing the pleats in a curtain.

  5. Pin your pleats so they measure 8 inches, and top stitch 8 inches down on both sides of each pleat, making sure to back tack at the bottom.

    As you proceed, be sure to pull excess threads to the back of the curtain for a neater finish. (You can easily accomplish this step by tugging lightly on the bobbin thread so that the top thread goes through to the back.)

  6. Fold 1/2 in inch of the top edge toward the back and press.

  7. Fold another 3-1/2 inches toward the back and sew across your pleated panel to create your rod sleeve.

    Folding and sewing the pleated panel of the curtain to create the rod sleeve.