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Calculating Pleats and Spaces

Author Photo
By Susan Woodcock | Sep 19, 2019

Photo from Adobe Stock/whyframeshot

To begin, answer these questions:

What type of hardware am I using?

  • Traverse rod
  • Decorative pole with rings (wood or metal)

How will it traverse?

  • Two-way draw from the center
  • One-way to the left or right only

Before you begin calculating pleats and spaces you will need to know the finished rod measurement, the size of the overlap master carrier (if using a traverse rod), and the projection of the hardware or “return.” Make copies of the calculations on the following pages to use as worksheets, filling out the information for your specific project.

The following list shows the average number of pleats per width of material, based on a curtain using two and a half times fullness. Use this as a guideline as you work on your calculations.

1 width = 5 pleats

1 1/2 widths = 7 pleats

2 widths = 10 pleats

2 1/2 widths = 12 or 13 pleats

3 widths = 15 pleats

3 1/2 widths = 17 or 18 pleats

Spaces between the pleats should be 3 1/2 to 4 inches (8.9 to 10.2 cm) and each pleat will use 4 1/2 to 6 inches (11.5 to 15.2 cm) of fabric.

Making a Traverse Curtain with Two-Way Draw

Two-way draw traverse rod

Two curtain panels will be pleated to fit the right and left sides of the rod plus overlap in the center and return to the wall.

Width of rod from outer edges = ______ + _____ overlap size + _____ return (there are two returns on this rod so double the measurement) = _____ ÷ 2 = _______ finished size of each curtain panel. After the pleats are sewn in, each panel will need to measure to this finished size.

Pleats

Measure across one flat, unpleated panel = _____ – _____ finished size = ______ amount used for pleats. Divide by the number of pleats (based on the average of 5 pleats per width of material) = _____ size of each pleat

Spaces

Measure across the flat, unpleated panel = _____ – 3 1/2 -inch (8.9 cm) overlap – _____ returns – _____ amount used for pleats. Divided by the number of spaces (one less than the number of pleats) = _____ size of each space

Making a Traverse Curtain with One-Way Draw

One-way draw traverse rod

One curtain panel will be pleated to fit across the front of the rod plus a return to the wall on one side.

Width of rod from outer edges = ______ + _____ return = ______ finished size. After the pleats are sewn in, each panel will need to measure to this finished size.

Pleats

Measure across the flat, unpleated panel = ______ – _____ finished size = ______ amount used for pleats. Divide by the number of pleats (based on the average of 5 pleats per width of material) = _____ size of each pleat

Spaces

Measure across the flat, unpleated panel = _____ – _____ return – _____ amount used for pleats. Divide by the number of spaces (one less than the number of pleats) = _____ of each space

Also from First Time Window Treatments:

Learning how to plan, make, and install your own beautiful curtains, drapes, shades, and other window decor may sound daunting, but with the expert, step-by-step guidance of Susan Woodcock in First Time Window Treatments, your goal is within reach. Like having your very own sewing instructor at your side, First Time Window Treatments guides you expertly through the process, including: measuring your windows and selecting fabric; fundamental techniques of cutting, seaming, hemming, and adding frills and trims; making basic styles of curtains, shades, blinds, and top treatments; and essential tips and tools for installation. There’s a first time for everything. First Time Window Treatments will help you decorate your windows with your own stylish designs.

Reprinted with permission from First Time Window Treatments: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Susan Woodcock and published by Quarry Books, 2019.

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