Sewing Pleats

Author Photo
By Susan Woodcock

Pin together the pleats across the heading.

Use pins to mark the pleats and spaces.

Sew a vertical seam from the top to the bottom of the heading. To keep the pleats even at the top, place the pleat under the presser foot and turn the hand wheel so that the needle is inserted into the pleat 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) down from the top, backstitch, and then sew. This will keep the layers from shifting. Sew 4 inches (10.2 cm) from the top to the bottom. When you are at the base of the pleat, backstitch again.

Seat the needle down into the fabric 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) from the top, then backstitch and continue sewing to the bottom of the heading.

After the pleats are sewn, measure to check the finished width. If it is not accurate you can adjust the width by taking out a few pleats and sewing again. Don’t stress over fractions; it will not be noticeable when the curtain is hanging!

Check the measurement after the pleats are sewn.

Different Styles of Pleats

Stab the needle through the thickness of the pleat and then trim away the excess thread.

A variety of pleat styles can be created by tacking with a needle and thread at the top, bottom, or center of the pleat. Use a long needle and two strands of heavy thread. Knot the thread and start by stabbing the needle inside one of the folds and out the side; this will hide the knot on the inside. Continue stitching to form one of the pleats shown at right and on page 71. When the pleat stitching is finished, stitch a knot and stab the needle into a thick area and out, pulling the knot into the fabric and trimming the thread.


French pleat

The French pleat, also known as a pinch pleat, is divided into three sections, or “fingers.” Pinch the pleat together and stitch at the base of the pleat. If using buckram, you will find it easier to stitch below the buckram. You can also stitch together at the top. This is optional. A two-finger French pleat can also be made using the same technique.


Goblet pleat

The pleat is tacked at the bottom like a French pleat, and then opened up and rounded at the top. To keep the rounded shape, foam or batting can be stuffed into the pleat.


Euro pleat

The pleat is divided into two or three sections and tacked at the top only by stab stitching from one side to the other, or by whipstitching the top edge to hold the folds together.


Cartridge pleat

The pleat has a simple, rounded shape and is not pinched or folded into sections. Stuff the pleats with rolled-up buckram or foam. Pipe insulation found in the plumbing department of the hard-ware store makes a great stuffing for cartridge pleats.


Butterfly pleat

The pleat is divided into two equal sections and tacked 2 inches (5 cm) down from the top, in the center of the heading.

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.

Published on Sep 19, 2019