How to make your own French pleat curtains

Written by kathryn hatter
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How to make your own French pleat curtains
French pleat curtains (

French pleat curtains are also known as triple pinch pleat drapes because the pleats created in the curtain headings are made of three pleats. These drapes are simple and they complement many different decors and styles. They add a touch of understated elegance that enhances both a window and a room. A seamstress with basic sewing skills could successfully make French pleat drapes to attractively dress a window.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Curtain rod
  • Curtain hardware
  • Fabric for french pleat curtains
  • Heading french pleat tape
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing notions (scissors, thread, etc.)
  • Iron
  • Tape measure

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  1. 1

    Calculate the widths needed to make your curtains. Measure the width of the drapery hardware. Do not include any additional hardware on the ends like finials in this width measurement. Include return brackets on the hardware, if present. Multiply this figure by 2.25. Divide this figure by the width of your fabric. Round this answer up to the nearest whole number. This is the number of widths of fabric necessary to make your French pleat curtains.

  2. 2

    Calculate the length of fabric needed to make your curtains. Measure the desired length for the curtains. Measure from the base of the hardware from which the curtains will hang. Add 10 cm (4 inches) to the top and 10 cm (4 inches) to the bottom of the length for the hems. This figure will be the cutting length needed. Multiply the number of widths from Step 1 by the cutting length. This figure is the amount of fabric needed to make your French pleat curtains.

  3. 3

    Choose a sturdy fabric and buy the necessary amount to make the curtains. Cut the fabric according to the measurements and figuring for each curtain panel.

  4. 4

    Press under a 2.5 cm (1 inch) hem down each side of the curtain panel. Pin to secure. Press under a 7.5 cm (3 inch) hem at the bottom of the curtain panel. Pin to secure. Measure 7.5 cm (3 inches) up toward the top of the curtain panel from the raw edge of the bottom pinned hem. Mark this point at the side hem and turn this side seam in to make a diagonal angle from the bottom edge of the panel. Press to hold. Turn this side hem in again from the raw edge of the folded hem. Press well and pin to secure. Repeat this process again to complete the other bottom corner of the panel. Fold over another 7.5 cm (3 inches) of the bottom hem. Align the two diagonal corners made and carefully hand sew to secure. Carefully sew the side hems and along the bottom of the hem. Turn under 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) from the raw edge of the top of the curtain panel. Turn 3.7 cm (1 1/2 inches) under again to conceal the raw edge and press well.

  5. 5

    Pin the heading tape across the top of each curtain. Align the first pocket of the heading tape with the edge of the curtain panel. Turn under the end of the tape to conceal the raw edge. Sew across the top of the tape and across the bottom of the tape. Begin at the inside edge of the curtain panel and leave two pockets empty. Place the first finger of the curtain hook into the next pocket. Place the next fingers into each of the corresponding pockets. Leave the next two pockets empty and repeat with the next curtain hook. Allow a space of two pockets between each hook.

  6. 6

    Repeat this process along the top of the heading tape to complete the French pleat panel and repeat for any other curtain panels.

  7. 7

    Turn the curtain over so that the wrong side of the fabric faces down. Make sure that the hooks are inserted as much as possible into the pockets of the tape. Hold the first hook in one hand. Hold the base of the French pleat, on the right side of the curtain below the heading, with your other hand. Pinch the fabric together and carefully sew the French pleat together with one small stitch to secure the pleat. Do not stitch the top of the pleat because this would prevent the pleat from separating at the top as it should. Only stitch at the base of the pleat. Repeat this step across this panel and all other panels to finish the French pleat curtains.

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