How to make curtain panels with header tape

Written by tanya lee
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How to make curtain panels with header tape
With header tape, you can have pleated curtains in any room. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Pleater tape (also called header tape) is a wonderful invention. It comes in different styles to form a variety of pleats --- pencil pleats, box pleats, goblet pleats, and so on --- without the painstaking measuring and sewing that would be necessary otherwise. You can join ready-made curtain panels to make panels wide enough for pleats and then sew the pleater tape to the top, insert the drapery hooks and hang your new curtains. Alternatively, you can start from scratch and make the curtain panels yourself.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pleater tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric or ready-made curtain panels
  • Drapery hooks

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  1. 1

    Read the directions on the box of pleater tape you have selected to find out how wide each curtain panel should be. Usually, pleater tape requires that the panel be two to three times as wide as the window. For this project, let's assume that the curtain needs to be three times as wide as the window. Measure the width of the window in inches, multiply by three for the total width of the curtain, then divide by two to find out how wide each of the two panels for the window should be. If your window is 48 inches wide, each curtain panel should be 48 inches times three, which equals 144. Divide that by two to get 72 inches. Add 4 inches to account for the hems.

  2. 2

    Measure the distance from the top of the curtain rod to the floor to find the length of the curtain panel. For this project, let's say that distance is 84 inches. Add 16 inches for the hems.

  3. 3

    Measure and cut two pieces of fabric, each 76 inches wide and 100 inches long. You will probably need to piece the fabric (sew two pieces together) to get a panel 76 inches wide.

  4. 4

    Make a double 1-inch hem on each side of the fabric. Fold in the fabric to the back 1 inch on each side, then press with the iron. Fold in another inch and press again. Pin the hem using straight pins set 3 inches apart perpendicular to the edge of the fabric. Sew the hem ¼ inch from the inside fold using a sewing machine. Repeat to make a hem on the opposite edge of the fabric.

  5. 5

    Make a double 4-inch hem at the top and bottom of the fabric, following the procedure in Step 4. Hem the second panel for the window in the same way. You now have two hemmed curtain panels, and you are ready to apply the header tape.

  1. 1

    Lay out one curtain panel on your work surface. Pin a strip of pleater tape 72 inches wide at the top of the curtain panel on the wrong side (the side that will not show when the curtains are done). Use straight pins placed 2 inches apart perpendicular to the top edge of the panel.

  2. 2

    Sew the top edge of the pleater tape to the top edge of the curtain panel using a sewing machine.

  3. 3

    Pin and sew the bottom edge of the pleater tape to the top of the curtain panel in the same way.

  4. 4

    Create the pleats by starting 2 inches in from the edge of the curtain panel. Gather the pleater tape to form a group of three insertion tubes for the drapery hooks. Insert one prong of the drapery hook into each tube. Move along the pleater tape a few inches (follow the directions for the particular style of tape you have chosen), then form the next set of pleats. Continue to the opposite edge of the curtain panel. Pleat the other curtain panel the same way.

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