How to make pencil pleat curtains

F.R.R. Mallory et al

Pencil-pleat curtains have an attractive, uniform, gathered edge that look particularly nice in more casual applications, such as home offices or bedrooms. This gather style creates a thick curtain that insulates well, yet isn't quite as formal as some other pleat styles. Curtains are sometimes complicated to make, and if the drapery is being lined, dealing with large fabric sections and excessive weight can be difficult.

Pencil-pleat header tape

Use a fabric calculating guide for curtains to determine the amount of fabric to use for the window size. Include shrinkage in the calculations. Purchase pencil-pleat header tape that is the full width of each curtain panel. Purchase and launder the fabrics of choice. Iron the fabrics to prepare for making curtains.

Lining on top of curtain fabric

Cut the width of the lining 10 cm (4 inches) less than the width of the curtain material. Place the lining fabric on top of the curtain fabric with the right sides together. Sew 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) seam on each side, stopping 25 cm (10 inches) from the bottom. This will form a tube. Reverse the fabric and iron the seams.

Double fold being ironed

Fold and iron 2.5 cm (1 inch) of the top edge of the curtain, then fold and iron another 12.5 cm (5 inches).

Sewing the side of the heading tape

Pin the pencil-pleat heading tape to the 12.5 cm (5 inch) folded section allowing at least 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) from the top edge. Fold the end of the pencil-pleat heading tape under and sew the side of the tape to the curtain.

Sewing along the length of the heading tape

Sew along the length of the pencil-pleat heading tape across the top length and bottom length and in between each string. Always sew going in the same direction to prevent puckering of the fabrics.

Blind stitch the curtain hem

Fit the curtain to the drapery rod to finalise length. Pin the curtain hem. Blind-stitch hem the curtain to the correct length. Blind-stitch hem the lining separate from the curtain fabric approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch) shorter than the curtain's finished length. Close the edges with a slip stitch. Iron as necessary.

Pull the cords and tuck the pleats

Pull the pencil-pleat cords after making sure that the cords on the edge of the fabric are knotted and well-fixed. Gather up the heading tape and tuck the fabric with your fingers.

Slip stitching the edges

Check the curtain width to make certain the panel covers half the window plus a 7.5 cm (3 inches) extra. Ease the gather till the right width is achieved. Secure the loose cords by knotting and sewing them into place. Trim off the excess cord.

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