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How to make pencil pleat curtains

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.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Tip

    Pencil-pleat curtains can be hung using curtain hooks and they look particularly good on decorative curtain rods. Slip the hooks into the header tape at regular intervals for an even, finished appearance.


    Large curtain panels are very heavy and it is often necessary to have a very large table over which to spread the fabric.

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Things You'll Need

  • Fabric calculating guide for curtains
  • Pencil-pleat heading tape
  • Curtain fabric
  • Lining fabric
  • Laundry
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing tape measure
  • Pins
  • Needles and thread

About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.

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