How To Make Pinch Pleat Curtains with Pleater Tape

If you want a traditional look for your curtains, pinch pleats, also known as French pleats, are a great option. They may look intimidating, but using pleater tape and hooks makes this project simple for sewers of any level.

You can also easily add a drapery lining to these curtains. Cut the lining the same size as the finished curtain and tuck it under the hems and sides before sewing. For more information on drapery lining, see How to Pick Drapery Lining.

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Step 1: Measure & cut

When determining the width to cut the fabric for your curtain panel, you have to take into account the amount of fabric the pleats will take up and the amount of space in between the pleats. I would suggest figuring this out with just the tape and hooks before cutting your fabric.

You can get pleater tapes with varying amounts of space between the pockets that you put the hooks into. The pockets on the 4″ Multi Pleat Pleater Tape are about ¾” apart. This gives you more options for customizing the look of the pleats. I’m using the 4″ Best Pleat Pleater Tape, which has pockets about 2” apart.

To attach the pleater hook, insert each prong into separate pockets. You can also skip pockets to make the pleats deeper.

This curtain panel will have 5 sets of pleats and 5.5” in between with a couple of inches on each end. With the pleats it’s about 28” wide. Mark where you want the tape to end with a pin and take out the hooks. Measure how wide the tape is without the pleats.

To determine the width to cut your fabric, take this measurement and add 3″ to account for the side seams. Cut your fabric to this width.

Panel width = pleat tape width + 3″

If you want to add a lining, cut it to the same width as the tape and the finished height of the curtain.

For the height, take how long you want the curtain to be and add 9½” for the hems and cut.

Panel height = finished height + 9½”

Step 2: Sew the sides of the panel

First I’m going to hem the 2 sides of the panel. Fold the edge over ¾” and press. Then fold it over another ¾” and iron it again.

If you’re adding lining, slip it under each side and pin before sewing.

Sew down the length of the panel with a 5/8” seam allowance. Back stitch at the beginning and end to secure the stitches. Repeat this for the other side of the panel.

Step 3: Sew the top & bottom

For this curtain, the bottom hem is going to be the same as the sides, so repeat the same thing. If you want to make a larger hem, just account for that in your height measurements.

When sewing the bottom corners, tuck under the corners.

Or you can sew the bottom hem last if you want to hang the panel first to better judge how much to hem.

For the top, fold the fabric 4” and iron. Then fold another 4” and press again.

Sew with a ¼” seam allowance along the sides and across. Back stitch at the beginning and end.

Step 4: Attach the pleater tape & hooks

Lay the pleater tape on the back of the top, fold under the ends, and pin. Make sure the pockets are on the bottom of the tape and facing out. Take note of the different color threads and sew around the edges of the tape on those lines.

Take a hook and insert the ends of the prongs into the pockets. Push the hook all the way in and secure it with the bottom piece. Repeat for the rest of the pleats.

Step 5: Tack the pleats (optional)

French pleats are often pinched at the base to give them a cleaner look. If you like this look, hand sew the pleats together. Start from the inside of one of the pleats so the knot is hidden. Go in and out of the sides of the pleats a couple of times to tack them together. Knot the end, pull the thread to the inside of one of the pleats and cut the thread.

Hang the hooks on hardware or a traverse rod and the curtain panel is done!

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Q & A

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Browse 11 questions Browse 11 questions and 9 answers
If you are covering a window area of 5 ft wide how do I determine how wide my fabric should be prior to the pleating ?
A shopper on Sep 22, 2017
BEST ANSWER: If you go with the same spacing as in this tutorial, you need about twice the width of the area you want to cover. So if you want to cover 5 feet, you'd need at least 120" of fabric. It's fine if it's more than that because the curtain doesn't have to be totally taught when closed.
Can I use big drapery rings w pleather tape?
A shopper on Aug 18, 2017
BEST ANSWER: As long as the drapery hooks have something to hook onto, it would work. I'm not sure how you're thinking of using the pleather tape. Would it connect the curtain rings and drapery hooks? If so, you could make a hole in the tape for the hook to hang on.
Can you remove the pins and wash the curtains if needed?
A shopper on Feb 21, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Sure, I don't see why not! Just be sure to pre-wash the fabric before making the curtains if you plan on washing them later.
I am covering a picture window, loosely, not taught when closed. How may I determine allowance for the side stack when fully open, assuming the side stack will be tight and clearing the window glass, along with some or most of the window frame? I though I might hang the traverse rod first, but need a little more clarity...or, should I simply multiply the width of a single pleat by the total number of pleats to arrive at the stacked width...and should a particular percentage of that result be added for a final approximation?
A shopper on Dec 16, 2018
So if I need wider fabric than I have where does the seam go?
A shopper on Sep 29, 2018
BEST ANSWER: It looks best to make it symmetrical but without the seam in the center. If you are making one panel, you should have 1 full width piece in the center and two narrower sections on the ends. If you are making 2 panels per window, the 2 full width pieces should go at the inner edges and the remaining amount should go on each outer edge.
I don't see in the directions how far the space is between the pleats?
A shopper on Aug 19, 2018
BEST ANSWER: In the How to Make a Pinch Pleat Curtain it shows 5.5” in between with a couple of inches on each end.
Can I hand sew on the pleater tape?
A shopper on Apr 19, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Yes, you can hand sew it.
Should curtains in a pair be equal width?
A shopper on Oct 23, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Yes, equal width would look best.
Can I use bonding tape to attach the pleater tape to my new rod pocket drapes?
A shopper on Oct 10, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Probably yes, but you have to be a little careful that the iron doesn't melt the tape. The grommet tape melts easily, but I'm not sure about this pleater tape.
What type of drapery rod is used here as it doesn't show?
Sonia B on Jun 30, 2018
BEST ANSWER: The hooks can go on a traverse rod or a regular rod with the addition of eyelet curtain rings, like the ones in this tutorial:
How to do the pinch pleat without tape?
A shopper on Dec 6, 2018