The Perfect Panel
By Pam Damour
The Drapery Panel: Pinch Pleats have
been around for centuries, changing little
in the last century or so, and why?
Because they work so well, just the way
they are. The rumor of their demise in
the 1980’s was greatly exaggerated, as
there’s nothing that operates smoother,
stacks tighter, offering excellent insulation and acoustic value, while still looking beautifully classic.
But the fun part is that pinch pleats have evolved into many forms. Some choices are: Traditional
French pleat, Goblet pleat, Country pleat, Euro pleat, Tuxedo pleat, relaxed top and grommets.
Here are a few Hints:
Fullness: industry standards are a minimum of 2 ½ x full
Sheers: 3 to 4 X full
Headers: Generally using a 4” buckram, allow 8” for a full cuff
Hems: Generally 4” double fold (8” total), 5” double fold for sheers (10” total) Lining hems are 2”
If using a partial width, for example 1 ½ width on each side, the partial width goes toward the
outside or return edges.
A) DETERMINING FLAT WIDTH
FW X ___________=_____________ = _________________ =______________
Amount of fullness
round up to next whole number
number of widths needed
B) DETERMINING FINISHED LENGTH
FL + _________ + ________ = _________ _______ = _________
Amount of header
amount of hem
cut length w/o RPT
size of repeat
= _____________ X ________ = __________
number of repeats required
size of repeats
C) DETERMINING YARDAGE
total cut length
number of repeats
round up to next whole number
Multiply A X B to obtain fabric needed = _____________ X _________÷ 36 = __________
A) number of widths
B) total cut length
As with most decorating projects, we sew the hem first.
Start with the hems. Fold the hem u7p 8”, pulling taut at
each end, with table clamps. Holding the fabric taut at 8”
at each end will keep the hem relatively
straight all the way across. Press flat.
Fold under in half, making a 4” double fold
Blind hem using your blind hem foot. With the back of the drapery facing you, fold the hem
back, revealing only about 1/8” of the top edge of the hem.
Sewing onto the hem edge, with a blind hem stitch setting, your machine will sew
approximately 4 straight stitches in the top hem edge,
and then make a tiny “bite” into the drapery panel the
folded edge of the drapery panel is guided along the
guide edge of your foot. It’s important to keep this edge
snugged up to the edge for an even and consistent
Fold 2” double fold lining hems, press and straight stitch the
edge, using the edge on your edge joining foot, and moving
your needle slightly to the right of center,
With wrong side together, line up the top edges
of each hem. (This will make the ling 2”
shorter) Line up seams, and pin together to
prevent shifting. Trim selvage off the inside or
Press trimmed edge over to make a double fold
1 1/4” side hem. Pin into place, but do not sew.
Measure the finished length at the top edge, and trim off the excess of 8”. Using a 4”
buckram, double cuff the top edge of your drapery. Be sure to trim both selvages on the face
and lining fabrics.
Finish side hem as shown. The side hem will travel the entire length of the drapery to the top
of the header to the bottom of the
Calculate and mark for pleats. Depending on
your fullness, use one of the following formulas:
2 X full –
8” per unit (4” pleat & 4” space)
2 ½ X full – 10” per unit (6” pleat & 4” space)
3 X full –
12” per unit (8” pleat & 4” space)
Remember to start with your overlap, usually 4”
or the size of your space, and finish with your
return, allowing 2 1/2” seam allowance for side
After the drapery top is cuffed, it’s time to mark off the pleats. Pin into the stop edge using
one of the above formulas.
After all pleats and spaces are marked out, trim off excess. Fold and press 1 ¼” remaining
side hem. Pin into place. Before sewing in the pleats, blind hem the sides.
Blind stitch 1 1/4” side hems. If the top or bottom edges
are too thick for blind stitch, you may have to hand sew
that portion. Be sure to include the drapery weight in
the bottom corners.
Sewing in the Pleats:
Fold top over where the pleat is to be, lining up
the pins. This is where you will sew down the
entire length of the buckram.
Set your sewing guide to measure ½ of the
total of the pleat, so with a standard 6” pleat,
set the guide to 3” as shown.
When sewing pleats line up pins, remove pins,
and using the guide, begin sewing about ¼”
down from the top edge. Back stitch back up to
the top edge, and then down to the bottom of
the buckram. Back stitch at the bottom of the
To make traditional French pleats, fold big pleat into
three sections, by pinching in the center.
Sew using a wide stationary zig-zag or hand tack at
the base of the buckram. Allow the needle to fall off
the edges of the folds to give a hand sewn look.
French pleats are classic, elegant, and
stack neatly when on a traverse rod.
There are several other choices for
pleats including goblet, Euro, Country,
and Center Tack, just to name a few.
For more detailed info on other please,
watch Pam Damour’s DVD108,
Other options can be the grommet top
drapery which can be easily achieved
using a grommet tape. The grommet tape
not only assures even placement of the
holes, it also has tabs on the back, to keep
the fullness even when the drapery is
drawn. Grommet tape can be sewn into
places or applied with Pam Damour’s
Permanent Double Stick tape. The
grommet face choices include silver,
brushed silver, brass, antiques brass, black & white.
The wavy drape tape can also be sewn on or applied with double stick tape