Curtains 101 – Pinch Pleats vs Pencil Pleats

I was kindly put in touch with a local seamstress who makes curtains and who is the friend of a friend.   I was relieved, I had landed not only a seamstress contact, but a guide to help me through this new uncharted territory.  I’d love to be able to sew, and plenty of people have told me making curtains is easy, but part of being good at DIY, is knowing when you can’t DIY! I decided making curtains was well beyond my skill set, and boy am I glad that I did.

Cathy (helpful seamstress friend of a friend) visited my house and measured up the window so I could order the right amount of fabric. There were a lot of decisions to be made…

First up – what amount of gather did I want?  The general guide is between 1.5-2 x the actual window length. She suggested for a good full gather when closed to order 2x the actual length. I deferred to her expertise.

Next up – what sort of curtain head detail did I want? A standard pencil pleat? A pinch pleat? Or what about a double or triple pinch pleat? Crikey. I didn’t think I would have opinions on these sorts of things but it turns out that I do. All of the pinch pleats somehow looked fussy and old fashioned to me.  Cathy explained that pinch pleats can look really crisp and sharp, but agreed that a standard pencil pleat would work best with the thick wool fabric I had chosen, and for the more contemporary look I was after. I settled on a simple pencil pleat (shown in the floral option).

Lastly (for now) – what depth did I want the pleats? Pleat tape is fixed to the back of the curtain and comes in a variety of depths. You can see a shorter depth pleat with the dark grey double pinch pleat image and a longer depth in the light grey double pleat curtain on the wooden pole. Cathy advised that for such thick fabric, and for full height curtains in a tall room like mine I’d want a good depth pleat at the top. Once again, I agreed and opted for the 5 hook depth tape (about 8″).

So fabric ordered, and key decisions made – it was over to Cathy to work her magic over the next few weeks.


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