French pleat or pinch pleat drapes are curtains made up of groups of regular spaced pleats that require curtain hooks and curtain ring purposely designed for this type of drapery. French pleat drapes have been around for a long time now but remain to this day an interior design favorite because of the style’s attractiveness and elegance. While it is not so easy to create your own French pleat drapes, the job is not impossible. To help you get started, consider the following:
- Measure your window’s full width and height. The measurement should include everything that you wish to cover. This will help you determine how much material you are going to require. Multiply the measurement by two and that will be the width of fabric necessary to create your drapery. As for the height, allow an additional four inches to the top and another four inches to the bottom and the measurement will be the total length of your fabric.
- Procure your fabric. There is practically a wide range of fabric selection to choose from. Linen, polyester, silk, wool, cotton, viscose, etc. While you can choose any type you wish, and heavy fabrics like velvets and damasks are great for French pleat drapes, it is best to get a medium weight fabric for your first project as it will make your job easier and your pleats will not be too thick and bulky. Also consider the pattern of your fabric. Determine if a traditional, country, or contemporary pattern would complement your interior design.
- Ready your materials. Fabric, pin hooks, pleating tape or buckram. Also prepare the curtain ring or rod whether it is installed on the window casing or on the wall.
- Create your pleats. Pleating is done by making three-prong folds in each pleat with uniform distance in between. If you are using a pleating tape, your work will be easier as you no longer need a lot of measuring when you work on your drapery. Hem the curtain panels on the bottom edge and the lining with two-fold hems. Place the pleating tape on the right side of the fabric along the heading and sew it along the top, bottom as well as the sides. Press the top fold, pin to secure, and baste the side hems including the lower edge of the heading. Insert the curtain hooks on the pleating tape. Be cautious of the distance of the hooks from each other, as it will affect the appearance of the pleats.
- Use buckram for your pleats. Another way of creating your pleats is by using a stiff cloth made of cotton that is called buckram. It is the same element used for covering or protecting books. Unlike pleating tape, you will have to be particular with your measurement. The placement of folds, the number of pleats for every curtain panel, and the depth of your pleats have to be precise. The buckram strip is sewn into the heading and it makes the pleats sturdy.
When you are finished making your own French pleat drapes, press and pinch the pleats once more before mounting the drapery on your window. Complete your job by securing that your curtain is installed neatly and properly.