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.
Row of pencil pleatsRow of pencil pleats
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.

Step 1

Pencil-pleat header tape

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.

Step 2

Lining on top of curtain fabric

Cut the width of the lining four 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 a half-inch seam on each side, stopping 10 inches from the bottom. This will form a tube. Reverse the fabric and iron the seams.

Step 3

Double fold being ironed

Fold and iron one inch of the top edge of the curtain, then fold and iron another five inches.

Step 4

Sewing the side of the heading tape

Pin the pencil-pleat heading tape to the five-inch folded section allowing at least one-half 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.

Step 5

Sewing along the length of the heading tape

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.

Step 6

Blind stitch the curtain hem

Fit the curtain to the drapery rod to finalize 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 one inch shorter than the curtain's finished length. Close the edges with a slip stitch. Iron as necessary.

Step 7

Pull the cords and tuck the pleats

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.

Step 8

Slip stitching the edges

Check the curtain width to make certain the panel covers half the window plus a few 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.

Things You Will 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

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.

Warning

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

About the Author

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.