How to Create Butterfly Pleated Draperies

Fabric on a sewing machine
  • 3-100 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-1,000
What You'll Need
Medium to light weight fabric
Measuring tape and marking pencil
Needle and thread for tacking
Sewing pins

Butterfly pleated draperies are a version of a pinch pleat. They are relaxed and paired in sets of three, similar to a French pleat. They are tacked at the bottom of the pleat instead of at the top, and the only tacking connects the three small pleats together. The Butterfly pleat is ideal for side panels or in an area where the depth of the curtain from the window is not important.

This type of pleat takes up quite a bit of room, and it cannot be used on the backside of a double rod due to the possibility of it catching. Follow these steps to create your own butterfly-pleated drapes.

Step 1 - Choose The Right Fabric

The butterfly pleat works best with light-to-medium fabrics such as cottons, silks, linens, and sheers. If you try to do this pleat with heavier fabric, you will need to create larger pleats that may not function properly.

Step 2 - Measure

When you choose your fabric, use a drapery chart to see how much extra fabric you will need to accommodate the pleats. They will take up at least twice the amount of fabric as indicated by your measurements.

Step 3 - Mark

Use the measuring tape to mark where each butterfly pleat will be created and the spacing in between. Work from one end to the next. Create a pleat, measure three to five inches away and create the next pleat. Continue on this pattern until you reach the end of the panel. You can use sewing pins to hold the pleats in place to make sure you have the look you want before tacking them together.

Step 4 - How to Create the Pleat

Gather the fabric together to form three pleats of equal size right next to each other. Measure four inches from the top and pin them together there. When you have the look you want, tack the pleats together with the thread and needle.

The butterfly pleat is a great way to have beautiful drapery with a more relaxed feel. You can use it as the main drape or as a side panel for design and definition. If you are unsure of your abilities, practice on a scrap piece of material until you have perfected the technique.