How to Create Pencil Pleated Draperies

woman hanging drapes
What You'll Need
Sewing machine
Pencil pleat header tape
Drapery fabric (lining is optional)
Drapery hooks and suitable drapery hanging track
250-yard spool of thread
Hand-sewing needles
Iron and ironing board

Pencil-pleated draperies add texture and elegance to any room. Here are directions you can follow to make your own beautiful pencil-pleated drapes.

Step 1 - Decide on the Depth of Your Drape Headings

For drapes where the heading will be visible rather than behind a valance, use pencil pleat tape with six-inch (15 cm) headings. Allow an additional inch at the top for the top hem for the drapes.

Step 2 - Buy the Drapery Fabric and Pencil Pleat Header Tape

Purchase the drapery fabric according to a drapery fabric calculating guide. You will need at least four inches of fabric width for each pencil pleat. Include a 10 percent fabric shrinkage estimate.

For the length, add an eight-inch hem at the top and a four-inch hem at the bottom. Wash and dry the drapery fabric, then cut it to the measured size. Iron to ensure flatness for attaching the pencil pleat header tape. Press down a one-inch fold then a seven-inch fold for the top hem. Sew down the top hem before attaching the header tape. Then press in and pin the bottom hem.

You should have sufficient pencil pleat header tape to cover the unpleated width of your drapes, and add a two-inch allowance on both ends to fold under the raw edges.

Step 3 - Attach the Header Tape to the Drape Top

sitting area with white chairs, oversize ottoman, and curtains on windows

Attach the pencil pleat header tape with pins to the drapery top edge, 1/2 inch below it. Fold under the raw edge of the header tape and machine sew this edge to the drape. Sew down the entire piece of pencil pleat header tape to each drape, at the top and bottom and between each string pocket.

Sew all seams in the same direction, and do not sew over the string pockets. Release the header cords so they hang down for pulling. Stitch the vertical ends of the header tape to the vertical edges of each drape.

Step 4 - Gather the Pleats and Distribute Evenly

Pull firmly and evenly on the header cords to gather the drapery material into the pencil pleats. Distribute the pleats so they are even in size across the top of each drape. Each drape, when finished, should fit across at least 1/2 the length of the drapery track. Adjust by spreading out the pleats if they are too tight.

Step 5 - Knot Off the Pencil Pleat Header Cords

When your drapes are the correct width, securely tie off the ends of the cords. Stitch them into the top hem of the drape with a few hand stitches to conceal them.

Step 6 - Finish the Bottom Hems of Your Drapes

Use blind stitching to hem the bottom edges of the drapes. Press the drapes one more time before hanging.

Step 7 - Attach Drapery Hooks and Hang Your Drapes

Insert drapery hooks into the pencil pleats at about four-inch intervals, and hang up the drapes.