How to Create Pencil Pleated Draperies

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 6 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 4 inches of fabric width for each pencil pleat. Include a 10 percent fabric shrinkage estimate.

  • For the length, add an 8 inch hem at the top and a 4 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 1 inch fold then a 7 inch fold for the top hem.
  • Sew down the top hem before attaching the header tape.
  • 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 2 inch allowance on both ends to fold under the raw edges.

Step 3 - Attach the Header Tape to the Drape Top

  • 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 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 4-inch intervals, and hang up the drapes.