Let me show you how to sew curtains with pleater tape that look beautiful and professional. These DIY curtains are a great beginner project if you're new to sewing, and they can completely change the look of your space!
I've been wanting to add a little spice to our breakfast nook this year. I had some white lace IKEA curtains on the bay window, but they weren't quite doing it for me! When I found this over-the-top floral fabric in shades that matched our black & white kitchen, I knew some DIY drapes would be the perfect way to bring this little nook to life.
Sewing curtains is a wonderful beginner's sewing project, and it's a fantastic way to make your space feel custom. Even if you've only tried your sewing machine a handful of times, I think you can make these drapes with pleater tape! If you don't have a machine, borrow one from a family member or friend and give this a try.
Watch my YouTube video to learn how to make DIY drapes, or follow the instructions below:
How to sew DIY curtains with pleater tape
- drapery fabric (see below for how much)
- pleater tape
- curtain rings with hooks
- curtain hooks for pleater tape
- hard ruler and/or square
- measuring tape
- fabric scissors
- ironing board
- stick pins
- sewing machine
Calculating how much fabric is needed:
To determine how much drapery fabric you'll need, first decide on how tall you'd like each curtain panel to be. I like to make my drapes nice and tall, and have them relatively close to the ceiling and touching the floor. For these drapes, I've decided to have them rest an inch above the floor so that I can easily clean my breakfast nook floor beneath them. Once you've figured out the height you want your drapes to be, add about 7" to that height to account for the top hem, bottom hem, and the space between the hooks and the top of the drape.
Now, to find the width of your drapes, multiply the width of your window by two to account for the pleating. You may have to sew two pieces of fabric together vertically to achieve the width you need. For my drapes, I'm using the full width of fabric to make narrower drapery panels for my breakfast nook. These are more decorative than functional in my space, so I don't actually need them to close fully over the window.
What kind of fabric to buy for drapes:
My favourite type of fabric for window treatments is a heavy cotton, or a cotton linen blend. If you search "decor fabric" on a site like fabric.com or onlinefabricstore.net, you'll find many options. I wanted to make some over-the-top floral drapes in shades that complemented my kitchen, so I'm using this Robert Allen fabric. I've purchased 12 yards to make four 8' long curtain panels with a little extra to sew some pillow covers.
Cutting your drapery fabric:
Begin your project by cutting your curtain panels. Use a measuring tape to mark where you need to cut your fabric at three points, and then use a square or hard ruler to connect those points and make sure that line is nice and square to the sides of the fabric. This measurement will be your finished curtain height plus 7". You may need to cut two pieces and sew them together vertically if you want to create wider drapes than what I'm making.
Next, turn the two vertical edges of the fabric panels under ½" and press. Now, turn them under another ½" and press again. I like to use my iron on the cotton setting with the steam function to get nice, sharply pressed hems.
Then, you'll press the top hem. Next, find the top of the curtain panel by looking for a "Top" graphic on your fabric, or ensuring that any patterns on your fabric are pointing the way you'd like them to hang. Fold the top under ½" and press, and then fold it under 4" and press again. This will be where you will be sewing the pleater tape later.
Now it's time to press the curtain panel bottom hem. Fold this under ½" and press, and then fold it under 1" and press again.
You can pin down all of your hems with stick pins, if you desire.
Sewing Your drapes:
Now, thread your sewing machine with a cotton thread suitable for drapery, and then stitch along the side hems of your drapery panel. Make sure to back-stitch at the top and bottom of your hem to keep it secure. You can use the markings beneath your presser foot to help keep your sewing line nice & straight. I recommend using a longer stitch for sewing drapery; on my machine that's a number 4 stitch.
Once you've sewn the side seams of your panel, you can stitch down the top seam. Stitch about ¼" away from the fold of the hem making sure to back-wrapped at the beginning and end.
At this point, you can sew the bottom hem, or you can leave it open to stitch after you test the height of your drapes at the end. I chose to stitch them at this point as I was pretty confident with the length of my fabric.
Working with pleater tape:
Now, take the pleater tape and fold it under about a ½", or to where the first open loop is. Pin this to the back of your top hem, centering it within the hem. Make sure that you can insert your hooks into the loops and don't sew it on upside down. Trim the tape about ½" from the end of your drapery panel, and fold it under another ½" and pin in place.
Next, sew the pleater tape to the top hem with your sewing machine, following the stitch guides on the tape. Again, make sure to back-stitch at the beginning and the end to keep the stitches secure.
It's now time to insert the curtain hooks! You can play with how pleated you want your drapes to look by having more or less loops in between each hook. For my drapes, I put one side of my hook in the first loop of the pleater tape, counted 5 loops, and then inserted the next side of the hook in the next loop. I left one loop free, and then repeated this pattern with more hooks.
After you've inserted the hooks, you can attach the clips to the rings and attach those to the hooks.
Hanging your drapes:
Now it's time to hang your drapes! I find it easiest to take my rod down from my wall and insert it through the rings of the drapes. Then, I lift the whole drape up and put the rod back into the brackets on the wall. If you haven't hemmed your curtain panel yet, you can now check to see where it's hitting the floor and determine the size of hem you'll need. Press it and sew it to complete your DIY pleated curtains.
You may have to "train" your drapes to hang in their pleated shape by pressing them gently into the pleats with your hands. You can also use a steamer to help shape them for a sharper look.
I adore how these turned out and love the Granny Chic vibe of our breakfast nook! It's so fun for Spring and Summer, and brings a lot of personality into this space.
Now tell me: Have you ever tried sewing curtains?
More DIY Curtains to Sew
One of my favourite elements in my kitchen is the custom sewn drapes. I made them myself by hemming some gorgeous fabric and finishing them with simple click-together grommets. If you'd like to sew some similar curtains for your space, here's how!
These guys are SO easy to make - they would make a great beginning sewing project if you're just starting out. Let me show you how to sew these easy DIY cafe curtains with a bit of measuring, some pressing, and some machine hemming. Simple!