Pile on the Pleats
You can turn rod pocket panels into real pinch pleats, rather than fake it as I have described in “Easy Drapery Project“.
You do need a sewing machine and some really basic sewing skills. As long as you are able to do some basic measuring and can sew a short seam with a sewing machine, you can make your own pleated side panels. These instructions are for a simple two fold pleat.
- NOTE: The panel you use matters too. It must be one with a 4″ to 5″ header. The header is the distance from the lowest stitching line (that forms the pocket) to the very top edge of the panel. If your panel has one of those pockets meant for a very wide or thick rod, this will not work as the pocket is too deep. You will have to pick out the stitching, measure the correct length, cut off the excess and make a new 4″ deep header to pleat.
Pinch pleats should have at least 2:1 fullness. 2:1 fullness is the easiest one to do so this is the one I will describe. For a 48″ wide panel you simply work in 4″ segments. Your return at either end (the flat piece where the first hook goes) is 2″ then just place a pin vertically (up & down) or mark vertically with a washable quilt marker, every 4″ along the top, back side of the panel.
- You will notice that a lot of ready made panels are actuall 47″ w. Measure the width before you start marking it. If it is less than 48″w make you adjustment in the 2″ return. It could be 1-1/2″ instead for instance.
Starting the pleating process:
Once you have marked the top of the panel into 4″ segments you start making folds to create the pleats and spaces between the pleats.
- Join pin (or mark) #1 to pin#2 back sides together – that will form the beginning of a pleat.
- Pin at the top and at the lowest seam line.
- Skip to pin #3 and join it to pin #4. That will create the flat area between the pleats and make the next pleat.
- Continue this way – join pins 5&6, 7&8, 9&10 until you get to the end and have 2″ left over for the return at the other end.
The next part is to finish making the pleat.
- Go to your first pleat. Sew where you have pinned, from the top edge, down to the bottom of the header. Do this on the ‘right’ side of the fabric. Stitch back a few stitches to lock the pleat in place. Do this for each pleat. The beginning of your pleats and flat spaces are now made.
- Now go back to the first pleat and completely flatten it out (like a butterfly) so the centre of the fold meets the seam you just made.
- Pin the centre of the fold to the seam at the top (up & down) so the pin head sticks out of the top. You don’t have to pin here, but it does make it easier to handle.
- Press the two folded outside edges of the pleat with your fingers or an iron.
- Pushing the centre in, pull the pressed edges toward you and pin them together, remove the centre pin. You have made your pleat.
- Then stitch across the bottom of the pleat, from the seam line of the pleat to the outside edge of the fold. Reverse and go back to the beginning to lock it strongly in place.
Your two fold pleat is finished.
- To recap – stitch vertically, flatten out the pleat, fold the two outside edges of the pleat together, stitch across the bottom of the double fold. That is all there is to it!
Do this with each pleat and you have 2:1 simple two fold pinch pleats. Your 48″w panel is now 24″ wide – a pair will cover a 36- 40″ wide window or make a set of decorative side panels for any window.
- Note: If you want more than one panel per side, you must pick out the side hem on two panels and stitch them together to form a single panel. This is a bit more complicated than it sounds because you also have to pick back the header and the hem so that you can join the side seams. You are probably better off just sticking to side panels or buying appropriate width pinch pleats from Sears or another retailer – or better yet make them from scratch.
Another Important Note: You have to use pin hooks with these panels because the traditional two-pronged slip hooks have nowhere to slip because of the fact that the rod pocket is stitched closed. Pin hooks are little single prong hooks that have a pointed end that you pierce through the back part of the fabric to insert. They are available anywhere that sells drapery hardware.
This project is really easy to do for any amateur sewer to do, but is really hard to describe in simple terms. Just take it step by step and it will become clear as you go along!