Why pleating to the design of the fabric is so important.

We are a high quality trade and retail workroom so attention to detail is very important to our customers and to ourselves. When making curtains we specialise in pleating to the design of the fabric which makes a tremendous difference to the look of the final product.

Not all workrooms pleat to the design of the fabric as it requires more fullness than the normal amount, usually three times fullness. This increases the cost of the finished product but when done correctly it is beautiful to look at. Many curtain workrooms are more mechanised than ours so their pleating relies solely on measurement without the experienced eye of skilled curtain makers such as those we have in the Denton Drapes team.

You will see that every single fold of fabric within in the curtain falls in exactly the same part of the pattern. This is particularly important when using a fabric like a stripe.

If you do not pleat to the design of the fabric or stripe the result will be a very haphazard appearance.

It is usually very obvious to us when our clients are making their fabric selection if we will need to pleat to the pattern.  For example, a large flower or motif repeated across the width is a typical design requiring this practise.

Sometimes it is not always immediately obvious when looking at a fabric that pleating to the design is required. A few months ago we had exactly this situation with a beautiful all over embroidered linen from Harlequin fabrics. Even when the fabric was rolled out onto the table for checking, the design of the embroidery fooled my eyes.

It wasn’t until the curtain was complete and was hung ready for dressing that the mistake became obvious. As you can see, the colour in the embroidery is green and blue. Once the curtain was hung half of the curtain appeared predominantly with blue flowers, they then faded away for the next few widths and the other half of the curtain was green foliage. This was because we had pleated the heading to the required measurement only. The customer would also have seen that the curtain didn’t look quite right but probably wouldn’t have known why.

There was only one option. We removed the pleats and reworked the heading calculation according to the design of the fabric so that every pleat fell onto the same part of the pattern. We needed to reduce the width of the first and last panels so that our pleats fell on the same part of each flower across the curtain. It was quite a lot of work but well worth it for the finished look of the curtain.

The pleating arrangement is even more evident once the curtain has been dressed and bandaged.

In this case you can see that every other pleat is on the same colour of flower.

The completed curtain looking very pleasing to the eye because we have worked with the design of the fabric and not just pleated to the measurement. I hope this blog has explained why we believe that pleating to design is worth the extra effort.


Drapery and Design Professional

I have just had my second article published in the wonderful Drapery and Design Professional magazine which is really exciting. The American soft furnishing industry is so much better organised than ours in the UK and I always look forward to the arrival of this mag. You can download a copy of my article here, it shows how to make these lovely cushions.

Pintuck samples in Villa Nova Seville

I don’t talk about cushions very often on this blog but they are one of my secret passions.  I enjoy planning them, cutting them out, piping them and making them. You can  create something really special from relatively small pieces of fabric in a suprisingly short amount of time and it’s terrific fun.

Pintuck pattern cushion in Henry Bertrand silk

Here are some examples of  other cushions I have made in the last few years.

Pintucked cushion in James Hare Silk

Silk satin circular cushion

Villa Nova chenille cushions with tassels

Silk satin and velvet cushion group

Union Jack from Cath Kitson spot with grossgrain ribbon

James Hare silk dupion smocked circular cushion

James Hare silk dupion cushion with Hallis Hudson bead trimming

Pair of cushions in Harlequin Lucido plain and Celeste

James Hare silks and Villa Nova Renaissance fabric cushion group

Sanderson velvet stripe with handsewn cord trim

Harlequin Twinkle Toes and James Hare silk Dupion with Troynorth beads

Variation of a double pleat.

Some curtains that recently went through the workroom had a bit of a twist; a handmade heading with double pleats, but they were secured at the top. I think they are called Euro pleats in the States. I have to confess that I haven’t got a clue what to call them except “double pleats sewn at the top.”

Double pleats with a difference.

The method for calculating the pleats and spaces was exactly the same as normal.  If you look closely you will see that this is a striped silk which came from the Villa Nova Yoshino range. We were able to pleat to the stripes in this case. The lighter stripe is the pleat and the darker stripe is the space.

Close up of the double pleats held together at the top.

You will see from the picture below that the pleat was stab stitched in two places, at the middle and then the front of the top of the pleat.

Side view of the pleat.

This does create  a very comtemporary look. It also makes the stack back quite small  which is ideal for tight spaces.

One and a half width curtain.

Triple pleats with a contrast centre insert.

Finished curtains hanging in the customer's entrance hall.

 This is a recent project that went through the workroom. It’s a pair of sill length handmade interlined triple pleat curtains with a contrast leading edge and contrast centre section of the triple pleat. There was also a single full length left hand door curtain, both with matching handmade tiebacks.  

The main fabric is Harlequin Celeste colour Shell with the contrast in Celeste Spice. These colours were chosen to match the wall paper of the entrance hall of where the curtains were to hang. We also used a pre shrunk domette interlining.  

Interestingly this was the first time that we needed to pull a thread on a fabric to make sure the widths were cut square. It’s a technique we have used on voiles quite a lot but never on a fabric before.

The make was in the normal way you would expect an interlined curtain to be constructed, with the pleats sewn in by machine as normal. We used 6″ double sided fusible buckrum in this case.  

When all the pleats had been sewn in, the curtain was taken to the table and the triple pleats were formed in the usual way. In our workroom we use bull dog like clips to hold the triple pleats in place until the stab stitches are made. You can see this in the picture below.  

Close up of the centre section of a triple pleat with a contrast fabric.

To work out how big to cut the contrast inserts, we placed a fabric tape measure over the centre section of the triple pleat down either side into the inside fold. In this case it was 2.5cm either side. As we used 6″ buckrum (15cms) this meant the strips needed to be 5cm x 15cms finished.  

We allowed 1.5cms seam allowance all the way round giving the cut strip measurement of 8cms  x 18cms. We had 8 pleats per curtain so 16 cut strips for the pair. We then made a cardboard rectangle the finshed size of the strip. (5cms x 15cms) this was used as a template to press the seam allowance in.  We then placed a pin in the centre of the triple pleat at the top and bottom. This was used as a guide to centre the contrast strip over the middle section after removing the bull dog clip. The contrast strip was carefully handsewn into place with tiny stitches using a matching thread. After this was done the pleat was finished in the usual way, although in this case we did a contrast over-stitch in  a matching red thread at the bottom of the pleat as shown above.  

This does take quite a bit of time so make sure to build this into your costings, when working out the price to the customer.  

The same triple pleat seen from the side view.

Once the curtains are finished we always hang everything up in the workroom and dress the curtain. You can see that we also use those clips to hold the folds into place until they are bandaged. They usually hang like this for three to four days before being bagged up ready to deliver.   

Hanging in the workroom

 The finished curtains were hung from a 35mm wooden pole in natural mahogany with beehive finials from Cameron Fuller. The customer wanted sill length curtains at the window as there will be a piece of furniture going below the window. 
This is a picture of the full length left hand door curtain. In this picture you can clearly see how well the colours in the curtain match the colours of the wall paper. 

A full length photo showing the matching wall paper.