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How To Sew On Pleating Tape
Last Updated: 09/23/2008

Sewing drapes with pleating tape is a very easy way to pleat your drapes. Make sure that you followed the steps exactly in calculating your measurements for the pleating tape you are going to use. If you decided to add pleating tape to a sewn drapery panel without following the instructions on this web site, your pleating tape may not fit your panel. Or you may end up with the wrong finished width.

Click on the type of pleating tape below to learn how to calculate your measurements and fabric yardage.


The anatomy of pleating tape

Your pleating tape will consist of pleats and spaces. It will have 2 or 3 cords that you will pull to create the pleats. The pleat area will be the area that you are able to pull the cords loose. The space will be an area that has no loose cords. This is really tough to tell. When in doubt cut a test strip and pull the cords to understand where the pleats are and where the spaces are.

Your pleating tape may also have drapery hook pockets. You don’t have to have drapery hook pockets, but it makes it easier to apply the drapery hooks when hanging your drapes.


Prepare the pleating tape

Starting at the end of your pleating tape with the drapery hook pockets facing you, find the end of the first complete space… also the start of the first pleat… and mark with a pin.

STOP! The correct side of the pleating tape is with the drapery hook pockets near the top edge and facing you. The other side of the pleating tape will not have the drapery hook pockets.

Measure across from this pin CFW - ( 6”+ O + R ) and mark with a pin. This pin should end up close to the end of a complete pleat.

CFW is the width of your pieced fabric before side hems

6" is how much you would use for the side hems. You can change this number to whatever you used to sew your side hems

O and R are the overlap and return measurements. Basically, how much fabric you want from the edge of your drape before the pleat begins.

Measure from one pin O or R and mark with a pin. Do the same to the other end of the pleating tape. Looking at your tape in front of you, the left edge of the tape is the RIGHT edge of the drapery panel. So, if the right edge of your drapery panel is the OVERLAP, then measure the left edge of the tape with the measurement O.

Trim off the extra tape 1” from the outside pins.

Illustration only shows trimming off one end. You will measure, mark and trim both ends.

Fold the 1” ends back to the wrong side of the tape (on the outer pin mark). Remove the outer pins and loosen the cords to 1” from the remaining pins.

On the OVERLAP edge knot each cord 1” from the pin… trim off the extra cord. If you have a one panel treatment, then pick an end to knot.

Sew on the Pleating Tape

Lay your drapery panel fabric side down… lining side up.

Measure up from the bottom edge FL and mark. Measure in several places to create a line across the top of your drape.

Fold the top edge of your drapery on this line and pin in place.

Measure down H from the top folded edge of the panel and mark. Measure and mark in several places to create a line across your drapery panel.

Lay the pleating tape’s top edge along the H line. Pin the pleating tape in place.

Trim the bottom edge of the folded over fabric so that the raw edge is covered by the tape.

Sew a straight stitch along the top and bottom edges of the tape. Do not sew over the cords or drapery hook pockets. Make sure you sew the top and bottom stitching lines in the same direction.

For better pleating, sew a straight stitch in between each cord.

Create the Pleats

Pull the loose cords to gather the tape. Gather to the finished panel width plus overlap and return. You may need to adjust the gathers to achieve your final measurements.

Knot the cords close to the tape to hold the tape in place.

Wind the excess cord around 2 of your fingers to create a small bundle. Secure the bundle to the tape with a safety pin. You can also tack the bundle to the tape with a couple stitches.

STOP! Do not trim off this excess cord. Once you hang the drape you may need to adjust your gathers a few more times.

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