Friday, March 2, 2012

Pleat Talk

Young designers are not as well versed in custom window treatments as in the old days. Design schools nowadays teach the business of interior design, but nary a course on designing and producing custom soft furnishings. Most young designers buy off-the-rack.

Goblet pleat silk drapes on a return rod

Here's an easy crash course for all you wonderful home decorators buying drapes.

There are three types of pleats that I use: French, Parisian, and Goblet. I have French pleat in every room in the house, except the breakfast area, where I use Parisian.

French is the classic and can work in all types of rooms.

French pleats

Parisian is more relaxed.

Parisian pleats

Goblet is a little too formal for me, but some people love it.

Goblet pleats

I only use one type of rod, a return rod, sometimes called a blackout rod or a French rod. I am not into finials, and I love the way the return rod curves to the wall so the windows have a covered side edge.

Buy this return rod HERE

I match rings to rods, utilizing drapery hooks (pins). Sometimes the rings are sewn in so a drapery hook is not required.

French rod from West Elm

Industrial style rod from West Elm

For silk drapes, silk taffeta is what I always use. Libas is a great wholesale source. All the silk drapes in my home are made from satin silk taffeta from Libas.

Libas for great silk

I also like to use linen.

I like to double line drapes, with a flannel and cotton lining. I've used for lining.

A good seamstress is gold. However, if you have to buy drapes ready made, Half Price Drapes is fabulous, and the chain store Curtain Exchange does nice work. A really great budget online store is Curtainworks. The silk is thinner, but at very affordable prices for faux and real silk, you can have a hint of custom luxury, to use as a respectable place holder. Casa Fiori is another great online source for drapes.

A handy reference guide to pleats for drapes

I like to puddle drapes, or have them just graze the floor. I hang rods as high as possible, and the width of the window.

When you do custom drapes, use a width-and-a-half of fabric for one panel. Store bought drapes are usually just one width, and if it looks too skimpy get four panels per window.

I do like grommets and again would use a return rod or a rod without finials. Velvet and menswear type fabric looks great using grommets, and so do silk and linen.

Silk grommet drapes

Linen grommet drapes

Hope this helps you out a little. No pole tops if you can avoid it. But if you must, just sew a ring to the top, spacing about four to five inches between rings. This will make a natural looking relaxed pleat when you slide the ring onto the rod.

I love an off the rack faux silk stripe panel that is so affordable and pretty, but it's a pole top. Sewing the rings on as I explained works perfectly.

Love these drapes Mary McDonald uses - Half Price Drapes has a similar very well priced panel with a pole top - I have had clients sew rings to the top, to create a pleat, and it works really well

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  1. i have naked windows.

    they all have lovely wooden blinds, but no fabric.

    we moved to the midwest 3 years ago from alabama. back home, there was a talented, experienced seamstress, who could whip out custom window treatments in her sleep (at a reasonable price), seemingly on every corner.

    i can't find anyone up here that i trust to even tailor my clothes or monogragm my pillows much less create beautiful drapes.

    is custom sewing a southern thing?

    love most everything up here, but miss some of the basic, homespun art that i took for granted down south.

    LOVED this post...thank you, valerie!

    nanne in indiana

  2. This is so interesting. I am going through a grommet phase at the moment although I couldn't give a name to it until now. Mainly because I've been buying them ready made in bulk and bunching them up to look more luxurious.

  3. Hi, Stranger! Me, Mo, in KCMO. I would never lose you! I recently scored 12 yards of the most wonderful Nina Campbell chinoiserie linen fabric for an awesome price. I want to make curtains, and am so glad I was patient and waited to experience this post. Best tip is to use that return rod, which is so elegant and finished in look. Thank you, Valorie, for all your decorating help and upbeat attitude over the years! Love, Mo

  4. Hi Nanne,
    Yes good seamstresses seem very much to be a part of Southern culture.
    Southern girls love their drapes and monograms!
    I learned a lot from them.
    Keep looking. You'll find one one day.
    As ever, thanks for writing...
    xo xo

    PS Mo!!!!!!!!!!! So good to hear from you!!!!
    email me...

  5. Plain straight, but luxuriously full, panels have always been my favorite, but I do sometimes miss the over the top treatments I used to work on in my early days working for a high end designer in the late 1990s. I remember the plainest treatments always had at least a "fashion" fabric, a coordinating liner (plain linen or chintz or a mini-print), and at least one trim. Some of the more elaborate treatments might have had five different fabrics and three (or more) trims!

  6. Hi dear! Cool post and blog! I’m a new follower and I wanted to invite you to follow me back on my own blog:
    I hope you will! XOXO

  7. Thanks for the tutorial. I never knew there were different pleats. We don't have drapes - just plantation shutters - because I want the rooms to look more open.

  8. Valerie, I love this post. It was so helpful, but there is one term I am not familiar with. Could you go into a bit more detail about what you mean by the term "pole top". Thank you.

    1. I am confused too. Is pole top another way of saying rod pocket? Is it ok to use clip rings?

  9. Great post as always! So informative and the photos are great!
    Love to you.
    xo E + J

  10. Thank you for this! I will definitely refer to this in my future projects!

  11. Hi Valerie-- this is a great post! I work for an interior designer here in Houston. I am originally from New Orleans, and while living there, got used to seeing silk draperies everywhere. I still love the look, with the billowy 'skirts' they form around windows. However, the designer I work with here, will not use silk when she specifies draperies, as our drapery workroom has told us that the Houston sun will rot the silk fibers quickly. Do you find the same thing there in New Orleans, or do you live with it, or is there some 'trick' to using silk for draperies, that I am not aware of?

    Love, love, love return rods!

  12. Hi Miz Diva,
    Yes the sun will rot any fabric, and especially in sunny hot climates like NOLA & Houston.
    The girls here don't care. They want their silk drapes and will use them until they are tattered. It becomes a part of the beautiful decadence :-)
    It usually takes about 8 - 10 years to for silk drapes to start rotting.
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
    xo xo

  13. i notice no wooden valances...something is missing in these window treatments..