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Tutorial: Pinch Pleated Cafe Curtains…


My curtains are done, and I’m so very happy how they turned out.  I’m sharing a detailed tutorial: Pinch Pleated Cafe Curtains.

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For the last two weeks I’ve been busy making the curtains  –  they were not hard to make;

the calculations almost did me in!

But, I’m Still Standing…Yeah..Yeah…

After looking at numerous photos of cafe curtains here, and here

This photo became my inspiration.

Originally I was going to do the scalloped pinch pleat, but soon gave up on that!

My biggest challenge was figuring out the pinch/space calculations.

I scrounged everywhere for information, and was lucky when I found this great video..

Part One

Part Two

I fell in love with this lovely lady and have watched just about every video she has!

It’s a great video on making to make pinch pleats.

For determining the pleats use the Pleat Calulator!

My curtains were made…


  1. Fabric (Ralph Lauren Coastal Charm Floral Spring material, 56″ wide)
  2. Lining – (drapery lining fabric from Hancock Fabrics 56″ wide)
  3. 4″ wide header tape
  4. Single drapery hooks (HL, 99¢  for 10 (cheapest I found)
  5. Tension rods (3 white spring tension curtain rods from HL $3.98 each, 4 from Target @ $3.39 each (preferred Target’s)
  6. 1 1/4″ curtain rings (had from HL)
  7. Notions:  scissors, tape measure, pins, matching thread, sewing machines.

My material was purchased last summer – I was going to use it in my kitchen, and bought 8 yards ($18 a yard). I noticed the material matched my  new living area paint color, and made the switch.  Since the material was discontinued,  I was lucky to find 7 more yards(material discontinued). I had 18 yards and was determined to make this work.


I’m making  7 curtains – for an inside window mount, and hung 3/4 high (see above photo).

Window Measurements: 30″ wide by 47″ long.  I added 10″ (4″ header & 6″ hem) to length for header/hem =30″ x 57″ long.


1) It was important to me that all seven curtains panel patterns “matched”.  What I mean is, that when you looked across the bank of window across both rooms, the pattern matched exactly.

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I took the time to figure it all out, determined that each matching panel would start just above the flower (by black arrow). You can see 1 cut panel on the left and one marked with blue chalk line.  If I had not taken the time to figure this out, I would of not been able to make this work.  It took about an hour, but so worth it.

2) My fabric was 56″ wide, in order for my material to work my finished curtain width had to be 54″, so it left me only 1 1/8″ wide seam on each side (typically use a minimum of 2″ seam on each side).

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3)  Prepared my lining the same way

Don’t look at my nails, I bite them all off during this process). I’m lucky I still have hair left!!!!

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And stitched lining to fabric (wrong sides together).

4) I used a 4″ drapery header tape to give “structure” to make my pleats.

Laid my fabric right (good) side down, and turned over 4″ for the header.

This is drapery header tape and I cut it to 56″ width (54″ finished width, plus 1″ doubled side edge).

Insert header tape under the 4″ header fabric, and doubled over the tap an extra 1″ at  ends for extra strength.

5)  The finished panel is now 54″ wide by 57″ long (I’ll hem after curtains hang for a few days)

Now I’m ready to start marking the fabric for the pleats and spacing.

Pleat/Spacing Calculations:

TO DETERMINE YOUR PLEATS USE THE PLEAT CALCULATOR (click on tap, at top right “sewing calulators”, a drop down window will appear and click on “Pleat calculator for curtains”).

Why didn’t I use?  Typically your fabric should be 2 1/2 times the width of your window space. I did not have this amount, so I needed to “make” my fabric work.

Pinch pleated curtains has alternating sections of a:  space/pleat/space/pleat/space, etc.  A curtain can start with a space or a pleat.  In the photo above the curtain starts/ends with a pleat.  I wanted to start with a space on each end.

My fabric is 54″ wide ( after finishing with seams) and inside window measurement is 30″.

To determine Pleats: take 54″ – 30″ (inside window measurement) = 24″, which leaves me 24″ for making pleats.

To determine Spaces: 54″ – 24″ (pleats) = 30″, which leaves 30″ to make the spaces.

S0 24″ of the 54″ wide curtain is for making pleats, the remaining 30″ of the 54″ curtain width is for the spaces.  24 + 30 = 54″ after curtain is finished (seams made). I wanted 7 pleats per curtain.

24″ (for pleats) ÷ 7 (# of pleats I wanted) = 3″.  Each pleat would be 3″ wide.   30″ (for spaces) ÷ 8 (# of spaces in the curtain) = 3.75″


6) I laid my fabric right side down, 4″ header facing up.

I began with a 3.75″ (space), 3″ pleat, 3.75, 3″ and so on.  I needed to end up with a 3.75 space at end, and the finished width needed to be 30″ wide.

I started marking and pinning.  To to honest it didn’t end up right at first.  But it gave me a clear direction were I needed to go.  I knew I wanted 7 pleats. so I just kept playing with the spacing until I figured it out.

My calculations came out as:

3 3/8″ space, 3 3/8 pleat, 3 7/8 space, 3 3/8 pleat, 3 7/8 space, 3  3/8 pleat, 3 7/8 space, 3 3/8 pleat, and so on until I ended with a 3 3/8 space on end.

Making the Pleats:

I measured and pinned each measurement in place using (3 3/8″ space, 3 3/8 pleat, 3 7/8 space, 3 3/8 pleat, 3 7/8 space, 3  3/8 pleat, 3 7/8 space, 3 3/8 pleat, and so on until I ended with a 3 3/8 space on end).

7) Once all the pinning/marking was done it was time to make the pleats.

I brought the pins together (this will be a pleat pocket), and pinned in place.

Laid the pleat pocket flat, and marked my stitching line which would be 1/2 the pleat width  (3 3/8 ÷ 2), and marked.

I stitched the pleat seam.  Starting just below header tape (4 1/4″ down) to top back stitching to strengthen.

After stitching you end up with a pocket.

To make the actual pleat start pressing the pocket down.

Until it is evenly spaced over the seam you just sewed.

Next start crimping the pleat in to 3 equal sections.

Just keep playing with it until you have 3 equal sections (very easy to do)

I placed pins on each side, to “hold” the pleats in place until they set.  I pinch the bottom of the pleat section also.

And sewed a seam across the bottom to “secure” the pleat in place.

I make the pleats (7) all the way across the material.

Then I flipped it over to check, and it measures 30″, exactly what my inside window is.

Hanging the Curtains:

Hanging your curtains is really up to you. I choose to use drapery hooks.

A single hook,

I placed  hook into each seam pleat (2″ down), and about 1″ in on each end side.  This is really dependent on what you use, so adjust to your needs.

You can slip the hook end right over the tension rod, or attached the hook to 1 1/4″ curtain rings.

Check out my inspiration here and here, you’ll be able to see various ways to hang the curtains.  I didn’t want my rods to show when closed, even though they are hung on curtains rings, wanted a more formal look.

You’ll end up with some great looking curtains…

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What you waiting for?

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I hope this tutorial helps you to make yours.

Pin It Par.tay.ing here..


  1. says

    Hey Cathy…we certainly must meet up at Haven! I am so excited about going and meeting more of the lovely ladies of bloggyland! Also great post…this one lks like it took a lot of time but the results are so worth it! Beautiful job. You have inspirered me to pull out the old sewing machine…now if i can only remember how to use it!

  2. says

    Beautiful, Cathy! I may be getting out my sewing machine soon! (mint in box 10 years or so, never opened……) I hope to have room to set up in the new garage, upstairs!

  3. says

    I LOVE tutorials that show every step! The fabric you picked out is AMAZING!!! And the result is perfect!!


  4. says

    Hi Cathy!

    I just came by from Kathe’s Your Gonna Love It party. I have plans for making cafe curtains for my kitchen… I figured the’re “new” again. Your tutorial was very helpful, along with the video. So glad I found your blog!

    xoxo Bunny Jean
    Wednesday’s Bunny Hop Party!

  5. says

    They turned out great Cathy! I don’t know talking with me helped with you figuring out the final caluclations, or made it more confusing, but I sure am glad you didn’t quit… they look gorgeous! Little Bit

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