6 Types of Drapery Pleats & How To Match Your Style

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After you decide that you want drapery panels instead of other types of window treatments, you can choose your colors, patterns, and fabrics. At this point, you are ready to choose the types of drapery pleats style to compliment your style in the room.


The Many Types of Drapery Pleats


The choices in custom-made draperies are endless so you can have any appearance you would like in every room of your home. You can be matchy-matchy, where everything is the same or you can use different styles and colors when transitioning from one room to the next or totally different styles and colors for each room. That’s the beauty of window treatments, you are in full control of what suits your tastes.


The Most Formal Drapery Pleat Styles


Some drapery pleat styles are considered very formal and work best in formal dining rooms and ultra-polished living rooms. The most formal drapery pleat or heading as it is also called is the goblet pleat. This type of pleat has tiny pleats that are stitched together about 4 inches from the top of the drapery panel to form a cup-shaped fabric pleat that looks like a wine goblet that is upside down. The fabric poof may be left empty or it can be filled with batting or tissue so that it retains its shape. Thicker and more luxurious fabrics will hold the goblet pleat shape without a filling whereas thinner fabrics such as cotton and linen will most likely need a filling to keep their shape.


Formal Pinch Pleat Styles for Drapery Panels


The next category of pleat styles in formality is the pinch pleats, of which there are many variations from which to choose. The traditional pinch pleat takes three folds of fabric and they are sewn together about two inches from the top of the drapery panel. This creates a great formal drapery with pleats that fan out on the top and fan out larger on the bottom of the pleat. These work well in any formal or traditional room as well. Some homeowners and business owners may decide to add extra layers of interest with a sewn in fabric valance and tassel fringe on the bottom of the valance. A variation of the traditional pinch pleat is to sew only two folds of the drapery material together for a less full fan at the top and bottom of the pleats.


Pencil pleats are very thin and fine pleats that are formed in taunt and neat folds. This type of pleated heading is usually only found on stationary drapery panels that do not open and close. You may find this as a top drapery panel on a tall window. Cartridge pleats are single pleats that are spaced more widely on the drapery fabric than a traditional pinch pleat and they are also rounded at the top instead of a fan shape. Tuxedo pleats are larger pleats than the traditional pinch pleats and they are normally hung on a highly decorative drapery rod to create the ultimate in formal and contemporary flair.


The Flemish pleat has folds of fabric that flow down the entire length of the drapery panels. A variation of this type of heading are pleat fingers that are inverted and flow to the back of the panel instead of forward. Pleat fingers are also called inverted pleats, reverse pleats or tack roll pleats.


The top pinch pleat is similar to a traditional pinch pleat, but the folds of fabric are sewn together at the very top of the drapery panel to create a sleek header that controls the fullness going down the fabric. These are also call the Euro pleats or Parisian pleats.


The single fold pinch pleat is similar to the traditional pinch pleat but only one fold of fabric is fixed in place with woven stiffeners to create a rolling effect that appears soft and maintains its shape over time. This type of drapery heading is less formal than all of the other types of pinch pleats.


Box Pleats


The drapery pleat style called the box pleat is an informal type of heading. They are beautifully crafted and tailored to use on stationary panels that don’t open and close. The fabric is gathered and sewn together to form a square at the top of the draperies that hold their shape down to the bottom. Many people love this appearance and add embellishments to each side of the pleats with fabric-covered buttons to add a lot of character to their window treatments.


Folded Cuffs


This header style is popular when you have a flat drapery panel with a lining or backing on it for great heat and light control in your windows. The panel is usually hung on rings and the coordinating backing fabric folds forward over the front panel between each drapery ring. This is an informal window treatment style.


The Tab Top Drapery Panels


Tab top drapery panels hang on a decorative drapery rod by tabs that attach from the back of the fabric and fold over to the front. At the attachment point, you will often see a decorative button or hardware to hold the tabs in place. When this type of drapery panel is closed, you will not see any pleats on it, but when you slide it open, the tabs coming closer together will form pleats. The wider you open the panel makes the pleats appear smaller and closer together as they form


Rod Pocket Ruffles and Pleats


This type of drapery panel heading is also very informal. The top few inches of the drapery panels are sewn down in the rear of the panel to form a pocket for the drapery rod to fit in. The amount of fabric width dictates how pleated the drapery panels appear. The width of the panel may be twice the width of the actual window or even three times the width of the window to add additional fullness. If the rod pocket is placed a few inches down from the top of the panels, it creates ruffles on top of the rod for a fun and flirty appearance. Since the drapery rod is covered with fabric and doesn’t show, most people choose a simple drapery rod but may want one with decorative finials on the ends for embellishments.


These explanations and descriptions of the great world of drapery pleat styles should help you to complete your drapery panels with the exact amount of formality that you wish in any room.

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Bobby Nakamura

Third-generation of Naka's legacy, Bobby brings over 30 years of industry experience, a passion for design, and a love for food and travel.

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