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How do I Choose the Best Pencil Pleat Curtains?

By Marlene de Wilde
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pencil pleat curtains are a popular hanging style and a common type of curtain. The pleats are deep, and the end result should be neat and even. The best pencil pleat curtains for each room and window depends on the weight of the fabric used, as well as the style of furnishings in the room. The tighter the pleat at the top of curtain, the more folds there are and the fuller the drape.

There are many types of curtains nowadays, ranging from the more traditional box pleat and pencil pleat curtains to the more modern tab tops and eyelet styles. The latter examples result in a simpler window dressing that uses less material than the more traditional styles, and they are easier to hang in that the curtain rod or pole slips through the tabs. There is no need for hooks.

The pencil pleats are made with the use of a curtain tape that is sewn on the back of the fabric. There are thinner tapes with two pockets of loops and thicker ones with three in the top, middle and bottom position. The cords running through the tape are pulled tight in the back of the curtain and so the pleats are formed. This type of curtain cannot be hung straight from the pole but needs plastic, nylon or zinc metal hooks, depending on the weight of the fabric. One hook for every forth pocket if using a track and every sixth or eighth pocket if using a rod is usual for a standard pencil pleat curtain.

The best way to measure for a pencil pleat curtain is to double the width of the track or rod or even go to double and half, which is two and a half times the width. This is to ensure there is plenty of fullness in the curtain after the pleats have formed. There should also be a hem allowance. There are no rules for how long the curtain should be, and personal taste dictates whether the curtain should be floor length or should end halfway between the window sill and the floor.

Choosing the right material is important, as this will affect the final appearance of pencil pleat curtains. A lighter fabric results in a softer fold while a heavier fabric looks stiffer and more formal. Should there be any patterns, these can be brought to the outside of the fold by running the hand along the fold and dictating how the curtain falls. Lining a pencil pleat curtain is a good idea, as it offers protection from the sunlight as well as insulation during the winter months.

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