Today I’m going to show you how to sew Euro pleat curtains – they’re actually pretty easy to sew, but look very custom and sophisticated. The beautiful linen fabric (along with the linen fabric I used for the throw pillows – sewing tutorial soon!) was provided by Tonic Living. I used Tuscany Linen in white for the curtains, which is a medium weight fabric that has a slightly textured slub – exactly what I was looking for to create some breezy, coastal-inspired drapery.
What is a Euro Pleat?
A Euro pleat is pinched at the top, but open on the bottom, which allows the fabric to softly wave. It’s a bit looser and less structured than a pinch pleat, so I consider it a slightly more contemporary spin on a pinch pleat. Like a pinch pleat, you can have a double or triple Euro pleat (I wanted a triple Euro pleat):
I chose Euro pleats because I wanted something tailored looking, but still a bit relaxed and modern. My curtain style has definitely changed, from just using curtain rings clips to sewing back tab drapes. Euro pleat curtains are my new favorite!
One thing to note: these curtains don’t close – we made them to just fit perfectly on either side of the window. I have custom window shades in all of the bedrooms and bathrooms, which have a light blocking bottom half and then a sheer top half for filtered light during the day, so I can control the light and privacy very easily with those. I just wanted some drapes to add a little softness to the space (here’s the bedroom without curtains) – these ones are purely aesthetic but, of course, you can create curtains that will close, using this same tutorial. They will look and work exactly the same, you just need to factor in enough width for the fabric to cover the entire window.
Supplies for Sewing Euro Pleat Curtains:
- Buckram Tape (we used 3 1/2″ wide)
- Button thread
- Sewing machine
- Olfa mat (optional)
- Olfa cutter (optional) or scissors
- Measuring tape
- Straight pins (two different styles/colors work best)
- Curtain rings
- Drapery hooks (we used 3″ hooks)
Determining the Width & Sewing Together Panels of Fabric:
Because I have such a long wall and wanted really full drapes, the first thing we did was sew two lengths of fabric together to create a wider panel for each side of the window. I bet you can’t even tell from photos, because we worked it out so that the seam was in the recess of a fold – not front and center – so it is completely obscured by the softly gathered fabric.
To help you determine the fabric you require for your own drapes, here are my measurements: to create these Euro pleats we used two whole widths of fabric per finished panel, and this linen has a width of 57″. We made a 3/4″ seam to sew the two panels together, and also hemmed the edges. So in total, once sewn together, the each curtain panel is now 109.5″ wide.
The pleats we constructed are 1 1/2″ deep. Each pleat needs 3″ of fabric to make, therefore a triple like this requires 9″ of fabric. Then we spaced 5 1/4″ between each pleat. We made a total of 8 pleats per panel.
You can adjust these measurements to your liking, if you’d like the pleats deeper or more farther apart. That’s the beauty of sewing curtains yourself: you can make exactly the size and style you want, but sometimes you have to do a little figuring first, to get it to fit to your window/wall exactly.
How to Sew in the Buckram:
With the fabric panels sewed together, we prepared to sew the buckram into the top of each curtain panel. Buckram is a stiff cotton used in everything from making curtains to hats and book covers. We chose it because the linen is a really substantial weight, so it warranted a heavier and stiffer layer to help create more structured pleats. You can also use pleater tape, especially if you’re trying to create more traditional pleated curtains, but it’s a softer material. We folded over and ironed the top edge of the fabric over the buckram, then pinned the buckram into place, before sewing the top edge of the fabric down:
Then we sewed along the bottom of the buckram as well, so it is secured to the fabric:
Here’s what it looked like when we were done sewing it in place (you can also see where we sewed the two fabric panels together in this photo):
Next, we turned over the sides of the fabric twice and and ironed, before sewing the sides of the curtain panels. My Mom hand stitched the sides to prevent any machine stitching from showing on the front, but you can also just sew with a machine and coordinating thread.
Then we took the top panel of buckram we’d sewn in and turned it over once more, completely encasing it in the fabric and ironed it in place. We didn’t do any machine stitching at this point, because we didn’t want any stitching on the front of the curtain panels. You can hand sew it down at this point, or leave it ironed in place – sewing the pleats will secure it.
How to Measure for Euro Pleats:
Now we were ready to figure out some Euro pleats! Our challenge was to figure out a pleat size, and space between, that we liked the look of and would perfectly use up our curtain panel width, while also nicely fitting on either side of window. It required a little math, but here are my measurements to help you out.
Here are my measurements:
- PLEATS: 1 1/2″ deep, requiring 9″ of fabric per pleat
- SPACE BETWEEN PLEATS: 5 1/4″ between the pleats
- TOTAL WIDTH OF MY FABRIC: 109.5
We used color coded straight pins to help us mark out the parts of the pleat: yellow is the beginning and end of each pleat, and the blue is the spacing for the folds of the pleat itself:
We measured and pinned the spacing for the pleats along the entire top of the fabric panels:
After measuring it out, we sewed the pleats together – but let me just quickly show you what we used to hang the curtains, because we sewed the pleats to perfectly fit these 3″ drapery hooks:
How to Hand Sew Euro Pleats:
To shape the pleats, we folded the fabric so the yellow pins met up.
Then we accordion folded the fabric to form the triple Euro pleat:
Then we unfolded it again and pulled out the middle loop, which we sewed closed to form a 2 7/8″ by 1/2″ channel:
Here is the finished channel for the hook to slide into:
When it was sewed, it looked like this from the back:
We slipped the drapery hook into the channel we created from the back:
By sewing a 2 7/8″ channel for a 3″ long hook, we buried the hook so it wouldn’t show when the hooks were hung on the rings:
To shape the Euro pleats, my Mom actually stitched by hand and she started by sewing the pleat closed at the front of the pleats. We used clothespins to help:
My Mom used this thicker button thread:
I could only find curtain rings with clips in the finish I wanted, so I used pliers to remove the clips and was left with a little double loopy ring. You can, of course, find curtain rings with just a ring, designed to be used with drapery hooks, online, but I wanted to shop local because I was particular about matching the rings to my custom curtain rod.
Here’s how everything connects – you can see we positioned the drapery hooks so that the only the curtain ring – and not the drapery hook – will be visible:
With the curtain ring hooked on, my Mom completed the hand stitching by stitching together the back of each pleat. She sewed each yellow and blue pinned part of the pleat together and then sewed the two blue pinned sections together. Basically, you want to make sure you anchor the outside of the pleat as you’re stitching it together.
This really secured the ring nicely and kept everything straight and controlled. We tried just sewing the channel, hand stitching a bit, and then sliding in the drapery hook and ring but we weren’t getting the perfect drape. By encasing the drapery hook and also the ring right inside the pleat, it just drapes so perfectly.
You can see the drapery ring is really coming out of the middle of the pleat, not the back, which keeps it from wanting to drop forward a bit:
Here’s a look at the back of the pleat, hand stitched together:
And from the side:
Once we were finished with hand stitching the Euro pleats, we hung up the curtains, un-hemmed, and let them relax for a few days. Linen curtains can stretch a bit and I wanted the hem to drop just above the ground – no break. This linen is a pretty tight weave, so I was told by Tonic Living to expect only a 1/4″ of stretch. After a few days we ironed and hemmed the bottom, sewing a 9″ hem. My Mom sewed this by hand to prevent any machine stitching from sewing, but this is optional – you can also sew with a machine.
Here’s a Look at the Finished Euro Pleat Curtains:
I’m absolutely thrilled with how our first foray into sewing Euro pleat curtains turned out! I love how the pleats have a bit of structure, but are still loose and more organic than a traditional pinch pleat. My decor style is mid-century meets coastal, and I think these complements that so well. They’re a bit tailored and structured, but then also have this wonderful breeziness. The linen from Tonic Living was an absolute dream because it’s such a nice weight with a tight weave and beautiful slub. As I mentioned, these curtains don’t open or close so technically the room didn’t need drapes, but they add so much softness and coziness to the space. Here’s the room without the curtains – it looks naked to me now, haha. With the green window wall re-painted white, and the airy new wallpaper, the white linen drapes just create a really lovely glow in the bedroom. I know it’s cliche to say this, but my bedroom feels so dreamy now! See more of it here.
P.S. Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!