Wow, custom drapes can really cost a fortune. It’s no wonder that so many people turn to Professional Interior Designers or Decorators to help them make the “right” choices when it comes to selecting their window treatments. When considering custom drapes there are a few very important components to consider, one of them is your “pleat style”. What is a “pleat” you ask? The “Pleat” or as it is often referred to as the “heading’ is the top of the drapery panel that attaches to the drapery rod or track. For literally hundreds of years this drapery headings have been “decorated” into a variety of styles that range from very classic or traditional to modern and contemporary. Let’s walk through each of the most common pleat styles for custom drapes and help you find the “right” one for your home.
The “Flat Pleat” or “Flat Panel”. A Flat drapery panel is one that does not have a pleat at the top of the drape. This is the most basic of drapery panel and is very common. With a flat panel you will attach the panel to the current rod using drapery pins which are attached to the back of the panel. The flat panel is considered to be very relaxed and casual and is often used for light weight fabrics in informal rooms. Think, a soft blowing sheer linen drapery panel in a beach cottage.
The “Rod-Pocket” Drapery Panel. A Rod-Packet panel is a Flat panel but instead of attaching to a rod by pinning it using drapery hooks, the panel is slid over the rod using a “pocket” which is sewn into the panel. While still a very casual look, the rod-pocket will remain affixed to the rod and will not “billow” like a flat panel will. A Rod-Pocket panel is the most common type of panel that you will find in your “big box” retail store. Designers will generally shy-away from Rod-Pocket Panels as they are considered to look and be “cheap” in most circles.
The “French Pleat”. So now we are moving into the more intricate pleat styles that you will find in most high-end drapery retailers. The French Pleat is extremely classic and features a fluted fold at the top of the panel which is “tacked” about three inches down from the top. The result is a fluted, almost floral looking fold that has been popular since the 17th Century. The French Pleat is considered more formal and ornate and you will find many a European Castle plenty of French Pleated Silk Drapes in their windows.
The “Parisian Pleat”. A close relative to the French Pleat is the Parisian Pleat. Like the French Pleat, the Parisian Pleat featured a three-finger fluted fold at the top of the pleat. With the Parisian Pleat, however, the fold is tacked at the top of the pleat as opposed to the bottom. The result is a “pinched” looking floral pleat where the folds are gathered at the top. This “Pinch” feature is why the Parisian Pleat is also often times referred to as a “Pinch Pleat”.
The “Inverted Pleat”. Both the Parisian Pleat and French Pleat are considered very traditional and classic. The Inverted Pleat, however, is more contemporary and modern. The Inverted Pleat is where the Seamstress creates inverted folds at the top of the drape and then stitches them from the rear of the drapery panel. The result is a very clean looking and highly tailored drapery pleat that is very “classy” but also very modern and elegant. The Inverted Pleat is used with many different types of fabrics.
The “Cartridge Pleat”. A Cartridge Pleat is formed by creating rolls in the drapery fabric which are sew into round, cylindrical cartridges. The cartridges are generally 2-3 inches in diameter and are stuffed with a pillow fill material or paper. The resulting “cartridge” is typically 4-6 inches long and they are spaced apart to match the materials pattern.
The “Grommet Pleat”. The most contemporary of all drapery pleats would have to be a “Grommet Pleat”. Grommets are usually made of brass to resist corrosion, especially when used for custom outdoor drapes and can range in size from less than an inch is diameter to over 4 inches in diameter. Drapery panels featuring grommets can be challenging to open and close and the drapery provider will often recommend a “drapery wand” to help you slide the drapery panel open and closed.
While these are the most common of drapery pleats, there are literally dozens more. Pleats that feature buttons, tabs and ribbons are common and will usually be specified by your Designer or Decorator. The most important factor in selecting the correct pleat for you drapes is to be sure that you are working with a competent Professional who can help guide you through your wide range of options. Today, custom drapes are extremely expensive and it is much better to do your homework in advance.