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DIY Pinch Pleat Curtains (Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains)


How to Cheat at Pinch Pleated Curtains (Minimal Sewing Required!)

Want the timeless look of pinch pleated curtains without the cost or frustration?  This easy tutorial for DIY pinch pleat curtains will show you how to pinch pleat store-bought curtains.  Also, I give tips on how to make your own curtain rings with binder rings and paper clips.  You won’t believe how much more functional these rings are, not to mention they are almost free!

This DIY tutorial is for you if:

  • You don’t like the look of sloppy curtains.
  • You love the classy look of pinch pleated curtains but not the price!
  • You have minimal sewing skills (like myself!)
  • You want to be able to easily take down your curtains to throw in the washer.

(As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclosure HERE).

If you are curious or in a hurry:

This is the exact pleater tape and pleater hooks I use.  There are several different types but these work best for this tutorial:  Pinch Pleat Tape, Short Neck Pleater Hooks

How to Pinch Pleat Ready-Made Curtains 

There’s something about pleated curtains that adds an extra touch of class to any room.  They add timeless sophistication that never goes out of style.  Think Reese Witherspoon meets Miss Mustard Seed.

For those of us that love the look but not the price, they aren’t the easiest curtains to sew and they aren’t always the cheapest option when it comes to window treatments.   Fortunately, I found a way to give you the best of both worlds by using store-bought (Target) curtains and adding a pinch pleat with minimal sewing required.  (I use the term sewing loosely.  If you can sew a somewhat straight line, you can do this; I promise!)

add a pinch pleat to store bought curtains

How do Pinch Pleat Curtains Work?

Pleats are added to give curtains a more tailored look while helping them to flow in and out without the bottom becoming too full and taking up too much space from the window.  In other words, they keep your curtains from looking sloppy and naturally give them a more structured look.   

Traditional pinch pleats are made by a process of hemming, marking, pressing, pinning, folding, pinning again, and hemming one last time.  If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is.  You can read more about the traditional way to sew pinch pleated curtains in this article: How to Make Pleated Curtains

Popular Types of pleated curtains

There are a few different types of pleated curtains to choose from depending on your style.  Also, it’s important to note that all curtains are technically pleated.

  1. Flat Drapery Pleat – These are plain-old, run of the mill curtains with clip rings.  You might see the term “Flat Panel Curtains” also used.
  2. French Drapery Pleat (or Pinch Pleat) – This is the type we will be making today and it is the most common style of curtain pleat that forms 2 or 3 folds and then comes together 3 to 5 inches from the top of the curtains.
  3. Grommet Pleat – These are the curtains you see often with the metal grommets that the rod goes through.
  4. Rod Pocket – This is where a pocket is sewn at the top for the rod and the fabric gathers when the curtain is pushed to either side.  The negative of these is that often times they are not easy to open and close, they can only open as far as the gathering at the top will allow and also they don’t always stay in place.*

*I explain how to convert rod pocket curtains into pinch pleat curtains at the end of this post.

For more styles of curtains, you can check out this article on Drapery Pleat Styles.

DIY Pinch Pleat Curtains: Supplies Needed:

Pleater Tape – There are SEVERAL types to choose from but be sure to get this kind: Drapery Pleat Tape

Pleater Hooks – Again, there are several types and styles to choose from but this kind works best – Traverse Short Neck Pleat Hooks

2″ Binder Rings

2″ Paper Clips

Spray Paint – My favorite is Rustoleum Metallics in Oil-Rubbed Bronze.

Thread to Match Your Curtains

Store-Bought Curtains – (see links to mine below).

Want to Spend Less Than $10 on Curtain Rods? Check out my post on Restoration Hardware-Inspired Curtain Rods.  I also share my favorite inexpensive brackets and DIY Finials.

Steps to Add a Pinch Pleat to Store-Bought Curtains

Step 1: Prep Your Curtain Hardware

Stop! Before you do anything…take a before pic.  When you’re done, post the before and after pics here, so I can see the amazing work you’ve done! ❤️

Now is a good time to spray paint your binder rings and paper clips so they can be drying while we work on the curtains themselves.

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

In a well-ventilated area, spray paint your rings and paper clips the same color to match your curtain rod. (To spend less than $10 on curtain rods, see my post here: Restoration Hardware Inspired DIY Curtain Rods.) 

Let the spray paint dry for at least 24-48 hours.

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

Why I Use Paper Clips and Binder Rings for Curtain Hardware:

  1.  ALMOST FREE – These cost mere pennies while a set of curtain rings will cost you around $14.00.
  2.  EASY TO TAKE DOWN CURTAINS FOR WASHING – You can easily take down your curtains WITHOUT having to remove the entire rod from the brackets.  You just undo each binder ring and they are down!  This is especially helpful when dealing with bay window rods and you can see how to make your own here – DIY Bay Window Curtain Rods on a Budget.
  3. EASILY ADJUSTABLEPerhaps my favorite reason for using binder rings and paper clips for curtain rod hardware is that you can have another height option to hook your curtains onto.  The two loops of the paper clips give you two places where you can hook on the pleater hooks.

“So why does this even matter, Karin?”  Have you ever hung curtains to realize that your store-bought curtains were longer on one side than the other?  Well, on that long side you can hook to the higher loop using the paper clips.  That means you don’t have to rehang your brackets or buy new curtains.

Have you ever washed curtains and they shrank up? In that case, you can just put your curtains on the lower loop instead of buying new curtains or rehanging your brackets.

Have you ever changed flooring to realize that all of your curtains in your house were now too short or too long?  Now you can just change the loop you hook them on and it saves you from having to re-hem every curtain in your house!

A few years ago we had a flood, as I described in my post From Beauty to Chaos, and we had to get new flooring in the entire house.  We went from carpet to vinyl plank through the whole house and as a result, all of our curtains were suddenly way too short.  So, instead of having to re-hem all 28 curtain panels or move the brackets, I just hung them on the lower level when it was time to put them up again.  It was amazing!  Who would have thought paper clips and binder rings can save you so much time and money?!?

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

Step 2:  Buy Curtains or Use Your Existing Curtains and Add a Pinch Pleat

How to Pinch Pleat Store-Bought Curtains

You can do this one of two ways.  Before you buy your curtains, you want to measure the height that you want your curtains, taking into account the height of the rings and paper clips.  For tips on knowing the right height for new curtains, check out this post: Easy, DIY Curtain Rods

How to Pinch Pleat Your Existing Curtains

If you are using rod pocket curtains, you might need to move up your brackets because now we have to take into account the height of the paper clips and rings.  If you did not wash your curtains before hanging them, now is a great time to do that because they might shrink a tad which would work in your favor!

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

Now you want to make sure your pleater tape is lined up correctly against the back of your curtain.

Line it up about 1/4 inch from the top and also so that the pockets closest to each end are about half an inch from the edge.  Cut off any extra tape.

Make sure the little holes that the pleater hooks will go into are on the bottom of the tape.  This is important – ask me how I know!

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

Step 3: How to Pinch Pleat Curtains with Tape

Pin your pleater tape and hem the edges of the tape right on the top gold seam and I like to hem right between the bottom two gold seams.  Be sure you don’t hem over the openings to the little pockets at the bottom.  Use a thread that matches your curtains.

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

 Step 4: How to Attach Pinch Pleat Curtain Hooks

Now that you have finished sewing the pleater tape to your DIY pinch pleat curtains, you can decide where you need to add the hooks.

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

Fold your curtain in half length-wise to find the midway point.  Add your middle hook there.

Pleater Hook Tip: It’s easier to insert the hooks by first putting all four of the ends of the hooks in the mouths of the little pockets and THEN push the hook up instead of trying to push one end all the way up at a time.

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

In your package of hooks, you will see four end hooks. Put one of these on each end at the first pocket.

How to Space Pleater Hooks Evenly – This might take a little trial and error but each of my pleats had 2 empty pockets in between.  However, the math didn’t work out perfectly so there was one on the end with three pockets in between.  THAT IS OK.  No one will be able to tell because you will scrunch them at even widths when they are hung.

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

Step 5: How to Hang Pinch Pleat Curtains

Now that you have all of your pleater hooks spaced evenly, you can hang your curtains.  If you don’t like how your hooks are spaced, just take them out and readjust their spacing.  That’s one of the beauties of this method!

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

Clip your binder rings and paper clips to your rod like so.

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

Now simply hook the curtains on and you are done!!!  

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains


Now that you are done, I’d love to see how it turned out!  Post your before and after photos here!

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

Making a Pinch Pleat Curtain Look Even Better with Drapery Weights

Sometimes new curtains or recently washed curtains can be a little unruly so I added some curtain weights to the bottoms to give them a more streamlined, professional look.

I didn’t even bother sewing them.  I just hot glued one on the inside corner of each curtain panel!  How’s that for lazy easy?!?

Here are the curtain weights I used: Drapery Lead Weights

add a pinch pleat to store bought curtains

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store bought curtains

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

How to Add a Pinch Pleat to Curtains – FAQ’s:

Can you wash DIY pinch pleat curtains?

You absolutely can!  In fact, the DIY version is easier to wash than traditionally pinch pleated curtains.  Also, the binder rings make taking the curtains down for washing so much easier.

Can You Convert Rod Pocket curtains to Pinch Pleated Curtains?  

That’s exactly what I did with my Target store-bought curtains that were rod pocket.  I just ignored the pockets at the top and hemmed the pleater tape on the inside back of the curtains as normal.  If you don’t like the extra hem at the top from the rod pockets, you can remove it with a seam ripper after sewing on the pleater tape.  I just left mine because they are barely visible

How to convert pinch pleat curtains to rod pocket?

If later you decide to go back to the rod pocket curtains, just easily remove the pleater tape with a seam ripper and add a hem about 2 inches from the top of the curtain to act as your rod pocket.

What size pinch pleat curtains do I need?

That depends on the spacing of your pleater hooks but in most cases, you will assume that each curtain will cover half its actual width once it is pleated.  So, keep that in mind especially for functional curtains.  In my home, we have wood blinds so the curtains are mostly decorative.  But as I said, you will assume that each panel will cover half it’s actual width once it is pleated.

Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

Renovated Thinking:

As I mentioned, I’m not much of a seamstress.  I can sew just enough to hem the bottom of a curtain or maybe even make a throw pillow.

As I sewed the tape onto the tops of my curtains a couple verses popped into my head from one of my favorite psalms:

LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.  Psalm 139:1-6

Our heavenly Father “hems us in, behind and before.”  I’d heard that phrase several times before but had never given it much thought until now.

As I hemmed the curtains, I realized that even in the midst of today’s chaos, God gives us protection, guidance and peace that can only come from His Hand.

For our actions and lives are not a culmination of random events but as His children He secures us, protects us and provides for our needs.

He defends our path from every possible angle.  He protects us and intercedes in the hardships of our past.  He leads and guides us into the uncertainties of the future and he secures and comforts us in the events of the present.

In a world where chaos is the norm, we can rest assured that our God has firm control of our lives, giving us peace to know He will never leave our side in the path before us.


Add a Pinch Pleat to Store Bought Curtains

DIY Curtain Finials from Cabinet Knobs

More Posts Related DIY Pinch Pleat Curtains:

Final Thoughts on Pinch Pleated Curtains and DIY Curtain Hardware

I love my DIY pinch pleated curtains so much that I used this same technique for almost every curtain panel in our whole house.  Most of all, I like the fact that you cannot mess it up as it requires very minimal sewing for non-sewers like myself.  Also, the easy DIY rings made from binder rings and paper clips were the icing on the cake to make this project not only super cheap but user friendly.  Now, start measuring so you can add pinch pleats to your own curtains!

If you want to save this post for later, pin it here:

add a pinch pleat to store bought curtains

make your own curtain rings

What are your thoughts, my friend?  Do you think this project was worth it?    I love to hear your feedback and questions!  Scroll down to leave a comment and I WILL reply! ❤️



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How to Pinch Pleat Ready-Made Curtains with Pleater Tape


  1. hi, maybe i missed it in your tutorial, but how much fabric do you “lose” through the pleating process? for example, if i have a panel that’s 30 inches wide, does it end up being like 20 inches wide after pleating? i’m trying to figure out how much “extra” fabric i need (e.g. how wide of panels i need) to ensure my drapes reach all the way across the window after being pleated. thank you!

    1. With my drapes, they didn’t quite reach all the way across the window after I pleated them but I also have blinds so that was ok. I know that probably doesn’t help you much but I want to say mine were about half the width of the original fabric but it all depends on how many pleats you use. Thank you Heather!

  2. Please share where you got the white curtains; I’ve fallen in love with the look of the DIY pinch pleats and I’ve been searching for white curtains for the longest time!

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