French Pleat Drapes & Curtains: Bespoke Art for Windows
Got a penchant for old-world charm? Handcrafted artistry bursting forth from every jot and tittle of the home? Well, you’re up-to-the-minute because the entire designing world seems to be pivoting towards the ornate mementos of the traditional while staying anchored in the crispness of the modern. For a window treatment under this mandate – we recommend to you – the timelessly classic French pleat drapes.
French pleats share the genealogical traits of an era when homes were an ode to immaculate craftsmanship, and grand chandeliers lit up Queen Anne chairs dressed in decadent damasks. If you’ve chanced upon us while hunting for French pleat drapes that draw on this era of regal artisanship – we promise you’ll find your perfect set of window dressings at Spiffy Spools today.
What are French Pleat Drapes?
Of the dozen curtain heading style options we offer our clients, French pleats – also known as ‘pinch pleats’ – are perhaps the most elegant blend of symmetry, precision, style, and craftsmanship. Tailored, controlled, and full, French pleats are a time-tested style that has towed down to us on the rich aesthetic sensibilities of discerning clients and formidable artisans.
A French pleat is made by gathering the fabric delicately into little folds and then pinching them together to create one pleat, thus also the name – ‘pinch pleats’. The pleats are sewn and spaced evenly apart on the curtain header allowing for a uniform gather and a controlled fall.
Based on the number of folds in a pinch, the style has two key sub-types: two-fold French pleats and three-fold French pleats.
Three-Fold Versus Two-Fold French Pleats
A three-fold pinch makes for a three-fold French pleat (or triple pinch pleat) while two folds render a slightly dressed down option called two-fold French pleats or double pinch pleats. In essence, the double pleat is a pared-down version of the triple pleat, wherein the ‘V’ shape formed by a two-fold – instead of a fuller ‘W’ of a triple – makes it a sleeker, more minimalist departure from the traditional.
While grandeur, tailored look, and architectural appeal are the common assets of both styles, clients prefer one over the other based on personal aesthetic and decor style.
Double pinch pleats are a resoundingly successful attempt to capitalize on the opulence while translating to a more relaxed and casual feel, making it the perfect candidate for modern settings and casual and semi-formal spaces. They are also a better fit for smaller-sized windows where the fullness of triple pinch drapery may overwhelm the space.
If your home is traditionally styled, browse through our damask curtains and paisley drapes collections that look breathtakingly classic in three-fold French pleats. For a modern setting, our curated linen curtains and cotton drapes sewn in double pinch style are a treasure chest at your disposal.
When shopping for pinch pleat drapes, be careful not to mix French pleats with its modern variant called Euro pleats. Read our blog post on Euro pleat drapery for further details on this contemporary cousin of the classic pinch pleats.
Top Reasons to Buy French Pleat Drapes
The USP of French Pleats is the elegance that transpires from its stitched-in pleats which generate a prolific fullness yet keep them in perfect and uniform control, like the waters cascading from a dam wall, paralleled in this restrained efficiency and unaffected charm by no other heading style. But that is not all, there is more to French pleats that should get you fixated on it for your custom drapery.
None other like it: While many of the heading styles are mass-produced and found easily within indescript aisles of big-box stores, French pleats haven’t surrendered yet to the reign of machinery. They require human touch, knowledge, and expertise in a pain-staking and time-honored craft, paralleled in its personalized approach only by haute couture. Therefore, for clients who demand more than the usual fare, and lovingly curate one-of-the-kind bespoke furnishings for their homes, there really is no drapery heading style as personal as French pleat.
Fullness and vibrance: Our French pleat drapes are typically stitched with 2.5x fullness. It takes more fabric than other heading styles which in turn translates into an opulent, full gather. The most that one can ask of drapes is the bewitching fullness that only French pleats can proffer because shades and blinds can gratify the minimalists, and grommets, tab tops and backtabs bestow a casual finish. The plenitude necessitates, therefore, that when you take the measurements, you consider the extra stacking room they need on the window sides. For small windows, go ceiling-to-floor or from window-to-floor for better results.
Full coverage: Light leakage through drapery edges can prove to be an unforeseen annoyance when it comes to blackout drapes. Some heading styles – such as tab tops and grommet tops – also let light leak through loops and grommets further exacerbating the light leakage issue. However, the heading construction of pinch pleat drapes has an edge over some of these styles – allowing for minimal leakage through the heading, making them strong candidates for bedrooms, nurseries, and other spaces that need room darkening. See our blog post on techniques for total light blockage for more details.
Versatile with hardware: Whether you have installed tracks or poles, whether you want to hide your hardware or show it off, French pleats are versatile enough to engage all your options. The versatility that makes it equally appealing with both poles and tracks and the neat finish as of a kinetic sculpture in fabric are the two wow factors that have kept the French pleats going down the centuries without retirement.
Ease of movement: Since French pleated drapes are hung with clips and rings, the ease of movement is assured, making it our top suggestion for regularly used windows. Where some heading styles like tab tops and rod pockets may not glide smoothly on poles, French pleat drapes can glide easily and are, therefore, a perfect pick for windows that require a regular operation.
How to Measure for French Pleat Drapes
Getting the measurements right is paramount for all heading styles, but especially so in French pleats drapery because the pleats are fixed and permanent. Well, you don’t have to fret your nerves; we’ve made it easy for you. Follow this guide.
Length: If hanging from a track, length should be measured from the top of the track up to the desired endpoint. This will allow for fabric to cover/hide the track itself. If you’d like your track to be visible, measure from the bottom of the track to the endpoint. If you are hanging your pinch pleat curtains from a pole, length should be measured from the underside/bottom of the pole. Or wherever you’d ideally like the top edge of the panel to sit.
In summary, to some extent, the exact final length of pinch pleat drapery is determined by your personal preference – whether you’d like your hardware to show or not, and where you’d like the top edge of drapery panel to sit/start.
Width: Measure width of your curtain pole/track. Add 7-10 inches to this measurement. This should be the final width of your panels *altogether* in a pair. For example, to cover a pole of width 70 inches, we recommend total panel width of 77-80 inches. Then depending on whether you are looking for a single wide panel or a pair, you can either order one panel that is about 80 inches wide or two panels of 40 inches each.
True craftsmanship is an amalgam of passion, industry, artistry, knowledge, and perfectionism, and what’s a better way of showcasing it in drapes than the French pleats? If you’ve made up your mind to let your home beam with fine, artistic detailing, whether it be in the form of bedroom curtains, or your closet door curtains, we are all braced up at Spiffy Spools to aid you in your sojourn.
Bonne chance et amuse-toi bien!