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27 Mar 09

Hanging Pencil Pleat Curtains

So you’ve moved into your new home, measured your windows, chosen your curtains and they’re arrived at last! But what if you’ve never hung a pair of curtains before?! Don’t panic: here is your indispensable guide to hanging your curtains like a professional!

Firstly you need to unpack your curtains. They’re probably pretty creased from sitting inside the packaging. Some customers are happy to hang the curtains and let the crease drop out over time. Others like to give them a gentle press. Either way works well but please read the pressing instructions on the label- some fabrics have special finishes (ie flocking or metallic details) that don’t respond well to the heat of an iron.


You’ll find a strip of curtain tape stitched across the top of your curtain. This heading tape will usually have three rows of string threaded through it. These strings have to be pulled in order to achieve the gathered look that you’re aiming for. But STOP! Before you go any further you need to tie a knot in one end of all of the strings or they might just come all the way through and out the other side. Sometimes the ends have been machine stitched down, but if you can, it’s always a good idea to tie them off on the outside edge of each curtain. Now you can pull up the strings! Take hold of all three and try to pull them evenly. You’re aiming for each curtain to be pulled up to the width of half of your track plus a centimeter or two for overlap. Once you’ve done this it’s a good idea to offer them up to the window to check that they are the right size, before tying off the strings. It’s also a good idea to use a slipknot for this end so that you can adjust them or undo them if you’re able to wash the curtains. Then distribute the gathering evenly across the width of the curtain.


Now that the curtains are pulled up you need to put in the curtain hooks. In most pencil pleat heading tapes there are three rows of pockets to choose from. Which pocket you choose depends on how long or short you would like your curtains to be. The benefit of having three options is that your curtains can be adjusted easily by 1 to 3 inches. Hooks should be placed in the heading tape every four pockets or so, depending on how many runners or hooks you have. Standard tracks don’t tend to be very generously supplied with runners or hooks so it’s always a good idea to buy an extra packet or two.


Your curtains are now ready to be hung! Just remember to have a friend or relative to hold the ladder for you. Make sure you support the full weight of the curtain to avoid those carefully distributed pleats from being pulled out of shape. A professional fitter would then pleat the curtains into a concertina form by pushing the fabric gently back in between the curtain hooks. He or she would then tie the pleats in place loosely with some scrap strips of fabric and leave overnight. This step can be time-consuming but is worth it in the long run as your curtains will ‘remember’ this pleating and return to form each time they are opened.


Sit back and admire your beautiful curtains!

Here is a link to our pencil pleat headed ready-made curtains.

All of our made-to-measure curtains are available with a pencil pleat heading, click here to view the range.

(54) Comments | leave a comment

Rainy London | 1 Sep 14

Oh my God, thank you so much for this. I knew I had been doing it wrong all these years and have just hung a huge pair of curtains that look beautiful in no time at all thanks to your clear tutorial.

Sheena | 13 Aug 14

I have been married for 41 years and finally I have curtains looking good. Thank you for wonderful instructions.

Annie | 8 Aug 14

Thank you fir such a clear, easy to understand article. I've hung pinch pleat curtains before but didn't know how to make my new pencil pleat curtains look right. Now they look great!

Ms Halliwell | 29 Jul 14

Thank you for the advice curtains looking great

Christina | 11 Jul 14

Well don't I feel like a numpty, my curtains have been hung wrong for ages. Perfect level of detail and very easy to understand tutorial. Thanks for the info, very useful for someone like me who has no idea what they are doing! lol

Beverley | 8 Jul 14

Great article helped a lot as my curtains are normally in place & don't have much experience with hanging pleated curtains so great help thank you

Rhona Welsh | 27 Mar 14

Big help saved me making silly mistakes

Sarah | 27 Jan 14

Don't panic bq! You need to re-thread the cords back into the curtain tape. If you get a blunt, tapestry type needle or a bodkin, you can thread the cord into the needle and stitch it back into the tape.

bg | 25 Jan 14

HELP! i have over tightened the header tape chords and now the chords have come out half way out of the track, please help! thanks wot do i do?

Mark | 9 Jan 14

Thanks for this - exactly the right level of information for us know-nothings ;-)

Donna | 3 Jan 14

Thanks so much, I know have a system to use :)

Rosalind Nelson | 29 Dec 13

Thank you so much. I am 70 years of age and have spent my life trying to make my curtains not look like a dogs dinner when they are on the window. Your advise is just great and makes is so easy. I will be using in to hang my new lounge curtains.

bill | 7 Dec 13

Thanks for this guide. It made all the difference to my first attempt at hanging new pencil pleat curtains

Karen | 28 Nov 13

Spent yesterday making my first set of pencil pleat curtains, and I'm actually quite happy with them! They are wide and long (2.7mx2.7m) and are very heavy, so I'm worried about the corded curtain pole - i think it might end up parting company with the wall or snapping the cord due to the weight of the new curtains! What's the best type of pole for the job - would I be better with a decent wood... [more]

Evelyn | 29 Oct 13

This is the first time I've understood what pencil pleat actually means! I will now go home and do this with my new curtain pole

Millie | 23 Oct 13

Thank-you! I felt like a numpty when I arrived home with my new curtains and realised I didn't have a clue how to hang them. I didn't even know I needed the plastic hooks! Your article saved the day and stopped me feeling like a complete fool.

Sarah | 11 Jul 13

Hello Gary, you only need to tie the cords at the opposite end of the curtain to the ends that you are pulling up. Although it won't do any harm to tie both ends, to be on the safe side. Sometimes the cords are stitched down at one end, but always check that they are very firmly secured before pulling.

Gary Graham | 26 May 13

Novice here. Do I need to tie the strings at both sides of each curtain? So four lots of tying in all. Mine don't have any tape along the top. And as I pull the strings it feels like they are about to snap. I know a lot of you take these steps for granted but sorry I don't quite understand.

aura | 26 Feb 13


elaine sharp | 23 Feb 13

really useful instructions that helped us put up our new full length patio door curtains much easier than i anticipated.

Maggie | 18 Jan 13

Really helpful article, thank you. Any thoughts on how to affix pencil pleat curtains to a pole to stop the final ring on each side from moving away from the fitting so the whole curtain moves across when you pull it? I have a pole from Ikea where the wall fitting is on the very ends rather than a few inches along the pole, so I can't place one ring on the end to hold it.

Malcolm | 16 Jan 13

Most helpful simple and straight forward. Thanks very much for a very good guide

Andrew Rankine | 6 Jan 13

This was the best guide I found on the net for pencil pleat curtains. Thanks so much as this guide has made my job so much easier.

karen | 21 Oct 12

Thanks alot they look amazing

Anne McClean | 13 Aug 12

I always find curtains a complete mystery so this has helped me have the confidence to buy expensive curtains that will now hopefully hang correctly. Very clear explanation thank you and I loved the tip about tying overnight in a concertina form. Will definitely try this!

Carole | 12 Aug 12

thanks your instructiion were really helpful. Helped my husband do it right :) lol

Maree | 22 Jul 12

Thank you for the precise and simple guide. Curtains look great.


I've never had much luck when it comes to hanging pencil pleat curtains. I always end up spending a fortune on the most expensive curtains and then after hanging them they always look wrong! I'd been avoiding pencil pleats because I just could never hang them, instead going for the eyelet type curtains. But now after reading the advice instructions you've given I shall give it a go, and hopeful... [more]

James Spence | 11 Jan 12

hi, very clear and useful instructions, my little girls curtains will hang perfectly in her new bedroom. thank you.

Melody | 15 Dec 11

Thank you so much. Never done it before and didn't think I could till I found this

stephanie | 28 Nov 11

Thanx so much for this helpful advice, my curtains look great

Sue Brown | 24 Nov 11

This has been so helpful. Thank you

Hefle | 3 Oct 11

Thanks - always hated having to hang new curtains/newly washed curtains. Get ratty because pleats wont come right! Will try your way



Taminol | 27 Jun 11

Just read through your guide, It will prove invaluable when I hang some 'shocking pink' curtains in my god daughters bedroom.Thanks for posting it!

m_twi | 19 May 11

fantastic guide - I wasted my old curtains by not having a clue that the tape on the back had more of a function than just a header - so happy my new curtain look amazing only thanks to this!

Sarah | 5 May 11

Best advise that I have found on the internet!!!

Rachel Wilkinson | 3 Jan 11

Best advice on the net!! Thank you so much

Salvatore | 27 Dec 10

Thank you good clear advice it pulled all of my strings

jane jones | 24 Sep 10

thank you, just needed the propper advice, been hanging curtains for years but they never looked perfect thanks to your page they are perfect

Paul Glover | 22 Aug 10

Just what I was searching for., as it is many years since I last hung curtains, and had forgotten what to do!

aysha | 13 Aug 10

it was si simple and best advice, made m y day

Lizzy | 21 Jul 10

Best article I've found (and I've been searching) for specifically how to hang these drapes, and things to watch for. Excellent!!!

richard | 27 Jun 10

Yes, best comments i found regarding hanging curtains. Ta very much

suganya | 25 May 10

exxcellent instruction told very simply,even i could do it by myself.thanks.

Julie | 8 May 10

Thank - you my curtains look great, i had completely forgotton how to hang pleated curtians thank you for excellent instructions

joan | 28 Apr 10

thanks for the advice been putting curtains up wrong for years could not get pleating right

curtains curtain curtains | 23 Apr 10

If you should forget to tie off the strings and they pull all the way through, it is possible to re-thread them using a blunt needle such as a tapestry needle.

Cher | 20 Apr 10

Fab advice, may be simple to other people,but i have always had blinds/shutters,this advice put me right cheers

Serena FitzGerald | 15 Apr 10

I wish I'd read this before I began. I've pulled the strings allthe way through :(((((((((

Laura | 20 Mar 10

Thank you so much. My mum explained over the phone how to hang curtains and it scared the life out of me but your detailed advice made it easy!! :-)

Kim | 26 Feb 10

Thank you so much for this detailed advice! I would never have been able to get my new curtains up without it.

Louise Speed | 26 Jul 09

Hi, would you recommend that the curtain pole is fixed to the wall via a baton, or not?

Sharan Dadwal | 16 Jun 09

Hi There, wow, thanks for that great bit of advice. As a furniture retailer, I always find myself advising people on ideas on setting furniture in their houses. However, I always struggle in getting my curtains up in my own home so thank you.

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