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How to hang pencil pleat curtains

pencil pleat curtains made to measure

A simple guide on how to hang your pencil pleat curtains – and how to make a great job of it! If you’ve taken time to choose a beautiful fabric to enhance your home, and (hopefully!) chosen to have your curtains made by our expert makers, then you’ll want to hang your curtains properly to make them, and your room, look amazing.

rating beginner

Time needed: 30 minutes.

  1. First, have a look at the header tape

    Before you start to hang your pencil pleat curtains, take a look at the header tape. There are rows of strings on the header tape which are used to gather up the pleats. Our makers will sew these off at one end, which will be the leading edge, where the curtains meet. Your curtains might be different, so if the strings are not sewn in, tie them off at one end and try to have that as the edge where the curtains meet.

  2. Measure up!

    Measure your curtain pole or track and divide the number by two. This is roughly how wide each curtain needs to be; add a little bit extra so that your curtains are a little bit wider than they need to be so that they will close comfortably.

  3. Gather up

    Pull the unknotted strings to gather the curtains until they are just a bit wider than half the track; this is how you give the pencil pleat curtains their nice even gathers. Make sure you pull all the strings evenly so that the header tape gathers up evenly, then tie off the long end to keep your curtains gathered. Don’t cut the cord, just in case you want to move or adjust your curtains; you can bundle up the strings, pop them in a bag, or use a cord tidy if you like.

  4. Now do some maths…

    Count up how many curtain rings or gliders you have on your pole or track. This is the total number of hooks you need. Now divide that number in half. This is the total number of hooks you need on each curtain

  5. Then add your hooks

    Space out your hooks on the header tape before you start to put them in; a nice even spread will make your pencil pleat curtains hang evenly. You’ll see that the tape has several rows of pockets for the hooks; you need to make sure that you use the same row all the way along and on both curtains. For curtains on a pole you can use the top row of pockets, but for a track it’s better to use a lower one so that the top of the curtain hides the track. You’ll need a hook at the outside edge, and one a tiny way in from the inside edge for the best finish. Make sure you put the hooks into pockets.

  6. Ready to hang

    Now you are ready to hang your curtains. Before you start, consider how heavy your curtains are; for large or heavy curtains, it can be really helpful to have an assistant for this bit, to take the weight of the curtains while you hang them. As you already have the right number of hooks atached to your header tape, simply hook each one into a ring or glider, working from the outside edge and making sure that the hook at the outside edge goes into the fixed ring or end glider to keep your curtains in place.

  7. You’re done!

    Pencil pleat curtains are a classic look that suit almost every room. Hanging them properly is the finishing touch to set off your investment in your home.

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How to apply roller blind backing

We sell roller blind backing by the metre, so that you can achieve a professional-looking finish at home with the fabric of your choice by just following these simple steps.

If you have a roller blind which needs replacing but your fixings are still perfectly ok, or you want a roller blind to match other window dressings in your room such as curtains, making your own blind will give you more choice, but for your blind to work smoothly you’ll need a specially treated roller blind fabric.

Ready- stiffened fabrics are available but this limits your choice. You could opt for a spray-on stiffener, but these can be messy and tricky to get right. The best solution we’ve found in our workroom is an iron-on roller blind backing. Using this backing you can use most fabrics as roller blind fabric, so long as it can take a hot iron and is not too thick to roll up once it is stiffened. Here’s our top tips to get it right!

If you need help measuring your window and then see our guide on how to measure for a Roman blind.

You will need:

  • Show Fabric (the fabric for the front of your blind)
  • Roller blind backing fabric
  • Steam iron
  • Large clean surface to iron on. You may like to protect the surface with a folded duvet cover or towel)
  • Tailor’s chalk (you can use a pen/pencil instead)
  • Tape measure
  • Set square (or something to ensure corners are right angles)

Time needed: 1 hour.

  1. Before you start:

    Make sure you have enough space to work, and that you have gathered everything you need. When choosing your show fabric, look at fabrics suitable for curtains; they’re heavier than dressmaking fabrics, but lighter and easier to work with than upholstery fabrics. You can use the Find My Fabric search tool on our webshop to guide you; cotton or poly cotton blends work really well, but always check the manufacturer’s care instructions before ironing, or test a piece of the fabric with a medium-hot iron.

  2. Calculating the amount of fabric

    Both the the show fabric and the backing are calculated in the same way. The width of each piece should be a minimum of 2cm (1″) wider than the finished size of your blind. So if your blind is 100cm wide when finished, you need at least 102cm. More overhang than this is fine, don’t cut it back, leave it to trim later. For the length, add 30cm (12″) more to your finished drop, to allow for turning at the bottom and top. Patterned show fabrics may need extra material to get the perfect pattern placement, or if you are doing multiple blinds, pattern matching.

  3. measuring and marking up

    Place your roller blind backing right side (smooth side) down onto a clean, flat surface. Measure out the required size of your blind plus the additional measurements (width +2cm and length +30cm). Draw this onto the wrong (shiny) side of the backing. Use the set square to make sure the corners are at 90 degrees or it won’t roll up smoothly and will look wonky! Once you are happy with the marking out, cut out the backing.

  4. Prepare your show fabric

    You should press your show fabric now to remove any creases or wrinkles before the next step. Take time to examine the pattern, if relevant. This is especially important with a large or bold pattern.

  5. Deciding on pattern placement

    Pattern placement is important for a balanced looking roller blind and a professional finish. If you have a large print consider centering a prominent feature such as a flower or bird. You should check where your pattern will be at the top and bottom of your blind. Remember to allow for turnings at the top (usually 20cm) and at the bottom, (usually 10cm), but this can vary depending on the type of cassette you are using, so check the manufacturer’s recommendations. Mark around the edge of where you would like your blind to sit on the pattern with a few pins.

  6. Postion your backing on the show fabric

    Put your show fabric right side down and position the piece of backing, you cut earlier, onto the fabric lining it up with the pins. You can now mark around it with chalk and remove the pins once you are happy its positioned correctly. If your fabric is plain, then position the backing directly onto the show fabric in the same way, and mark with chalk.

  7. prepare for ironing

    Set up the area you are going to be ironing on. If you are using your kitchen table, protect the surface with a large towel or blanket, make sure it is smooth and flat. Check that your show fabric is right side down, and that you have the wrong sides are together, so the bobbly glue side of the backing is against the back of the fabric.
    With your fabric and roller blind backing lined up and your table is protected, you now can begin ironing! Set your iron to a medium to high temperature.

  8. Iron on the backing

    Begin ironing from the centre of the blind backing, working outwards in circles of increasing size and continuing this process all the way to the outer edges of the backing. You will need to press and hold the iron down firmly and apply steam, being careful not to move too quickly and cause wrinkles. To ensure that all of the backing has stuck down properly, look at the fabric from a low angle in good light; this will show up any bubbles that may still be there. If this is the case then use the iron to push these bubbles out to the edge of the fabric so that the air can be released. Check around the edges and ensue that they are firmly sealed together; you’ll find that having the extra 1cm either side helps to ensure a good seal right to the very edge.

  9. Cut to finished size

    Cut the bonded show fabric and roller blind backing down to the correct size of your finished blind. Trim off 1cm each side leaving the extra 30cm (12″) you allowed on the length. This will be used for the turning on the bottom and for attaching the bind to the cassette. Follow the instructions for your cassette when attaching the stiffened blind fabric to it.

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How to hang a Roman Blind

Here’s some simple instructions on how to fit the cords and hang a roman blind using the traditional batten and cord system – if you are using a cassette it will be different. You should already have a batten fixed above your window, with the Velcro and eyelets attached; if you need some help on how to do this see our guide on how to fix a batten for a Roman blind. This guide will also help you to replace worn parts in an existing blind.

rating beginner

Time needed: 30 minutes.

  1. Threading the cords


    Lay the roman blind face down on a clean table or surface. Thread the cords though the eyelets from the top of the blind to the bottom and secure them by threading through the safety device. You now need to decide on which side you would like the pull cord, as this will affect the direction the cords are threaded in the next step.

  2. Fixing the blind to the batten


    Secure the blind onto the batten by pressing the Velcro strips together. Threading the cords is easiest if you are able to stand in front of the window but behind your blind, if you can reach the eyelets on the batten from here.

  3. Attach the cords to the batten

    Thread the cords through the corresponding eyelets on the batten. Either work left to right (cord will hang on the left) or right to left (cord will hang on the right). Thread all of the loose ends through your wooden acorn to keep them together and tie a loose knot to stop them slipping back through. Do not cut off the excess at this point.

  4. Adjusting the cord length

    In order to ensure you have the correct length of cord, pull your roman blind up and down a few times to make sure it runs level. To determine where to cut, you should let the blind hang all the way down so that the acorn will be at its highest point. You should have a short distance between the last eyelet on the batten and the acorn. Tie a small knot here to keep the cords together and then cut off the excess, the knot should be hidden inside the acorn when it is pulled down over it.

  5. Adjustment

    If you find that your blind has moved slightly after your adjustments and is no longer level, you can fix this easily by pulling one or more of the cords through the safety devices on the bottom of the blind, adjusting where it hangs longer or shorter.

  6. Fixing the cleat

    The cleat should be secured next to the blind cord at least 1.5m above the floor, this, along with the blind safety devices is to reduce the risk of strangulation in small children. The cleat requires two screws to be screwed through it and into the wall (or other fixing point) in order to secure it.
    Safety note: When the Roman Blind is pulled up the cord must be fully wrapped around the cleat, so that there is no excess hanging down for small children to be able to reach.

  7. Your blind is ready to use!

    Remember, you can also use this guide to replace the parts on a roman blind when they become broken or worn, keeping your blinds in perfect condition for years to come. At Livingstones we believe we should all able to repair our things, so we sell roman blind cord by the metre.

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How to measure for a Roman blind

Roman Blinds make smart window furnishings and can add a sleek, classy finish to a room. Whether you are making the blind yourself or one of our professional makers is making it to your specifications, it is important to get the measurements right. If we’re making your roman blinds and you’re not sure about measuring up yourself, one of our makers will be happy to come out and measure up for you if you live in our local area – just ask us for a quote.  

rating beginner

Time needed: 20 minutes.

  1. Look at your window

    Firstly, decide if the blind is going to hang outside of the window or sit in the recess. Consider how much space you have around your window, and where you could fit the batten or cassette. At this point you will need to decide what kind of system you will use to hang your blind and what fixings are available.

  2. Accurate measuring

    We recommend a metal rule or a new fabric tape to ensure the tape is accurate. Remember, our makers can only be as accurate as your measurements! Take measurement in at least 2 to 3 places if you are hanging the roman blind in a recess. This is especially important in an older property, as the walls are very often not as straight as they seem, and if we haven’t taken account of this it can lead to the blind catching.

  3. What to measure

    Measure the width, which is across the whole area you want the blind to cover, and the drop.
    Width: When hanging a roman blind outside the window recess it is usual to take the blind at least 5cm/2″ outside the recess at each side and above the window.
    Drop: Consider where you want the blind to finish; this can be in line with the sill, just above a radiator or even down to the floor.

  4. Units are important

    We are ‘bi-lingual’ in centimeters and inches here at Livingstones, although we tend to leave the millimetres to carpenters. You can bring your measurements for your roman blind to us in either unit, but please stick to one or the other to avoid confusion, and make sure you tell us which you’ve used!

  5. Need to know more?

    You’ll find more information on Roman blinds including how to make them in our free tutorials. Follow this link for more how to guides, plus lots of other helpful tips for your sewing projects. Alternatively, If you would like one of our professional makers to hand-make you a beautiful roman blind, then please get in touch.

Measuring