Sew Easy Cartridge Pleats – A Tutorial

Are you familiar with window treatments made with Cartridge pleat detailing?


They normally have a very contemporary look.

Cartridge Pleats

Being more of a traditionalist, I’ve never been that wild about them…until I saw a picture of cartridge pleat panels with a wide fringe.

This white cotton trim was only $6.99/yard at Hob Lob – a bargain for a 5″ fringe.

I published the tutorial for these lined panels last week, left as simple clip panels.

Lined Drapery Panel Tutorial

This outdoor fabric is very stiff.  You might remember I didn’t add buckram to this header – due to the fabric’s stiffness.

I also stitched the header along the lower edge of the turned-down part, knowing it was visible from the front.  Look closely.  Can you see it – about 4″ from the upper edge?

Clip Top Panels

It made everything easier to manage while sewing the cotton macramé-look fringe onto the header, and the stitch line is hidden under the trim.

I stitched the trim’s edge 2 inches from the panel’s upper edge.

Sewing Trim to Header

The tape trick (above) really helps keep everything aligned.  (Who needs pins?)

After sewing the trim along the top and side edges, I pressed it to get everything smooth and even.

Pressing Fringe

To form the cartridge pleats, you’ll need to mark your panel as you would for any other type of pleat.

Let’s Mark Pleats the Easy Way!

Fold your panel in half and stretch out on a flat surface.

The fold is the center of your middle pleat.  Measure 3″ from the fold and place marking pins there on the upper and under  fabrics.  Center pleat is marked.

From the center pleat pins, measure over another 3-1/2″ for the space between pleats and place pins there in the upper and under fabrics.  Now measure 6″ from those pins and mark the upper and under fabrics for the pleats on each side of the center pleat.

Marking for Pleats

From those sets of pins, repeat the 3-1/2″ and 6″ markings above for your final sets of pleats.  Both ends remaining at your side hems should be around 3″ and equal.  If not exactly equal, it’s close enough.

Now fold the 6″ measurement sections in half and pin each pleat together.

Pinning Pleats

Here are all five pleats, pinned and ready for sewing.  (If you need further clarification, see my Pinch Pleat Drapery Panel Tutorial.)

Pinned Pleats

Stitch each pleat from the upper edge straight down into the panel 3″-4″ – beside the pleat fold (3″ from fold).  I stitched deeper into the panel, about 4-1/2″ to the final cross-thread of the fringe.

Stitching Pleats

Again, the tape edge at 3″ from needle helps to keep the stitch line straight.

Now for the fun part…the easy and totally transforming part.

Cut short sections of pipe insulation (from the plumbing section of home improvement store).

Cutting Insulation Sections

Pull cut opening apart and bring one edge inside the other.

Preparing Insulation Roll

Squeeze roll to tighten it as you insert into each pleat opening.  Open roll as much as possible to fill the pleat and make everything snug.

First Insulation Roll in Pleat

Repeat until all pleats are filled with insulation.

Cartrodge Pleats Complete

Woohoo!  You’re done!

Cartridge Pleat Panels

The macramé fringe looks sort of 1970’s, doesn’t it?

Cartridge Pleat Panels

Next up for this bedroom?  Pillow shams, of course…coming soon, y’all.  🙂

Have you made cartridge pleats?  Did they look similar to these?


125 px Signature

I’m sharing this post at Metamorphosis Monday.


  1. Libba Criddle says

    The fringe looks great on this. I’ve been thinking about adding fringe to the headers in my living room, and this makes me want to do it even more.

  2. Sheryll & Critters. says

    Okay, how in the world did you ever think of the insulation for the poof pleats? I wonder if those smaller pool noodles would also work. I got a couple of those for a dollar each at the Dollar Tree to use for pipe insulation. The one the plumber used did not last at all. Very cute draperies. Just out of curiosity, do they completely close or cover the entire window? Reason I am curious is because the outdoor fabric plus lining must insulate very well. It sure is gorgeous fabric.

    And I have never even heard of cartridge pleats, but I love them.

    • says

      I didn’t think of it myself. I learned it in the Craftsy Drapery class! All types of headers are covered, and the instructor showed how to use the insulation pieces. It’s very cheap and rolls nicely for it. You can easily trim it if needed, too. It was nice to have this little tidbit of info tucked away when these panels formed into my imagination. Sheryll, these panels do meet in the middle to close all the way. Notice the rod mounts are just over the window casing edge. No room to stack them back! 🙂

  3. says

    Great tutorial. Love the added fringe on the header. It really makes a great accent. The white fringe is well-proportioned/balanced with the white window casting, this is spot on. This is perfect Kim. Another great treatment!
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  4. Jaybird says

    Great idea!! I love your curtains! Please give me a word of explanation regarding the tape/fringe….
    I can’t see it in the picture and I’m hoping it’s a trick that I can use since I apply quite a bit of trim on various projects.
    Many thanks for any info!
    Blessings to you,

    • says

      Thank you! I’m sorry about not explaining the tape trick in more detail. I’ve explained in other posts, so I didn’t want to be redundant. But, maybe you weren’t around for those posts! I’m glad you’re here now. 🙂 I place a piece of painter’s tape or masking tape on the machine at the distance from the fabric edge I want my stitch line to be. It saves marking or pinning. In this case with sewing the fringe, I kept the fabric lined against the tape as I stitched along a consistent line of the fringe. It was very easy to sew without pinning the fringe first. Please let me know if I’m not being clear and you’d like further explanation.

      • Jaybird says

        YAAYYY for you….what a great idea!!!
        I will put it to work THIS weekend as I am adding fringe to the leading edge of a pair of drapes.
        My task now is to go back and read past posts…there will be lots of things for me to learn.
        I REALLY appreciate your help AND inspiration!