HomeDecGal’s Mountain Chic: Breaking the Rules

When sewing custom window treatments, there is a set of well-known, professional standards for pleated, lined draperies.  If you own a workroom then you are probably familiar with “the rules”.

Rule #1: 4 inch doubled bottom hems

Rule #2: Allow at least two and a half times fullness

Rule #3: Spaces between pleats should be between 3 – 4 inches.

Rule #4: The amount of fabric used in each pleat should between 4 and 6 inches.

Rule #6: Use five pleats per width of fabric

By following the rules you will create perfect, consistent draperies every time.  But what if you bend or break the rules?  Will your draperies look skimpy, awkward and unprofessional?  Maybe they would, but maybe… just maybe achieving the goal, no matter how you do it, is better than following the rules. I believe that is exactly what “custom” is all about.  Plus, breaking the rules from time-to-time helps to develop new ideas and trends, allows for greater creativity and encourages problem solving.


I recently made draperies and a sheer Roman shade for the front, living room window in our new home in the mountains.  I had a limited amount of fabric for the draperies and originally thought that decorative, non-working side panels would be the solution.  I did plan for a functional Roman shade to cover the window for privacy.  Side panels would be a cinch following the rules: seven, 5-inch pleats 4-inches apart, and doubled 4 inch bottom hems.  Once the temperature dropped I was wishing for traversing, interlined draperies that could be drawn closed on cold winter nights, insulating the window and keeping the room cozy and warm.  But I didn’t have enough fabric if I followed the rules!  Yes, I could have made grommet draperies, or other styles that use minimal fullness but I was hoping for something with more detail, and texture.

In order to make my wishes come true, I had to start breaking rules.  In addition, I thought that adding a little detail would be fun… if I could “make it work”!  The following photos show how I did it, the rules that were broken and the joy of having custom, rule-breaking window treatments in our new home.


In order to have enough fabric for a short, attached valance, I used smaller sized bottom hems (breaking rule #1) and a single fold heading.  The attached valance was made from the fabric cut off when the length was measured.  A line of stitching was sewn 1 inch above the bottom edge and the fabric was then unraveled to create the fringe.


The fringed valance piece was serged along the top edge, with 1/2-inch pressed under and placed on the front of the drapery fabric 8 inches from the top.  The valance piece was sewn to the drapery fabric on the underside and then flipped back over and pressed.  It was secured with pins so that it would stay in place while the linings were added..


The drapery was completed with lining and interlining and hand sewn side hems.  In order to have a functional, pleated drapery with less than two and a half times fullness (breaking rule #2), the spaces between the pleats had to be 5 1/2-inches (breaking rule #3) and tiny pleats using only 2 inches each (breaking rule #4).  Each panel has one and a half widths with ten pleats (breaking rule #5). The greater number of pleats creates an illusion of greater fullness.


On the sheer Roman shade, I placed the seam right in the center (breaking yet another rule!).  This might not be the best idea for all windows, but for a double window like this, the seam is hidden when light shines through the fabric.

I hope you  have enjoyed learning about my rule breaking window treatment.  It’s always good to try new things, and there is no better place to experiment than in your own home.

Best Wishes,

Susan AKA HomeDecGal


Drapery and shade fabrics - Mary Jo’s Cloth Store

Lining and interlining - Hanes Fabrics

Hardware – Helser Brothers

Shade lift system – Dofix

Shade cord safety components – Safe-T-Shade


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  1. Sharon Nichols at Mar 01, 2016 04:17:23

    Looks great!

  2. Karen at Mar 25, 2016 03:40:15

    Wow Susan the treatment looks great. I like your creativity and thinking outside the box. Thank you for sharing your thought process.

  3. Kristen Robinson at Jul 22, 2016 09:23:21

    I am having curtains made for a large window. It has 2 side windows with a center window with an arch. It is 121.75″ wide. I am using a thin fabric from RM Coco. It is 89% viscose and 11% silk. I will have the curtains hang in 4 panels. One on the left, one on the right and two center panels . I really wanted to use black out lining. My workroom told me the curtains would hang nicer if I used an interlining as well. However, I fear they will be too thick, too full. I want the curtains to be clean, neat, and narrow as possible or the center panels will cover too much of the window. The workroom has suggested using 2x fullness instead of the standard 2.5x fullness so they won’t be so thick. But I see your rule is 2.5x fullness. I am spending almost $1000 on just the fabric (no lining) alone and want to make sure I get it right. Do you think it would be better to use lining and interlining for a better look or am I ok with black out and interlining with 2x fullness. Thank you so much for any advice.

  4. Susan Woodcock at Aug 04, 2016 06:24:14

    If the fabric has a slubby weave, blackout can make it look better since light filtering through the fabric will make this more visible. It’s also good to use blackout with silk to prevent fading but you don’t have to use blackout. I do recommend interlining whether you use blackout or a sateen lining. The standard fullness is 2.5 but in some cases less fullness can help you achieve the look you want so you have received good advice from the workroom. If the panels will not be drawn closed very often, then the lesser fullness isn’t as obvious when the draperies are stacked back.
    Best Wishes,
    Susan AKA HomeDecGal

  5. Kristen Robinson at Aug 19, 2016 11:42:44

    Thank you so much for your advice!

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