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What are French Pleat Curtains?

Last Updated Jun 30, 2011 · Written by Rob Schneider

Choosing curtains for your home is more than just choosing the right fabric colours and designs to go with the rest of your home decor. As is true with so many other things, "it's the little things that count." One of the "little things" that many home decorators overlook is the type of pleating that they choose for their curtains. This is often simply because they are unaware of the different options that are available. Should you choose pencil pleats, inverted pleats, French pleats or something else? For that matter, what are French pleat curtains? How do they differ from the rest?

Curtain Pleat Styles

Some of the more common curtain heading or pleat styles include the following:
  • Gathered pleats consist of an unbroken series of pleats with a ruffled appearance.
  • Pencil pleats, like gathered pleats, are gathered together in an unbroken row. Their longer, narrower "pencil" pleats give them a more sophisticated appearance than gathered pleats.
  • Double pleated curtains consist of a series of two pleats divided by long (up to 100mm or more) flat sections of curtain.
  • French pleat curtains are also called triple pleat curtains. They have a more formal and elegant appearance than double pleated curtains.
While French pleat curtains are often the curtain of choice for traditional and period style interiors, they are also used in modern and post modern interiors, giving a touch of sophisticated elegance to neutral toned fabrics that might otherwise have a monotonous appearance. French pleats can be used on either poles or tracks, giving them even more versatility and distinction. In a formal setting, French pleats are the preferred choice for curtain panels.

The most distinctive feature of French pleats is in the way they drape, producing wide folds when the curtains are closed and neat rows of tight folds when opened. They are also ideal if you want to tie your curtains at the waist in an hourglass form.

French pleat curtains can be made from any fabric, but are especially suitable for heavy fabrics such as velvet or damask. Well-made French pleat curtains will made made from a generous amount of fabric - usually about 2 1/2 times the width of the window. For best effect, the pleats should flare slightly at the top rather than be pinched tightly together.

Maintaining French Pleat Curtains

If there is a downside to French pleat curtains, it is maintenance. The heavy fabrics they are constructed from is part of the problem. You can't just take them down and easily wash them when they get dirty. The pleats themselves are another part of the problem, as they can collect dust and cobwebs if not regularly maintained.

The best way to maintain French pleat curtains is to vacuum them regularly, paying special attention to the creases and folds. If you keep them clean, dirt and debris can't work their way into the fabric.

While French pleat curtains may require more maintenance than some other curtain treatments, most decorators agree they are worth the extra effort. They can give a room that extra touch of elegance that is unmatched by other window treatments.
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