From a designer's perspective, drapery is one of those key elements in any rooms that helps the room feel finished. Their presence in a room can dramatically change a room to either be formal or informal, or contemporary or traditional. Often times it is the type of pleat used that plays the crucial role in determining the finished style of the drapery.
Yes, you'll notice that I left out the fabric in the above paragraph. That was completely intentional. There are millions of fabric options and the style of the room often dictates the type of fabric selected for the room. Fabric content, pattern, etc. will all come into play when selecting drapery fabric that fits the particular style of your room.
Moving on the pleat styles...open up any drapery design book and you'll see a huge range of pleat styles and looks, from incredibly ornate to simple, contemporary forms. While every pleat style has its place, we at JBi definitely have our favorites - pinch pleats (euro or regular style), grommets and ripple-fold to name a few. I'll throw in one extra style for good measure, something for the more traditionally minded folks.
The pinch pleat is probably the most well known pleat style. The pleat is made by gathering fabric together at regular intervals along the top of the fabric panel. The number of gathers in the pleat are called "fingers." A two-fingered pleat has two gathers, a three-fingered pleat has three and so on. If the pleat is made by gathering the fabric some distance down from the top of the panel (usually about 2 inches), this is called a pinch pleat. When the pleat is gathered at the top of the panel, the pleat is known as a Euro pleat.
For a distinctly contemporary look, many use either a grommeted look or ripple-fold. These have similar looks but use different methods to create the look. A grommeted panel has large metal rimmed holes punched in the top of the panel through which a rod or taut wire is run. The fabric simply creates an "S" shape along the hanging mechanism. Ripple-fold drapery has the same "S" shape but is created by using a special connection from the top of the drapery to ripple-fold track. The track allows the drapery to easily be moved across the length. A measured string is used inside the track to keep the "ripples" at equal distances along the hardware, thus the name ripple-fold.
For good measure, let's look at one more pleat style, something on the more traditional side of things. The reverse box pleat is one of my favorite styles for a more traditional look. Think a pleat but in reverse - the part of the pleat that normally is in the back comes out to the front of the panel and are then connected. Sometimes a button or other decoration is used to connect the pleats in reverse. This type of pleat style is best used for fixed panels.
I hope this quick primer gives you some ideas on what to do with your next drapery project. Happy drapery-ing!