All Boxed Up (Box Pleats)

Hi Elsie here.

Box Pleats
Box Pleats are one of the most popular types of pleats for Italian Renaissance and 16th century costume. They are, basically, two knife pleats “back to back”. They are seen nowadays on some skirts.

Box pleating still used  by many for skirts and petticoats which will be worn over bumrolls. You see them in valances and on curtains as well t. Box pleats are often wider than knife pleats, but the bahese days. sic 3:1 ratio remains the same–3 inches of unpleated fabric makes one inch of pleated fabric. Box-pleats tend to puff out .

Distance of board x by 3 and add returns. Make sure your pleats fit into the distance of the board fully, no half pleats. Meaning the face of the valance ends at the end of a pleat. Always use a board, never a valance rail.


Returns are normally bigger than this especially with curtains underneath.

If you’re short fabric, you can get the effect of box pleats by pleating as shown to the right–very shallow box pleats. Naturally, you won’t have the fullness that whole box pleats would give.

Because they tend to puff out the longer the pleat the better, the weight tends to help. Also be very careful what fabric you choose otherwise they will not lay / hang properly.


See what can happen if the fabric is thick or stiff. It causes skirting on the valance. Tack stitching the corners down can help but not ideal.

You can get differently spaced pleats and pleats that are designed to fit into a pattern, this requires a different calculation .

Lovely Bay Window

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See what I mean about the longer pleats hanging better, I feel they look more elegant.

I also like it when a contrast is used on the inverted pleat.


Small bands across the top can be used, and trims along the bottom can look great.

Just watch the bulk you are creating it all effects the end result.

I have also seen them as a feature for underneath swags.

351a2a0b34ff53d9df2c70e38cf49727 (1) I find they give added depth and a softness.

You can put box pleats on curtains. Again be very careful with your fabric choice. Nothing too thick or stiff. Go with something that “drapes” well.

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Most of the time you will see them as “Static” or “none functional” curtains. I personally feel they are better as this. You will occasionally see them as working curtains but not often because it can ruin the hang and function of the curtain.

93abd6660ee2eabd758842e2451be0d5 This one is the best example I could find of a good result.

This is a lovely style valance / heading that I feel has stood the test of time from the 16th century and still looks wonderful and stylish today. Especially on tall windows.

Thank you for reading


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