What Size Should My Box Pleats Be?

When making a box pleated valance or a pleated balloon valance the spacing is best determined by with size of the window. Generally speaking, if there is a single window in the room and the window is between 30"-45" your pleat size should be approximately 10"-15". For rooms that have double or triple windows, the pleat size should be 18"-30". In determining the length of the valance, measure the point of where the valance is to be mounted to the floor and divide that number by 5. The 1/5 rule in general is a good rule of thumb in determining any valance length for good proportion. If you have added a cascade or another long point calculate that by 3/5 of the total length.

Let's assume the windows in the above scale drawn rendering are single windows in a room. The window on the left is 32.5" wide and the 3 box pleats are each 11" wide. The center window is 50.5" wide and the box pleats are each 17" wide. The window on the right is 29" wide and the box pleat spaces are each 10" All three look pleasing to the eye and in proportion to the window size.

In this rendering there are multiple window sizes in the same room. Try to keep the pleat sizes in each window as close to the same measurement as possible for a unified look in the room. The larger window will be more of a focal point, based on its size. I propose you stay within the same range of pleat sizes determined for the larger window, for both windows. Therefore the small window has 17" pleats rather than staying in the 10"-15" range.

In this rendering, we have windows that are 62 1/2 wide; Do you make the pleat sizes each 14" or 21 1/4"? Either measurement is good. You need to consider if the fabric has a large repeat or not. Does the fabric have a large stripe, or small stripe? Also what is the size of the room? In this rendering I would use the small spacing if the fabric had a small repeat and the room was relatively small. I would use the larger spacing if the pattern repeat was large and if you are working in a large space.

In the last 2 renderings we have 2 large triple windows. You will want the pleat sizes at least 24-30", but which one? Again, either size will work well. Another thing to consider is how many windows are there in the whole measurement of the window? One option for this window is to use the rule of thumb and work with odd numbers in the window. In this case 5 pleats. By grouping in odd numbers, the eye tends to find that more pleasing. The second option would be to place 2 pleats centered on each window. The 3 windows is the odd number for the pleasing to the eye factor. Consider again the size of the fabric repeat, the size of the room, and it's a good idea to consider the size of the furniture and accessories.

One side note... While researching for this blogspot I looked through some window treatment idea books and found several pictures that had patterns placed wrong on the valances, in my opinion. I found plaids that were centered unevenly in the pleat. I also found symmetrical patterns placed unevenly in the pleats. Planning and placing the pattern of the fabric in each pleat is equally important when determining pleat sizes.

Keep in mind, these are general rules to follow. Each room, window, fabric and situation is all different. The best way to determine pleat sizes is to draw a scale drawing of the window and valance.


  1. Zona! Thanks for sharing tips and measuring ideas with us readers. Nice post. keep sharing good information with us.

  2. Do you have any more original drapery design ideas by any chance? Or drapery rods?


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