How to Hang Pleated Fabric on Walls

As far back as the Ancient Greeks, and until the introduction of mass-produced wallpapers in the nineteenth century, hanging fabric on walls provided not only decoration but also a measure of insulation and sound-proofing. As fabric coverings also disguise poor wall surfaces, they were invaluable before the days of the plastered wall. The method favoured by the Greeks and Romans was to fix fabric to the top of the wall and then let it hang down loosely. Their brightly woven or embroidered pieces were supple enough to be gathered and draped around the room and over doorways. In contrast, in the Middle Ages, substantial tapestries were fashionable and these were hung from rings on a rod or from wooden pegs.

Fixing fabric directly to walls first became fash­ionable during the seventeenth century and by the eighteenth century it was the most common method used for covering walls. These days, some fabrics come with a paper backing so that they can be stuck directly to a surface. They include wools, cottons, felts, silks and moires, and suedes. Wools and silks also come in textured forms; coarser textured wall coverings include hessians, jutes and linens. If you use ordinary, unpapered fabric, you will need to screw wooden battens to the wall first to which the fabric can then be secured with nails or staples.

If you intend to gather or pleat the fabric, each join can be neatly hidden behind the previous pleat. Or you can make a neat box-pleat as shown in the project. If you are working with a patterned fabric, make sure you match up the pattern. Always finish with a trimming of braid to hide the nails or staples.

You will need:

  • A piece of fabric the length, and twice the width, of the wall you wish to cover
  • Tape measure
  • Enough braid to frame the wall area
  • Staple gun
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric glue


  1. Measure the length and width of the wall area you intend to
  2. Cut a piece of fabric to the appropriate size (this should be about half of the fabric you have bought). If you have a dado rail, it is better to cover just the area of wall above it. Unless you are confident of your ability, do not choose a patterned fabric such as a check – matching up the squares may cause you problems later on.
  3. Staple the fabric you have cut out to the wall at the top and bottom. You will probably need someone to hold the other end of the fabric as you staple.
  4. You need to make 10 cm (4 in) strips to cover the wall, leaving a 10 cm (4 in) gap between each strip. Once you have measured the width of the wall, calculate how many strips you require. To make the strips, cut out double the width of the finished strip. With each strip fold the ends over to make a hem and machine. Then fold the strip in half, with the wrong side showing. Machine down the edge and then turn the good side out. Once you have made the strip, press the seam so that it lies down the centre back.
  5. Leaving 10 cm (4 in) between them, staple on the strips at the top and bottom of the wall. In addition to stapling the strips at the top and bottom, you may need to glue them in the centre to stop them sagging.
  6. Measure and cut lengths of braid to run across the top and bottom of the wall area, and two for the sides. Glue the braid over the top, bottom, and side edges of the wall area to cover the staples. Mitre the corners.

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance


About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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