Buckram is a type of header or wide ribbon that has cords, pockets and other features. This fabric is sold by the yard in most fabric stores and is thick with a canvas-like feel in most cases. Buckram is rather stiff and usually is several inches wide. Buckram is used to make sewing drapery easier. Selecting the right buckram for your project is a necessary part of sewing more difficult drapes.
Plain buckram tape is used to stiffen the top of the drapery. Select a narrow width if you have shorter drapes; use wider tape if your drapes are longer. Plain buckram tape is sold by the roll and typically the pattern will call for the buckram to be sewn across the top of the finished drapery panel. When sewing buckram, you should always sew in one direction. If you sew across the top edge from left to right, you need to sew across any other places on the buckram from left to right to prevent puckering of the fabrics.
Buckram adds body to the top of the drapery. If you are hand pleating or otherwise creating the shape of the drape, the buckram holds the decorator fabric more rigid, allowing shapes to be created and stabilized more easily. When you are hanging or mounting the drapes, some drapery designs will require you to use drapery pins. Inserting a pin into the buckram is much stronger than into the fabric and will prevent tears to the fabric.
Pleating tapes are frequently used; and often when a person says she wants buckram, she really means she is looking for pleating tapes. Pleating tapes come in a wide variety of types, so know what you're looking for. Some tapes use a cord system to pull the drapery into the pleats; other tapes use a prong system attached to specialty drapery pins to create the pleating through tape pockets.
Sewing buckram that is used for pleating often includes machine sewing across the top, bottom and between the cords. The cords of one side are knotted, and the fabric is pulled along the loose side of the cords. As the fabric slides, the spacing of the cords forces the fabric into pleating folds. When the width of the panel is slightly more than half the width of the window, the cords are tied off and inserted into a cord bag. The drape is often turned face out, and a tacking stitch is sewn to the bottom of each pleat set using a needle and thread. The buckram is then broken during installation by creasing the buckram backward between the pleats, which forces the drape to hang straight.