Create / Enjoy: My easy curtain method tutorial

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My easy curtain method tutorial

Yes, easy.  There are probably tons of tutorials out there for curtains, since they are about the easiest thing you can make aside from like napkins or something, but here's another one!  I got a couple requests after I posted about my recent simple and transformational curtain project.

I went in to Anthropologie a while ago and decided to remake my living room, which since we moved in not long ago doesn't really have an identity.  I even bought new fabric just for some creative pillows and home dec ideas inspired by Anthro.  I had a couple of hippie wall hangings from long ago, and I hung them up on the big window since I hate bare windows without curtains.  But they blocked too much light, didn't match each other, and didn't help my decor at all.  Bleh.  So here's the before:
Aaaah so ugly!  And dark.

So I wanted to make some new ones.  In keeping with the Anthro-ey theme, I went to their site for inspiration...
 
Pretty.

I thought, so many of those are just printed!  I can do that!  I have cool stencils and such!  What if I started with a plain curtain and stenciled or embelished the design I wanted?

I bought six yards of white 45" wide quilter's cotton at JoAnn on super sale.  I wanted something a little nicer than muslin.  That's really all you need, plus a curtain rod.  I only needed five yards for my floor-length curtains, but there's nothing wrong with having some extra white cotton around!  Anyway...

Ideally you would stencil your fabric before you sew it, so that it's flat/smooth all the way and also so that if your stencil overlaps with the edges, the pattern wraps around the edge.  But I was really anxious to get something else up on that window and don't know exactly what pattern I want yet, so I did it the wrong way and sewed them first!

The tutorial:
  •  Measure what the finished length should be.  It's hard to tell but my tape measure is going up as high as the top of the curtain rod itself.
  • For me, floor-to-top of rod was 84".  (Interesting note: I've heard from interior designers that there are only three acceptable lengths for curtains: falling to the bottom of the window glass, falling to the bottom of the window molding, or falling all the way to the floor).
  • Decide how wide a hem you want and how big a casing.  Make sure your casing is wide enough to fit the curtain rod through it!  Add .5" to both measurements for turn-under.  My top casing will be 2" and my hem will be 2.5".  Add the seam allowance, and add together to get the final measurement for your fabric.
  • I always like to start with a very straight edge--when sewing on rectangles I like to be exact.  With most woven fabrics, the best way to make sure is by tearing.  Snip near the cut edge of the fabric and tear, losing often up to an inch or so on one side due to unevenness.  If your fabric doesn't tear, then cut carefully while following a thread along the width of the fabric.  You don't want lopsided curtains!
  • Measure your fabric to the length you just calculated and snip.  Tear!  Make the two panels both exactly the same length.
  • About the width of the curtains: most people want a curtain to be is 1.5 times as big as the window--e.g. for a 60" wide window, you'd have a cumulative 90" width of curtains.  But it's perfectly okay if they're a little bigger or a little smaller.  And, for a big window, the easiest thing to do is use the entire width of the fabric (42"-60", depending) and just hem the selveges.  On a finished selvage edge, you only have to turn the fabric under once--there will be no raw edges!
  • Start by carefully pressing the long (up-and-down) edges.  I'm pressing mine with a 1/2" hem, just enough to cover all the perforations above the edge.  All fabrics have different selvages, though.
  • Sew along your pressed edges.  You can pin them if you need to, but for my simple cotton I didn't bother.
  • Now that you've got all four (two on each) long sides turned under, we'll create the casings and hem.  These do need to be turned under twice so you don't have a raw edge on the inside and a chance of seams pulling out. 
  • I recommend using a hem gauge to make sure you're even all the way across!  This is my 2" wide top casing; I'm turning under the top by .5".  On this one, I recommend pinning carefully.
  • Sew along your pinned casing, keeping a consistent and straight seam allowance.
  • Do the same with your hem.  Press, pin, sew.
  • Hang your curtains!

Yes, they are very plain.  Like I said I had planned to Anthro-tize them, and still will, with some sort of stencil or other embelishment.  But for now I just wanted to get something up on the window!  Now to brainstorm stencil colors as I decorate the rest of the room... I may even make a stencil!

19 comments :

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  1. Curtains are so easy, yet can take forever when it come to getting the right measurements. Of course, two isn't bad at all. 6-8 becomes downright tedious. I look forward to when you Anthro-ize them.

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  2. These will be so individual. I am sure you are already enjoying the lighter feel of them. I stencilled roman blinds for my son when he was little. Not difficult and loads of fun. Cherrie

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  3. Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to see how they look once you Anthro-ize them ;)

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  4. Stenciling roman blinds, great idea!

    I am looking forward to making them more interesting... not sure how yet, though!

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  5. I just got so delighted that we have the same pink measuring tape. Mine was a high school graduation gift almost 7 years ago from a friend as I went off to design school!

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  6. Cute. Also, I love that table lamp. Can I ask were you found it?

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  7. I agree curtains are easy to make. Ive made curtains from bed sheets and shower curtains.
    There is bedding on sale often.

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  8. I ALWAYS wash fabric (including sheets) before I cut, sew or otherwise work with it. Once it is washed it's always washable and any stretching or distortion the weaves may have suffered will be righted by the time it has gone through the dryer. And it will not shrink any more. Almost everything is washable (except wool and some synthetics). You can always iron sizing back into it if you like that starchy look. If you are going to line draperies (yes, not drapes), a white or cream colored sheet behind your interior-showing sheet is fool proof. Just think "pillow case."

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  9. thanks for the easy instructions! i'm going to be daring and try hand-sewing curtains for my bedroom.

    for the width of the curtains, if you're creating two panels for one window, does the width each panel need to be 1.5x or does the combined width of the panels need to be 1.5x? if so, i did the math and each panel would need to be 3/4 the size of the overall window.

    thanks!

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    1. Sure! You want the total amount of fabric to be 1.5 times the width of the window--so yes, each panel will be about 3/4 of the window width. Have fun! With hand sewing as well as machine, make sure you press very well--it'll make all the difference on the final product!

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  10. this is a very simple method. thank you . and as i am new to the sewing world could you please suggest me the right kind of fabric for curtains. its really hard to choose from a wide variety .plus it makes me confuse .. always..thank you so much.

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  11. The fabrics are very beautiful, a few more can be checked on www.fabocity.com

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  12. I am loving these instructions, however I would like to know how much fabric one should allow for when creating the ruffle at the top of the curtains, above the rod pocket? Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Sure! You want the total amount of fabric to be 1.5 times the width of the window--so yes, each panel will be about 3/4 of the window width. Have fun! With hand sewing as well as machine, make sure you press very well--it'll make all the difference on the final product!

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  14. Thanks! It is vintage, from a thrift store.

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  15. If you want to have a ruffle above the rod pocket, I'd suggest adding 3-5" to the length of the panel, depending how thick the fabric is. For a heavy fabric, you'll probably want a 2"+ panel (doubled for front and back, so 4"+) but a lightweight one would flop over if it was too tall, so I'd stick to 1.5" or so (3" doubled). Then add the width of the rod pocket to your fold when you pin it in place and measure with a ruler as you press.

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  16. You can use a wide variety of fabrics for curtains! These were made with a plain quilter's cotton, but you can use a lightweight semi-sheer cotton for lightweight curtains, or a heavier fabric like linen or home decorating fabric if you want.

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  17. Anthropologie's curtains are here: http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/category/curtains/home-curtains.jsp?cm_sp=TOPNAV-_-HOME-_-HOME-CURTAINS&cm_re=TOPNAV-_-HOME-_-HOME-CURTAINS

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