How to hem IKEA curtains! Essential tutorial
Curtains can be such a pain to get right. Store-bought panels can be really expensive, but so are the yards and yards of fabric you need to make them at home--and then you have to do the work of laying the fabric out on the floor and putting them together! I've done it before and created some really nice lined curtains, but it is quite a lot of work. And if you change your mind about decor as much as I do... it doesn't always make sense. (If you do want to make some simple ones, check out my easy curtain method tutorial here for measurements on ideal hems and top edges.)
I made these lovely pale lined curtains for our living room, and I love them. I also made the faux double rod and sheer curtains for our dining room, but I wanted more neutral curtains on top of the sheers and I wound up spotting these super long IKEA linen curtains at Goodwill.
Target makes some very cute curtains but they're all 84" long, which is too short for my windows (I put the rods near the ceiling since we don't have window frames). But IKEA's curtains are typically 98" long (also too short for my dining and living room but long enough for the bedrooms), and they make a few styles in 118" long. That's what I needed.
As you may know, IKEA's curtains come un-hemmed. The raw edge is finished with the serger, and you can cut off and/or hem as needed to the right length. They sell no-sew iron-on hem tape, but I've never had much luck with that stuff and I know a seam will be more durable in the long run. What's probably a cost saver for IKEA is also a benefit to us, in that we can have custom length curtains--but the problem is, you do have to knuckle down and do the work some Saturday afternoon.
I confess, after I took these new curtains home they hung way too long, scrunched up by the pullbacks, for several weeks. We've all been there, right? But last weekend I sucked it up and did the work to measure, press, and sew the hems into them, and put together this tutorial for you so you can do the same!
How to Hem IKEA (or any) Curtains!
You will need:
- Unhemmed IKEA curtains (or any brand, or homemade!)
- Metal tape measure
- Standard sewing supplies
- Recommended: big quilting ruler and fabric pen
1. Prewash curtains. If they're a natural fiber and will shrink in length with washing and drying.
2. Iron or steam curtains. Actually, you should do this step whether you're hemming them or not. So often I see people hanging curtains or shower curtains with the rectangular folds from the package still on them. Why do people do that?? They won't flatten out much, really... take the time to iron or steam them. *Rant over.*
3. Hang curtains and measure to just above the floor. It would be nice if you could start at the bottom edge of the curtain and measure up a few inches, but IKEA curtains are not consistent lengths. You need to start at the top edge of the curtain and measure down. Have someone help hold the tape measure in place if you need. Don't pull on the fabric as you measure--you could end up stretching the fabric more than its own gravity will, and your curtains will end up too short.
As to the perfect length, that's up to you--these are on our dining room sliding doors, so I didn't want them dragging at all. Generally 1/2" to 1" above the floor is safe. On mine, this was 105".
Measure this length on the left and right sides of each curtain panel, and in the centers. If your curtain rod is hung straight and your tension is the same with each measurement, you should get the same length (i.e. 105") on all three spots on each panel.
4. Take curtains down, fold, compare. Here are my two panels folded lengthwise in quarters and lined up perfectly at the top edge. As you can see, one is more than 1" longer than the other, and my pins didn't line up perfectly.
I split the difference between my supposedly-all-105" measurements and rearranged so the pins were in the same place.
5. Connect the pins. Using a big quilting ruler or other straightedge, use more pins or a fabric pen to form a straight line from one edge pin to the center pin. Repeat to reach the other side and on both panels.
Ideally this would follow the grain, but again, IKEA curtains... not necessarily cut perfectly straight.
6. Iron bottom edge. Fold the curtain along the fabric pen or pin line.
7. Turn under raw/serged edge and measure hem. As you can see, with these very long curtains, I had a lot of extra fabric. If you had to buy 118" long ones and your windows were only 85" or 90", you'd have too much excess and I recommend cutting or tearing to leave enough room for a 4"-6" hem. On mine, however, I was able to turn under the raw edge to allow a 7" deep hem all the way across both panels.
(7" is probably the deepest you'd want a curtain hem, just for looks and weight--depending on how heavy the fabric is.)
8. Pin in place.
9. Sew hem. At the machine, sew the hem in place, 1/4" or less from the edge.
10. Hang proudly! Pat yourself on the back! You finally got that checked off the to-do list!
That wasn't so bad, right?? I think I sometimes hesitate because I want things to be perfect. I want both panels to be exactly the same lengths with the same hem depth and turn-under. That may not be possible unless you cut the edges before ironing... but, with this method you can get pretty darn close!