Making Curtains: Three Simple Steps
Curtains bring life into a room and are a softer alternative to blinds and shades. They can blend subtly into the rest of the interior or they can be arranged so they become a feature in their own right.
For plain, unpatterned fabrics, texture is important – panels of raw silk or hessian weave have a whole array of textures that just add that little extra detail, while velvet curtains have the uncanny ability to change with the lighting. Bold, contrasting patterns such as stripes look good in a formal setting. Toile de jouy or floral patterns give a room a softer more relaxed. We do however suggest that readers avoid using blocks of strong colors on large windows – these will completely overpower any room and anything in it.
It is a good idea to have your curtains lined as this will prevent them from fading from continuous exposure to sunlight. Thicker linings can also be added to keep the heat from escaping the room – they can act as a kind of insulating layer. Lined curtains will be significantly heavier and may require a sturdier support system.
Making your own curtains enables you to color co-ordinate your room and even match the curtains with the cushions or tablecloth if you desire. The initial idea may seem a little daunting but don't be put off. If you can use a sewing machine and sew in a straight line, making your own curtains is not difficult and can be a satisfying project. Un-lined curtains with metal or plastic hooks to attach to the curtain pole are the most straightforward to make and so a good place for a beginner to start.
Step one: measuring the windows
When taking measurements for curtains you need to be very exact. It would be pretty disappointing to proudly hang your curtains only to find they're an inch too short. When measuring for the length of the curtains, take the measurements from the curtain pole to the bottom of the window. You need to add on 8 inches to the total height measurement to allow for hems. As you want your curtains to be gathered when shut and not pulled taught across the window, double the width measurement of your window and add 8 inches for seams to get your ideal width.
Step two: choosing the fabric
As you'll be making un-lined curtains, it's important to choose good quality material in an appropriate color. If you are making un-lined curtains for a bedroom for example, you won't be thanked for making them in white. Fabrics come in two widths, 45 and 60 inches. This is wide enough to fit all standard windows; if your windows are unusually large, you might need to buy two widths and stitch them together. When purchasing the material, round up any measurements, as it's always better to have too much than too little. Cut the material in half to create the two curtain panels.
Step three: making the curtains
Lay out the fabric on a flat surface with the right side facing down. Turn a double 1-inch hem at each side, pin in place, then stitch. Turn a double 3-inch hem at the bottom, and do the same. Remember to use a ruler or tape measure to ensure your measurements are accurate. A strip of heading tape into which the hooks will go needs to be sewn at the top of the curtain. The best way to attach this is to turn down 2 inches at the top, lay the heading tape on top of this and stitch both in place at the same time. The curtain hooks are then looped into the heading tape and your curtain is ready for hanging.