Well, I thought I better get that curtain tutorial posted before it gets away from me (like the applique and the art book one have--I will get back to those...promise).
Here is what we are making:
I hope you enjoy this and that it's clear. If you have any feedback, let me know.
First, I want to give credit to a couple of books that I really like and rely on both for inspiration and instruction when I make curtains. This tutorial is based on information I gleaned from both of these books.
The Simplicity book is really my go-to book for the "how-to's" on constructing things. The instructions are very thorough. The Home Decorating Basics book has some good inspiration for unique ways to finish things. I find the instructions in that book aren't very thorough, however, and I have to figure a few things out for myself on the instructions (and I usually go to the other book to figure that out). But the authors of these books deserve a lot of credit for the information I'll share in this tutorial.
I made the photos smaller for this tutorial, since it is pretty photo laden. Let me know if these are too small for you to see what's going on.Measuring for Your Curtains
The first step to making your curtain is to get good measurements. Now, truth be told, this part usually takes me a while. I have to draw a lot of pictures, study my books, and make a lot of notes. I'll show you my scribbles. I usually take a day or two to do this step. I make measurements, notes, drawings, and then I think about it for a day or two to make sure I haven't made any mistakes.
Seriously, don't give up...creating the curtains is easy once you get past the measuring and planning stages. So, hang in there with me and just take it step-by-step. I do a lot of scribbles and figuring on scratch paper to do this, so don't worry if you have to do the same.
Here is the window I want to make curtains for:
I made a quick (and lame) sketch of my window and how I wanted my curtains to look. It's okay if you laugh at my poor drawing skills!
You also have to consider how you are going to mount your curtains at this point. Do you want to use a tension rod? Do you want your curtain to be on those little rings that slide on the rod (sort of like a shower curtain does), or do you want to sew in tabs for the curtain to slide on? Do you want it to slide using the little curtain hooks?
Here's a closer look at my window situation. (Ignore the fact that the window still needs to be painted in some spots.) There is a soffet (SP?) with a light. There isn't much room in here. I bought a tension rod to see if it would fit behind the light and still allow for the fabric. I think it will just fit. I don't plan to close the curtain much (if ever), so I'm not too worried about the light touching the fabric and catching it on fire. I thought for my situation, a tension rod would be best. I don't need anything fancy, since you won't even see the top of the curtain (with the little wood piece in front of the light and all).
Okay, so the next step is to determine the size of your window (or in my case, the opening between the cabinets):
I measured my window and drew myself another picture. You can see my window is 41" wide and 42" tall. And, actually, I want my curtain to fill the entire space between the cupboards. There is a 3.5" space on either side of my window between the window and cabinet, for a total of 7" more. So, really, I want my curtain to fill a 48" wide space.
Next, you need to consider your "fullness factor." How full do you want your curtains? You can multiply your width by 2, 2.5, or 3. If you want really full curtains, multiply your width by 3. That's probably too full for this little space above the kitchen sink. I multiplied my width by 2. If I was going to make just one panel to cover the window, I would want to multiply my width (48") by 2, for a width of 96". I would want to piece enough fabric together to make a panel that is 96" wide.
Now, in my case, I am going to make 2 panels. So, I will want to make each panel about 48" wide. The two panels together, then, would be 96". Make sense?
Okay, now, my fabric is 44" wide. Once I prewashed and dried it, then cut off the selvages, it was about 41" wide. I could have bought more fabric and pieced some more on there for extra width. But, I figured 41" was enough. (Now, bear in mind, I will lose some of this to hems later, so in actuality, each one is only going to end up about 37" wide, for a total width of 74". But that was okay by me...still somewhere close enough to 2 for my "fullness factor.") As I said, I don't plan to close these much anyway, so you won't notice the fullness factor much. (If I had more money right now and if I were going to close these curtains a lot, I would definitely go the extra mile and piece together the fabric necessary to get at least a fullness factor of 2. Otherwise, the curtains just look chintzy. You don't want that.)
If you want your panels to be as wide as your measurement (e.g., 48"), you will need to piece the panels together to get this measurement. Be sure to include 1/2" seam allowances. Also, you will be making a 1" double hem on each side of the panel, so you'll need to add 2" to each side (for a total of 4") for your panel to be 48" when done. For example, if I pieced this one to be 48", I would need to have:
One piece of fabric that is 41" (my width of fabric) by the proper length (see below),
Another piece of fabric that is 12" by the proper length. (I came up with 12" by taking my desired width of 48" and subtracting the 41" I already had. This yields 7". I added 1" for seam allowances (1/2 inch will be lost on both this piece of fabric as well as on my 41" piece of fabric when I sew these together with a 1/2" seam). I how have 8". I need 2" on either side for my hems, for a total of 4". 8"+4" = 12".
See what I mean about having to draw this out and really think about it? If you haven't given up yet, keep going.
Now we need to figure the length. This gets a little tricky. Here's my drawing for that:
Let's walk through this step by step. Your length should be your finished length+(header depthx2)+(rod pocket depthx1" for ease and finish)+4" for double hem. (You can also add a 1" straightening allowance if you want to, but I didn't in this case.)
Our finished length is 43". My window is 42", and I want my curtain to fall 1" below the bottom trim of my window. So, my length will be 43".
Aside: However, I am putting a large stripe across the bottom of my curtain. I want my stripe to be 4" wide. I am going to double that for the hem, for 8", and I am going to sew with 1/2" seam allowances, which I will have two of. So, that's 1". For my stripe, I will cut my fabric 9" (4+4+1) by my width of fabric (which is 41"). You will see where I subtract this from my total toward the end. I am going to work with a length of 43" for now, just so I don't get confused (which is easy to do!).
Let's talk about the header. The header is the space between your rod and where you want the top of your curtain to be. If you aren't bumping against the ceiling, a good measurement is about 2". I, however, have a ceiling above my rod, so I need to take that into account.
As you can see, there is about 1" between my rod top and my ceiling. So, I'm going to make a 1" header. I need to double this, because it will fold around the back. So, for this measure, I will add 2" to my finished length.
Now, let's talk about the rod pocket. The rod pocket is the slot we will sew for the rod to slide through. To get this, we need to get the circumference of our rod. You can wrap a string around your rod and then measure how much string you needed to go around the rod if you want. I just guestimated here. My rod is about 3/4" tall and is about 1/4" wide. So, I figured I needed about 1.5" for my rod pocket. Then, I added another 1" for finishing and ease. So, for me, this measure was 2.5".
If you are not putting a stripe on your curtain, add 4" for your double hem. My stripe will take care of my hem, so I won't worry about this measure.
Here is what I calculated:
Length 43" + 2" for header + 2.5" for rod pocket = 47.5" - 4" for my stripe = 43.5 +1/2" for seam allowance to attach stripe = 44" length. (My fabric has a little bit of a horizontal stripe to it. If yours has a pattern that needs to be aligned, you will want to do what I did, which was to make sure both curtains were cut from exactly the same section of fabrics. That way, the horizontal stripe won't look off kilter when the curtains are hung up.)
So, I cut my curtain fabric 44" long by 41" wide. I cut two of these.
I cut my fabric for my stripe 9" long by 41" wide. (I told you how I calculated those measurements above in the ASIDE comment.) I cut two of these.
Assembling Your Curtains
We are going to start with the stripe.
Begin by pressing the stripe fabric in half, wrong sides together, along the 41" width so that your fabric will now measure 41" x 4.5". My fabric is black and doesn't really have a "wrong side."
Open up the fold and fold down one long (41") raw edge of your fabric by 1/2" and press (wrong sides together). Once you have finished this step, if you fold your fabric in half again along the fold you did in Step 1, you should have one of the long edges folded down and the other should be sticking up beyond it (so your top edges are not even with each other).
Next, open up the fold again and align the unpressed raw edge of your stripe fabric along the raw edge of the bottom of your curtain fabric. You can see here I have my curtain fabric right side down (wrong side up). My stripe fabric doesn't really have a right and wrong side. But if it did, the right side of my stripe fabric would be against the wrong side of the curtain fabric.
You can see the fold on my stripe fabric is making a "valley" fold (it is not sticking up like a "mountain").
Flip the stripe fabric away from you and gently press the seam away from the curtain fabric.
Take care not to press out the fold you created in Step 1. Just press along the seam edge.
Now, turn over your panel so that the right side of your curtain fabric is up. It should look like this.
Your fold from Step 1 should be forming a valley and your fold from Step 2 should be sticking up. If your stripe fabric has a right and wrong side, you should see the wrong side of your stripe fabric and the right side of your curtain fabric.
Fold your stripe fabric closed along the fold you made in Step 1. The fold you made in Step 2 should align just right with the seam you just sewed. Pin this down so it covers the seam you made in the last step. Isn't it cool how this gives you a nice finished edge along the bottom of the curtain, and it encloses your raw edges inside the hem?! (Notice my curtain fabric is directional, so I had to take care to make sure this stripe was sewn to the BOTTOM edge of the fabric, or my curtain fabric would be upside down.)
I switched to my edge foot here. If you have one of these, this is a good time to use it. My edge foot has a little blade, along which I'll slide the folded edge I just pinned. I have my needle position set all the way to the left, so it will catch that edge but sew very close to the edge along this fold. Straight stitch along this fold.
After you sew, it should look something like this.
And press. Do this all along this edge.
I like to use drapery weights in my curtains. They probably aren't necessary in curtains this size, but I like them anyway. They give the curtains--well--weight. They help keep the curtains hanging straight and not flaring out too much at the bottom.
I'm going to put one of these in each side of each panel of the curtain. I am going to sew it inside this double 1" hem we started to create. That way, they won't be visible...they will be hidden inside the hem.
You could hand sew this in or you could be lazy like me and run to your sewing machine and put a few stitches in to hold it in place. Sew it as close to the inner fold (away from the outer edge) as you can. This will make it easier to sew the hem down in the next step.
So, that drapery weight is just inside this fold. My pointer finger is right up against the top edge of it. I have my edge stitching foot on, and I am again going to edge stitch along this folded hem. It's a little tricky with that drapery weight in there, because it takes up a little space. I find if I keep my middle finger of my left hand pushing everything toward the needle, it works okay, however. I'm going to sew up along this black stripe with my black thread.
Make sure your stripe fabric is lining up. I'm going to stop and cut threads here. I'm going to hem the other side of this curtain in the same manner while I have black thread in the machine. I put a drapery weight on that side as well, in exactly the same manner. I'll come back and finish this seam with white thread when I'm done with that.
Now, I folded down 4" more and pressed it. The little 1/2" I pressed in the previous step is the bottom edge you see in this photo. This is going to be my rod pocket and header. At this point, it is good to check the length of your curtain. Your curtain should measure what your finished measure was (from the top fold you see in this photo to the bottom of the stripe fabric). Check it before you sew and make adjustments if necessary. When you are finished, take this to the sewing machine and edge stitch along the bottom fold to hem the top of the curtain, just like you did when you sewed the side hems.
I used my ruler here and my wash-away fabric marker to mark a 1" sewing line across the top of the curtain. Under my ruler is the top fold. I am going to sew a line along this mark to create my header. Remember, this is the area above my rod up to the ceiling.
Next, I marked another line 2" from the folded edge. This will create my rod pocket. I will slide my rod in the slot created by this seam and the seam I marked in the last step. [This was big enough for my 3/4" rod, but it was a little tight. If I was making this again, I would just omit this step. When you sew the hem later, that will create a pocket, too. That would give you all the ease you need. So, feel free to omit this step.]Now to create some tie backs to hold them open:
To estimate how long my tie backs should be, I gathered up the curtain with my hands and measured how much I thought I'd need. This wasn't a good system, as my tie backs were far too short the first time. Also, because I ended up putting the tie back holders in a different location, it just pulled the curtains back too far. I recommend you (a) decide exactly where your hooks will go for the tie backs and attach those first (not last like I did), and (b) get a string and hold it around your curtains so you can get an exact measure of how long you want your tie backs to be. :-)
I really couldn't find instructions on how to make tiebacks, so I just shot from the hip. Here is what I did. I cut four rectangles that measured 12x3" (I started with 9x3", but as I said, those were too short!). You can make yours wider, longer, narrower, shorter...whatever fits your situation.
Put two of the rectangles right sides together (again, my black fabric really doesn't have a right and wrong side, so it's hard to tell in these photos). Sew around them with a 1/2" seam allowance. Leave an opening for turning.
I find it useful to use something like a chopstick or That Purple Thang (I recently got this tool and really love it) to push inside my corners and push out the seams around the edges. It gives a nice, clean finish.
Press. I love good steam! This Rowenta really cranks out the steam. As you press, you can even press the opening so that the seam allowances go to the inside. I found if I just gave the short ends of this a little tug, the opening just wanted to close up all by itself.
Put that edge stitching foot back on and put that needle over to the left. Then, edge stitch all the way around the rectangle. This will close up the opening and make a nice, crisp edge on your tieback.
I picked up these plastic rings. I am going to sew one on each of the short ends of my tiebacks. You could do this by hand, but let's remember who you're talking to. I am going to do it by machine. (Don't get me wrong. I love handwork. Just not UTILITY handwork! haha)
To do this, you will need to lower your feed dogs if you can. I have to slide a little button on my machine. Some of you might have a plastic cover you can cover your feed dogs with. If you don't have the ability to cover or lower your feed dogs, here is a great tip I learned from Christina at A Few Scraps...just tape a piece of an index card or something over your feed dogs. You don't want the feed dogs pushing your fabric around under the needle for this task.
I switched my machine to a zig zag stitch. I put my tieback and my ring under the presser foot such that the needle would come down in the center of the tie back but close to the edge of the tieback. I put the ring up right next to it. Lower the presser foot to hold it all in place. Now, turn the hand crank and lower the needle into the fabric. My machine takes a locking stitch here, which is good. So, I kept turning the hand crank until the locking stitch finished.
Now, continue to turn the hand crank until your needle starts to go down in the right side of the zig zag stitch. Turn slowly and make sure the needle is going to miss the plastic ring. Your needle needs to come down just to the right of the plastic ring. I was fortunate...my regular zig zag stitch was the perfect width. It just missed the ring by a few thread widths. Perfect. If yours looks like it's going to hit the ring, widen your zig zag stitch until it will miss the ring. Once you are sure it's going to miss the ring, you can use your foot pedal to SLOWLY stitch about 10-12 stitches in place. Go slowly in case something moves and your needle does hit the ring by accident. Or, if this scares you too much, just keep turning the hand crank. Lock your stitches again on the left side of the stitch (in the fabric).
Cut your threads, and your tieback should look like this. Repeat this three more times so you have a ring on each end of each tieback.
I screwed them just under my cabinets. You can do this or screw them to the wall...for example, they could have been screwed to the wall just to the right of my thumb. I didn't do that because our walls are plaster. I thought I'd rather put a screw into the wood under my cabinet rather than put a hole in our plaster.
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and that you found it useful. I welcome your comments and feedback. If you give it a try, send me photos! I always love to see what people come up with.
I think I'm going to make another set for our sliding glass doors. That one will require piecing panels together, and the top finish will be different, because I'm going to use rings on a pole. I can post another tutorial for that one, if that would be useful to you.
This really didn't take long to make (about 2 hours to sew the curtains and 30 min to sew the tie backs). It actually took longer to write the tutorial. It was really quite easy...as I said, the measuring and figuring was the hardest part.
Give it a go!
Until next time,