Monday, February 17, 2014

Curtain Tutorial- The way I made my own custom curtains

Hey Everyone! I've been dreaming of this new house for right around a year now and now that we are in it, everything is coming together. Now, it's not coming together as fast as I would like but I'm so excited to continue making this house my home.

I've rambled a few times about making curtains and I decided that I wanted to post a tutorial on how I made them. Is it perfect? uuuuuuuuum no. But it's really easy and I think they look really great! I've had a sewing machine for about 15 years now and I started sewing on my own very early. I have only taken 1 sewing class, when I was about 14 and I made a lovely sun dress ;)

What I'm trying to say is that I feel like anyone can make curtains. As long as you are patient and can measure.

Decide on a fabric:
 I wanted the curtains I made for my Office and Dining room to be thick and rich. The width of the material is 54" and is medium to heavy weight. I purchased the fabric from  ; free shipping over $35.00 and they cut you a 37" 'yard'.

How much fabric?:
In my new house I have 9 foot ceiling on the main floor level. In my office I hung my rod at 106" and in my dining room at 104". The difference is because I have crown moulding in my dining room. I hung these higher because it looks better in my eyes and it makes your windows seem larger. You can read other views on how to hang your rods in a million different places. The great thing about making your own curtains is that you can hang your rods wherever you want to because you can customize the length! So I made two panels for my office and 2 panels for my dining room.
I bought 7 yards for each curtain pair, so 14 yards total for the 2 rooms.

Decide on a liner:
 I decided to line both of these sets of curtains with blackout drapery lining. A few reasons. Blackout lining helps with the sun, obviously, but also has a sound dampening effect too. Just a nice little bonus. The blackout will also prevent fading of the material. I also like how thick it makes the curtains, they just feel nicer and look more custom (to me). You can also purchase regular lining. I feel like the blackout lining is easier to use because of the weight which means it does not move around easily while pinning.

  • Hang your curtain rod.
  • Measure from the arm of your curtain rod to the floor, this is your length (unless you want your curtains to puddle)
  • Whatever your length is, add 8" and cut. EXAMPLE: My dining room curtains are 104" long, but I cut my fabric & liner for 112" so that I have extra to use as my hem and rod pocket.

IMPORTANT: If you are using a fabric that has a repeating pattern; MAKE SURE you cut your fabric on the same pattern. And make sure it's going in the same direction.
 Look what I did:

I was all proud that I was DONE with my dining room curtains when I realized, 10 pictures later, that my prints were not aligned. I was so caught up in making sure the direction of the print was the same I didn't even THINK about the repeating pattern lining up. *weeping* #rookiemistake #liveandlearn  So now I have ordered another couple of yards and I'm going to have to make another panel *crying*. oh well, I will never make that mistake again :)  
Now that you have your fabric cut...Here we go!
Lay your fabric,  pattern side down, then lay your lining fabric on top. Smooth it over so there are no ripples in the fabric. If your fabric is wrinkly, then iron it. I do not wash/dry my fabric before I make the curtains. I will have them dry-cleaned if I ever need to clean them. If you want to wash and dry your curtains before sewing, then have fun ironing that mess out ;)
You will see my liner isn't as wide as the fabric, sometimes this won't happen but with mine it did.

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The first step is to start your side hems. This part is the 'hardest' because your fabric may move easily. Since you are connecting your lining and fabric, be careful not to get it off alignment. Start with one side and fold over about 1 inch, iron (I iron with steam) and then pin. Go down the length of one side and then the length of the other.

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Time to start sewing. Take a breath and just have fun. Sew down each side. After sewing both sides, put your fabric back on your table or floor.

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You are going to fold these hems over once more to make a clean edge. This hem can be as thick as you want, I folded over about 2 inches because it was easy when I started to iron. Repeat what you did in the last step , making your hem as even as possible. Repeat on the other side.

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 Now sew both sides.

Congratulations, you are almost done! (crazy right?!)
Decide which end of your panel is going to be your bottom hem. You can cheat a little here. Fold over about 3/4'' and iron, then immediately fold again to make a clean hem. Pin all the way down and sew. Done.

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The non cheat way: Fold over the 3/4'', iron, pin, sew rough hem, then come back and fold again , iron again, pin again, sew again, done.
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Top Hem:
This can be slightly more messy because it will be 100% hidden by the rod pocket. Fold over the top of your curtain panel around 3/4" and iron, pin and sew. This can be slightly messy because you won't ever see this, it will be hidden by the rod pocket in your panel.

This is the point where I measure to make sure the panel is straight. Use your measuring tap and start at your bottom hem that you just finished in the previous step. Measure from the bottom of the curtain to the top where you are hemming now, no matter the number, just make sure you are even across.(whatever length of curtain you are making, this measurement will be around 5" LONGER, for example: My curtains final length are 104" so this measurement is 109")
Did I just confuse you? Basically make sure that at this point your curtain panels are not lopsided; and use your measuring tape.
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Now sew the bottom hem and the top...almost done!
With your curtain laid flat, place your measuring tape flush with your bottom hem again and let your measuring tape out to the length  you need your curtains to be. Measure from the bottom hem up to the top and fold over your curtain panel until you are at the correct length. I prefer to do both corners first and then do the middle of the curtain, it's just easier. You will be ironing these a lot because
this step is very important.
  My panels need to be 104" long;as you can see, the edge of the fabric is right
 at 104" mark.

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You can also see the rough hem you just sewed in the previous step.
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Triple check all of these measurements. If your curtain needs to be 104" in length make sure they are 104" long after they are ironed and pinned. Do not sew them until you are 100% sure, after you sew them it will be almost impossible to rip the seams and re-sew them, this part is very visible once the curtains are hung so make sure they are right!

Once you are ready to sew and you are confident your curtains are the correct length, go and sew. This is your  final step.
Trim your ends and go hang those bad boys!

Progression Shots: Dining Room
(will update when I make the corrected panel;) ) 

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  1. They look awesome! I never would have noticed that the patterns don't line up if you didn't mention it. Good to know for the future though! I love your table and chairs too.