how to sew curtains

I had purchased the fabric for our new living room curtains awhile back, but I’ve been putting off actually making them because frankly, I was a little intimidated.  It wasn’t even so much the sewing part, but more the measuring and cutting STRAIGHT lines with that much fabric.  Up until now I’ve only sewn small projects with manageable amounts of fabric.  I finally sucked it up and started them this past Sunday and finished them last night.  No, it didn’t take me four days to make them….it took me three days to recover enough from the stress of the measuring and cutting I did on Sunday to move on to the sewing part :).

Our old living room curtains weren’t particularly horrible in any way. (These photos were taken last fall, hence the pumpkins on the mantel.)

There was just nothing special about them.

The cream color was pretty blah, and Devin and I both agreed (surprisingly) that we needed curtains with more oomph to them.

Enter, Magnolia Home Fashions Java Ikat Fabric in Yacht Blue.  This is one of those patterns that you’ll either love or hate, given that it’s pretty bold.  But hey, go big or go home right?  Thankfully, we both loved it.

There’s really no set formula for making curtains since the measurements and rod pocket size are really up to you.

Have enough fabric to cover the length that you want your curtains to be plus additional length to allow for the top and bottom seams.  I wanted my curtains to be 89″ long.  I also wanted 3″ wide pockets for both the top and bottom.  Accounting for the first 1/2″ that I would have to fold over each end before folding over again for the 3″ pocket, that equated to: 89″ + 3.5″ + 3.5″ = 96″ length for each curtain panel.  For the width, the fabric I chose was 54″ wide and that ended up being just the right width per panel for our big front window.  (If you want your curtains wider than the width the fabric comes in, you’d have to sew two lengths of fabric together side by side, or conversely, if you want it narrower, just cut the fabric down to the width you prefer.)

As I mentioned above, it took me forever to get the measurements right.  It came in one super long piece that was enough for both panels so I had to cut it down to size, and then I had to make sure the cuts were STRAIGHT which was difficult given how wide the fabric was.  Lastly, since I wanted the pattern to flow continuously across when the two panels were closed, I had to make sure I cut each panel at the same point in the pattern.  I’m not even going to tell you how long it took me to do this.  It’s pretty embarrassing.  If any of you sewing pros out there have tips for measuring and cutting huge pieces of fabric, PLEASE bring them on!

Three days later (last night) I finally got to the sewing part.

First I did the side seams.  I folded the fabric over to the wrong side 1/2″, pressed, then over another 1/2″ and pressed again (you could do whatever width you prefer here, though I hear 1″ is the norm.)  I pinned this down every 4-6″, then I sewed a (fairly) straight stitch all the way down the length of each panel.  Then I repeated this with the other sides.

Next I did the top and bottom pockets.  Starting with the top end, I folded over 1/2″ to the wrong side of the fabric and pressed then folded over another 3″ and pressed.  I pinned this down too every few inches.

Then I sewed a straight stitch along the inner fold where I pinned, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end to secure it all in place.  When I was finished, the pocket looked like this.

Here’s a close up of the corner where I backstitched over the side seam.

Then it was time to hang them up. I took some photos last night right after we hung them so excuse the lighting.

How’s that for some oomph?  Notice, after all of my work, they’re STILL not perfectly straight..the ends of the bottom turn up a little.  No idea where I went wrong, but you know what?  I can live with it :).  Also, the slight sag in the middle of the sheer curtain rod is due to the dogs sometimes stepping on the curtain when they look out the window.  We’ll be screwing that rod into the top of the window frame so it doesn’t sag anymore.

Here are the curtains during the day.

I love how that side of the room has such a big pop of color now.  Our next living room project is to paint the fireplace (again ha) to match the trim color which is Behr Ivory Mist.  The fireplace being a neutral color will give me more room to add more pops of color to the space and to the mantle.

I’m sort of super in love with them.

Turned up bottoms and all :).

 

 

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25 thoughts on “how to sew curtains

    • Thank you! There’s no such thing as “late to the party” in my book…if we (you and I) like ikat now, that’s just because we have a different design clock than everyone else. More power to us!

  1. I LOVE THEM! SO PROUD OF YOU! Seriously—come make curtains for me 😉 Really—the place is looking great (did before but I love the new touches)….and I still want to steal that mirror above the mantle lol 🙂

    • Hehe..that mirror has your name on it, you just have to fly out here to get it :).

      Thanks for the encouraging words! They’re not perfect, but I love them all the same…I keep telling you to pick fabric!!

  2. This is an awesome, straight forward tutorial. I’m moving into a new place (this weekend!!) and have already started scheming about making my own curtains. This is super helpful! Love the fabric too — great pick!

  3. Ah, another question (now that I’m thinking about my own adventures in sewing) — do you think the larger hem/pocket at the bottom helps it hang better? I hadn’t thought about that, and probably would have just done a half inch seem or something like the sides…but it seems like it would be a good idea.

    • I think it does yeah…since it’s a little more weight at the bottom. The other thing for me was just that it looked more symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing to have the bottom pocket the same width as the top. Plus if you had a pattern that could hang any direction, you could also turn them upside down if you ever wanted to.

  4. Hi, love the fabric – looks great in the room. Next time don’t hem the curtains till you have hung them. The hem should slope towards the outer edge as for some reason this always kicks up making the hem look wonky even if it’s not. The other thing you could do is weigh your curtains down by hand-stitching a few pennies through the hem to give the curtain ‘weight’ and pulling it straight. This works better with thicker fabric. I’m about to tackle our master bedroom curtains…wish me luck!

    • Wow, thank you so much for the tip Helen! I’m gearing up to make another set of curtains for the office and I’ll definitely hang them first before pinning the bottom hem!

  5. Pingback: before & after: the living room | park house love

reading all of your comments makes me happy. thanks so much for taking the time to post your feedback!

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