Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to Make a Curtain

I'm writing this up mostly to document the wisdom of a lovely elderly seamstress who helped me this weekend at Joann Fabric. If you're out there, lovely lady, thank you!!! And, I hope the wedding was wonderful!

For the width, you need at least 2x the width of the window in fabric. The upholstery fabric (which is what you want - really really really want - it's so much easier to sew) comes usually in 54 inch width. I decided that I would do full-width x 2 panels for each window. My window is 48 inches wide, but with the molding, etc, I figured no harm. Easier not to cut. Also, don't get stripes. Apparently you'll live your life trying desperately to align them, and then cry when they turn out wonky. The lovely old woman told me this - and if she wont do stripes, I wont do stripes. Now, I love stripes, so I got a coordinating stripe for a throw pillow.

For the length, you want the height of the drape (mine: 54") plus:

--a 4 inch fold over at the bottom - the weight helps the drape "hang" properly. Plus, 1 inch to tuck under. So, 5 extra inches on the bottom
--a 1.5 inch rod pocket on top, plus 1.5 inches to hide the top tuck-under of 1 inch. So, 4 extra inches on top.

------------- top of curtain
- - - - - - - rod pocket
-- -- -- -- -- lower seam, under which that tuck under happens.

*tuck under is my word for that seam allowance, or the bit that hides the raw edge.

So, My 54 inch curtains were 63 inches of total fabric.

I also bought lining, which can be slightly smaller, but since I was afraid and generally new, I bought the same amount of lining and can handle a few inches of extra. You'll see why later.

Sewing the darned things

To sew them, start by laying the lining on the curtain. you will want to pin them together through the middle of the fabric to keep things straight and flat and aligned. Then, start with the sides.

Fold over one side 1" and then 1" again. that hides the raw edge. Now, you'll note that you don't NEED to double fold the lining. In fact, you can cut an inch off the side of the lining, and just tuck it under that fold. It is easier to sew with less fabric, so that's an option. I personally find it MUCH easier to sew fabric that is pre-ironed to the right shape, so I ironed this fold flat before I sewed. I wish I had a photo of my ironing guide, but I think you get the picture. One inch, then one inch again.

Same thing on the other side. Now you have a sheet of curtain with 2 finished sides.

Then the bottom.. one inch for the raw edge, plus 4 inches for the big fold. Iron and sew.

Finally, the top. I ironed down the 1 inch raw edge, and then the 3 inches for the rod pocket + extra bit to cover the raw edge. Then i pinned a line at 1.5 inches, and sewed along the pins to make the rod pocket. Only THEN did I sew the final lower line, since it is easier (according to the old lady at the store) than vice versa.

That's it!

Now, to attempt to describe the ironing guide:

I took a piece of hard paper.. like the back of a legal pad. I measured 1", 2", 3" etc. from the long edge and drew a line at each point, the long way on the pad...So I have a legal piece of paper with vertical stripes 1 inch apart.

Then, if you want to iron a 3 inch fold, you just lay the fabric down, place this guide on top of it, and align the edge of the fold with the 3inch line and iron over the whole thing. And then move to the next section. Does that even make sense? You can buy a guide at the store, but this is MUCH cheaper. :-)

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