Curtain Sewing Directions

Sewing curtains for any window in your house is easy with these directions.

You can make curtains for just about any window in your house without even using a commercial pattern. Sewing your own curtains allows you to match them exactly to your furniture if you know where the fabric for the upholstery was purchased. Or, you can make curtains out of the same material as your throw pillows if you made those yourself. Stores like Kmart and Target offer color-coordinated items for your living room (think of Kmart's Martha Stewart Home collection of matching paints, towels, bed linens, curtains, and nursery layettes). It may be difficult to buy them all in one set if you try to pick them up when they go on clearance. Target's home d├ęcor sets often become discontinued after two to three months.

It is important to know how to measure your windows and to estimate how much fabric you will need for your sewing project. There are also very few tools involved in making simple curtains fitted for a conventional curtain rod.

What You Will Need

Measuring tape (plastic or retractable)

Pad and pencil

Sewing machine with backstitching capabilities (buttonholing feature is nice but optional)

Two packets of double-fold bias tape (extra wide for a wide curtain rod)

Steam iron and ironing board

Dental floss and safety pins (for ruffles)

It is time to measure your window. First, measure the width of the top interior border. Round up to the nearest half-inch. Jot down the width.

Measure the height of your window's interior side border. Again, round the height up to the nearest half-inch and jot it down.

To estimate how much fabric you will need, break out a calculator. You will take the width of your window and double it. You will then add on five eighths (5/8) of an inch to each side of the window (in other words, add 1 5/8 to your doubled width). This is for your seam allowance and narrow hem when you begin sewing.

For the height, simply take your measurement and add enough inches for your 5/8-inch seam allowance at the top and the bottom, and 2 1/2 inches for a folded casing. You want to be able to slide the rod through the casing without difficulty.

So, here is a recap:

Width = Window width x 2 + 1 5/8 inches

Height = Window height + 1 5/8 (hems) + 2 1/2 inches (casing)

It's a very simple equation.

Purchasing Your Fabric

Novelty fabrics come in widths of 45 or 60 inches. You may also buy upholstery fabrics that are 70 inches wide. If your window height (including the hems and casing) equals more than 45 inches, then you will need the 60-inch wide fabric. If it is considerably shorter than 45 inches, then you won't need the 60-inch fabric.

Here is an example:

You have a window in your kitchen that is 40 inches high and 60 inches wide. There is a sky blue juvenile print with lemons on it at the store that would match your dishtowels. You are going to make them with a folded casing.

How much fabric you will need:

You will have to buy a MINIMUM of 121 5/8 of 45-inch fabric at the store. Round up to the nearest quarter of a yard. Keep in mind that fabric, especially cotton, shrinks a bit when you pre-wash it. The estimated amount is then 3 1/4 yards.

Cut your length of fabric in half to give yourself two curtain panels.

The Hem

This is how you make a hem along the bottom. With your iron, turn up a 1/4-inch, narrow double hem. Pin it in place. Machine stitch is close to the edge, backstitching the beginning and the end of the seam.

For the side of each panel, do the same thing that you did to hem the top of the panel.

The Casing

This is an easy way to make a casing at the top of each panel. With your iron, turn up a 1/4-inch single hem. Then, fold and iron an additional two inches. Pin it in place and stitch it close to the pressed edge. For a curtain rod with a one-inch diameter, you will only need to iron and fold one inch in addition to the 1/4-inch single hem. If you are making a double casing, fold over those two inches, and then make a parallel seam halfway between the fold and the first seam.

An alternative to a double casing is to make a narrow hem at the top of the curtain panel, and then add a strip of double-sided seam binding an inch below it. You just have to pin the seam binding to the panel, turning under the ends a 1/4 inch, and stitch both lengthwise folds. Backstitch the ends to make it sturdy, so the seam binding does not come loose when you run the rod through the casing.

Making Tiebacks for your Curtains

Take a rectangular strip of fabric roughly eight inches long by five inches wide, and fold it in half lengthwise. Stitch the raw edges together, and leave a small opening so you can turn it right side out. Turn it and stitch the opening shut. Topstitch close to the edge, and then by an additional 1/4-inch. Fold the tieback in half and pin the ends together. Make a buttonhole a half-inch from the edge. This will allow you to loop the tieback over any commercial hook or wall hanger next to your windowsill.

Making Ruffles

Take the width of your individual curtain panel and multiply that number of inches by six. That is how long a strip of fabric you will have to gather for your ruffles to make them full and flared. You might want to make the strip about three or four inches wide, allowing a 5/8-inch seam allowance. Make a narrow double hem on the sides and bottom of your ruffle strip. Then zigzag-stitch the top edge of the ruffle a 1/4-inch from the edge. Using a safety pin, run a length of dental floss or contrasting sturdy thread through the zigzag, making sure to pin the end of it to the end of the strip. Then gather the ruffle by pulling the on the floss from the opposite end, evening out the fullness as you go.

Matching the wrong sides of the fabric, pin the raw edges of your ruffle and panel together and stitch. Remove the dental floss.

Adding Trimmings

You can add trimmings to the hem of your panels once you have finished them, or to the ruffles before you gather them. Make sure to turn under the ends of the trimming a quarter of an inch so the raw edge does not show or unravel. Also, purchase the same length of trimming as you did for the fabric of your panels.

© High Speed Ventures 2011