Sewing Projects: Sewing Your Own Curtain Swags

It takes only a few yards of material and a small amount of time to sew a lovely curtain swag.

Whether you want a window treatment that offers a casual, homey look, or that of pure elegance, it's easy to achieve by sewing your own curtain swag. In addition to the feeling of satisfaction you will get from saying "I did it myself," you also can save a bundle of money by sewing your own swag versus buying a ready-made or custom-made window treatment topper.

There are several different styles of swags, the most simple being the scarf swag. This is little more than a long piece of cloth that is loosely draped around a drapery rod, leaving a length of fabric hanging down on one or both sides.

To make a scarf swag, begin by choosing a fabric that is thin and soft. Stay away from anything that is very heavy, stiff or crisp. It will not drape well.

The biggest factor in the look of the finished window treatment is going to be the type and color of fabric you choose. A cotton calico or gingham will offer a cute look in a kitchen, while a deep maroon satin fabric will look very rich in a living room.

Determine how much you will need by first deciding whether you want the scarf to hang down on one or both sides, and then how far you want it to reach toward the floor. It doesn't have to hang down at all. You could end the swag with a knot or bow at the end of the rod. Allow about 9-12 inches of fabric on each side to tie a knot and about 18-24 inches to make a bow. If you do want some fabric hanging down, you should allow at least one quarter of the window length. Anything less will tend to look chopped off. A more formal look can be achieved by allowing the sides of the swag to come down to the floor and just skimming the top of the carpet or other floor surface. For a romantic look, allow the fabric to reach beyond the floor, creating a puddle of fabric at the bottom.

When you have decided how far you want your swag to hang down, make note of the measurement. Be sure to double this number if the scarf is to hang down equally on both sides of the window.

Now, you have to decide on the look for across the pole. The more you want the fabric to wrap around the pole, and the more "loop" you want hanging down, the more fabric you have to allow for. As a general rule, you will need at least one and one-half to two times the width of the window. Experiment with a tape measure wrapped around the pole to see how much you will need to achieve your desired look.

When you have figured out how much you will need, add this measurement to the measurement you noted for the sides. Divide the total number of inches by 36 to get the number of yards you will need.

After purchasing your fabric, (normally 45-60 inches wide) lay out the entire length right side up on the floor or a large table. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and pin the raw edges together. Sew along the three edges, leaving an opening for turning on one of the short edges. Turn right-side-out and press the seams flat. Hand sew the opening that was left for turning.

Now, simply wrap the swag around the pole, positioning it as desired.

If the swag is unlikely to be bothered, you don't have to do anything to keep it in place. However, if the window is opened and closed frequently, you should secure the fabric on the ends of the pole. This could be done inconspicuously by tying a short, thin piece of ribbon between the circular ends of two safety pins. Attach one safety pin to the back of the fabric just above the curtain rod and attach the second safety pin just below the rod. You also can secure the swag to the rod in a decorative way. Tie a ribbon around the rod and the swag and then make a bow or tie a tassel to the ribbon. Another option is to twist a thin piece of floral wire around the rod and swag, then attach a small bunch of silk flowers or a vine.

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