Simple Sewing Projects: Make Your Own Shower Curtain

Making your own shower curtain is easy, and it will look as though the bathroom has been completely redecorated!

Redecorating a bathroom can be one of the simplest - or most complicated - of projects. Renovations might range from getting a whole new countertop, sink, toilet and tub, to just putting in a fancier medicine cabinet and lights. New flooring or tiles are also possibilities. Re-painting the bathroom can be tricky, at best, because of all the fixtures that must be considered, not to mention the need to buy paint guaranteed to prevent mildew. Completely renovating a bathroom can cost far up into the thousands, and while it adds to the value of a home, there are easier and less costly ways to brighten up that most private of rooms. Installing a new shower curtain can completely change the look of a bathroom, and deciding to sew one at home opens up a whole new realm of options.

Shower curtains are easy to find. They are sold in every discount store, club store, and home or department store. There is a huge variety to choose from. But go into any fabric store and you'll find there are infinitely more possibilities in fabric than there are in ready-made shower curtains. Perhaps a certain shade of color is needed and can't quite be matched in the stores. Perhaps a certain pattern is desired, like toile or plaid, and in just the right color. Whatever your fancy, the fabric is out there, but it could easily be that someone hasn't gotten around to making it into a shower curtain. That's where a sewing machine comes in handy.

To sew your own shower curtain, the first thing to do is to buy plenty of fabric. Any fabric will do, from the lightest chiffon to the heaviest cotton weave. A standard shower curtain is 72x72 inches, but with hems, fabric pattern repeats, and of course, mistakes, it's always a good idea to buy a bit more than you think you'll need. I suggest at least an extra yard. So in all, the fabric being about 54 inches wide, buy a total of 6 yards of fabric; 5 is almost exactly what you'll need, so 6 is safe.

Make sure you have a sturdy table or stand for the sewing machine, plenty of pins, thread that matches the background of the fabric, a pencil or fabric marking pen, yardstick, and have an iron and ironing board close by. For the finished project, a plastic or vinyl shower curtain liner and a package of 12 rings should be on hand. Although standard tubs require a curtain that is 72x72 inches, measure your shower to make sure. Measure the length of the rod, and then measure the length from the rod to about halfway down the base of the tub. A stall shower will be a bit narrower and probably longer than this; in fact, depending on the width, one panel-width of fabric may be enough.

For a standard shower, two panels will be sewn together. Place your fabric on a large, flat surface. If a large table isn't available, a clean, open area of floor will do, or even a king-sized bed. If 6 yards have been purchased and are still all in one long piece, start from one end and measure down 90 inches (72 length + 18 extra). Using the yardstick as a guide, mark a line with the pencil straight across the fabric, and then make an even cut. Next is perhaps the trickiest part. Lay the 90-inch panel out evenly across the flat surface, and place the other one right next to it. If the fabric has even the tiniest, obscure pattern, it should be lined up evenly. The toile fabric I once used has very distinct pictures that had to be lined up evenly, especially since the seam goes right down the middle of the shower curtain. When the two panels have the fabric patterns lined up, pin them just a little, for the majority of the pinning will be on the reverse side. Once they are minimally attached, turn the entire project over, so the underside is up. Lay out everything smoothly and neatly, and then pin the panels together. Leave the pins about 2-3 inches apart, with a seam of about an inch. As you pin, you can reach under and remove the pins on the other side. As you go, continue checking to make sure the fabric design or pattern repeats are still connected properly.

At this point, likely, the two panels will not be even in length. They can now be cut to match, and the dimensions of the entire unsewn project should be at least 88 length by 80 width. Next, sew the two panels together using a heavy stitch. Go slowly because this is a lot of fabric and it can bunch up easily. Take the pins out as you go. After the two panels are sewn, cut the excess fabric off the seam just created - but leave at least half an inch past the actual stitch. The sides of the curtain are then hemmed by folding two inches of fabric along the full length of the sides and ironing them down. They can then be pinned, though it isn't always necessary after ironing. Now, sew them with a heavy stitch as well. The lower edge of the curtain should then be sewn exactly the same way, first folding two inches of fabric in, then ironing the hem, pinning, and sewing with a heavy stitch.

After the sides and bottom are hemmed, it is time to do the most important part. Fold over 4 inches of fabric at the top of the curtain, and iron as was done on the sides. This will provide plenty of room for the buttonholes. Once this is ironed, pinned, and sewn, remove all pins from the curtain, and then get the shower curtain liner that will go behind the curtain.

Lay the curtain out across the flat surface or table, face down. Place the curtain liner on top of the shower curtain and ensure that all edges are evenly spaced and that the ring openings on the liner are about one inch from the top. Take the pencil or fabric pen and put it through each ring hole of the liner, separately, each time making a small mark on the shower curtain fabric. In doing this, each mark for the button holes should be 6 inches apart, with the outer two being about 3 inches from the side edges. It should be clear that these buttonholes will be sewn into the upper 4-inch hem, one inch from the top edge. Set the sewing machine to the buttonhole setting, and carefully sew each buttonhole outline. Then slit them open with a seam ripper. There will be clear instructions on how to make buttonholes in the sewing machine manual.

After quite a bit of tedious work, the hand-made shower curtain will be finished and ready to be hung. Since the shower curtain makes up a large part of any bathroom, it will look as though it has been completely redecorated. Enjoy!

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