Do It Yourself: How To Make Drapes

Making your own drapes or curtains is easier than you think. Here are several ideas and step-by-step instructions to make window coverings.

Do you think that making your own drapes or curtains is impossible? It's not. It is actually very easy to make attractive and inexpensive drapes for just about any window in your home. Simple curtains can be used to cover open closets, doorways or other areas that you would like to camouflage, as well. Plus you get the deep satisfaction of knowing that you created the drapes yourself. Here are three simple ideas: using a pattern, planning and sewing your own, or using sheets for curtains.

Even if you want fancy drapes with valances, tassels, etc, it is not hard to do. If you are planning for more complicated drapes, it is best to buy a pattern, which can be found at any fabric store or even stores with fabric departments. The salespeople will also be able to help you choose the fabric and get the right amount.

Simple curtains or drapes can be made without a pattern. First, decide of the drapes are going to hang to the floor, or if you want them to hang just below the bottom edge of the frame for a less formal feel, such as in a child's room or kitchen window. Start by measuring you window from the outside edge of the frame, both lengthwise and widthwise. Write that measurement down. This will give you the general size of your window. Now, you need to add to the length measurement an allowance for the hardware you will be using to hang the drapes. Measure from the bottom edge of the window frame to just above the hardware. Write this measurement down, as well. (The standard measurement for drapes that hang to the floor is about 84"). However, you are still not finished. If you plan to sew your own drapes, you will need to add allowances for seams. Most drapes include a 4" inch hem at the bottom and a 2 ½" rod pocket at the top, as well as a 1-2" side seam on each side. If you are using a large, decorative rod, you may need to increase the size of the rod pocket. If you would prefer to use drapery hooks, which are another excellent hanging option because they simply clip onto your fabric at any interval that you choose, you will need a 3" hem at the top instead of the rod pocket.

Once you have your measurements, go to the fabric store. It is best to buy fabric that is machine washable, and not too slippery, such as voile. Voile and other filmy fabrics can be very hard to work with, and you want to choose a fabric that will be easy to work with for your first attempt at making curtains. Set yourself up for success. Ask for help from the salesperson. That's what they are for. You will need to get 2-2 ½ times the width of you window to allow for fullness of the drapes. This is so that the curtains will drape nicely at not be flat and straight across with no folds. It is always helpful to buy a little bit more than you think you will need, perhaps a half-yard or so.

Wash and dry your fabric before you start. This way, if it shrinks at all, it is before you have cut and sewn your curtains and not after. Iron the fabric to make it easy to work with. Cut the first panel, using a cloth tape measure to get it the correct size that you figured out previously. A good way to get the second panel the exact same size is to use a laser level to make sure they are the same length. Sew up the side hems first, folding the raw edge over to make a 1" hem. Sew either the top 3" hem if you are using drapery hooks or the 2 1/2 " rod pocket in the same way, folding over the raw edge of the fabric to hide it. Remember not to sew the edges shut if you are using a curtain rod. This is where it will go. Now, hang the curtains without finishing the bottom. See how they look. Pin up the bottom hem so that they will be the correct length. Then take them off the rod and sew the bottom, folding over the raw edge to hide it. Now, re-hang the drapes and you are finished.

The easiest way to make your own drapes is to use two flat bed sheets for your two panels. They are amazingly versatile, because the sides are already finished for you, and they have a ready-made rod pocket sewn at the top. All you have to do is cut them off at the length you would like and sew up a small hem at the bottom. Depending on the width of your window, buy them in twin, full or queen size. Just remember that you will need to allow for fullness. This is a great way to cover windows cheaply, to cover unusually sized windows or provide curtains for a temporary residence or apartment for which you don't want to spend a lot of money on window coverings.

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