I told you about how I planned and ordered fabric for the living room curtains. But what do you do after you receive a box or a bolt of fabric?
1) You stare at the fabric out of pure fear,
1.5) For THREE WEEKS,
2) Then you re-read all the tutorials you’ve read 76 times already,
3) Then you set the sewing machine up in the dining room,
4) Then stare at that for two weeks,
5) Then you take a two-hour nap after working 81 hours that week including three consecutive night shifts,
6) Then you make curtains.
Ha! Just kidding, but seriously, that’s how it went down.
I found these tutorials on Pinterest and studied them more than I studied for the NCLEX:
There is very minimal sewing involved when it comes to sewing curtains. You iron 85% of the time and fold/pin fabric 10% of the time. You’ve been warned.
If you order enough yards, they will ship it right on the bolt which significantly decreases ironing time. It doesn’t have to be stiff straight, but do iron the big wrinkles, otherwise your measurements will be off and it will hang funky.
From here on out, I will try to be as clear & concise as possible, which might be hard since I’m a rambler. I’m not a professional sewer, so I tend to make terms and techniques up so bear with me. And after making 14 panels, I’ve learned how I like to do things versus how the other three tutorials taught me, so take from it what you want.
1) I laid my patterned fabric face down and cut off the frayed 1/2″ edges (I’ve read if you don’t cut the edges off, the fabric will pucker and not hang properly). I measured and cut at the needed length (108″).
2) I started in the top left corner, going length-wise down the panel, I folded the edge over 1/2″ ironing as needed to help keep the fold.
3) Then you go to the top and do it again.
(Check out that action shot!) For those in the back of the classroom, there should still be a 1/2″ border, but it will be folded twice.
4) Go to the other long side and do the exact same thing
5) Go to the top of your panel & fold a 1/2″ in (make sure the pattern is facing the same way with every panels so you don’t accidentally have a panel upside down). And instead of folding over a 1/2″ again, you will fold 3″ (or 3.5″ or 4″ or whatever you wanted your seam allowance to be. It should be at least 3″ to create a strong fold to hang from). This is what your panel will look like after folding & ironing all sides.
6) If you are lining your curtains, place your lining fabric over the panel. Line up the fabric within the folds. If the lining isn’t very heavy you can fold it in a 1/2″ once and tuck in the panel fold to give it more support. If you are using blackout lining or a thick fabric, just tuck it into the fold, otherwise the sewing machine will have a hard time sewing through all the thick layers.
7) Tuck and pin your lining on one side and the top. Here is where I differ with some of the other tutorials. The lining will almost always be wider than your panel because of all the folding you did with the panel, so you will have to cut off the extra width on one side. Some tutorials say to sew the tucked side and top first, lay the panel down, cut the excess off, tuck and sew the other side. I tried that and always had problems with my corners not folding right.
7.5) So after about 10 panels and fighting with that one corner each time, I said screw it, and went against the written word. I cut the excess off before I sewed the top hem so I could tuck the lining into the top and side corner. This also made for a cleaner stitch line since I didn’t have to stop short to make sure I could squeeze the lining into the corner.
If you are worried about cutting off the excess lining before sewing (in case it pulls too much and there isn’t enough width to tuck in the other side) you can just cut the excess lining to the bottom of the folded top hem, sew the first side and top hems, lay flat and de-wrinkle, tuck the second side, and then finish sewing. Once I did that, I breezed through the panels, honestly, I would spend way too much time on that one corner.
8) As for the sewing part, you will use a straight stitch. Don’t forget to back-stitch at the beginning and end to lock in the stitch. (I learned how to sew using the zig-zag stitch due to the projects I was making, and let me tell you….straight stitch is freaking awesome! It’s the pretty, care-free, everything-comes-easy-to-it stitch. It’s the stitch all the other stitches want to be.)
Remember the 1/2″ fold you made on all the sides? That is where you want to sew – about 1/4″-1/8″ from the edge. Preferably in a straight line. 🙂
9) Once you’ve sewn the top and both sides, attach your curtain clips to the fabric. (If you want to thread the pole through the top hem instead of using clips you can still do the same steps, but don’t stitch the top hem sides shut.)
I’m using clips, so I sewed them shut. My exact thoughts were: “We don’t need any spiders having a rave in there.”
I bought mine at Lowe’s: a 10 pack for ~ $10. They were the sturdiest that I could find for the price. After trial and error, we figured out we needed almost 40 clips due to the extra-wide window and extra-long length of the fabric.
So here’s the preview I gave you when I realized I should have doubled my fabric.
Here is the after! I know the different angle makes it hard to compare, but the sun beaming through the windows makes it nearly impossible to take a decent picture, but you get the jist.
So that is how I made my curtains in under 10 steps. It is actually really easy. The bottom hem can be tricky, but we’ll get to that later.
Here are a few things I learned along the way:
1) Fabric is not breakable, you don’t have to treat it like it’s the linens that wrapped Baby Jesus.
2) If your iron starts vomiting white crap onto your fabric and you are five minutes from sewing and finishing your panel, your hair straightener will make a good closer:
(This was my very first panel, so don’t mind the writing on the lining, I should have cut that off before I tucked instead of after. I was absolutely terrified to cut any fabric until the very end for fear of cutting something I shouldn’t have cut).
3) Expect to suffer from some sort of bodily injury during this process. This wound looks small, but it bled forever.
4) Even though you sewed the sides of the top hem shut, spiders will still throw raves in your curtains. (Had I known this before, I don’t think we would ever put curtains in our house).
5) By far the most important lesson I learned:
“These are not $1200 curtains. They won’t be perfect. But you taught yourself to sew and that’s worth more than any perfect, overpriced curtains from a store.”
Now go make friends with your sewing machine and make those curtains you’ve been too afraid to touch (or whatever it is you want to sew). Stay tuned for how to hem those beautiful babies you just made and the rod that they hang from, and when you finish, come back and show me the pictures!