How to Sew Curtains

Instead of subjecting yourself--and your wallet--to sky-high home-store prices for curtains, it pays to go to your local fabric shop, pick up some material and do it yourself.

Sew CurtainsSew Curtains
To make your own draperies, you only need a beginner's knowledge of sewing. With just a basic straight stitch on a sewing machine, you can create beautiful, practical curtains in minimal time that complement your home decor.

Determine what function your curtains will serve. Do you want to allow most of the outside light to shine into your home? Then choose from sheer, breezy materials, such as gauze, lace, chintz, taffeta or linen. Mid-weight fabrics allow for filtered sunlight and additional privacy. These include cottons and cotton/polyester blends. To keep out heat in the summer and block drafty windows in the colder months, heavier fabrics, such as velvet, damask and corduroy will do the trick.

Decide what kind of curtain rod you'll be using to hang the curtains. A 1-inch-wide rod needs a 2-inch pocket at the top of the fabric in order to easily slide it into the curtain. For a 3-inch-wide curtain rod, a 4-inch pocket is necessary.

Measure the material, and cut two identical pieces. For tie-back curtains, the total width of fabric must be wider than the window. Using scissors or a rotary cutter, cut a piece of material that is 36 inches wide and 66 inches long. Using the same dimensions, cut a second piece of curtain fabric--again, 36 inches by 66 inches.

Finish the sides of each piece of curtain fabric. Face the material right-side down, and on one of the long sides, fold the fabric in 1 inch. Then, using an iron set on the correct heat for the fabric, press down the seam. Fold over the fabric one more time, another 1 inch, to hide the ragged edge. Again, press with a hot iron to set the seam. With the sewing machine, use the straight-stitch setting, and sew across the top of the hem to secure it. Repeat these steps to hem the opposite long side of the fabric. Then follow these steps to finish the sides of the second piece of curtain material.

Sew the top pocket for the curtain rod. For a 1-inch-wide rod, fold over the top of the material 1 inch, and press with the iron. Fold over another 2 inches, and again press the seam. Straight-stitch across the fabric as close to the inner fold as possible to make a wide pocket. The drapery rod will be inserted into this pocket when you are ready to hang your curtains. Repeat this process on the second piece of fabric. For a 3-inch-wide curtain rod, follow the steps above, but make the second fold 4 inches deep.

Make a 1 1/2-inch hem on the bottom. On each piece of material, fold over the remaining ragged edge 1 1/2 inches, and press the seam with the iron. Fold it over another 1 1/2 inches and iron again. Using a straight stitch, sew across the length of the fabric to tack down the hem.

Iron your curtains. The two pieces of finished material should be ironed in order to remove wrinkles and prepare them for hanging. This allows the curtains to drape more beautifully, too.

Things You Will Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Lightweight, mid-weight or heavyweight fabric
  • Coordinating thread
  • Ruler
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter
  • Iron

Tips

  • For longer windows, measure your fabric accordingly and adjust your measurements so that the finished product is 6 inches longer.
  • Insert your curtain rod into the top pockets so that both pieces are facing the same way, and hang the rod from the window hardware.
  • Use store-bought tie-backs to pull the curtains to the sides, and let in additional sunlight.

About the Author

Nicole Canfora is a freelance writer and copy editor located in Northern New Jersey with 14 years of journalism experience. Her work has been published in In Touch Weekly, Quilts, Quick Quilts, Vicinity and The Star-Ledger. She is the author of Images of America: Belleville, published in 2002.