By Claire Joyce-Johnson
I live to make, but I find that the number of projects I wish I could take on in my life far exceeds the amount of time I have to invest in crafty activities. The DIY experiments that tend to take precedent in my life are ones that are useful or help with the never-ending task of decorating my home (something I consider useful, but I suppose that point could be argued). In this monthly column I want to present you with projects I find useful – crafts I have made and used in my life.
My husband and I are expecting our first child in January, so I have had nesting and re-decorating on the brain lately. As I began reinventing the nursery-to-be, I found myself working on a simple project that can help change the feel of a room for babies or grownups. Pulling a room together can happen quickly when you use touches of fabric, and curtains are just one of those nice touches that provide a great way to show off fun material (it is also easy to switch out if you get bored with the pattern or color).
In this tutorial I will show you how to make one of my favorite, simple types of curtains. This curtain stands a bit taller than the rod that supports it and boasts a larger, smoother gather than the curtain with a long channel stitched across the top that many people like to dash off. These curtain panels work best with slightly heavier fabrics, making them ideal for showing off stunning prints or exciting textures. I selected a bold print from Ikea for my baby’s new curtains.
Curtain rod and installation hardware *
Ruler or measuring tape
2 panels of fabric **
* If the window you wish to hang curtains from does not have one, install a curtain rod. For this type of curtain, it is preferable to purchase one that can extend slightly beyond the edges of the molding around the window.
** The amount of fabric you need for this project is dictated by the measurements in Step 1. You will need enough fabric to cut two panels that measure 1.5 times the width of your window by the desired height of the curtain plus 11″ (allowing for hems and the extra 3″ that will stand above the curtain rod).
Step 1: Collect the following measurements from the window you are covering:
- The width of the window from the outside of edge of the molding.
- The height of the window from the ledge to the curtain rod.
- The height of the window from the ledge to the top of the window molding (you can make the height of this curtain 5″-8″ higher than the curtain rod if you wish. My curtains are 3″ taller than the curtain rod).
Note: Some people prefer curtains to hang to the floor. I like mine to stop at the window ledge. If you prefer curtains that hang longer, adjust your measurements accordingly.
Step 2: Take one panel and lay it face down. Double fold a 1″ hem along the long sides of the panel and iron it in place. Use straight pins to hold the hem in place.
Step 3: Stitch the side hems in place using a sewing machine.
Step 4: Once again, place the panel face down. Double fold another 1″ wide hem across the top edge of the curtain, repeating steps 2 and 3.
Step 5: It is good to have a wider hem at the bottom of the curtain to help it hang nicely. For the bottom, double fold a 3″ hem. Iron, pin, and stitch it in place.
Step 6: Using leftover fabric or another fabric that will not show through your curtain (I used plain white cotton), cut a strip of fabric that is 4″ wide and 40″ or 50″ long (you will need more or less of this depending on how wide your curtain panel is).
Step 7: Fold your 4″ strip in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch it closed. You will be left with a long tube of fabric. This will create the tabs that hold your curtain on the rod.
Step 8: Cut the long tube of fabric into 4″ lengths and stitch one end closed on each length. Snip the corners from the newly closed end so they are at 45-degree angles.
Note: The number of 4″ lengths you will need for your curtain will depend on the width of your curtain panel. On each of my curtains, I used six.
Step 9: Turn the 4″ lengths right-side out and iron them flat.
Step 10: Lay your curtain panel face down and measure 3″ down from the top hem. Use a ruler or a straight edge to mark a line. Measure and mark a line 3″ below the first 3″ line.
Step 11: Evenly space the 4″ tabs along the line you marked 3″ from the top hem. I allowed 5″ between each tab on my curtain (you can allow a spacing of up to 8″, but no less than 5″). Lay each tab down with the open end of the tabs overlapping the line you drew by about 1/2″ – the closed end should extend over the top hem. Pin them in place.
Step 12: Stitch each 4″ tab in place using the line you marked on the fabric panel as a guide.
Step 13: Fold the tabs towards the line you marked 3″ below the one you just stitched. Iron the tabs flat and pin them in place.
Step 14: Stitch the tabs in place using the line you marked as a guide.
Step 15: Iron the entire curtain panel to remove any wrinkles.
Step 16: Hang your curtain by threading the rod through the tabs you sewed in place. I like to loop the tabs on the outside ends of the curtains on the rod where it extends beyond the curtain hardware – this hides the hardware and allows the curtain to stretch beyond the edge of the window.
Step back and admire your work! This simple project can dramatically change any room in your house with a bit of color or a bold pattern.
About the Author:
Claire Joyce is an artist and college teacher in Eureka, California. Since purchasing a new home she is constantly discovering new and exciting ways to better craft her life.