Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to make a Simple Curtain

Hi. My brother asked me to make some curtains for his basement, and I thought I would write about it, since it is so simple. I made the curtain in less than an hour, and it will probably take me longer to write the directions!

This is for a tiny bathroom. The window measures 25 inches wide, so I got fabric that was 44" wide. This curtain doesn't have to open, so I just made it as one panel, enough to brighten up the basement bathroom. Otherwise, I would have cut the fabric in half along the length and made 2 panels.

Step 1, measure the window. Measure the width (if there is a rod, between the ends) and about how long you want the curtain to be. In this case, I made it about 24 inches long, which will make the room look a little taller. Normally, you want your fabric to be about1 1/2 to 2 times the width of the window, so this works fine for this little window. The math is: width x 2 and try to get fabric that width. If not, you can sew lengths of fabric together to make it as wide as you need, then cut it in half for 2 panels. I went simple here. One width, one panel.

Step 2. Determine the rod pocket measurement. Normally thin rods need a pocket of about 1 inch. Wider rods need more. This was skinny, so 1 1/2 inch works. That means I need to add 3 inches to the length, so I can have that cute little ruffle at the top, plus 4 more inches for the hem. So I cut my curtain, which I want to be about 24 inches long, at 31 inches. The finished length plus 3 inches for header and 4 inches for hem =31. Onc inch for the ruffle, 1 1/2 for the rod pocket and 1/2 for the turn under on the raw edge. Wider rod? Add 1 to 2 inches for the ruffle, the width of the rod pocket, plus 1/2 inch. No ruffle? Just the rod pocket width plus the 1/2 inch to turn under.

Step 3: Press! Yes, you need a good steam iron and ironing board or surface with a folded bath towel. Use your ruler. Press in 1 inch along the side, in this case, the selvage edge. Press it in again, so it is folded in.
Press it flat.
Do it to both sides.
Check if your design has a direction (like all the cupcakes go one way, or the flowers, or if the fabric has a nap {not sleep/nap, a brushed finish like corduroy or satin} and make sure it goes the same way. You want to press the hem in what will be the bottom.

Step 4: Once you determine the bottom, press up 2 inches. Press it well.
Turn up again and press along the new fold.
This uses 4 inches of fabric, and gives a nice weight to the bottom of the curtain, so it hangs well. Don't be skimpy and only fold it up once. You really do need the double hem, and it looks professional.

Step 5: Press down 3 inches along the top.
Open this up and press down 1/2 inch along the raw edge (cut edge). This makes the header. DSC01633

Step 6: Set up your sewing machine with matching thread. If your fabric is heavy, consider using a size 14 needle. This was cotton quilt weight fabric, so I used a 12.
Do you see that little brown scrap of fabric? That is called a jump or frog. I don't know how it got the name, but it helps to keep the knots and tangles off the curtain, so I do recommend using a small scrap. Just sew on it, and "butt" your good fabric in close to the end, and no knots and tangles! Start along one side of the curtain, and stitch the length. On my machine, I follow the 25 line to make sure I am straight. I don't follow the edge of the fold, since that is on the back. The stitching looks better if I keep straight on the edge. The stitching should be close to the inner folded edge of the hem. See the needle, and the line I follow? Do both sides.

Step 7: I mark a line on my machine (any type of marker works, or a piece of masking tape, or a post it note) 2 3/8 from the needle. A Clorox wipe will remove it later. I keep the fabric (header fold) along this line. DSC01641 Fold in the little corner so it doesn't show in the rod pocket. DSC01643
Stitch, and remember to fold in the little corner at the other end. DSC01644
Clip the threads, and stitch the part for the ruffle, in this case 1 inch from the needle (25 line). DSC01645

Step 8: The hem. You can just stitch this, too, like you did the sides and top, DSC01646
Or you can do a blind hem. I have a foot for my machine that helps this kind of hem. I switched to my D foot, and set my machine for a blind hem. DSC01647 DSC01648

The little bump in the foot helps to keep the stitches neat. Fold the hem part under, so about 1/4 inch shows. You will stitch on the "folded hem" part and the needle will catch in the curtain. Practice on a scrap piece if you haven't tried this before, but it is easy! Watch where the "catch" stitch is, the one on the left. If it is too large, adjust this (I usually put it at 2 or 2.5, not 3 like in the photo. I did adjust it after taking the picture). It looks professional. DSC01649
This is the back of the curtain where the hem was stitched. DSC01653

See the tiny stitches on the front? Perfect! Oh, and these stitches won't unravel like the factory stitches do.

Stitch the hem, and then press and hang your new curtains! Cost for this window was about $4, and is much nicer than the "cheap curtains" stores.