How to Sew Curtain Panels

Curtains can make or break a space, so why not have more control over their look? Easy measuring and simple sewing give you a pair of grommeted curtain panels to cover any window with style.

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Preparation: Measuring Your Window

For custom window covers, install the curtain rod before you take your first measurement. The rod should be 2–4 inches above the window frame and the brackets that same distance from the outside edges of the frame. Take measurements as directed in next slide, and fill in the blanks in the equations.

If you have multiple windows in a room, be sure to measure each window, as they can vary even if they look identical. Decorator fabrics are usually 54 inches wide but also could be 45 inches. Either width can be used—just fill in the correct width in next slide. 

Calculating Fabric Yardage

  1. Measure from top edge of curtain rod to the desired finished length = A _____. (Suggested finished length for floor-length curtains is ½ inch above the floor.)
  2. 10½ inches + A _____ = B _____. (This is the cut-length measurement.)
  3. Measure the distance between curtain rod brackets and multiply this number by 1½ or 2 (depending on how full you want curtains to be) = C _____. (The panels shown used 1.5 for the multiplier.)
  4. The width of your fabric is D _____.
  5. C _____ ÷ D _____ = E _____. Round up to the nearest whole number. (This is the number of fabric widths needed for a pair of curtains.)
  6. The fabric pattern repeat distance (if applicable) is F _____ (see "Pattern Repeats").
  7. B _____ + F _____ = G _____. (This additional amount of fabric is needed to match the repeat design.)
  8. G _____ × E _____ = H _____.
  9. H_____ ÷ 36 inches = _____ total yards of decorator fabric you'll need for a pair of curtain panels.
Pattern Repeats: The distance from one complete motif until you see that same one again.

Calculating Lining Yardage

  1. Measure from the top edge of the curtain rod to the desired finished length (line A) A _____. 
  2. 7½ inches + A _____ = BB _____. (This is the cut-length measurement for the lining.) 
  3. BB _____ × E _____ (determined in previous slide) = CC _____. 
  4. CC _____ ÷ 36 inches = _____ total yards of lining fabric you'll need for a pair of curtain panels.

Choose Your Grommet Type

Clip-On Rings

The easiest method for making drapes is simply making two drapery panels, then attaching them to a decorative rod with clips. Be sure to include the height of the rings and clips in the overall finished length.

Loops

For this method, use enough loops to adequately support the weight of the drapes. Remember to allow for the height of the loops in the total length of the finished drapes. To make each loop, sew a fabric tube twice the loop length plus ½ inch. Turn tube right side out, center the seam, and press flat. Fold in half to make a loop, and baste the raw edges to the top of the drapery panel, between the fabric and drapery lining. 

Oversize Grommets

Oversize grommets, available at the fabrics store, slide along the rod, letting your drapes open and close with ease.

Drapery Weights

Make your drapes hang nicely by sewing a drapery weight in each corner of the hem.

Blind-Hem Stitch

A blind-hem stitch is a machine stitch that mimics hand-sewing, creating barely noticeable stitches on the front of your drapes.

Materials:

  • Decorator fabric (determine amount in "Calculating Fabric Yardage")
  • Lining fabric (determine amount in "Calculating Lining Yardage")
  • Curtain rod (no larger than 1 3/8-inch diameter)
  • Mounting brackets
  • Finials
  • 1 9/16-inch-diameter grommets (an even number for each panel, spaced 6-8 inches apart)
  • Water-soluble marking pen

How to Sew Curtain Panels

Step 1: Straighten one edge of decorator fabric; cut off selvages. Cut one fabric width to length measurement B from "Calculating Fabric Yardage."  Using this piece as a guide, cut additional widths needed (E from "Calculating Fabric Yardage"), matching design repeats on subsequent panels. If E is an odd number, cut one width in half lengthwise to create two half widths.

Step 2: Straighten one edge of lining fabric; cut off selvages. Cut number of widths needed (E from "Calculating Fabric Yardage") to length measurement BB from "Calculating Lining Yardage." If E is an odd number, cut one width in half lengthwise to create two half widths.

Step 3: Using a 1/2-inch seam allowance, sew decorator fabric together to make each curtain panel, matching repeats if needed. If using half widths, sew to outermost edge of each curtain panel (Diagram A). Use pinking shears or finish raw edges of seams with a zigzag stitch. Press seams open.

Step 4: Fold up bottom edge of each panel 4 inches with wrong side inside; press. Fold over another 4 inches; press (Diagram B).

Step 5: Set up machine for blind-hem stitch; machine-stitch hems (Diagram C).

Step 6: Join lining widths to make a panel. Use pinking shears or finish seam edges with a zigzag stitch. Press seams open. Trim lining to be 6 inches narrower than curtain panel. Repeat to make second lining panel.

Step 7: Fold up bottom edge of each lining panel 3 inches with wrong side inside; press. Fold over another 3 inches and press. Blind-hem stitch hems.

Step 8: With right sides together, center a lining panel on each curtain panel, aligning top edges. (Curtain panel should extend 3 inches beyond each side edge of lining panel.) Join pieces along top edge with ½-inch seam allowance (Diagram D).

Step 9: Bring lining over to wrong side of curtain panel. Press top edge flat, including remaining ½-inch seam allowance that extends beyond lining (Diagram E). Stitch close to top edge through all layers to prevent lining from showing on right side. Repeat with remaining curtain panel. 

Step 10: On side edges of each curtain panel, turn under 1½ inches twice, encasing lining raw edges; press. Using blind-hem stitch, sew sides in place to complete each panel (Diagram F).

Step 11: With panel lining side up, use watersoluble marking pen to draw a line across panel width 2½ inches from top edge.

Step 12: Plan placement of an even number of grommets along drawn line. Centers of first and last grommet should be at least 2 inches from each side edge and 2½ inches from top edge (Diagram G). Divide remaining distance across panel evenly for number of grommets being used, placing grommets 6–8 inches apart. Using your grommet, trace inner opening at each grommet location.

Step 13: Pin around outside of one marked circle to prevent fabric from shifting when cut. Carefully cut on marked line through all layers to create grommet opening (Diagram H). (Circle should fit snugly against grommet. If opening needs to be made larger later, trim one thread at a time.)

Step 14: Place grommet rim-side up on a hard surface. Gently place grommet opening, lining side up, over grommet. Without distorting fabric, trim opening if necessary to fit over grommet rim. Use your fingernail to push fabric as flat as possible around grommet. Place remaining grommet half on top. Using your palm, apply quick and direct pressure to snap grommet halves together.

Step 15: Repeat to set all grommets. Weave rod through grommets in panels. Set rod into brackets and arrange panels to hang in even folds.

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