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A Spot of Curtain Making!

After recently moving into a new flat and starting off sewing the basics such as cushions and laundry bags, I decided it was time to tackle something a little more ambitious but absolutely necessary: curtains.

This was the window, or rather the balcony door I needed to tackle…

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…while admittedly this isn’t the best picture you get the general idea – it’s a great big rectangle of a window so nice and straight forward right? Well…not so much.

First task, taking the correct measurements ready to buy the fabric! As it turns out, and as I quickly learned, this isn’t as straight forward as simply measuring the height and width of the window.

While those certainly are two vital measurements, I also had to account for hemming the bottom of the curtains and the amount of extra material needed to construct the top of the curtains.

There are lots of options there. I could either do tab top curtains, sew on some simple curtain tracking, use metal rings or, as I eventually decided, I could make a simple tunnel at the top of the curtains to slide the pole through.

I then had to decided whether or not my curtains would be gathered or pleated in any way, again to help calculate how much material would be needed. As I’m on a budget and the flat is full of clean lines – the final decision was to make each curtain as a completely flat panel. Therefore, when the curtains are drawn together the overall effect will be like a painted canvas or feature wall rather than very voluptuous curtains.

Than meant every measurement had to be perfect!

All in all it was decided that I would need 5 and a half metres of fabric plus roughly the same again in lining material. I needed so much extra fabric because the pattern I chose had a particularly large repeat.

The benefits of buying fabric from haberdasheries with experienced staff like the team here at Needlecase, is that you can go in with your measurements of your window and an idea of the style of curtains you want, and the staff will be able to calculate how much fabric you’re likely to need based on the print you choose. That expertise saves you an awful lot of tricky maths!

With the fabric home, me and my mum set to work cutting out the two rectangular panels we needed for each curtain. The biggest challenge here was ensuring the edges we were cutting were perfectly straight.

To ensure this we measured the point where we needed to make a cut at equal intervals along the fabric. We made a chalk mark at each point we measured and then after all the chalk marks were made, we used a ruler and chalked a line through all the dots. Thus we had a perfectly straight line to work to. However to make doubly sure we wouldn’t get drawn of course, we also ironed a fold along that line too to make it clearer.

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Once we had one curtain fully cut out, to make certain our measurements were correct before starting the second, we tried it up against the window. That’s easier said than done admittedly but it did give us a good idea as to whether we were on track or not.

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Knowing we were heading in the right direction, we simply cut out the second curtain to match the first, ensuring the pattern repeat was the same by measuring the fabric from the same point at the top.

Once cut out we lined the fabric. This was a devilish task as there was so much fabric to run through the sewing machine. We had to ensure while sewing that the weight of the curtain itself didn’t pull the curtain off centre making our sewing wonky. To do this a good tip is to work on a larger table than normal so you can drape the fabric across it, to the left of your sewing machine. This helps support the weight of the fabric so it doesn’t drag as much through the machine.

Once lined, we simply made the tunnels at the top for the curtain pole. We measured the diameter of the pole and then doubled it to give the depth of the tunnel. By making it extra wide it ensure the curtains will pull back along the pole easily.with the curtain tunnel sewn in place it was time for the first moment of truth. Hanging them up!

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As you can see things were looking pretty good at this stage! The curtains covered the width of the window and the pole fitted easily into the tunnel we had sewn at the top of each curtain and the pattern matched up. That means all that excessive measuring had been absolutely worth it.

Our next job then was to hem them.

We decided to leave hemming them until after they were hung so we could properly decide in situ so to speak – where the best length would be. I decided that just skimming the floor would be the ideal length as it would help maintain that look of clean lines and straight edges.

So it was simply a case of getting down on the floor and pinning them to length. An extra deep hem was used to give the curtains a little extra weight at the bottom to pull the curtains straight and hang properly. As we had already accounted for the extra fabric we needed for hemming when we measured, this particular part of the project went smoothly.

The curtains were hemmed up by hand so no stitching appears on the front of each curtain. This was the more time consuming method but equally the more aesthetically pleasing one too.

After that it was a case of hanging the curtains up once again and added the extra detail if curtain tassels to finish them off. What do you think?

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