Curtains are a great way to personalize your living space! They add function and personality, but sometimes it can be difficult to find just the right drapes to fit your space and style. Today, I’m going to show you a really quick method to sew your own curtains. We’re going to make short cafe curtains, but you can use these same techniques to sew full-size drapes as well!
I have sewn large panels of blackout-lined curtains in the past and it was a big, bulky job! This pretty blue damask fabric has been sitting in my sewing room for YEARS, as I’ve procrastinated what I thought would be a cumbersome task. However, since I didn’t need to line the curtains and I wanted the job to be fast, I finally sewed up four panels and it only took me a few hours of work. I topstitched the side edges, made a simple pocket at the top, and used my blind-hem sewing machine foot to give the bottoms a professional-looking finish. We’re going to go through this sewing tutorial using smaller pieces of fabric so that you can see just how to do it!
The first step, and perhaps the most challenging, is to cut your fabric panels. Hang your curtain rod in place before you begin so that you know the exact size to make the curtains. For each panel, follow the diagram above to determine how large to cut your fabric.
- Measure the height from the top of the curtain rod to the floor (or wherever you want the bottom of the panel to hit).
- Add 4″ to the height for the top casing and 2″ to the bottom for the hem. If you are sewing larger drapes, you will probably want to add 4 ½″ to the bottom for a larger hem, as I did with my dining room panels. For the cafe curtains, I simply used 2″.
- Measure the width of the window from side to center (you’ll base the measurement off of half the width of the window, assuming you’re going to have two total panels that meet in the middle). To achieve a nice gathered look when the curtain is open, multiply the width by 1.5. For even fuller curtain panels, double the width.
- In addition, add width for the side hemming. For the casual cafe curtains, I turned each side under by ¼″ twice and hemmed, meaning that I needed an extra ½″ on each side and an overall 1″ extra width. For the larger drapes with heavier fabric, I recommend turning under ½″ and then ½″ again, meaning that you would use an extra 1″ on each side and an overall 2″ extra width.
Cut your panels – be sure they are all the same!
- Turn the side in (toward the wrong side of the fabric) by ¼″ and press well. Turn another ¼″ and press well. Topstitch the side edge ⅛″ from the edge to secure. Repeat for the other side of the panel.
- Serge the top edge (or simply turn under by ¼″ and press). Turn in each corner toward the wrong side of the fabric, just enough that the very corner is turned under. Press. Now fold the top of the panel toward the wrong side by 4″ and press well across the width of the panel. Note: If you did not serge the edge and instead turned it under, you will need to adjust the fold down measurement to 3 ¾″. Topstitch across the top panel to form the casing – stitch 3 ⅝″ from the top fold.
- If you would like the top “ruffle” on the curtain panel – as pictured in the cafe curtains – you can stitch another line parallel to the first, at 2″ above (and about 1.5″ from the top). Be sure that this 2″ space provides enough room to insert your curtain rod and finial (or that the finial comes off).
- Finally, we’re going to work on the bottom hem with more detailed pictures to follow:
- Turn the bottom edge up (toward wrong side) by 1″ and press well. Turn another 1″ and press well again. (For larger hems, turn up by ½″ and then 4″, for example, if you added 4 ½″ to the measurement.)
- Unfold the hem so you can see the raw edge at the bottom.
- Slightly turn in the side corner of the hem, as pictured above. You want the fold to begin directly below your upper fold line. Angle the fold so that the edge of the side hem falls in line with the bottom fold line, i.e., the fabric is angled in by ¼″ at the 1″ mark (for cafe curtains). You’ll see why in the steps below. Press well.
- Now, refold the bottom hem up on that 1″ fold line. Press the corner well.
- Fold again on that 2″ fold line. You can see that because your corner was turned in by ¼″ at the 1″ hem mark – the folded edge lines up perfectly where your side seam ends.
5. The final step is to secure the hem you’ve just folded! We’re going to use a blind hem. You may have sewn a blind hem by hand in the past and, while it’s truly not visible from the right side of the fabric, it takes some time. Plus, as you know, I’m not a big fan of hand-stitching. So! We’re going to pull out the blind hem foot for our sewing machines and finish these panels off in a snap! You can see the spaced stitches that are visible on the front of the fabric in the picture above – however, this picture was strategically focused to really show those stitches. When you have your curtain pressed and hung, those tiny stitches are barely noticeable and the finished look is a lot nicer than a topstitched line all the way across the bottom of your drape!
- To begin, flip your curtain panel upside down so that the bulk of the fabric is facing down and you can work with the bottom hem pointing up.
- Flip the double-folded hem back toward the RIGHT side of the fabric. Gently press this new fold about ¼″ below the exposed folded edge of the hem. Does that make sense? We’re going to be stitching most of our blind hem stitches on that ¼″ exposed edge – which is just part of the double folded hem and won’t show when we’re done – and then every 5 stitches or so the machine will bounce over and catch the new fold which is how the hem is secured to the right side of the panel. Do not iron this new fold because once you’ve finished stitching, you’re going to want to press the fold out and it will be easier if you’ve just gently hand pressed it. (You can also use clips or pins to hold it evenly in place, but I like to skip steps!)
- Attach the blind hem foot to your sewing machine. Place your curtain panel under the foot with the majority of the fabric lying to the left and wrong side up. Adjust the knob on the foot so that the guide plate rests on the right side of the folded hem.
- Select the blind hem stitch on your sewing machine. It looks like the one highlighted on my machine in the picture above. Vertical stitches to the right with a little point jumping to the left every few stitches.
- Now, STITCH! Be sure that your fabric is set in the machine so that the needle is stitching on that folded hem and skipping over to just barely catch the other side.
- And that’s it! Flip your panel back over to the right side and gently smooth out the fold to reveal your finished hem. Press out the fold and you’re done!
Here’s your finished curtain panel! Now, sew up the other one like a boss, give them a good press, and hang those pretty things up!