Hi I'm Frankie, and I'm a self confessed ‘bodge it' sewer, and today I'd like to share my journey to making easy DIY curtains! I love up-cycling clothes, making alterations, and sewing for the home. I like finding quick and easy projects that reward me right away, because when I'm not sewing, I'm doing yoga. With this small time frame in mind I made curtains. What!? You might be thinking, such a big project, and it sounds technical. Don't be put off, it was really easy, and the finish, (I think), is pro!
So, you must be wondering why I decided to make curtains? Well, I just moved to the country in France and bought a very old house with MASSIVE windows, which are too beautiful to replace, but too drafty to live with! Standard curtains were not long or wide enough, and curtains are really expensive to buy, especially custom ones. So I figured, how hard can it be..??
Here I'll go through with you how I made my curtains, using plastic grommets and I'll let you in on the little errors I made/nearly made so you can make a better job than me. I've uploaded some photos for you so it's easy to follow the project. I think one of the best things about making your own is the massive choice of fabric you have. This means you can pick exactly what you want! I had two ideas in mind… Luxury, for our bedroom, to go with my Louis XVI bed, and thermal fabric for the rest of the house, to help us stay warm. I love my bed so much, found it in a french antiques shop for 100 bucks, and it's in great condition…
If you are a pro at curtain making, but are new to grommets, check out my grommet tips, at number 10, this was where I had to correct some errors!!
Ready to see how I got on?! Here we go…
- I started out measuring my windows, if you are doing your own, don't forget…
- Add on how far above the window the curtain rail will be.
- Plan how long you want the curtains – if you want them to keep you warm they'll need to touch the floor.
- Width for enough overlap at the sides.
- Length and width for seams! I allowed about 8-10 cm each side for a simple seam and equal top and bottom, 15 cm, so they look balanced.
- Extra width to allow the curtains to fold loosely when closed. They'll look funny if they pull too tight. I used the whole width of the roll of fabric per curtain. Be flexible, look at the fabric you want to buy and see how it can work for you, so you get the most out of what you buy. As a guide if your window is 150cm like mine, you need between 250 and 350 cm width of fabric. Remember, I am on a budget , we can be flexible here!
- Buy fabric. As well as color, think texture, and practicality. Thermal fabric can make a huge difference to heating your home, by blocking cold air by the window, and not letting it chill the room. Weight is good for curtain fabric, because they will hang more naturally.
- You might want to line your curtains, I didn't because I am on a budget, but also because with the thermal fabric, it's just not necessary… (amazing stuff)… You could also choose to use thermal fabric as a curtain liner, but to be honest I've only ever seen this stuff in Europe but here's where you can get it at Amazon UK.
- So I'm home now, and it's time to snip. Where my fabric was patterned I made sure it was all orientated the same and I cut the fabric up, found coordinating thread and contrasting thread, an iron and loads of pins, and I was ready to go.
- At the side edge of each curtain panel I folded over about 3 cm and pressed. If it presses well, this is all you need to do and then I folded it again about 4 cm and pinned.
- With contrasting thread I did a really loose hand stitch (tacking) and removed pins, and pressed it again. This will secure it better for machine sewing and especially if your curtains are long it will stop bunching in the fabric as you work down.
- Then it was time to sew. Straight down, nice and easy after the tacking, then you can just pull the tack out. And I'm going to press again with hot iron. The raw fabric edge is folded under, so there won't be any fraying.
- Then it's to the top of the curtain, where the grommets are going to go. I just used plastic ones, and even in the thermal fabric, 2 layers, they worked fine. I folded over 3 cm, pressed with iron and folded again 10-15cm, (enough depth for the ring), and pinned. With this double fold you don't get raw edges, which is good if your fabric frays.
- Again, I tacked, pressed, sewed, pressed.. and that was most of the sewing work done for now.
- Measure for spacing the grommets. TIPS.
- You need an even number of grommets, or the curtains won't hang right, (you'll get an S shape instead of an M)
- If your curtain rail is really close to the wall, you can't leave much space between the grommets, or the bunching of the curtains will be too deep and the curtains will be trapped against the wall. In the photo below, my spacing was way too wide, the curtains were just too wavey, (too high ‘amplitude!'). I ended up spacing at about 20cm, which was good.
- Keep your grommets off the 3cm fold you did, where you sewed to hide the raw edge, because you might end up catching the fabric, which will be too thick to press the grommet together.
- So, placing, I think it was 4cm from the edge for the first one and I spaced them evenly after that. I used 8 rings for each curtain, so that's 16 grommets for the whole 150cm width window, (8 on each curtain).
- Circle inside the ring, and for mine I had to cut just wide of that circle.
- TIP. If you are doing multiple curtains, and you are sure they are the same, then just use the first curtain as a template when you have cut out all of the holes. That way they will be lined up the same.
- Place each half of the grommet on either side of your hole and press firmly together. Mine made a click.
- Then I hung the curtains, so I could admire my work, and it was then that I measured and pinned for the hem. I like to be sure I had the right length.
- Same as before, fold 3cm, and press. Then folded again same as top 10-15cm, pressed, pinned and tacked before sewing. This nice wide fold at the bottom also gives some weight to help the curtains hang nicely.
This was really SO easy! I'm sure there are some super techniques I could have used to work more professionally, but I'm all about simple and get it done, and I wanted to show you that with very basic sewing skills and a bit of time, you can make your own curtains too!
In summary of materials I must say, Dritz plastic curtain grommets – really good, even on thick fabric. Also… Thermal fabric – amazing. Really easy to work with, presses well enough, and doesn't fray, hangs nicely and warms the place up!
Good luck, and please let me know any of your own tips, or indeed how you get on, if you attempt curtains of your own!! If you like my article, and you like yoga too, come visit me at www.getintoyoga.com!