Sewing Your Curtains

If your fabric is the right width for your curtains, you are ready to hem them. If not, begin by piecing the lengths together.

Piecing Your Curtains

The best way to seam your lengths together is with a French seam. Begin by deciding where these seams should be. Typically the narrower length should be toward the outside of the window to be less noticeable. Take care to keep all printed designs, naps, and one-way shines in the right direction.

To make a French seam, pin your two lengths of fabric together with the wrong sides together. Sew a narrow ¼″ seam along the edge. Press the seam open, then turn the fabric right sides together and press the seam again. If the fabric wants to slide, pin the seam. Sew a second seam ⅜″ from the first seam to hide the raw edge within the seam. Press the seam flat against the curtain.

Hemming the Sides

Press the sides of each panel under 2″. A sewing gauge is very helpful here. Fold the raw edge under to the fold line. If you are after a country or rustic look, you can straight-stitch the side hems close to the fold. For a more formal curtain, either use the hemstitch on your machine or do the hems by hand. Refer to Chapter 4 for instructions on hemstitches.

Making the Casings and Headings

If you didn't include extra fabric for a heading, press the top of the curtain panels under 4″, and then press the raw edge under in line with the crease. Pin the hem carefully so the corners of the top casing's hem don't extend beyond the side hems. Hemstitch with your machine or by hand.

If you added extra fabric for a heading, press the raw edge under 5½″. Then press the raw edge under 2″. Sew close to the hem edge with a straight or hemstitch. Sew another row of stitches 1½″ from the top edge. This will define the heading, and the casing for the rod will be below it. Either set up a temporary guide on your machine for sewing 1½″ from the edge, or mark the stitching line with pins or chalk.

If you are pressing a double fold for a hem, you can press the edge under and fold it over again, but it won't be as accurate as folding the full amount under first. It's hard to see exactly what you're doing with the second fold.

Hemming the Bottom

Before you hem the bottom of your curtains, compare the panels. Put them wrong sides together to compare the center and outside lengths. Trim one if necessary. Compare again after the hem is pressed under and before you stitch it. If you are anchoring your curtain with a rod on the bottom, make the bottom casing the same way you did the top.

If you allowed 6″ for the bottom hem, press the raw edge under that amount then press the raw edge to the fold line. This hem can be stitched the same way the upper casing was. Or, to be sure the hem allowance doesn't stick out beyond the sides, you can fold the corners under. To do this, fold only as far as the side hemstitching as shown in FIGURE 5-1. Be sure the lower corner is still sharp. Blind-stitch along the diagonal crease to keep it from coming out.


Hemmed corner: Turn under the end, but keep the corner sharp.

In some situations, such as when an air vent is directly under your curtains, you might want to add more weight to the lower hem. There are chain weights made for this purpose, or you can use a length of ball chain like that used for light pulls. Run them through the hem and stitch them at each end. You could also use metal washers in the corners. Plan to remove them when you wash the curtains, or they might rust and stain the curtain. Be careful also that you don't use weights so heavy that they stretch your curtains or tear the hem.

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