How to make the body of a Curtain
In this tutorial, we will be explaining how to make the main body of a curtain. There are different techniques depending on which curtain heading you want. So once you have made the body of the curtains (or curtain) please go to the tutorial ‘HOW TO INSERT YOUR CURTAIN HEADING’ to complete your curtain/s.
The following tutorial will show you how to make a pair of curtains (or a single curtain) with a professional finish and assumes that you have a moderate level of sewing skill.
- White or Ivory thread for the lining
- Thread to match your main fabric
- Covered pennyweights
- Hand sewing needle
- Sewing machine (domestic or industrial)
- Tape measure
- A large space to work in i.e. dining room table or lounge floor
- Be sure to make sure your surface is clean before you start!
- You will need items for the curtain heading but these will be found on the next tutorial
General information before you start
- You should have measured your window and know the finished width and length you will be making your curtains. Please refer to ‘GUIDE TO MEASURING CURTAINS’ for this if you haven’t already done so.
- You will have referred to our curtain calculator and selected main fabric option, inputted the sizes of your window, chosen your main fabric, inputted the fabric width and any pattern repeat (clicking on either half drop or straight match) and chosen which curtain heading you wanted. With this information, the calculator will have told you how many widths of fabric you need to make your curtains. It will have taken into account the fullness required (based on your chosen curtain heading) and the width of your fabric. It will have also told you the length you will have to cut each width; again taking into account the pattern repeat and the seam allowance (the seam allowance will have been automatically calculated and added to your cut lengths based on the curtain heading you have chosen).
- You should already have re-visited the curtain calculator and selected the lining option and have inputted the sizes of your window again, but this time you will have selected the curtain heading you have chosen and the fabric width. This will then tell you how many widths of lining you will need and the length you need to cut them. The seam allowance for the heading and hems will have been included in the calculation.
- Check your fabric for flaws before you start. If you find any flaws do not cut your fabric and refer back to the company you purchased your fabric from.
- If you find any flaws and have purchased fabric from Rachel Robinson Interiors please contact us before you cut your fabric. (see terms and conditions)
Step 1 – Cutting your main fabric and linings
- Having checked your fabric for flaws and with your sizes to hand; mark out your first cut with a pin in the selvedge. If you have a patterned fabric check to see where the pattern will start in relation to your finished drop. The calculator will have allowed 6” for the hem and around 4” for the heading. If you have purchased the fabric from us then our calculator will have given you the option of an extra pattern repeat so you can choose where your pattern will start on your curtains. If you have purchased it from elsewhere carry on pining each cut to make sure you have enough fabric.
- Once you have decided on where your cuts are, re-measure and check again!
- The rule of thumb is measure twice cut once.
- A little trick to make it easier when checking is to fold the fabric over back on itself to make sure they are the same length
- Also after you have cut the first one you can also place the next length (before it is cut whilst still on the roll) on top of your first cut to make sure the pattern matches up. CAUTION! IF YOU DO THIS MAKE SURE WHEN CUTTING YOUR SECOND PIECE OF FABRIC THAT YOU DON’T ACCIDENTALLY CUT THROUGH THE LENGTH YOU HAVE ALREADY CUT HIDING UNDERNEATH!
- Once you are happy with your pin lengths, cut the number of lengths specified from your main fabric ensuring that the pattern matches up (as a double check).
- A professional tip is to put a pin in the top right-hand corner on the front of your fabric of each length you have cut. When working with plain or textured fabrics it can be hard to tell which is the top and which is the bottom of the fabric. Depending on the fabric you can get a shade difference if one width is upside down and it’s not always easy to tell until the curtains are hung. Then it will be too late, so better to check as you are going along!
- With all of your full-lengths cut from your main fabric, now cut any half widths you may have. For example, if you have a pair of 1.5 widths you will have cut three lengths from your main fabric, you will need to put 2 of those lengths to one side as you don’t need those for now. The third width though, you will now need to fold vertically (so the selvages are together on top of each other. Then cut vertically down the center fold splitting it into two. Each of the half widths you have cut would then be split between the two full widths so you will have 2 x 1.5 widths (1 full width and one half of a width). You need to do this for the main fabric and for the lining later!
- Now fold your main fabric and put it to one side for the time being as we are now moving on to cutting our linings out.
- Again as with the main fabric get your lining and check for flaws.
- Once you are happy with the fabric cut the number of lengths specified.
- If you have any half widths fold vertically and cut up the middle as in task 4.
- Fold and put them to one side.
Step 2 – Joining the lengths of fabric together (main and lining)
- Having cut your main fabric into the correct lengths and you have multiple lengths, you will then need to stitch them together. If you have a pair of curtains that is a single width in each curtain (or total) then move onto cutting your linings out. After you have done this move along to Step 3 – Hemming your fabric
- If you have chosen a pair of curtains, the curtain calculator will have specified how many widths are in each curtain i.e. cut 3 lengths in total, 1 x pair of 1.5 widths, etc. If it is a single curtain it might say something like cut 3 lengths, 1 x single curtain.
- Note if you have a half-width of fabric it is the rule that the half-width is always positioned on the outer side of the curtains so make sure that when joining your lengths it is on the correct side! (It looks better)If your main fabric is patterned, match the pattern up with the front sides together (so the rear of the fabric is facing up and down AKA right sides together), pin the lengths together down the selvedge checking the pattern as you go. Once you have pinned one seam open the fabric up to check that it matches. If it does now sew the seam together using the matching thread to your fabric.
- A professional tip here is to not only pin vertically but horizontally as well. The best way to keep your pattern from slipping is to have one vertical then one horizontal pin.
- You can keep the horizontal pins in the fabric and you don’t have to remove them when sewing. The needle in your machine will slip over it (don’t try sewing over the vertical ones as they have glass heads on and the machine needle will break!)
- A professional tip here is after you have sewn around 12” or 30 cm (keeping your fabric underneath the sewing machine) it is best to stop sewing and open the fabric up slightly to check that your pattern matches. If it doesn’t then stop and unpick it and try again. If it does carry on until you have sewn the length of the fabric together.
- Once you have sewn your fabric together repeat this step with the next seam. Making sure that you are attaching the correct number of widths together until you have sewn all your main fabric together into either 2 x pieces of fabric if you are making a pair of curtains, or 1 x piece of fabric if you are making a single curtain.
- A professional tip here is that some fabrics have a spring in the selvedge and gather up slightly. To combat this you can cut the selvedge a little way in which will relieve the tension and will generally release the gathering. Be careful not to cut too far though as you don’t want to cut your stitching!
- Another tip is that sometimes fabrics have printing details listed down the sides with print colours and manufacturers’ details on. If you aren’t using a blackout lining sometimes this writing or printing can show through to the front of the curtain. If this is the case you can cut the writing off. But before you do it can give you some good pointers.
- Firstly if it has colour dots down the sides then those are the colours that are used in the fabric print. You can keep this and use it to match up accessories.
- There can also be a + sign printed on the side. This generally indicates the pattern repeat so you have a visual if the pattern is hard to find
- The + is also a marker for joining your widths together and look for this when sewing the seams together which will help
- Now join the curtain linings in the same way(although there will be no need to pattern match these)
- Please note that the linings will be shorter in length than the main fabric, do not worry about this as the linings sit higher up than the main fabric!
- If you are making a pair of curtains you should have the following.
- 2 x main pieces of fabric (joined together if there is more than one width)
- 2 x lining pieces of fabric (joined together if there is more than one width)
- If you are making a single curtain you should have the following.
- 1 x main piece of fabric (joined together if there is more than one width)
- 1 x lining piece of fabric (joined together if there is more than one width)
- Now turn your iron on to the correct temperature and with the front side of your fabric face down (seams facing up) press the seams open on the main fabric and the lining fabric. This will help the curtain sit better when it is hung.
Step 3 – Hemming your fabric lengths
- Take your main fabric and put it face down with the top of your curtain furthest away from you and the bottom of your curtain closest to you. Turn the bottom of the fabric over by 6” if your fabric is patterned follow the pattern and press the fold line in as you go along. This will become the finished bottom of your curtains.
- Next measure 4” up from the finished bottom of your curtain and tuck the excess fabric (2”) in so that no raw edges are showing. Press the fold line in with the iron.
- Pin along the folded line you have just made to temporarily secure the hem in place.
- Now you need to get your hand sewing needle out and use the herringbone stitch to sew the hem in place.
- Next, you need to repeat this with your next piece of main fabric (if you have a pair of curtains)
- Your main fabric is now ready for the next stage so put it to one side for now whilst we work on hemming the linings.
- Put your linings face down (open seams facing up) and measure 3” up from the bottom and fold your fabric up pressing the fold line with an iron as you go.
- Now measure 2” up and tuck the raw edge behind and into the hem press the fold line again with your iron.
- Pin the fold you have just made to temporarily secure it.
- Thread your sewing machine with the cream or ivory thread and sew the hem of the lining.
- Do not do this to your main curtains as it will look terrible on the front of your curtains but it looks fine for the rear!
- Repeat the step so that both pieces of the lining are hemmed.
Step 4 – Joining the main fabric and the lining together
With all of your pieces of fabric hemmed, it is time to join your linings to your main fabric. If you have a pair of 1.5 widths, take one side of the main fabric and one side of the lining fabric.
- With the hem closest to you, the main fabric should be face-up on the table and the lining face down directly on top. At this point make sure (if you have a half-width in your curtains) the half widths line up on top of each other. If they aren’t then you have the wrong piece of lining fabric and you will need to swap them over!
- If neither of the half widths of lining is on the same side as your main fabric, something’s gone wrong! The chances are that you have hemmed the top instead of the bottom of one of your linings! This is a common mistake to happen and is easy to fix if you have a standard sateen lining. Unpick the hem iron it out. Turn the fabric so the hem you have just unpicked is at the top and re-hem the bottom following the hemming instructions. If it has happened and you have used a blackout lining, then you will be left with a stitching line along the top of the rear of your curtains. This is a personal decision as to whether you will be happy with these stitch lines across the back of your curtain or not? They won’t come out with ironing so you will need to start again and get more fabric if you aren’t happy with the finished result.
- When you have the right lengths together as listed above maneuver the lining so that the hem of the lining is 2” higher than that of the main fabric hem and line up your leading edge first (the side that hasn’t got a half-width.
- Pin the lining and the main fabric together down the length of the curtains i.e. down the selvedge vertically.
- Using your thread that matches the colour of the main fabric and sew down your pin line joining the two fabrics together.
- Now lay the curtain out on your flat surface with the lining on top (still with the front of the fabrics facing each other) and go to the seam you have just sewn. Pull the seam/ lining horizontally about 3” so that the stitch line is no longer on the very edge and is 3” in (you should see 3” of the main fabric now in a straight line down the leading edge of your curtain.
- Straighten out your lining now still ensuring that the 3” doesn’t shift and go to the other side of your curtain. You may find now that your lining is wider than your main fabric. If this is the case measure how much the lining overhangs the main fabric and take a note of it. If it doesn’t and it lines up then you can skip this next step and move onto number 9
- If your lining is wider than your main fabric say 5” then you will need to trim 5” off the whole length of the lining vertically. To do this measure all of the way up to your curtain lining (not the main fabric) pinning a line as you go. Then cut off the excess fabric.
- Once the lining and the main fabric are the same widths then pin them together. Again making sure that your lining is 2” higher than the hem on your main fabric.
- Once they are pinned sew the seam.
- You should now have the main fabric and the lining sewn in a loop.
- Repeat this step with your second curtain.
- Finally lay the looped curtain on your flat surface with the main fabric facing down and the lining facing up. Note your curtain should still be inside out at this stage. Even out the sides so that you have a return of around 1.5” on each side (i.e. the main fabric comes round the back so you can see it by 1.5” on each side). Level the bottom up so that the lining is 2” higher than the main fabric all the way along with the curtain.
- Once the fabric is straightened out you are now ready to move onto ‘Putting your curtain heading in’ Please go to the next tutorial to finish your curtain off and follow the instructions of the curtain heading you have chosen.
- Please note there is one more stage to do on the body of the curtain which is inserting your weights and mitering the corners but we have included how to do this at the end of inserting your curtain heading as it is the last thing you do when making a pair of curtains.
Also please note that we are currently constructing our fabric calculators. Whilst we get this sorted please email us with your sizes and we will be happy to email you back with the sizes you need. No charge as we are happy to help.