Looks like we have what we like to call a good old fashioned predicament here.
Everybody likes the look of window treatments, whether they be shutters for the contractor types, plantation blinds for their function, or draperies and curtains for their softer and more relaxing appearance.
But not everybody feels the need to call a contractor. For the do-it-yourself types, it's just another fun project where you can really put your creative abilities to the test.
so how do we do it?
First, you need to measure your length.
We recommend measuring from the floor all the way to 2/3 the distance between the top of the window frame and the ceiling. For a more in-depth article about curtain sizing, check out our previous blog post here.
Normally you would add 16" to this measurement, but since we measured all the way to the floor let's just add 15 1/2". You can add or subtract length according to taste. However, we don't recommend subtracting any more than an additional half inch for a total of an extra fifteen inches. This helps you avoid curtains that are too short for the window they hang in.
Next, measure your width.
We recommend measuring an additional six to ten inches inches past each side of the window to allow the curtain to fully open without concealing the window. This is really important on these beachfront houses and condos near Panama City Beach and Inlet Beach!
Now take that figure and double it. This will ensure that your curtains have a nice, full appearance. No skinny mini draperies for us, no sir!
Now it’s time to get to work.
These curtains are more for decoration and light filtering than anything, so let’s just use the fabric as is without attaching a liner to the back. This is going to make the sewing much easier as well.
These taller windows are where wider drapery and upholstery fabric really make your life a whole lot easier. But first let’s get the fabric ready for use. Using a straight edge, mark a line along the length of the rough area at the top and bottom of the fabric. This is called the selvage, and it may look cool but curtains and selvage aren’t exactly friends. Trim it off so your curtains hang correctly.
Now that that’s complete, you can choose which direction you want the fabric to run. Most drapery and upholstery fabrics come in widths of either 54” or 118”. Assuming you have a wide enough fabric that has that extra 15 1/2 inches we added to the overall length, you can simply turn it sideways.
It it may not sound like that big of a deal, but that stops you from having to sew multiple panels together to form one solid drapery panel. Believe us, it’s a huge time saver. That’s why we always recommend fabrics that come in 118” widths.
Get to sewing!
Each side of the curtain must be folded twice, each fold consisting of one inch of material. Make sure and use a ruler to keep those edges square! So fold once, press with an iron (unless you’re using a fabric that isn’t heat safe), then fold again and press a second time.
Now for the side stitches.
Make sure your needle is strong enough to penetrate the three layers of fabric we now have before us. A #14 needle should be perfect for the occasion. Now place your stitch along the two folded edges we’ve placed at each side of the curtain. Don’t get too close to the edge or you might risk falling off the side of the drapery. An eighth of an inch away from the folded edge should do the trick. A good stitch length to use is 3.0 for just the right amount of strength.
A trick we like to use is placing a piece of tape on the sewing machine as a reference point so we can sew more quickly without having to keep our eyes on the tiny little measuring marks on most sewing machines.
Now do the same for the top and bottom of the drapery, but with different measurements.
On the bottom, make and press two folds of three inches and sew. Starting this seam with the sewing machine can be a little difficult due to the thickness of the fabric, so we recommend placing a piece of fabric behind the foot to help get it started.
Now do the same for the top, with each fold being five inches.
Time for the grommets!
Mark your “crosshairs” where the grommets will be placed exactly 2 1/2 inches from the top of the drapery and 2 1/2 inches from the side. A good general rule for distance beteeen each grommet is 9 inches, but this can of course differ depending on window size. A little quick math should do the trick.
Now use the template that came with your grommets and draw a circle around each ”crosshair”. Now cut those holes out and pop the grommets in place and voila! You’re done!
Congratulations, you’re up there with the pros!
you deserve a beer.
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Robert Huey is the Emerald Coast's leading expert on window treatments. From a humble beginning as an installer for interior designers in the area, he has rapidly become an expert of every single type of window treatment, both interior and exterior.