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    • SnowyOwl
    • By SnowyOwl 29th Mar 05, 10:28 PM
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    Wanted: Idiot guide to making curtains
    • #1
    • 29th Mar 05, 10:28 PM
    Wanted: Idiot guide to making curtains 29th Mar 05 at 10:28 PM
    I am in desperate need of new curtains (moved into a brand new house, and gave my old curtains to the purchaser of my old place to make her sweet) but the price of shop bought curtains would make your hair stand on end . So, rather than wait for the sales or get cheap ones I don't really like I thought I would make them myself. I've got a sewing machine but lack confidence in measuring, cutting etc etc. I would preferably like lined curtains. Can anybody help out with sources of cheaper fabric (including online - I'm in N.Ireland and the choice of shops here is a lot less than in GB), and also give tips on exactly what you have to do to get a decent window dressing. My preference would be for either eyelet curtains but failing that then tab tops would be fine - and I could use ribbons decorated with beads or plaited ribbons or something as tiebacks, though more suggestions would be welcome.

    Thanks in advance.

Page 1
  • moggins
    • #2
    • 29th Mar 05, 10:31 PM
    • #2
    • 29th Mar 05, 10:31 PM
    I can't use a machine to save my life but if you are then I would have thought tab tops would be just as easy as eyelets if not easier?
    Organised people are just too lazy to look for things

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    • flea72
    • By flea72 29th Mar 05, 10:56 PM
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    • #3
    • 29th Mar 05, 10:56 PM
    • #3
    • 29th Mar 05, 10:56 PM

    instructions on how to make blinds/curtains

    google curtain fabric in NI, should bring up a fair few

    otherwise - have to request brochure - directory listings
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 30th Mar 05, 12:43 AM
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    • #4
    • 30th Mar 05, 12:43 AM
    • #4
    • 30th Mar 05, 12:43 AM
    I am sure flea's site will be a great help. But just to add that with the measuring, check, check and check again. If in doubt, an inch too long is better than an inch too short. You CAN add a bit later, but it never hangs quite right.

    If they are lightweight curtains, you could try using wundaweb to take the hems up. Easy to re-adjust if you get it wrong ...

    If you ever plan to wash your curtains, do it before you cut them to length in case they shrink.

    And you can make your linings entirely separate to your curtains, which has the advantage that if the material of either half shrinks they are not attached!

    the biggest problem with curtains is that they are so big! Hard to find a large flat space to work on for the measuring and cutting!
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    • savvy
    • By savvy 30th Mar 05, 12:50 AM
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    • #5
    • 30th Mar 05, 12:50 AM
    • #5
    • 30th Mar 05, 12:50 AM
    To be honest, the best way I've found to make to give them to your bf/OH/partner's mother to make!! I've had 3 sets done by 3 different bf's mums!! Works a treat!
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  • Magentasue
    • #6
    • 30th Mar 05, 8:52 AM
    • #6
    • 30th Mar 05, 8:52 AM
    I agree with everything SavvySue has said. Start with a small pair, use the biggest table you have or the floor and iron at every stage. Be generous with fabric (I always go for 3x the width, whatever the instructions say) and pin and tack. Don't machine until you're happy with the way they hang. Wash the fabric first and iron, then wash them when they're tacked and iron before machining. Check they're still long enough before machining.

    If you're making them unlined, or you're confident, you don't need to be so fussy. But for first attempts, I'd be extra careful. Heavy lined curtains can be exhausting to make!
    • katglasgow
    • By katglasgow 30th Mar 05, 10:55 AM
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    • #7
    • 30th Mar 05, 10:55 AM
    • #7
    • 30th Mar 05, 10:55 AM
    I have only just moved on from getting my mum to make them, to her telling me how to make them and me doing the work!
    However, I did find when we moved last year that I was able to reuse quite a few pairs of the old curtains from the house we moved into by dying them! If they are horrible anyway you have nothing to lose! I washed them first and then used the Dylon machine dye. I packet per curtain. Obviously a darker colour is ideal. Maybe this might be possible for one pair even?
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  • Lucie
    • #8
    • 30th Mar 05, 11:54 AM
    • #8
    • 30th Mar 05, 11:54 AM
    I made curtains for my spare bedroom last year & they were really simple.
    I bought a double duvet cover (£6 in Asda, plus another for the bed) & a set of curtain linings from good old cheapy TJ Hughes.
    I cut the duvet cover in half, hemmed all the way round (even I can sew in a straight line on a sewing machine) & then sewed them onto the linings.
    I used a metal pole & curtain clips to hang them & they look fab. The size of your windows dictates the size of duvet cover you need, but you can use sheets (already hemmed) or whatever you like.

    I have also made a pair of tab top curtains by attaching ribbon loops as tabs - that was really simple.
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 30th Mar 05, 8:42 PM
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    • #9
    • 30th Mar 05, 8:42 PM
    • #9
    • 30th Mar 05, 8:42 PM
    And I'm not sure what you mean by 'eyelet curtains' BUT if you mean what I think you mean and you are putting lots of eyelets into something then buying the proper punching tool will save hours of frustration. Practice on spare fabric first because - again, if it's what I think you mean - it's counter intuitive how you put the different bits of the eyelet on to get it the right way out.

    If anyone has the faintest idea what I'm rabbiting on about maybe they could explain to Snowy Owl for me!
    I'm a Board Guide on the Cutting Tax; Charities; Small Biz & Charity Organisers; and Silver Savers boards, which means I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. However, do remember, Board Guides don't read every post. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to It is not part of my role to deal with reportable posts.

    Any views are mine and are not the official line of

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  • Luis
    Even I can do curtains! But to stress what others have said - measure the hell out of the job - and iron your hems into place before you sew - I was gobsmacked as to how easy curtains are.

    Good Luck.

    Having said this - Dunelm have offers on curtains at mo - got a set of lined 90''x90'' for £24. Probabaly be stretched to buy the material for that.....worth a look?
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    • SnowyOwl
    • By SnowyOwl 30th Mar 05, 10:28 PM
    • 5,094 Posts
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    Thanks everyone for your replies...loved those websites Flea...think that one of them will be "The One" for this job. Unfortunately living in N.Ireland we don't have a Dunelm, Ikea or it's going to be DIY as I can't face trawling through shops I'm not familiar with (used to live in England, and oh how I miss it!). I don't have another half no hope of getting current, prospective or trainee MIL to help out - there is a definite shortage of millionaire bachelors over here :rolleyes: . Regards actual fabric, that is a good idea Lucie about using duvet covers - especially that the M&S sale is on I could splash out and have matching curtains and bedding . At least we have some good M&S stores here, so that's a definite something to consider. (Is there anyone from N.Ireland reading this who could suggest somewhere other than M&S and Harry Corry??).

    Savvy_Sue - yes I followed what you mean! The eyelets I am thinking of are basically a series of round holes at the top of the curtain an inch or so in diameter and which are finished with a round metal ring to stop the fabric from fraying. Then you'd thread the curtain straight onto the pole. I am thinking now that getting a device to cut the holes and fix the rings in place probably isn't very money saving - if I could even find such an item anyway! I like the tab top ones just as much anyway, and could jazz them up with buttons or whatever.

    Thanks again everyone, I will be very busy for the next few weeks I think.

    • juno
    • By juno 30th Mar 05, 11:03 PM
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    I made my own curtains, and they looked great! The only annoying bit was I sewed most of it by hand, as I didn't want the seams to show. And at one point Eccles was "helping" me, and he managed to unpick a whole seam before I noticed!
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    • Downsizing _for_sanity
    • By Downsizing _for_sanity 31st Mar 05, 9:44 AM
    • 386 Posts
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    Downsizing _for_sanity

    I made some for my spare room in an afternoon when we had some unexpected guests staying in our new house, and didn't have any curtains for their (overlooked) bedroom.

    Measure the width of the window or above the window, wherever you want to hang them from and double it. Measure the length you want your curtains to be and add about 6 inches for hems to be safe. Get a square of fabric that size, cut it in half for 2 curtains and hem them all the way round.

    Get one of those curtain poles from B&Q, Argos etc, or to be really moneysaving, you could even use a length of bamboo pole, broom handle or dowelling maybe sprayed gold or to match your room. Then fold the top of the curtain back over and sew, so you make a "tube" at the top of your curtain, big enough to push your pole through. Then hang your curtains! To make it even easier, instead of hemming the sides and bottom, use Wondaweb or some kind of iron-on hemming material.

    If you can, try not to cut the material if possible. This means that you'll be able to take the hems apart the next time you move or want to change them to a different room.

  • carpool72
    Hello, have used downsized's method to make a quick blind - just added 2 lengths of ribbon to tie it up, and for even less sewing I attached them with little safety pins. I've made several pairs of curtains this year (it's getting addictive!) and my all time favourite no-mess way of hanging them is to sew a load of ribbons on as tabs. It saves you making the tabs, looks really prettyand hangs over any old pole rather than curtain track.
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  • nbt
    Mrs. NBT here,professional curtain maker. Tabs are easier , but you can buy clips, kind of like bulldog clips: they go onto the top of the curtain and then a hook attachment slips into the small rings on your pole.

    For tabs make sure the pole goes a lot higher then the actual window, if the tabs are say 10cm, you won't want the top of the curtain bit falling below the window, letting in light, so make sure your pole is high enough. This means you'll need to account for the extra drop so the curtains aren't too short! Also, make sure the pole is at least 10cm wider than the sides of your window, to stop light leaking inthe sides. I hope you can follow all this.

    Tab topped curtains only need 1.5 times fullness, and be aware when they draw back in daylight the tabs hit each other and can end up taking up light. Again, you can account for this by making sure the pole is a lot wider than your window.

    Now for the making. Start hem first. put on a double hem e.g. fold up 9cm, iron in the fold as well as you can, then turn up another 10cms and iron again. Either hand sew (if you have the time) or machine. I allow 30cms for hems and headings.

    Now cut the lining to the same size, either make them detatchable or to make it easier, bag line them. To do this, you're essentially going to make the curtains inside out: put the outside face of the lining against the outside face of the curtain material, i.e. "right sides" together, and machine down the sides. At this point, fold back one side of the resulting seam and iron so the two sides lie flat. Now turn through so the ouside are showing and your seams are hidden. Again, iron the curtain.

    at this point your two sides are closed, but the top is still open. The bottom of the curtain has a hem and the lining is not attached at the bottom.

    Now fold down about an inch at the top of the curtain / lining to give yourself a hem, and make sure the top is straight. This fold should be to the back so it doesn;t show: it's easier to work with the curtains face down here.

    Now you need to measure from the bottom hem upwards to find an consistent point to add the tabs (this ensures the curtain hangs straight). Take the tabs you've previously made (blue peter style) and lay them in place, leaving about 15 cm gaps between each tab. sew the tabs onto the folded hem (you can do this by hand so your stiches don't show on the front of the curtain, but machining is quicker and easier)

    Now turn the curtain over again and machine sew all the way along the header to hold the lining and the curtain material together, and give a bit of extra support for the tabs

    now go hang them - but that's another job in itself as Mr NBT will testify!
    Last edited by nbt; 31-03-2005 at 8:56 PM.
    NBT : Notoriously Bad Typist
  • stellagypsy
    Ikea have a decent choice of fabric and also cheap BIG curtains that you can buy and alter. I agree with Luis about Dunelms - if you have one of these stores near you it is always worth a look before you commit yourself to making the curtains as they have some really good buys.

    Stella xx
    • Glad
    • By Glad 1st Apr 05, 8:06 AM
    • 17,573 Posts
    • 37,454 Thanks
    just finished making floor-length lined curtaind from a gorgeous suedette material, i use the above bag method to line them ie sewing lining to curtain down both sides and then turning inside out,
    just wanted to add that your lining needs to be 4 inches less in width than the curtain material so that when turned right way out it will pull some of the main material on to the lining side and create a neat finish, I also hem the lining first, make sure the lining is 2 inches shorter than curtain material and leave the bottom inch of lining now sewn to the main material, so at the end you can tuck in and neaten
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    • Nicki
    • By Nicki 4th Feb 08, 5:47 PM
    • 7,131 Posts
    • 25,314 Thanks
    Making own curtains
    I've just bought some fabric to try making my own curtains. Bought the fabric, plus lining, plus heading tape. Is this all I need (aside from thread to sew it of course)?

    Is it as simple as sewing the lining to the fabric at the sides, hemming top and bottom, and sewing on the heading tape at the top? I'm planning on doing floor length curtains so hopefully measuring and proportions shouldn't be a problem, and as my windows are very narrow (only about a metre wide) presumably I don't need to worry about making the curtains more than one width of material wide?

    Any tips much appreciated, as having got the material I don't want to waste it by making really amateurish looking curtains.
  • HariboJunkie
    Hi Nicki.

    I'm a non sewer myself but this site's instructions look pretty easy to follow.
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    • nanamags
    • By nanamags 4th Feb 08, 5:59 PM
    • 305 Posts
    • 284 Thanks
    I always hem the sides and bottom of the curtain fabric and lining seperately. Then place wrong side to wrong side fold over the top of the curtain fabric and attach the heading tape. You can hand stitch the lining to the curtain fabric in places down the sides. I find that this makes them hang better.

    NA N A M A G S
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