Our team of curtain makers at TM Interiors Limited, from our own in-house workroom with over 35 years experience, have put together a step by step guide on how to make a pair of made to measure curtains. In this example the curtains have a basic pencil pleat heading with lining and two widths in each curtain.
We will cover other examples such as eyelet curtains, and blackout curtains another time. If your attempting to make curtains then it is adviseable to have some sewing skills and suitable equipment. If of course you consider it too difficult you can always consider our made to measure curtains service. If you do decide to your able to understand how to make curtains then you could always consider purchasing a designer fabric from our extensive ranges and get going. Good Luck!
1. Take a look at our measuring guide, or alternatively search on you tube for a video on how to measure for curtains, to help you understand what window measurements are required for the different curtain headings available. Before starting you will need to know how many widths of fabric (drops) and you need and the exact finished length of the curtains. .
2. Prepare to work on a clean table or suitable spacious flat surface
3. Prior to working with your fabric ensure you have the correct fabric, and not only that but you know which is the face side and at this stage ensure you have checked before making any cuts into the fabric.
4. Now unroll the fabric, face side up, around a couple of meters and step back and if the fabric has a pattern repeat decide on the best position for the pattern to fall in relation to the top and bottom of the finished curtains. Remembering to allow for turnings, plan and pin for the first drop of fabric where to make the curtain hem.
5. Allow a measurement of 15cm (6”) for hem turnings plus a suitable allowance of 10cm for the top/head turning (enough to allow the raw edge to finish behind the heading tape – example 5cm (2”) for 3” pencil pleat tape). Cut the first drop of curtaining and leave this drop face up on the worktable.
6. So you should now have the first drop of the finished curtain length on the table with additional 10cms on the top and 15cms on the bottom the next thing to do is roll more fabric on top, face to face.
7. Now align the new length of fabric by its edge and check the pattern matches exactly, and once confident pin the two pieces of fabric to hold them in position.
8. Having matched it to the first drop, cut the second drop of fabric to length, remembering to allow for hems and tops as before. Where pattern repeats are concerned you may have fabric waste at this stage to cut off from the second drop but this is often unavoidable.
9. Where a pair of curtains have been planned with just one width in each the cutting procedure is now complete and you may move onto stage 16 below.
10. Where either a pair of curtains or single curtain of more than two widths is required and your fabric has a straight horizontal match proceed with cutting a third drop.
11. If your pattern match is a half drop or staggered and you have 1 1/2 drops in each curtain please move onto to number 14.
12. When pattern matching the curtain fabric we advise to unroll the fabric face side down, so it is face-to-face with the folded half of the second drop, and hold in place with a pin.
13. Allowing for turnings, and cut off the third drop, remove waste as before.
14.If your making standard pair of curtains with 1 1/2 drops in each you have finished cutting all your drops. Ensure the 1/2 widths go to the outside edges as this generally looks better so now cut along the centre line of the middle drop (one of the 3 drops cut earlier) therefore creating two pinned curtain panels of 1 1/2 drops in each. Please note if your pattern match is not a straight match, meaning that the pattern is not horizontally matched to the next drop you need to pay care and attention to the cut positions of the cuts to ensure you have a correct pattern match.
15. If your pair of curtains has more than 1 1/2 widths, maybe 2 or 2 1/2 widths then repeat the same process laying fabric face to face, pattern matching, pinning and taking into account turnings and cutting to length so you have all the drops cut out required for making you curtains.
16. Now cut your linings. If the lining is the same width as your fabric, you will need the same number of drops. If the fabric is more than about 10cm (4") wider than the lining, you will need to allow extra drop(s) of lining to fully span the fabric width. If the fabric is a bit narrower than the lining, you can trim off excess lining at the making-up stage.
17. The linings should be cut to include 15cm (6”) for hems and enough turning at the top to finish behind the heading tape, 5cm (2”) for pencil pleat tape. Because the finished lining hem will sit 2.5cm (1”) higher than the curtain hem, the total cut length of the lining in this case will be curtain finished length less 2.5cm (1") (set up from hem) plus 15cm (6") (hem turning) plus 5cm (2") (top turning).
18. Cut the required number of lining drops. Make half-widths where appropriate to coordinate with half-widths of fabric for example, for a pair of curtains with 1 ½ drops in each curtain.
19. The lining drops need to be seamed by aligning the edges and straight stitching with a sewing machine down the length, just inside the lining selve edge. Remember to identify which side of the lining will be the visible side and if joining lay these sides together so when joined the selveedges will be on the back of the lining. Use an iron to press out the seams.
20. Press the lining hem over twice, 7.5cm (3”) and 7.5cm (3”). Machine or Hand Sewn along the top of this hem with a straight stitch.
21. As with the lining the fabric drops need to be seamed together, and if your curtains are using plain fabric the process is much the same as described for the linings above. Where patterned fabrics are concerned, with drops laid face to face decide when the best line runs down the drop of the fabric to achieve a good pattern match and use an iron to press along the line for best match position. Pin the match in place using as many pins as you may feel necessary.
22. Repeat the process explain in number 21 for each seam line.
23. With fabric face-to-face carefully machine sew with a straight stitch along the seam lines,
24. Place fabric face down on worktable and use an iron to press out the seams thoroughly.
25. Some selvedges may be “springy” causing the fabric to gather a little. If so, making little snips into the selvedge at 10cm intervals to relive any tension in the selvedge stitching.
26. With the seams done you are can now make a start on finishing the curtains. You first work on the fabric of the curtains, with one curtain at a time laid face down on your worktable.
27. At the bottom of the curtain press up a 7.5cm (3”) crease and then a further 7.5cm (3”) crease, for a double-turned hem. Next fold the hem back open and press a 5cm (2”) turning down each edge of the curtain.
28. Now make true mitres in the bottom corners of the curtain. To make a mitre, unfold along the crease lines that you have made for the second hem turning and for the side of the curtain. With the first of the two hem folds left in place, turn press the corner of the curtain at 45 degrees passing through the point at which the edge fold line and the second hem fold line intersect. Your curtain will now appear to have angle corners. Now fold in the edges and the second hem fold. Your curtain will now be square again at the corner, with a neat flat join on the back angled up from the corner where the side turning meets the hem. Press with an iron.
29. Lock stitch the side turnings just catching the face of the fabric with a long running stitch – anything up to 15cm long.
30. Prepare curtain weights by sewing them into little lining pockets, which can be made from scrap pieces. These pockets are to prevent any metallic residue on the weights making marks on your curtains.
31. Hand stitch weights into the corner mitres and into the hem at the base of each vertical seam. The weights should be placed in the fabric layers away from the face of the curtain.
32. Sew in the mires by hand, along the folded diagonal line.
33. Hand stitch along the folded hem with a herringbone stitch along to top fold of the hem, just catching through to the face of the curtain.
34. The hem and 2 sides of your curtain is now complete. With your first curtain still on your worktable, now lay in the lining. You can attend to the other curtain preparation later.
35. Lay the lining reverse-side down onto the reverse side of the prepared curtain, setting the finished hem of the lining 2.5cm (1”) up from the finished hem of the curtain, and aligning one vertical unturned edge of the lining with one finished edge of the curtain. Do not worry about aligning the other edge just yet. Pin in a couple of places to hold the lining in place.
36. Turn in the raw edge of the lining down the length of one side by 2.5cm (1”) and press. The turned edge of the lining should now be 2.5cm (1”) back from the finished edge of the curtain. Slip stitch by hand down the lining edge, catching through to the curtain fabric beneath, with a stitch length of about 1cm (3/8”). At the bottom of the curtain, continue this slip stitching about 3cm (1 1/4")horizontally along the lining hemline from the corner.
37. Smooth out lining across back of fabric to ensure that the two components are lying flat together.
38. Trim down the whole length of the second side of the lining so that the cut edge of the lining is level with the finished edge of the curtain.
39. Turn in the edge of the lining 2.5cm (1”) press and stitch as before, including going around the corner at the hem as before.
40. With the curtain carefully laid flat on the worktable, lining side up, measure up from the hem the required finished length of the curtain and turn over the curtain and lining together to make a fold at the required finished length. Press down along this fold and pin temporarily. With practice, you can combine this with pinning on the heading tape. Repeat the measure and pin operation across the whole curtain, checking the length at least every half-width of fabric.
41. Prepare a length of heading tape – for example 7.5cm (3”) Pencil Pleat tape – by pulling out the gathering strings from one end and knotting them securely together on the reverse (non-pocket) side of the tape. This prevents the strings pulling through the tape when you come to gather up the curtain heading.
42. With the knotted end of the heading tape at the outside (“return”) edge of the curtain (when viewed from the face side of the curtain!), pin the tape along the top of the curtain in preparation for stitching. (You can set the tape down if required to suit your track or pole specifications). The pins should be placed at the top of the tape to allow for cutting off excess turning (see below).Remove any temporary pins that you may have used when turning over the curtain top to length. At the far edge of the curtain, cut the heading tape about 4cm (1 ½”) beyond the finished edge of the curtain, pull through the gathering strings to the pocket side of the tape, about 4cm (1 ½”) from the cut end of the heading tape and fold the tape over to form a turning, such that the edge of the heading tape is set within the edge of the curtain.
43. Now that the tape is pinned in place, cut away from under the heading tape any excess fabric or lining turning in such a way that the trimmed line of fabric and lining is just within the depth of the heading tape, which will then act to hide the raw edges. Do not trim shorter than you need, since the “spare” fabric can come to the rescue if the dry cleaners shrink the curtains.
44. Pin at intervals across the bottom of the heading tape.
45. Of course with a suitable thread colour machine sewn a stitch straight through all layers across the top and bottom of the heading tape, while handling the curtain through the sewing machine. It is always handy if you have a side table next to your sewing machine to take the weight and bulk of the curtains as you sew.
46. The curtain should now be ready for a final press and ready to hang. Should you not be in a position to hang then you fold the curtains lengthways than across and ideally drape them across a pole or coat hanger.
47. Now repeat the process for the next curtain.
The fabric used in this demonstration on how to make curtains is a stunning Watts of Westminster fabric Isolde F0254-04.