In 1981 my mum bought me a book, “Sewing” by Ann Ladbury, the Mary Berry of Sewing. This has been my bible of curtain making ever since and I am now sharing Ann’s brilliantly simple book with a few tips from me and my mum.
Making a curtain is simple, the only sewing skills that you need are cutting a straight line and sewing a straight line. Add to that using a steam iron: my top tip is press every seam as you go.
Now you’re ready, let’s go
What equipment do I need to make curtains?
- Pair of long, sharp scissors for cutting fabric
- Steam Iron
- Long Pins
- Tape measure or a metre long, wooden ruler
- Loads of matching thread
- Loads of basting thread in a contrasting colour
- Seam unpicker
- A big space to lay everything out
I prefer cutting and pinning out curtains on the floor, especially if you have fitted carpets (so the fabric doesn’t slip around) …but remove rugs before cutting the cloth! Otherwise find a big table to lay the curtains out.
Making Unlined Curtains
- Measure your window following instructions here and cut your fabric to size. Fold in a double hem 1.25cm down each side, press into a crisp fold and baste or pin into place. Machine stitch the edges down but hand sew velvets and satins. Measure and double fold up the bottom hem. Press and pin in place, stitch by hand or machine.
- For a crisp look on soft fabrics, stiffen the top of the curtains with iron- on interfacing. Cut a strip 1,25cm narrower than your top hem and don’t overlap the side hems. Iron the strip 1.25cm in from the raw or cut edge. If you are not gathering the curtain using heading tape, turn down the raw edge 1.25 cm over it and then turn down the top hem, press with the steam iron and pin or baste in place. If you are using heading tape for the gatehring then cut the interface the same depth as the top hem and iron in place it along fabric edge.
- Stitch the top hem by machine. If the heading of the curtain is not to be gathered so that you can show off the fabric design sew hooks or rings to the top edge.
Choosing the right heading tape
I can’t better Ann Ladbury’s instructions but my top tips are
Don’t knot the loose cords at the end of the curtain use a Ruflette Cord Tidy. If you take your curtains down to dry clean them, or wash them you will need to undo the cords and flatten out the curtains. Untying the knotted cords is a real pain.
Just remember to position the loose cords at the outside edge of each curtain.
Click here for a guide to width allowances for the different heading tapes and always double check with the sales person.
How to Make Lined Curtains
There are a lot of different weights for curtain lining, the heavy blackout lining is almost rubbery on one side and its also good with draughty windows. Because the blackout linings are bulky I always make them as a detachable lining, really handy when you take large curtains to the dry cleaners, see below. For a really simple explanation of how to make up a curtain just look through figures 1, 2, and 3. It’s all there…
For me, John Lewis in Kingston, London is the best department store for all things curtains an lots of valuable advice, Oxford Street used to be the best place for all your curtain and it’s still ok. Recently, I have swopped my allegiance for Dunelm they have a really thorough haberdashery and their collection of fabrics is small but good value for money and a good selection of Orla Keiley. IKEA do a cheap range of fabrics in their Scandinavian styles and some simple haberdashery at hard to beat prices.
On my Pinterest page I have collected loads of fabric designs and curtains styles, click through to BuildMumahouse to look through and get inspired…