Man Made Curtains

by Josh on April 20, 2011 · 8 comments

in Kitchen,Projects

How does a man make curtains?  Apparently with little flowers on the fabric.

For my first real sewing project since a duffel bag in 8th grade Home Ec, I wanted to make some cafe curtains to go with the new paint color in the kitchen.  Despite the substantial gap in my stitchery resume, I was pretty sure this project would go just fine because it really only takes a bit of careful measuring and four or five straight line stitches to make a curtain.  No problem.

As I alluded above, I did in fact pick a fabric with cute little flowers on it.  The yellow detail on the flower is a great tonal match for the kitchen paint, and the background sage is a nice coordinate.  I was going for a pattern look that looked vintage but not stuffy or dowdy, and I think I did pretty well.  The pattern also proved a great choice for another reason I hadn’t expected or planned: the small regular pattern made it really easy to set straight lines with the iron by matching the pattern at the crease.

For my curtain design, I wanted to keep things simple and clean looking.  This means a single curtain panel, width of about 1.5x the window size, and no extra ornamentation.  Here are the steps I followed in my curtain construction:

Sewing Window Curtains

  1. Cut the fabric to to 1.5x sash width by sash height plus 10 inches.  For my 27″ by 25″ window sashes, I measured 42 inches wide and 35 inches tall.  The extra width provides gathering on the curtain rod, and the extra length provides the top and bottom hems and the rod pocket.
  2. Press, pin and stitch 1/2″ on each side of the fabric along the entire length.
  3. Press and pin 1/2″ at the top of the fabric and then measure another 2″ down and press a crease.  This will create a 2″ overlap, with the 1/2 ” top edge folded back up inside the overlap.
  4. Stitch a straight line along the bottom edge of the 2″ overlap to create a pocket, then bisect the pocket with another stitched line to separate the top hem from the rod pocket.
  5. Press and pin 1/2″ up from the bottom of the fabric.
  6. Install the curtain panel in the window, then fold and pin the corners to set the curtain height.  Press along the line established by the pins– this hem should be about 5 inches.
  7. Sew along the top edge of the bottom hem to finish the curtain.
  8. Hang the curtain panel!

Not only was this a fun and easy part of my kitchen project, but it was affordable, too.  The cafe curtain rods cost just $6 and with help from a 30% off sale at the fabric store I spent an additional $17 on the curtain material.

Kitchen Project Cost Tracker

  • Material: $17
  • Cafe rods: $6
  • Sewing machine and thread: $0 (on hand)
  • Previous work: $111

Total so far:  $134

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

beth Haiken April 21, 2011 at 12:03 am

Nice job on the curtains! I used to always make my own but fabric’s gotten so expensive now (and pre made panels so cheap) I don’t always – but these are very cool.


Josh April 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Thanks, Beth. I haven’t followed fabric prices, I was glad to get this material on sale. It seems like the craft stores around here have adopted a “high base/high coupon” pricing model because they seem to offer 10-20% off coupons in their newspaper circulars every week.


Elle April 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Great fabric choice! As a former home ec major, I have one suggestion: Make 2 more panels – just like the two you made. Hang two in each window, so that the panels can be pushed apart in the center, allowing young children to look out. Fuller curtains (more gathering than what you currently have) will also look much richer. My teachers taught me that DIY/homemade should not look cheap.


Josh April 23, 2011 at 10:36 am

Thanks for the suggestions, Elle! I can certainly see the advantages of a two-panel curtain and I’d seriously consider making them that way if I was just beginning. However, historic bungalow / Arts & Crafts window dressings were more simple in material and less full in measure than today’s standard. The 1.5x window width measure that I used may not look as rich as something more gathered but it’s more appropriate to my house stylistically and historically.


Adam April 25, 2011 at 10:33 am

Nothing wrong with a guy doing a little sewing… I did have to laugh, however, at your sewing machine. Did you choose it because it too is age appropriate to your home? Just kidding. The curtains look good; I like how you hung them inside the trim to showcase the woodwork.


Josh April 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Well, at least I’m consistent… Actually, I got the sewing machine because it’s all metal, it’s built like a tank, and I could buy it cheap. The vintage looks are gravy. 100% pure awesome gravy.


brandi June 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm

You’re lucky that the pattern worked out for you as far as straight lines. So many times nowadays the prints are screen printed on crooked and you can’t use the pattern to get good straight lines. It ends up being very frustrating! You did a great job and they look really nice.


Josh June 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Luck is right, Brandi! It never occurred to me to check whether the pattern was square with the fabric before I bought it. And I didn’t think of using the pattern to help make the cuts and creases until I was into the project.


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