Your Guide to Sewing The Perfect Curtains

MAY 9, 2017 updated Jul 13, 2021

If you’re just starting out with sewing, one of the best projects to tackle first is curtains. With just a few straight seams, you’ll make a huge impact and learn a few key basics. Plus, it’s something you get to enjoy every day in your home, out in the open for guaranteed “oooo” and “you made those???!” remarks. Grab your iron, sewing machine and scissors as former Spoonflower staffer Theresa takes you through each and every step to sewing the perfect curtains. 

Birch, please! Curtain fabric design by Willowlanetextiles.

Materials

1. fabric

2. Scissors or rotary blade

3. straight pins

4. clear ruler

5. iron

6. self healing cutting mat

7. water soluble pen

8. seam ripper

9. seam guide

Choosing a Fabric

We’ll be using a basic medium-weight fabric that’s perfect for curtains: the Linen Cotton Canvas Ultra. It has a lovely texture and drapes well. Due to the height of our windows, we needed about 3 yards per panel.

When choosing a fabric, consider the necessary function of your curtains. Do you want light to stream in, and will privacy not be an issue? Go with the Poly Crepe de Chine or Kona Cotton. Trying to insulate, keep out drafts or create black-out curtains? Choose Lightweight Cotton Twill or Eco Canvas, and line the curtains with something sturdy for added stability and thickness.

Measuring Your Window/Determining How Much Fabric You Need

Determine the length you want your curtains to be by measuring from the curtain rod to the spot where you’d like the bottom of the curtain to fall. Add 18” to this number; this is the length of fabric you need for each curtain panel. (The extra 18” will give you enough fabric to hem each panel, plus allow for fabric shrinking during pre-washing.)

Now, determine the width you need. For this tutorial, we’re using Linen Cotton Canvas which has a width of 54”. If you don’t need a particularly full or gathered curtain, you may decide that one width of fabric is enough for your panel. If you prefer a more gathered look, you’ll want the fabric to be anywhere from 1.5-3 times wider than the actual window width.

Step 1: Prep your fabric and trim the selvage

Once you’ve ordered your Spoonflower fabric and receive it in the mail, you’ll want to get started sewing right away but trust me, prepping your fabric will be worth it in the end! Be sure to wash and dry your fabric on a gentle setting in cold or warm water.  You’ll notice it includes a blank area of unprinted fabric on the left and right sides (vertical across the long sides) and a smaller area of unprinted fabric along the top and bottom (along the width). Your first step is to trim off this area. It’s easiest to do so with a clear ruler and a rotary blade with a self-healing mat underneath, as shown below. If you don’t have these things, just use scissors!

Step 2: Trim your fabric down to size

Step 3: Hemming

Grab your seam guide and begin by folding over half an inch and ironing.

Having a furry sidekick always makes for better sewing!

Pin the hem you just folded about every six inches

Start stitching! Use a straight stitch of about 3 mm, edge stitch as close as you can to the inside of your hem as shown below.

Once you finish one of the long sides, repeat those same steps to sew the other side of your curtain panel.

Sew the bottom edge.

For the bottom edge hem, you can make this as deep as you would like. Some curtains have a bottom hem that’s as deep as 3 or 4 inches. I’m choosing to create mine at the same half inch double hem as we did on the side. Just as before, measure and fold your bottom edge one half inch, then fold over half an inch again. Press, and pin every six inches.

Stitch the bottom edge with the same straight stitch.

Sew the rod pocket at the top of your curtain

Measure and fold the top of your fabric over at least 3 inches (depending on the diameter of your curtain rod). Press and pin in place.

Edge stitch again with a straight stitch. You can place colorful tape on your machine as a stitch guide if you would like. It will be easier to stitch this hem from the wrong side of the curtain, but the result will look nicer if the top thread is showing on the right side of the fabric. For that reason, I like to sew from the right side, and this is where your tape can really come in handy (as shown below).

Voila! You now have a finished curtain panel. Repeat the same process for your second panel, and you’ll have a complete set of window treatments to awe and inspire your guests. Looking for more ways to customize your home decor? Check out this easy tutorial for re-upholstering dining chairs. You’ll be on your way to a handmade home in no time!

XO-

Theresa

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  • Suzanne Melton

    Thank you!

    I haven\’t sewn for years but I bought a brand new sewing machine two years ago and haven\’t used it yet.

    I also have fabric for five different curtains but I\’ve been so \”chicken\” to even try.

    Maybe I\’ll pull out the sewing machine and try a curtain for the small window in the back door.