A step-by-step tutorial for making lined curtain panels. This is a great project for a novice sewer with basic sewing skills.
My friends, you can literally save thousands by making your own custom curtains. If you can sew a straight line, you can do this!
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I want you to have confidence in this tutorial, so let me qualify myself by giving you a little background before we begin.
If you don’t already know, I owned and operated a custom window treatment business for several years. Even though I no longer have the window treatments business, I still make my own draperies and this is the exact method that I use for lined curtains.
Why am I telling you all this? Well….there are two reasons.
- I wanted you to know that because I have experience in this area, the directions that I’m giving you are valid.
- Because of the fact that I had a professional window treatment workroom, you’ll see that I have a huge (5′ x 10′) worktable and a hanging/sliding iron above it. All of these photos were taken in my workroom/sewing room, but I want you to know that you TOTALLY don’t need workroom type tools to make professional quality drapes!
Today, I’m showing you how to make flat curtains from start to finish. Things are a little different if you’re making pleated curtains or rod pocket curtains, but these are the basic steps none the less.
I’ve shared all of my favorite sewing tools and gadgets down below!
A thing or two you should know before we get started:
- Drapery fabric is usually 54″ wide, which is wider than most clothing or craft fabric.
- You’ll get a much better finished product working where you can spread the fabric completely out. If you don’t have a large table, I recommend working on the floor (which I’ve done many times), or two 30″ wide folding tables pushed together, or two sheets of plywood on sawhorses pushed together (be sure to cover the plywood with a vinyl table cloth or protective fabric to prevent snags) to spread your fabric on.
- A regular household iron works just fine – you’d don’t need one geared toward workrooms.
- When flat curtains are open, they mimic the look of pleated curtains. But they are much easier to make and use about one third of the fabric (if you want to completely cover a window).
STEP 1: CALCULATE THE YARDAGE REQUIREMENT FOR EACH CURTAIN
These calculations are to make ONE drapery panel that is one width of fabric wide. If your windows are wider than one width of fabric, you’ll need to join two (or more) widths together.
Before calculating how much fabric you need, you need to determine how high and wide you want the finished product to be. For example, I knew that I wanted my panels to hang a few inches above the window frame, which meant that I wanted the FINISHED length of each drapery panel to be 97″.
You may want a different length of drapery panel than mine, but you can still use this same formula to calculate how long each cut of drapery and lining fabric should be.
TIP: When calculating the finished length of your panels, don’t forget to take into account the height of the drapery rod and how far down the drapery rings will allow them to hang!
Formula for determining the amount of the main drapery fabric:
Add 1″ for the top seam allowance
Add 8″ for the bottom hem allowance (it will be a double 4″ hem)
The total equals the yards of the main fabric needed to make one curtain and is also the length that you need to cut each panel.
Multiply the total by the number of curtain panels you’re going to make to get the total yardage needed.
Formula for determining the amount of lining fabric:
Start with the finished drapery length
Add 6″ for the bottom hem allowance (it will be a double 3″ hem)
The total is how many yards of fabric you need to purchase per panel and is also the length that you will cut each piece of fabric.
Multiply the total by the number of curtain panels you’re going to make to get the total lining yardage needed.
Here’s the formula in chart form, if that makes it easier to understand.
STEP 2: SPREAD, MARK AND CUT THE FABRIC
Unroll (or unfold) the fabric and spread it out smoothly. To get an accurate measurement, be sure that the fabric is square to the cutting surface. Iron out any wrinkles, but check the care instructions for the fabric before using any steam!
Strictly speaking, it doesn’t matter if the fabric is spread right side up or right side down. However, when working with a fabric that has a design (either printed or woven), I spread the main fabric right side up. This allows you to ensure that the pattern is running straight across the width of fabric.
I find that I frequently need to re-square and trim the top edge on fabrics with a design. You certainly don’t want to wind up with pattern that is crooked going across the finished fabric panel.
If your fabric has a selvage on either side, it’s best to remove it. The selvage is woven more tightly than the rest of the fabric and should be cut off prior to marking the final measurement for cutting the main fabric or lining panel.
Mark the desired length and cut.
TIP: The easiest way to help smooth the fabric, is to use a yard stick going from one side to other. It cuts down on the number of times you’ll need to walk around the table.
STEP 3: HEM THE MAIN FABRIC PANEL
Lay the main fabric panel right side down. Professionally made draperies have a double 4″ hem. To create the hem, fold the bottom edge up 8″, then fold half of that under to create a 4″ double hem. Press and pin the hem into place.
Be sure to pay attention to which way the pattern is running on your fabric to determine what the bottom of the panel is!
TIP: Pay attention to the pattern in your drapery fabric. You may need to slightly shift the fold for the bottom hem so that the pattern remains evenly exposed on the front side. No one will notice if you don’t have an exact 4” bottom hem on the back of your panel, but they will notice if the pattern on the front isn’t even across the bottom of the panel.
You can sew the hem into place with a regular straight stitch on your machine – but for a professional-looking curtain, it’s best to do a blind hem stitch that doesn’t show from the front side of the panel.
I recommend hand sewing with a slip stitch, using a blind hem stitch foot attachment for your machine, or using a blind hem stitch machine.
Place the hemmed panel aside.
STEP 4: PREPARE, CUT & HEM THE LINING FABRIC
The lining fabric that I prefer to use is white, cotton sateen drapery lining fabric that weighs about 4.5 oz. But you can also use a 100% polyester or a poly/cotton blend.
Remove the selvage, square the fabric and smooth all of the wrinkles out before cutting.
The finished length of the lining panel should be 1″ shorter than the finished length of the drapery panel, which is reflected in the above yardage calculator.
Follow step 3 for cutting and hemming the lining panel, with the exception being to create a double 3″ wide hem – fold the bottom raw edge up 6″ (instead of 8″) and then fold in half.
Sew the hem into place using the regular straight stitch on your sewing machine.
TIP: The right side of the lining fabric is the side that’s shinier than the other side.
The requirements for blackout lining are a little different than when using regular white lining:
- Measuring and cutting is the same.
- Blackout lining may not have a selvage that needs to be removed.
- If you do not want pin holes to show, use Wonder Clips to hold the hem in place before stitching.
- Use a non-stick needle in your sewing machine. It will not heat up from friction like a regular needle, which will help to minimize the appearance of holes. Light shining through needle holes can be visible from the front of the curtain.
- Use a Mercerized COTTON or a Texturized Polyester thread when sewing blackout lining. These types of thread swell and will tend to “clog” up any holes left by the machine needle.
- Blackout lining tends to be thicker, so use a long stitch when sewing.
STEP 5: JOIN THE FRONT OF THE PANEL TO THE LINING
The way you lay out your fabric pieces is important when preparing to join the front panel and the lining together. You want to make sure that when the pieces are sewn together and turned, you wind up with the back side of the lining facing the back side of the drapery panel.
To join them – lay out the curtain lining and drapery fabric on your work surface with right sides together. Make sure that the top of the curtain fabric and the top of the lining fabric are lined up evenly. Pin the fabrics together and sew with a straight stitch, using a 1″ seam allowance.
TIP: The lining will likely be a little narrower than the drapery fabric, so be sure to center the lining. Don’t worry – the side hems will capture the narrower drapery lining.
Open the joined pieces of fabric up and press the seam open. This might seem like an unnecessary step, but the result will be a nicer, crisper top edge.
Now, flip the fabrics over, so that the wrong side of the lining and wrong side of the drapery fabric are facing one another. Make sure the fabric in the seam is all lying in the same direction and press the seam closed.
STEP 6: HEM THE LONG SIDES
Place the joined fabrics together on your work surface, so that the right side of the drapery fabric is face down (the right side of the lining will be face up). Smooth both fabrics out so that there are no wrinkles in either layer and that the joined fabrics are lying straight.
Assuming that you measured and stitched correctly, the hem at the bottom of the lining should be 1″ from the bottom of the curtain fabric.
Professionally made draperies typically have double 1½” side hems. Keeping the drapery and the lining fabrics together, fold each side of the panel in 3″, all the way from the top to the bottom (including the hem). Press into place.
Now fold the fabric in half, press into place and pin (or clip if using blackout lining).
TIP: Pay attention to the pattern in your drapery fabric. You may need to slightly shift the fold for the side hem so that the pattern remains evenly exposed on the front side. No one will notice if you don’t have an exact 1½” side hem on the back of your panel, but they will notice if the pattern on the front isn’t even from the top of the panel to the bottom of the panel.
To avoid fly away drapes and to make your panels hang nicely, add a drapery weight to the bottom corners of the panel before stitching the side hems in place.
Open up the folded layers at the bottom of each side hem and tuck a weight into the fold. The weight will be held in place once the side hem is stitched.
With the drapery weight inserted, press that area of the side hem again and pin. Remember: if you are using blackout lining, you should use Wonder Clips instead of pinning.
The side hems are another place where you do not want to see stitches on the front side of the panel. Stitch them into place using one of the same methods that you used for stitching the hem on the main fabric.
Here’s a look at the finished panel, after the addition of the side hems, lying on my work table.
Now pat yourself on the back because you’ve just completed making a drapery panel exactly like you would have paid a professional drapery workroom to do!
You have the option of hanging your flat panel drapes from a curtain rod using either sew-on or clip-on drapery rings. I think that they mimic the look of pleated draperies without the hassle of making pleats and I used about a third of the amount of fabric.