It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to sit down at my machine and sew. Lots and lots of things have taken place in the past month, and because of that I just haven’t had the time, strength, or interest in doing any extracurricular activities. I won’t go into detail about what’s gone on so as not to deter attention away from this post. If you are interested in reading more about me, I recently opened up my former blog again, Simply Z. In it are all posts about my life apart from sewing.
As life continues on, however, so shall we. This week in particular has slowed down a little, so I was able to find some time to get a new sewing project in. As I’ve mentioned before, the Hubs and I have been wanting to do some renovations in our home, so we decided to start with the kitchen first. At this point we should have already been deep into the reno. However, as I said, we had a series of unfortunate situations take place, and it put all our plans on the back burner for now. Eventually we will get started up again.
While we are waiting though, I thought I would get a head start with the decorating aspect. Lately, I’ve been scouring the net, Pinterest, DIY sites, and craft stores for inspiration. As far as sewing goes, I’ve really been wanting to sew up some curtains for our kitchen window for a while now. Since I’ve always loved the whole Farmhouse/Country theme, I wanted to go down that route. I’ve been seeing lots of cute country kitchens with a buffalo plaid color combo that I find so adorable.
I particularly like the black and white color scheme (which will go well with our future-new kitchen) so I searched around for some drapery-weight fabric and found a really nice, medium-weight cotton duck cloth from BestFabricStore.com.
The cotton fabric has a nice weight and feel to it. I was afraid at first that because it is quite opaque and medium weight that it wouldn’t let as much light in during the day. But as I held it against the window when the sun was at it’s brightest in the kitchen, I found that the room had a nice balance of shade and light.
My current window treatments consisted of both drapes and a valance, so I wanted to have the same design with the new curtains. In order to make your own you will need to first measure the width and length of your window, as well as install your curtain rods if you don’t have them up already. Sewing up curtains is actually quite easy, and, if you are a beginner sewer, this is a great project to do to gain some sewing skills under your belt.
**When making both a valance and curtain panels, you will want to have fabric that is both long enough and wide enough to accommodate your measurements for each piece. Getting the length of yardage won’t be a problem since you can get as many yards as you need. Width of yardage, however, can be limited depending on the bolt it comes on. While there are no true standard widths, the common measurement for fabric when cut from the bolt is usually 36″ or 44″ wide. Home decorating fabrics usually (but not always) come in 54″ widths. Some bolts even have widths of 100″ or more! So when choosing your fabric, pay close attention not only to how long your fabric needs to be, but also how wide their bolts are so you can avoid any mistakes, get the most out of your fabric needs, and avoid overspending on extra yardage.**
For my curtains, the whole length for both valance and panel measured around 50″, so I needed at least a 54″ wide piece of fabric to accommodate the lengths of both. The total yardage I needed was between 2-3 yards, so I purchased 3, and have a little bit left over to make a placemat or a short table runner, which I plan to put on our new island when we build it.
To Make a Valance:
To sew a valance, first measure the length between your installed curtain rod, not your window. However long you made your curtain rod is how long your curtains will extend over your window. Whatever measurement you have, add about 15 inches to that. The reason for adding extra inches is so your finished valance will have some drape to it. This is a style preference, so you do not have to do this. I happen to like my curtains “a little drape-y.” The extra inches gave my window valance just the right amount of drape (what I like to call “The Goldilocks Standard“–not too little, not too much, but just right), so depending on your taste, you can add a little less, or a little more than the 15″ to the width. For the desired length of my valance, I basically just took the measurement of the current one I had in the window and used that, and then added extra inches for the seam allowance, and to make a casing for the curtain rod to go through.
So for my measurements specifically, the width of the curtain rod is 45.5″ (For reference, our curtain rod was hung with about a 1/2″ extra space between the window edges and the rod bracket. This is to allow for the curtain to completely cover the window.) The seam allowance for the the left and right sides is 1″.
- 45.5″ (curtain rod measurement) + 15″ (for drape), + 1″ (for seam allowance), gives me a total of 61.5″ for the width.
For the length, I wanted mine to be a total of 12″ long. In order to hang the valance, you need to make a casing for it. This casing is where you will put the curtain rod through. The casing will be 3″ and will be folded and incorporated into the total length of the valance. The seam allowance for the top and bottom is 1″.
- 12″ (desired length) + 3″ (for the casing) + 1″ (for seam allowance) gives me a total of 16″ for length.
Here is a visual representation of my measurements:
After you’ve cut your fabric to size, you can start prepping and sewing up your seam allowances.
- the seam allowance is 1″ all around (1/2″ left & right and 1/2″ top & bottom), so on each side, first iron in a 1/4″ seam. Then fold over another 1/4″ to seal each seam.
- Take it to your sewing machine and finish the hems with a straight stitch on the two short sides and bottom hem ONLY. (The top hem of the valance will be kept sealed, but unfinished)
Now you will make the casing for the valance.
- Fold and iron the unfinished top hem over 3″. Finish the hem with a straight stitch.
- At this point, you can choose to keep the casing as is, and when you hang it, it will hang flat on the rod with no decorative “ruffle” at the top. If you would like to add the ruffle, you will have to move up about 1 1/2–2″ from the finished stitch and sew a straight stitch through the hem again. This will leave you with a 1 1/2–2″ casing opening and a 1 1/2–1″ ruffle on top. I happen to really like the ruffle detail on top so I put one in.
And that’s it for the valance! Once finished, I hung it on my window and it looked great!
Loved the length, loved the slight drape, and loved the little ruffle detail on the top. Now all I need are the panels!
To Make Curtain Panels:
Curtain panels are easy-peasy to make and very similar to making the valance. The only difference is that curtain panels will obviously be longer, and, depending on your preference and window size, you can make just one long panel, or go with two (or more) panels.
For the width of the window, I again measured the distance between my panel curtain rods and got 46″. Since I wanted two panels, I had to divide that by 2. My measurement for one panel is now 23″. And of course, I wanted curtains with some drape, so in order to do that, simply multiply your panel width by 1.5 for “gentle” gathers, or 2 for full gathers (if you are using sheer fabric, multiply by 3). The seam allowance for the width (left & right side) is 1″.
- 23″ (width for 1 panel) x 1.5 (for gentle gathers) + 1″ (for seam allowance) gives me a total of 35.5″ width.
For the length, I didn’t need to measure my entire window because I have a valance. I only needed to measure from the 2nd curtain rod down to the bottom of the window. The top and bottom seam allowance is 12″. The panels will also have a 3″ casing to put the curtain rod through, but I just incorporated that number into the total length of the final panel.
- 22″ (19″ length of panel + 3″ casing) + 12″ (for seam allowance) gives me a total of 34″ for length.
Here is a visual representation of my measurements:
When you have your panels cut out, start by sewing the 1″ seam allowances for the width of the panels:
- On both sides, iron a 1/4″ seam, then fold over another 1/4″ to finish the seam.
- Sew the seam closed with a straight stitch.
Next, sew the top and bottom seam allowances. (I totally forgot to take a photo of this step so you can see it visually. So sorry!):
- Take the bottom of the panel and iron a 3″ seam, then fold over another 3″ to seal. Sew seam closed with a straight stitch.
- Take the top of the panel and do the same. Sew seam closed with a straight stitch.
After the top and bottom seam allowances are sewn, my panel lengths should each have a final measurement of 22″ long. the top 3″ finished seam is going to act as the casing for the panel. At this point, you can go ahead and hang your panels on the rod, or you can do the same ruffle technique as the valance and sew another straight line through the seam again.
Of course I need the ruffle, so made one for each panel and hung them up. And now I have the cutest curtains!
Now, while I’m totally NOT digging how my curtains look with our outdated kitchen, I know that once the renovation is all finished, they will look even better! But seriously, a little change such as putting in new window treatments can do wonders when it comes to changing the look and feel of your home. So if you’re looking for a new sewing project, and/or a little cosmetic change to your home space, go make some curtains! Your windows will thank you.
Thanks for hanging out with me. ’til next time!