Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sewing Unlined/Lined Curtain Panels - Part 2A

Welcome Back!

 Are you ready to plunge in and start making 
your own curtain panels?

In Part 2A of this curtain panel tutorial, we will begin discussing how to determine the amount of fabric you will need to acquire.

To Read Part 1, click here

Obviously, you should start by measuring the space around the window you want to dress.

1.  First draw a simple diagram of your curtain panel to use for labeling.  

2.  Determine where the bottom of your curtain rod is or will be, and where you would like your panels to fall, and then measure the distance in between (let's use 100" for this example).  Add 1/2" to this amount to compensate for what will be lost in the gathering process and pulling the panels back into tiebacks.  Label this on your diagram.

Lavender Tub tip:

Hanging curtains higher than your window will make your ceilings look taller.  Also, you should hang them high enough that your hardware/rings/clips are not showing from the outside.  You really want your window to be covered and not have light pouring in a dark room from a gap at the top of your curtains.

I always measure twice because I've found the old adage, "Measure Twice - Cut Once", to be very good advice.  Also keep in mind if you will be using clips on rings, you will need to reduce the measurement slightly.  Anticipate where the top of the panel will fit in the clip, and then measure from there.

3.  Next, measure the width you want your panels to span. Perhaps that measurement will be from outside window trim to outside window trim, or perhaps wider than that.  Write this number down.  We will be using it in Part 2B of this tutorial.

Before we add other measurements, let's define a few parts of the curtain panel:

A.  Rod Pocket - the place you slide your curtain rod into. Wrap a tape measure around the wide section of your rod to see how much space is needed for the rod.  Then add 1/2" or 1" to this.  Here are some things to consider when choosing how much to add:

If your rod is round and your fabric heavy, or if you will be bunching up quite a bit of fabric on the rod, add the full 1". If your rod is flat, your fabric lightweight, and there will not be much gathering - stick with the 1/2".

Now, take your rod measurement plus your 1/2" or 1" - whatever you decided on - add them together, then divide by 2.  Write this amount on your diagram as your rod pocket measurement.

Better close-up of the header and rod pocket

B.  Header - the amount of ruffle, if any, you will want above the rod.  2" is a suggested height for the header, but go with what looks good to you.  Just remember to add that to your diagram.

C.  Hem - a suggested hem is 4", and I find this to be what I prefer.  It looks very nice, it gives the panels some weight at the bottom, and it helps them hang in nice gathers.


The pros tell you to take your header + rod pocket measurement and multiply by 3.

Lavender Tub tip:

I sometimes find the 3x amount too bulky at the top, especially if I'm adding a liner.  I opt to multiply that measurement by 2, and then only add 1/2" for a hem at the top instead of what they suggest.

So here is how I would calculate the cutting length for this example:

Header+Rod Pocket x 2       (6.25" x 2)    12 . 5"
Top Hem                                              . 5"
Length measurement (100"+ .5")          100 . 5"
4" Double Hem x 2              (4" x 2)        8 . 0"

Thus, my total cutting length would be 121 . 5".  Does that make sense?

LT tip:

The pros would also tell you to add 1 more inch for straightening.  They would have you hem the bottom of the panels, lay them back out on the floor (or really big table), and measure from the bottom of the hemmed panel to the top.  (In this case, you would be measuring 113 . 5" from the bottom and marking it.)  In my honest opinion, if you are very careful when you lay out your cutting lines and carefully cut your fabric straight, see my post here on how to do this, you will be fine.  It is a lot of extra work to do the panels the way they suggest.

One final thing, if your fabric has a repeat that needs to be matched (see definition here), you will need to add the amount of the repeat to your cutting length (for planning purposes), as well.  So, if you are cutting fabric that has a 10" repeat -and it is a noticeable pattern- you will need to have 131 . 5" for each panel in order to line up the design in this example.  You will still cut your panels the length determined above (121 . 5"), but you will have a little bit of waste between each panel you cut.  (The pink panels pictured throughout this tutorial do not have a noticeable pattern when they are hung, therefore we did not worry about the repeat.  It would be more professional had we done that, but it really isn't noticeable - so we made a judgement call and didn't worry about the repeat.)

I made the panels in our Garden Room from painter drop cloths.  This would be a great choice for your first project as they are inexpensive and do not have a repeat to worry about.

Because this tutorial is getting long, I will address the cutting width in Part 2B.  Remember, YOU CAN DO THIS - we're just going to take it together - step by step!

Thanks for stopping by,


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