Monday, March 5, 2012

Sewing Unlined/Lined Curtain Panels - Part 1

Home Dec sewing is one of those things that there is a good-enough way, and then there is a best, professional way.  

 Baby girl and I just finished these panels for Fleur's nursery.

The problem is - the best way is more tedious and can discourage budding seamstresses from wanting to try Home Dec sewing. 

So, here is what I think:

If you are making something like lined drapes out of expensive fabric, go the extra mile and make them the way the professionals would.

I followed the professional book when I made these panels
 for the Living Room.

On the other hand, if you are making Hello Kitty curtains for your little girl’s room - take all the shortcuts.  You’ll be changing them in just a few years, so why invest all the extra time?  Your friends will still be impressed, and you will stay encouraged and actually get your project finished.

In this tutorial, I'd like to show you how to make curtain panels, both unlined and lined - with a few shortcuts I've adopted.  I'll mention how the pros recommend you do it - and then share how I actually do.  The results will still be satisfying and you will certainly have a sense of accomplishment and pride for making them yourself.

Before you tackle something on this scale, however, I’d like to give you a few pros and cons to think about:


Making your own curtain panels allows you to get the length, width, color and style you desire - in the fabric you love.  There certainly is no greater motivator than that.

The quality will be much better.  Decorator fabrics and linings look, feel, and drape so lovely compared to the crisp panels you pull out of a package.  Of course since you're the one sewing them, you will make sure they are sewn right and not just zipped through a machine in a factory.

I love how these turned out.  The fabric is quite heavy and they should last
for a while both in style and durability.

Plus, you will love that you made them yourself!

It is also important on a project this size to think about the cons.  In the past I shared that I disliked making curtain panels.......and I still do.  That doesn't mean I have not made several pair, however.


They are tedious - even with the shortcuts.  Making curtain panels requires lots of ironing and much time on your knees down on the floor smoothing and straightening.  Having kids and dogs in the house make this an even bigger challenge.

They are a bit fussy - if you want the curtains to hang nicely, you have to put the effort into cutting the fabric straight.  If you don't, they will hang a little wonky and what a waste of your fabric.  This is not always easy when working with very long lengths of fabric.  See my post here about cutting fabric straight and some ideas to help make this easier.

They really are not cheaper.  Seriously!  You can go to Target, Walmart, or Ross, and pick up panels for much less - especially if they are on sale or clearance.  The only time it is cheaper to make them is when you need really long panels and would have to pay someone to get custom lengths - which is the case in my house since I have high ceilings.  Even then, you could purchase panels and add your custom fabric to the bottom in order to lengthen them.  This is a popular look now anyway.

So here are some suggestions:

First, look for store-bought panels in a solid, stripe or geometric pattern that coordinates with your favorite fabrics.  Think about hanging purchased panels, then making a custom valance, adding custom tie-backs, or attaching a custom header or footer from the fabric you "love". Consider if you might be happier in the long run with the store-bought, plainer panels because they will not date as quickly - and you could change out the valance, etc., much easier than hanging all new panels.  Should this option make sense for you, think about purchasing an additional, shorter panel in the store-bought pattern to make some pillows with, and then mix with pillows made from your "love" fabric.  This will help tie your look together and give it a more custom feel. 

This is the same window pictured above with the brown panels.  I made these sand panels and valances 13 years ago.  They are a great example of how to update without changing everything.  We are no longer using the pictured valances, but the panels are still hanging in another room.

Second, look at fabric items that are not curtains with a different eye.  For example, my bedroom curtains are matelasse bedspreads I purchased at JCPenney on clearance. I've also used tablecloths and napkins to make window toppers.  Just look around.  You might find the perfect fabric already made up into something else.  This is worth considering because it gives you quicker results, less work, and very likely less cost.

My bedroom curtains made from matellasse bedspreads.

If nothing else appeals to you, however, and you really have a desire to make your own panels - tell yourself YOU CAN DO THIS!!!  Then plan to take your time and proceed step by step.  You may have large pieces of fabric lying around your house for awhile, but it is temporary and the results will be so worth it!

In Part 2, we will jump right into the details.

If you've made curtains before, I'd really love to hear your ideas.  What alternatives have you used?  Do you have a blog where we can see pictures of your curtains?

Thanks for stopping by,


No comments:

Post a Comment

I LOVE your ideas and comments. Thanks for taking the time :)