Do you make your household linens? Sewing your own curtains really could not be simpler. Of course you can get as fancy and technical as you want--a spin through the window treatment department at a fabric store will reveal all sorts of baffling little gadgets you never want to attempt using--but at their core, window treatments are just squares of fabric.
Sometimes, if you want something basic, you're better off buying. In our bedroom, for example, I wanted simple white cotton panels, which were available at Target for $17.99/pair. There is no possible way I could have found suitable fabric for that price, and by the time I washed, cut, pressed and sewed 10 yards of fabric? Forget it.
Often, though, it's hard to find the perfect window treatment. If you're piecing a room together bit by bit, rather than buying a collection of coordinates (and really, where's the fun in that?), sometimes the perfect valance or curtain is all you need to really bring it all together!
I love the look of simple cafe curtains. They provide privacy while allowing light to pass through, and they're just so kitcheny. Our living room curtains are an off-white linen, so I made these to coordinate. Let me show you how!
First of all, you need to choose your fabric. A little math is important here. Most fabrics come in 45" widths, which can be just right for one panel on a normal-sized window. Home decor fabric is typically 54" wide--you may be able to squeak two panels out of that width if you're dealing with a narrow-ish window. This linen was 52", which allowed me to make both panels out of the same piece on my 36" window with no extra measuring or trimming. Basically, what I do is measure the width and length of the window, then choose the fabric I like, then decide whether I can cut out one curtain or two from that width. Obviously you want to have enough to cover the window, with some extra for drape. I don't like a lot of drape, so if I can end with a panel about 25% wider than the window, I'm happy.
Measure how long your curtains should be and add six inches, then cut. Here are my two panels, ready to go.
Start with the vertical sides. Flip a half inch over and press, then flip over again and press again (you'll have two layers of hem with the raw end enclosed). Measure and mark if you need to to make sure everything is straight. One of the nice things about linen is that the pronounced grain line makes it easier to stay on track (a pattern can sometimes do that for you too).
Stitch down the length of the hem. Use your machine guides to sew a very straight and neat line--all those numbers and red lines aren't there for decoration. Go slow and be careful. It's worth it.
Once you've sewn the sides, it's time for the top. Flip a narrow edge over (about 1/4 inch) and press.
Then turn another 2.5 inches or so down (measure and mark for sure this time) and press. This is your rod pocket, and it has to be straight or your curtain will hang funny.
Sew close to the bottom edge of this pocket (where my finger is above) all the way across, making sure you're sewing through that first narrow hem you folded.
For a little more professional look and more body, I like to add a second row of stitching above where the rod will go. See where my presser foot is, about 1/2 inch from the top edge? I just ran a stitch parallel to the bottom edge.
That's what gives you this little wavy edge at the top. Obviously you can do without it, but your curtains will look a little less full.
Of course you can hang yours this way if you like, but I like to use clip rings. I think they make the curtains more versatile because you can push them completely open or pull them completely shut easily, instead of having to tie them back.
Either way, hang them the way you plan for them to stay. It's time to hem. Decide where you want the bottom of the panel to fall (I used the bottom lip of the windowsill as an easy guide). Mark it with pins in a few places.
Take the curtains back off and fold carefully along the line you marked. Press in place. Then measure up two inches from the bottom edge and mark. Cut off the excess along that line.
Hem them just like you made the pocket. Flip a narrow edge under to enclose the raw edge, press, and sew. Voila!
Let the sunshine in!
Oh, and P.S--I'm thinking of making some winter curtains for the living room, and I'm salivating over this fabric:
Now I just have to find a way to get my hands on it or something equally amazing for less than $20/yard!