Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How not to make curtains

When we moved into our house last December, I fell in love with our big screened in porch. I had visions of gauzy, white curtains billowing in the breeze, a filmy shield from the neighbors' view that still let in sunlight. When I get a picture set in my mind, nothing but exactly right will do and nothing will get in my way (just ask my mom how awful I am to shop with). So I'd been on the lookout for the just-right fabric for nearly eight months when I found a bolt of cotton scrim at the back of the fabric store back in August. It's the stuff bandage and mummy costumes are made of, so if Sherman's ghost comes through on Halloween, I can pull them down like some zombie Scarlett O'Hara and help out the Red Cross (but for Sherman's side, not the South, so not really like Scarlett at all, especially since all she managed to do was make a dress, not help the wounded). Anyway, I had this brilliant plan. The fabric is 54" wide, so it was going to be so easy - hem the top and bottom, use the selvedges for the side hems and voilĂ , curtains in minutes.


Here's how I managed to screw up and then salvage the curtains in seven easy steps.

Step 1: do not cut your fabric with the bolt standing on its end. You'll never get the curtain cut straight this way.

Step 2: with this flimsy fabric, do not wash it before you hem it. I know this sounds crazy, but when it's washed it gets all frayed and wrinkly and is next to impossible to work with.

Step 3: if you screwed up already by doing what I did instead of heeding my warnings, try to trim the raveled edges as best and as straight as you can. Press the top 12 inches or so of each panel, fold in half (selvedges together) and trim at a 90-degree angle to the selvedges.

Step 4: you'll have to turn the raw edge under 1/4 inch and press, then turn again to your desired hem length. I was so annoyed by this point, I didn't measure and just eyeballed it. Don't do this - they won't be even. DO use spray starch to make the fabric easier to work with.

Step 5: use a zigzag stitch to sew the top hems. At this point, the bottom hems are still unfinished, because the panels were cut wonky and they need to be hung to get them trimmed all to the same length.

Step 6: don't use string, nails and thumbtacks to hang the curtains. It's a real pain in the rear and looks tacky. Plus, the thumbtacks will pop out more than once. Use real curtain rods.

Step 7: don't leave the bottoms unhemmed and frayed because you're so sick of the effing curtains you want to scream and don't care anymore how they look. Pin them up to the same length, take the curtains down, trim, starch, iron and hem as you did the top, then come over and finish mine for me! BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop


  1. I am very impressed. I actually once amended curtains for David's flat but that was ages ago, and I think I might have been braver? Regardless, you achieved your desired effect (it looks amazing) AND you avoided boredom. Good work :)

  2. Thanks so much for coming on over to my blog and reminding me to visit yours! You always make me laugh here---I have zero skill in making useful things (like curtains), so I am always in awe of your abilities to do these things. The curtains look beautiful {even though you want to throw them out the window}!

  3. I love the results!!!!! nice job, and way to suffer so the rest of us don't dare try ;)

  4. thanks, y'all! they still are a bit rough, since i haven't gotten proper hardware or hemmed the bottoms yet (and may never ...). but they are rather nice as they are, aren't they?

  5. I'd pee my pants laughing if I hadn't been there for the experience. Oops - too late! (TMI)


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