Honestly I’m the type of seamstress who usually leaves the selvages on her curtains. However I’m also the type of seamstress that likes to figure out how things are put together. Along that line I got to wondering how one would make a “real” drape, one that hung straight and had a lining and a deep hem; one that you could wash without fear of the selvages shrinking oddly. So I set about figuring it out and these lovely curtains are the result. They have a beautiful weight and drape and the yellow and white Global Weave Embroidered Fabric will make any room look fresh and sunny.
The one major skill I learned from this project was pulling a thread to get a straight cutting line. I had always wondered how to cut a real straight line on such a large piece of fabric and it’s great now to have figured it out and actually done it. After both of my 40-inch x 68.5-inch curtains were done I had a nice feeling of accomplishment, like I’d graduated to a new quality level in sewing. They looked and felt like “real” drapes! Enjoy! –Molly
To make two 40-inch x 68.5-inch curtains:
- 4-1/2 yards Global Weave Embroidered Yellow Branches
- 5 1/2 yards of Kona Cotton in White cut into two pieces: a 1-yard cut for the tabs and a 4 1/2-yard cut for the curtain lining.
- 1 large spool Gutermann 100% cotton thread color 1006
- A pair of tweezers
Cut both of the 4-1/2 yard pieces of fabric in half so you have two 2-1/4 yard pieces of both the Kona Cotton (lining) and the Global Weave (outer curtain). Wash and dry the fabric. I highly recommend getting each piece pressed and lightly starched at a dry cleaner. It’s very hard to iron such a large piece evenly, and the name of the game here is even. (As an added bonus, after I got my fabric pressed and starched it had a delicious cinnamon toast smell.)
Pull Thread and Cut Fabric
Updated June 18, 2008
These curtains will be 40″X 68.5″. If you’d like to make yours a different length you can easily do so: Figure out how long you want your finished curtain. Subtract 3″ from this (for the tabs) the resulting number is the length of your main curtain panel. Add 6.5 (for seam allowances) to this number and that is how long you should cut your fabric. Here’s an example:
If we want a curtain with a 90″ length:
90″ – 3″(the length of the tabs) = 87″ (the finished length of the main curtain panel)
87″ + 6.5″(for seam allowances)= 93.5″- This is the length we should cut our fabric
You could also adjust the lengths of the tabs to your own specifications using the same equation but just substituting the 3″ for whatever length you like.
An important concept in sewing is the warp and the weft. The warp refers to the woven threads of a fabric that run lengthwise, parallel to the selvages. The weft refers to the threads that run widthwise, perpendicular to the selvages. For a more in depth explanation check out the warp and weft Wikipedia entries.
To get the proper width you need to cut off the selvages of the fabric. This creates a problem because it’s hard to cut a straight line over such a long (2-1/4 yard) length of fabric. The only way to do it and still have the curtain hang nice and straight is to pull a thread up along the length of the fabric and use it as a cutting guide.
These curtains will be 40-inches wide finished so you will cut the fabric to 42-inches wide to account for the doubled 1/2-inch hems on both sides. Fold the fabric in half the long way, selvage to selvage. Measure from the middle fold out towards the selvages and make a pencil mark 21-inches from the fold (you will be about 6-inches from the selvages).
Cut from the selvage to a little past the pencil mark and draw another mark directly below the first one, on the other side of the fabric.
Now for the pulling. With your tweezers pick one WARP thread at the raw edge near the first pencil mark and pull it.
Pull the thread until it breaks. As you get going you’ll be able to pull longer and longer distances, so don’t be discouraged if you can only pull a few inches in the beginning.
This pulled line is absolutely straight!
Using scissors, cut along, but not beyond, the line created by the pulled thread.
Next pick another warp thread along this line and repeat. Do this along the entire length of the fabric. Repeat for the other side of the fabric (starting on your second pencil line). This process takes a while and it can be a little frustrating (especially at first) but just try to keep in mind that you’re making something that will hang beautifully and look very neat and finished.
Once both selvages are cut off fold the fabric lengthwise again. Fold the fabric as straight as possible, with the weft threads at a 90 degree angle from the warp threads (the warp threads will be truly straight from the long cut edge because you cut it using the pulled thread as a guide.) Square up your end using your rotary cutter and ruler (visit our Rotary Cutting Tutorial if you need some help with this). Measure 72-inches from this cut edge (try to be as exact as possible!) then square up and cut off the other raw end.
Repeat this whole process for the three remaining pieces of fabric (the other outer panel and the two lining panels.)
You will have 4 pieces that are 40-inches x 72-inches.
Sew the Deep Hem
These curtains have a deep bottom hem to weigh them down and help them hang well.
Make a 3-inch deep fold at the bottom of a panel and press it. (This fabric is directional so you want to make sure you’re doing this at the bottom of the panel and that the branches will be right side up when you hang it!)
Make another 3-inch deep fold and press it again.
Pin this double fold down and sew it with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
Repeat for three remaining panels.
Sew Panels Together
Place one outer panel and one lining right sides together. Make sure that they are both oriented the correct way with the bottom hems together.
Pin the panels together along the long sides and the top. Do not pin the bottom. The bottom of this curtain will stay open. This helps with the drape and flow.
Sew the panels along all three sides with a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam.
Zig zag stitch down the very edge of each of the long sides of the curtain to finish the seam neatly. You don’t have to zig zag the top seam.
Snip off the top two corners.
Turn the whole curtain right side out (make sure to poke the top two corners out so they are pointy.)
Press the seam. Pin the outer panel to the lining around the three sewn edges.
Top stitch around all three sides.
Repeat all steps for second curtain.
Make and Attach Tabs
Take one of the 6-inches x 10-inch piece and make a 1/2-inch fold at the top and bottom of it, press folds with hot iron.
Iron the piece in half lengthwise and then open it.
Fold the outsides edges so they meet in the center line (tuck the raw corners under as pictured above so they don’t poke out later).
Fold the this piece in half again and pin along the open side.
Top stitch around the the whole piece.
Fold the tab in half and place it 1-1/2-inches from the top of the curtain and flush with the vertical left edge.
Pin the tab in place.
Put the walking foot on your machine.
Sew the tab onto the curtain by sewing a square shape about 1/8-inch from the sides of the tab and top of the curtain as pictured above.
Next make a diagonal “X” shape within the square. Back stitch at the beginning and end of each seam.
Attach seven tabs on each curtain panel equally spaced, 5-inches apart.
Repeat for the second curtain and they’ll be ready to use!