Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How to Make Custom, Professional-Looking Lined Drapes

If you can use a sewing machine to sew a relatively straight seam, and you can operate an iron, you absolutely CAN make your own custom drapes!  These instructions will show you exactly how I made the drapes for our dining room and family room, step by step.

(This is a long post, and it may be of little interest to those of you who don't sew.  My intent is that these instructions can float around on the 'Web, and may one day help someone, somewhere, who wants to make THEIR own drapes, but doesn't how to do it.)




My drapes have a rod pocket, with a two-inch header, and they hang from ceiling to floor on a curtain rod that's one-inch in diameter.  The fabric I used is Waverly's "Tucker Resist", which is 54 inches wide and has an 18-inch pattern repeat.  Lining is economy drapery lining fabric, also 54 inches wide.






Let's get started:

The 54-inch width of this fabric is more than adequate to have nice full-looking panels on each side of my windows.  Let's do some measuring and some easy math to figure out how long to cut the fabric and lining for each panel.  Using my room and measurements, and rounding up to the nearest inch, we have:

Ceiling Height:  114"
Header and Rod Pocket:  5"
Hem Allowance:  5"
Total:  124 inches

(I allow a few extra inches of fabric, just to be safe.  It's much better for the drapes to be too long, and to be cut down during the hemming process, than to find that I miscalculated and that they're too short.)



Cut the selvage edge off of the drapery fabric.




Cut the lining fabric 4 inches narrower than the drapery fabric ... you'll see why in a minute.




Beginning at the top of the panel, with right sides together, sew the drapery fabric and lining fabric together at the sides.  Stop your seam about 18" from the bottom edge of the fabric.




Press the seam allowance toward the drapery fabric.




The reason you cut the lining narrower than the drapery fabric is because the drapery fabric wraps around to the lining side by about an inch, which gives your drapes a very professional look.




Sew the top edge of the drapes, right sides together with the extra drapery fabric evenly divided on both side edges, as shown in the photos above and below.




Turn your panel right side out, and iron it so the drapery fabric wraps evenly on both side edges.




Top stitch close to the side seam, until you get to where you stopped your stitching at the bottom of the panel.






Now, let's mark and sew the header and rod pocket.  I used my quilt ruler and a pencil, marking a line on the right side of the fabric, four-and-a-half inches from the top edge (2 inches for the header + 2-1/2 inches for the rod pocket)




Fold the panel on the pencil line to the wrong side and iron it smooth.  Sew one line of stitching close to the edge of the folded part to define the bottom of the rod pocket.  Then run a second line of stitching two inches from the top edge to form the header and top edge of the rod pocket.


The piece of tattered masking tape on my sewing machine is my 2" mark.


The sides and top of the drapes are finished!  All that's left is to mark and sew the hem.

I like to mark the hem on my drapes with them hanging from the rod.  I don't want to take a chance of measuring it wrong.  As a bonus, this is the time to step back and admire all of my hard work .... you have to imagine me going oooh and aahhh, because this was the first time that I had a chance to see what the drapes looked like in place in the Family Room bay window.




Having gone to the trouble of installing the rod and hanging the drapes, I was hesitant to take them back down to work on the hem after I marked it ... so I dragged my iron, ironing board, and sewing machine downstairs, set up a folding table, and finished these drapes right where they were.




Alice was supervising.


When hemming the panels, the drapery fabric and the lining each have their own hems.  The photos and directions below explain in detail how to do this.  (sewing the side seams short like I did is part of this process.)  

Let's hem the drapery fabric first.

I used pins to mark where the fabric hit the floor at the bottom of the baseboard, folding and ironing the drapery fabric on a line 1/2" shorter than this.


Pins mark the length at the floor.


I totally forgot to photograph this next part ... bear with me and follow the diagram.  For a four-inch hem, draw a pencil line four inches from the bottom edge where you marked and ironed (this is Line 1), and another line one-inch from Line 1 (this is Line 2).  Cut off any extra fabric at Line 2.




Fold, iron, and sew the hem to the inside, along Line 1.

The lining fabric is marked, cut, and hemmed to be 2 1/2 inches shorter than the drapery fabric.  No photo here either, sorry again.  

Let's finish the sides at the bottom edge, and our drapes will be done.

At the ironing board, fold and press the drapery fabric over the lining, and pin it into place.







Stitch the overlap into place.


Begin your stitching where you left off in an earlier step.



The lining hangs free at the bottom, and is securely attached at the sides.



All finished!!





Why would I go to all this effort to make my own drapes?  Let's do the math.  I made eight drapery panels, four for the dining room and four for the family room.  Each panel is 9-1/2 feet long.  I paid $450 for Drapery Fabric (30 yards at $14.99 per yard, using a 50% off coupon at Hancock Fabrics) and $105 for Lining Fabric (30 yards at $3.49 per yard, using a 50% off coupon at Joann's), which brings the cost to few cents less than $70 for each panel.

Do you want to hang curtains in YOUR bay window, too?  Click HERE to see the nifty hardware that I used and how I did it.

I hope this tutorial has taken a bit of the mystery out of how to make drapes.  The finished product really DOES look professional, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself.  No kidding ... you really CAN do it.

If you are new here, just happening by or visiting from DIY by Design take a minute to look around.  For a brief tour of our Dining Room, click HERE.  To see the before, during, and after of the restoration of our Family Room, click HERE.

23 comments:

  1. That is a wonderful tutorial, Connie. You did a GREAT job with pictures and explanations. AND I love that fabric. I love custom made drapes. Have you ever lined with a lightweight flannel? This works best with heavier fabric (like velveteen) It make a very "rich" feeling drape that hangs beautifully with that heavier material. xo Diana

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    1. Thank you, Diana! I wanted, most of all, to explain this clearly so folks can truly believe that making drapes is something within their abilities. Never lined with flannel, and I can see how it would work well ... like you said. Hmmmm, maybe one day. :)

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  2. This is one of the best tutorials for making drapes I have ever seen. They really look beautiful. I would love for you to link this up to my Winter Blues Wednesday link party going on right now. Hope to see you there. http://diybydesign.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for the invitation to link up ... let's do what we can to beat those Winter Blues!

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  3. I probably will never sew my own drapes but now I'm tempted to do so!
    ;)

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    1. You can absolutely DO THIS!! It takes some time, but the results are REALLY worth it.

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  4. Thank goodness someone posted this!!!! I have been wanting to make lined drapes forever...and using cartoon type drawings in a book is not my idea of learning to do this. THANK YOU SO MUCH for doing this post! Your drapes are fabulous, love the material:)

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    1. You are very, very welcome, Cindy! Please show me your drapes when you get around to making them. I will LOVE to see them.

      I knew that this material was perfect for our house the minute I saw it. It was a splurge (less so, with the coupon). The drapes have been up for just under a week, and I don't think I've stopped smiling about it yet.

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  5. I've made drapes numerous times, but never with lining. I always cheated and just used sheers. Yours look wonderful and very professional. I've also had drapes made before and it wasn't cheap and that was decades ago!

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    1. I have made drapes for each of our houses. I’m too cheap to pay for something like this that I can make, and I don’t like being limited to choices of ready-made drapes in stores. Don’t think I could ever bring myself to pay someone for custom ones. I line mine because I don’t have the patience to turn a hem along all of the edges. Easier for me to run a seam, press it, and do a quick top stitch.

      I naively thought that I would take photos as I worked last week and whip up a quick blog post with instructions … how wrong I was! This post was a WHOLE lot more difficult to write than it was to make the drapes. Sometimes the hardest thing is explaining something that’s easy.

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  6. It's insane how much drapes cost! You will laugh at me when I tell you this. For the longest time, I simple hung some bedsheets over our bedroom windows. Until one day we wanted to have a party. My husband begged me to get some real drapes before the party because our guests would see our "drapes" from our backyard. 😝. I wish I knew you then. This post will save a lot of people a lot of money. Lucky them!

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    1. I know!! I understand that drapes take a lot of material and a bit of labor, but still … I’m too cheap to pay that much.

      Bedsheets can work. Open up the side of the top hem and thread it onto the rod. Done! (just kidding). We have all done permanent temporary decorating that gets undone in a social emergency.

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  7. Connie, you are a great teacher! Wonderful tutorial. I need to think about making drapes for our living room. The ones that are in there are quite old and I paid a fortune for them. They cannot be cleaned as they are made on a board and then they swag across the top. I vacuum them, but that is about all I can do to them. ♥

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    1. Thanks, Martha! I had the kind of drapes you're talking about at another house, and this house had them when we bought it.

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  8. I love those. Beautiful fabric and working right where they hang sounds like something I would sure do if I sewed.

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    1. Hi, Kim. I was home by myself the day I made theses. It was a struggle to get them up working alone (my husband was away that day), and I couldn't bring myself to take them down to hem them. Necessity is the proverbial 'mother of invention' and I set up shop right where they were.

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  9. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! I've made plenty of window treatments, but I always have trouble getting full length panels to hang right. You've taken the mystery out of the process!

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    1. You are very welcome, Vickie! No mystery involved … it’s really straight-forward if you hang the curtains THEN mark the hem. Way too hard to get it right any other way.

      Thanks for the visit!

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  10. Really great tutorial. I will be featuring this tonight at my Winter Blues Wednesday link party. Please stop by and pick up an I've Been Featured button. Thanks. http://diybydesign.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for the feature! That helps spread this tutorial around and (hopefully) more people will realize that making one's own drapes isn't so mysterious.

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  11. Thanks for "showing your work" on this. While I've made curtains myself before, they've always been smaller projects and not full-fledged drapery panels. It looks like I might make my own for the living room so that I can get the colors that I want and get away from tab-top and grommet style curtains (not a fan, and they seem to be everywhere now). Yours are so beautifully done, and suit your home and decor. Excellent job!

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    1. You are VERY welcome! Making your own drapes opens up a whole new world of fabric and color, instead of having to choose only from what's available in the stores, and we won't even consider custom drapes from a store, since the $$$ is so high. Your house, and my house, just aren't able to wear the tab tops or grommet drapes ... not exactly age appropriate for them. :)

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  12. It's like that pattern was custom made just for you and your living room & dining room. Great colors and patterns! Drapes are very fantastic!

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