How to Sew Simple Custom Curtains

Pregnant woman looking out window with curtains
Julie Fisher / Getty Images
  • 01 of 06

    Calculations & Fabric

    Measurements you need to Sew Custom Curtains
    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    Before you start you will need measuring devices. Punting is not an option when measuring for curtains. Rotary Cutting tools are especially helpful in cutting perfect squares.

    • Start with a bare window and decide the finished length of the curtains. (A)
    • The header is the amount if fabric which will be behind the top of the curtain. (B)
    • The hem is fabric which is turned under at the bottom of the curtain. (C) The hem on curtains plays a vital part in how a curtain hangs. Most curtains rely on the weight of the hem to hang properly. The lighter weight the curtain fabric is, the more hem you will need. A sheer fabric may need a 5" hem or a hem that is doubled.
    • The width of the curtain -- A sheer fabric curtain will usually be double. A heavy fabric may be one and a half times the width of the window. Most curtains are made using the width of the fabric as a panel. Extra fabric lengths will be needed if you are seaming fabric to create extra width.

    Add up your measurements and the amounts needed to enclose raw edges of the fabric to calculate the length of fabric you will need for each curtain panel.

    • ______Desired finished length of the curtain (A)
    • + ______ Header (B)
    • + 1/2" to turn under the top raw edge
    • + ______ Hem amount (C)
    • + 1/2" to turn under the bottom raw edge (or the hem amount for a double hem on sheer fabric)
    • = ______ Total length

    Total fabric to purchase

    • ______ Total length for each panel
    • X ______ the number of panels (if seaming count each section as an additional panel)
    • = ______ Total inches of fabric needed
    • Divide by 36 to find the number of yards. Always purchase at least a quarter of a yard extra to allow for the fabric not being cut straight at the store or if you will need to match a print to have the panels match.
    Continue to 2 of 6 below.
  • 02 of 06

    The Side Hems

    Curtain Panel Side Hem Details
    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

    When you are making curtains, it is wise to repeat each step on each panel before moving on to the next step. Preceding in this fashion increases the likelihood that all of your panels will be identical and each panel will match and hang correctly.

    • Cut each panel being sure that all of the panels are identical.
    • Cut off the selvedge of all the panels being sure to keep the cut edges square.
    • Press under 1/4" on the side edges.
    • Press under 1".
    • Topstitch or machine blind stitch the side hems in place.


    Tip: Use a sewing gauge at the ironing board to maintain the exact measurement as you press.

    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    Curtain Header

    Curtain Header
    Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com
    • Press under 1/2" on the top of the panel.
    • Press under the amount you allowed for a header.
    • Top stitch the header in place, stitching close to the edge.
      Continue to 4 of 6 below.
    • 04 of 06

      Curtain Rod Casing

      Rod Pocket details
      Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

      A standard curtain rod requires an inch and a half casing opening. Sew a line of straight topstitching 1 1/2" from the stitching at the bottom of the header. This is an excellent time to set a seam guide so that all of the stitching is the same distance. The stitching needs to be uniform on each panel for the curtains to hang evenly.

      Continue to 5 of 6 below.
    • 05 of 06

      The Curtain Hem

      Sheer Curtain with a Double Hem
      Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com
      • Press under 1/2" on the bottom of the curtain.
      • Press under the amount you allowed for a hem, keeping the ends aligned.
      • Machine blind stitch or top stitch the hem in place. Note: The hem shown in the photo is a double hem on a sheer fabric curtain. To achieve this type of hem, replace the second 1/2" with the amount of hem desired before you cut the fabric.
      Continue to 6 of 6 below.
    • 06 of 06

      Double Ended Door Window Curtain

      Measuring for a Door Window Diagram
      Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com

      A curtain on a door needs to be held in place top prevent it from being caught in the door. The only difference is that you will be sewing a header on both the top and bottom of the curtain.

      Add up your measurements and the amounts needed to enclose raw edges of fabric to calculate the length of fabric you will need for each curtain panel.

      • ______Desired finished length of curtain (A)
      • + ______ Header (B)
      • + 1/2" to turn under top raw edge
      • + ______ Header (B)
      • + 1/2" to turn under the bottom raw edge
      • = ______ Total length