Friday, November 28, 2014

Let's make... no pin, no hairspray, no pretty pleater curtains!

Before November whizzes by, I thought I should post a second time this month... things have been busy at Daviot House, which means lots of things to show you in December, who knows, maybe I could do an Advent posting...

Here is my method for curtain making.  There are lots and lots of wonderful methods out there, but here is one for those of you that

A. Don't have/can't afford a Pretty Pleater (me) 
B. Hate sticky hairspray (me)
C. Can't be bothered fiddling around with a million pins (me)
D.  Have about a nano second to make things due to an extremely busy RL (me)

You do need either some fabric stiffener or a mix of white glue and water (tacky, pva, I've even used wood glue!).

So here it goes.....

Cut out your curtain panels - a good gather for this scale is 1.5 times the final width that you need.

Use a needle and thread to make a simple running stitch gather along the top (it doesn't need to be very neat)

Here is the magic ingredient, fabric stiffener, I use it because it is convenient and I have a large bottle of it in my cupboard, but a 1:1 mix of water and white glue should do the trick, or even old fashioned starch.  Remember to test your fabric first, and always try to use natural fabrics, such as cotton, silk or viscose.

Soak your panels in the fabric stiffener and then squeeze out the excess.  Put your panels on a flat surface, and arrange the folds as you like.  If you want your curtains to be tied-back, tie a piece of thread around the curtain.

  It is a good idea to look at a real curtain to get an idea about drape - fabric never normally falls in stiff, box pleats all by itself.

Real curtains don't rise up at the bottom, so make sure the bottom edge is flat, if the curtain is long, you can scrunch up the bottom edge to imitate the way fabrics fall on the floor.

Leave  your curtains to dry, or if you are as busy as I am, put them on an old metal tray and dry them gently with a hot air dryer (not a hairdryer).

While the curtains are drying, let's make a curtain valance....

Measure your window width and add a couple of cms either side.  Make a wooden support.  I used some square pieces that I glued together, but you can use whatever you have on hand, even a frame made of lolly (popsicle) sticks.  I drew a simple curved valance shape, you could do a fancier one, or just straight across.  Make sure you allow for the ends of the wood support.

Use fusible bonding fabric, or back your fabric with a thin card stock to keep it rigid.  This also helps with clean cuts when shaping the valance.

Next, cut out a strip of fabric to cover the top of your valance.  I also backed this fabric with bondaweb, but you don't have to.  Remember to apply the glue to the support, not the fabirc, and in quite a thin layer, to reduce the risk of the glue going through the fabric.  Although the ceilings of Daviot House are very low, and the valance nearly at ceiling level, I like to cover the top of the valance, as it gives it a good, 'finished' look.

Now add some trim.  You can go mad here if  you want, but I kept mine simple, just a cord of silk button hole twist.  I found that the busy fabric didn't need much more, though if you are using plain fabrics, you may want to jazz it up a bit!

Glue the curtains to the underside of the support.  If you tied your curtains when they were still damp, you can make some tie-backs to go around this part.

I used two old brass jump rings and sewed them onto the tie-back.  The tie-back is also finished with the same silk cord as the valance.

This photo shows you the draped effect of the curtain on the floor - much more realistic than curtain ends that seem to go up in the air :) !

I used the same method to make some sheer silk curtains, this time I edged them with a tiny picot braid

Here is the completed curtain, and here it is below in the window.  I hope you liked this simple method of making draped fabric,



  1. Fabulous as always. Many thanks

  2. Beautiful curtains, Jonquil, thanks for sharing!
    Hugs, Ilona

  3. Hi Jonquil! This is just what I need! I don't have any fabric stiffener, so I might need to use the glue instead! I just need to test the fabric when it gets wet.....
    Your curtains look absolutely Lovely in Daviot House!
    Thanks for this tutorial! And I look forward to seeing more!

  4. First class, thank you.
    All the best

  5. Great idea, Jonquil. I LOVE a short cut.
    Hope you are well

  6. Un buen tutorial
    Un abrazo

  7. Hello Jonquil,
    That is a great technique. the results are beautiful and hang very well.
    Big hug,