Making Your Own Curtains

Curtain making is simplified by the use of drawstring tapes to form the curtain head into gathers or pleats and, if you want lined curtains, by detachable linings.

Taking measurements Take all measurements from your curtain track. For the width of the curtains: Measure the track from end to end. Divide by the number of curtains required. If you wish the curtains to overlap add 5 cm (2 inches) to each for the finished width.

Decide on the type of heading you want and multiply the finished width by 1.5 for simple gathers, by 2 for pinch pleats or by 2.5 for pencil pleats.

To give the total width, add 10 cm (4 inches) for hems along each side edge.

For the length:

If you wish the curtains to cover the track when closed, measure from just above the track down to the required length, I.e. sill, just below sill or to floor. If you wish the track to remain exposed, measure from just below it to the required length.

To give the total length, add 2.5 cm (1 inch) for a turning at the top and 15 cm (6 inches) for a hem at the bottom.

Fabric quantities Calculate how much fabric is required for one curtain following the method above. Multiply this by the number of curtains being made to give the amount of fabric you need to buy.

Tape Subtract 7.5 cm (3 inches) from the total width of each curtain to give the length of heading tape needed per curtain. Multiply by the number of curtains being made to give the amount to buy.


Calculate the amount of lining fabric in a similar way to the amount of curtain n fabric, multiplying the finished width by 1.5 and adding 10 cm (4 inches) to give the total width and 10 cm (4 inches) to the measured length to give the total length.

For the lining tape, buy a piece equal to the total width of each lining per curtain.

Making up the curtains

Cut out and join the fabric for each curtain as described. Repeat for the linings.

Make double hems along the side edges of each curtain by folding the selvedges to the wrong side for 2.5 cm (1 inch) and then again for the same amount. Press lightly.

Make a double hem along the bottom, folding up 7.5 cm (3 inches) each time. Press lightly.

1 Mitre the bottom corners by unfolding the hems and refolding diagonally as shown so that the new folds intersect the old ones. Refold the remaining portion of the sides and bottom hems as before.

2 Stitch the hems down by hemming or machine stitching. Fold the turning along the top edge to the wrong side for 2.5 cm (1 inch). Check that the length of the curtains is correct and adjust the amount of the top turning if necessary. Baste the turning in position.

3 Pull out the drawstrings from the heading tape for 2.5 cm (1 inch) at each end. Knot the strings together at one end but leave them free at the other. Fold under the ends of tape for 2 cm (,/, inch).

4 Place the heading tape in position on the wrong side of the curtain about 5 mm (ΒΌ inch) from the top and side edges (this amount may be increased for plain gathered headings). Baste the tape to the curtain along both edges.

Insert a few curtain hooks and hang the curtain from the track to check length and the position of the tape. Make any adjustments and machine stitch the tape to the top edge of the curtain.

Pull up the unknotted drawstrings until the curtain is the correct width. Arrange the gathers or pleats evenly and knot the strings together. Do not cut off the excess length as you may wish to release the heading when the curtains are taken down for cleaning.

Make the linings in a similar way, but before turning the side hems insert the unfolded top edge between the layers of the lining tape and machine stitch. Pull out the drawstrings for 5 cm (2 inches) at one end and fold under the tape ends with the side hems. Pull up the gathers to size.

5 Insert the curtain hooks first through the slots in the lining tape and then into the pockets of the heading tape. Place a hook at each edge of the curtain and then at 10 cm (4 inch) intervals in between on gathers or pencil pleats, or at each group of pinch-pleats. Hang the finished curtains.