"Handmade (Not Homemade)" describes the way this Denver blogger approaches her many projects in life: creating, inspiring, loving and exploring. Living life to it's fullest requires more than a rag-tag assortment of homemade theories and thrown-together decisions. But the goal is not perfection, for handmade items and actions have a slightly imperfect organic charm.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Custom Rod-Pocket Curtains-Part 1

For my first blog project, I have decided to sew curtains for my kitchen and teach you how to make your own! Here is how mine turned out. Aren't they beautiful? This picture is not the best since it is hard to see the detail for all the light coming through. I took a different picture in the evening to share with you at the end of Part 2 that shows the completed project in greater detail. Enjoy!

Making curtains for my kitchen is a MUST for the following reasons:

1) There is construction going on next door. Every morning when I go to the kitchen to make my coffee, the workers next door, who get there bright and early, can see me in my bathrobe or whatever else I am or am not wearing. But it is usually a bathrobe ;-)

See, they were nice enough to wave when I asked to take their picture:

2) Our house is 100 years old with 100-year-old windows. They are not very warm and the kitchen window actually has a chunk of wood taken out of it. Perhaps curtains will do a teeny-tiny bit to help insulate.

3) My sis-in-law gave me some be-you-ti-ful fabric from Liberia (where she lives) that would look georgeous on the windows! What I love about the fabric is that it came from halfway around the world, it has a really neat bird and sea coral motif that I find interesting, and it is just the right color to coordinate with my painted cabinets and the artwork that already hangs in our kitchen. And even though the fabric is from Africa, it doesn't look too too ethnic to change the vibe of our decor. It is simply ecclectic!

So here's the how-to on making custom and professional quality rod pocket curtains.

The first step in making curtains is hanging the curtain rod. You want to do this first so that you get the correct measurement for your finished curtain. Lucky for you, I know all the tips and tricks for using a drill when doing a project such as this. Sometimes ladies are intimidated by using power tools but a drill is the easiest of them all if you keep a few things in mind. I will pepper the tips in and bold them for you as I install the rod in front of your very eyes.

First, determine where the rod should be placed and hold the bracket where it needs to be. Make a pen or pencil mark so you know where to drill your pilot holes. Remove the bracket from the area. Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller in diameter than the screw you will use to hold the bracket in place. If the pilot hole is too big, the screw will have nothing to grip on to. If it is too small, you may have a hard time getting the screw into the wall. When you drill, make sure the arrow button on the drill that points toward the wall is pressed. Once you have drilled your hole, press the arrow button that points toward you to make the drill bit come out of the wall. This is probably the most important thing to remember. Many times you can get frustrated because it is "not drilling." The first thing you should do is check that it is not in reverse. If you can't drill deep enough, move up one rung on your ladder or step stool if you can. The drill should be at about shoulder height so you can use your abs and body weight to press it into the wall.

Once all your pilot holes are drilled, switch the drill bit to the screwdriver bit. Place the bracket in place and hold a screw into the hole. Making sure you are high enough on your ladder, begin screwing in the screw. I like to use short bursts of the "trigger" on the drill to screw in a screw. This helps you not strip the screw as it goes into the wall. Hard pressure is usually necessary to keep the screw bit in the screw as you drill. Wait a minute! Did the screw not go in? Check the direction arrow on the drill again. You probably left it on reverse when you finished up your last pilot hole. You're welcome.

Now, snap the rod in place and you're done!

My little Bambino was quite entertained by the sound the drill made. He would like a drill for Christmas, but he's a little too young. I'm glad I could show him at an early age that ladies can use a drill, too!

It's time to measure the window for your custom curtains. Place the tab end of the tape measure at the top of the rod like this:

and measure all the way down to the length of where you want your curtain to hit. I want mine to skim the window sill. My measurement was 53", see?

To determine the finished length* of your curtain, add however much you would like the curtain to "ruffle" above the rod. I would like mine to go one inch above the rod. So my final finished length will be 54". Here is my math, below. *Finished length refers to the final measurement of the curtain when the hem and the rod pocket are sewn.

Note: Because I have a skinny rod, I knew that a 1" rod pocket would be just fine to accommodate the diameter of the rod. Thicker rods may need 2 or 3" to hold their diameter. I did not have to add any extra "length" to my curtain to make up for a thicker rod.

To determine the cut length* of the fabric, I like to draw a little diagram for myself. First, I draw a rectangle that represents the finished length of the curtain and write down that measurement. Then, I add on the hem, which is on the bottom. I added a 1 1/2" hem. For that, I need to add 2" to the finished length: 1 1/2" for the hem and 1/2" for the turn-under that hides the raw edge of the fabric. Next, I need to add some length to the top to take care of the rod packet and the top ruffle. The ruffle is 1" and the pocket itself is 1". I also need to add 1/2" for the raw edge turn-under. So that is a total of 2 1/2" for the top. Final cut length is 58 1/2". See my diagram and math below. *Cut length, if you haven't figured it out, is the length of fabric I will actually cut to make my curtain.

Now we are finally able to start playing with fabric! See Part 2 of this tutorial to find out how to actually sew it all together and see the beautiful clear picture of the final product.

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