"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 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our Custom Rod-Pocket Curtain tutorial. It's time to cut and sew our fabric!

I lay my fabric out on the floor to cut it because I think it is easier than putting it on the dining room table, which never seems big enough. So... I laid my fabric out on the floor, measured, and made a cut at 58 1/2". I started measuring at the place the fabric was cut when I received it. For other projects I have done, I have made sure to choose a place to cut it if I don't want to mess up a fabric's pattern.

One of the things that makes a handmade curtain look professionally made is pattern matching the fabric of the 2 panels. Once the curtains are hung, if the pattern matches, it creates a harmonious look. If the pattern does not match, there will be a distraction that the "looker" may not be able to put his or her finger on, it will just appear "not quite right," and a little homemade ;-). To match the fabric pattern for the second panel, I place the rest of the fabric on top of the first piece I cut, lining up the fabric pattern in the process. Once it is all aligned, I cut 2 new edges (the top AND bottom) for the second panel. A bonus of using this method is that you do not have to measure your second panel, and the panels will be exactly the same size. So, even if you mis-measured to being with, at least the panels will match in the end. I folded back the fabric in the picture below, so you can see how the fabric pattern matched.

Now, it's time to iron! The first thing you should iron is the hem, not the sides. I turned the bottom under 1/2" and ironed, then another 1 1/2" and ironed. Then I pinned it in place. Using my machine's blind hem stitch, I finally got to sew! You could use a regular old straight stich, but a blind hem looks way more professional. Check your machine's instruction booklet on how to use the blind hem feature. It is not hard at all, but every machine is a little different.

Once the hem is in place, it's time to iron the sides of the fabric. But wait, how did I determine the width of the fabric? Well, I just used the width of the fabric I had. 45" and 54" are standard fabric widths. But to determine the width of a professinally made curtain, you would multiply the width of the rod by 2.5 for the proper fullness (if you are making curtain panels that are decorative only and not for light control, i.e. you would never close them, you would typically just use the width of the fabric--the 2.5 formula is for curtains that span the entire length of the rod). My rod, once installed, was 18" wide. My math is below. As it turns out, the number I got is close enough to the natural width of my fabric, so I just used that.

Back to the ironing, I ironed in 1/2" to hide the raw/salvage edge and another 1" for the side hem. I am not going to sew the sides right away. The third thing that sets handmade/professional curtains apart from homemade curtains, in addition to pattern matching and blind hem stitching, is lining. I am going to line these curtains. There are many kinds of lining available for you to purchase at the fabric store and most of the differences have to do with light control. I want to let in as much light as possible, so I chose a standard, thin, probably the least expensive lining available for this project. When I sewed curtains for the Bambino's room, I chose black-out lining so it would block out the light for daytime naps. So, back to the task, it is time to cut and pin in the lining.

Cut a piece of the lining fabric the same size as your cut length of the curtain fabric. Adjust the lining fabric so that is is about 1/2-3/4" from the final bottom hem. Then, tuck the lining into the ironed-down side hems and pin in place. The lining is NOT sewn into the bottom hem, that's why we did the bottom hem first. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see the thread in the bottom hem and how it makes a few straight stitches, then a little "tic." That is the pattern of the blind hem stitch.

Use the blind stitch to sew the side hems. Here is the best picture I got of that. You can see below how you have to fold the fabric under to make a blind hem stitch. Again, check your machine's instruction booklet on how to do this.

Finally, it is time to iron down and sew the rod pocket. I turned down the top edge 1/2" to hide the raw edge, then another 2" for the pocket and ruffle. See? In this photo, the 1/2" is already folded under and ironed.

Then I sewed, this time with a straight stitch, at 1" from the top to create the ruffle, and 2" from the top (really right at the edge of the fold) to create the pocket.

Iron all the seams down to create a polished look, and go hang your curtains! Ta-da!Here is my final finished product (this photo was taken after the sun went down do you could see the detail).

Look at the subtle horizontal lines the pattern matching creates-you can see this most clearly by looking at the red elements in the fabric. Notice anything? While I did not mention it in the tutorial, I did a tricky thing... the particular fabric I had is hand-stamped and artesin created, so did not really have a "right" or "wrong" side. Because of this, I decided to make the panels mirror images of each other. I also did this with the side hems-the outside sides have a patterned band that happened naturally in the fabric pattern. Because of the hand-stamped nature, the inside band was faded a bit, so I just turned that side under more. A happy accident on the part of the fabric stampers turned into a really neat custom detail!

So, this project kicked off a couple of ideas for projects-to-come (as if I need more projects). I have a bit of curtain fabric left over, so I'd like to isolate the bird designs and applique them onto some matching kitchen towels. Are the birds in the fabric lovely?
I think one would be great appliqued onto a red kitchen towel. Shhh... I may have bought some towels to this this project already! I know, I promised, but I just can't help myself! Stay tuned and I'll show you how.

Also, as I passed through our breakfast nook, I looked out the window and here's what I saw:

Time to make some more curtains!

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