Around the House: Homemade Curtains

In my younger years, I was a serious 4-H’er. I participated for as long as I could (I think 10 years), and spent most of those years doing multiple home  ec projects. Sad to say, the one skill I never felt very comfortable with was using my sewing machine. A shocking thing for a 4-h’er to admit, I know. It was stressful – it always went too fast, and never went in a straight line. I came to enjoyably rely on old fashioned needle and thread between my fingers, and gave up much sewing in favor of furniture remodeling and laundry.

I’ve been scouting out the “perfect” curtains for my kitchen for a while now. My kitchen is in blue and yellow, with white painted cabinets. I wanted a sort of Victorian farmhouse or French country look, and I was leaning toward blue toile. Short of a very pricey special order catalog I simply wasn’t finding what I wanted. Then inspiration hit in the most unlikely spot: a brand new sewing machine at a yard sale.

I decided to make my own curtains, and I was going to use a sewing machine. For the first time in more than 15 years, I was going to sit behind a machine and force it to make straight seams. Now I could have the exactly curtains I wanted without having to turn to custom-made and spending a fortune that I didn’t have.

So I headed off to the discount department of my favorite fabric store, where I can find high quality cottons for $8/yd. Its not as cheap as picking up something from Wal-Mart or Joann’s, but the selection can’t be beat, and the quality is exceptional.

I found a beautiful floral on a blue background, with a complimentary rosebud print on a yellow background.

I did not have a pattern, but I did look up some directions online for creating simple valances, and I drew up my own rough pattern and figured yardage from there. One site I saw recommended that you add either half a length or double the length of your window opening to get a nice ruffled look. I have two large windows and a small door window in my kitchen so to save some money I only added half the length. I found that I could make all three curtains with three yards of blue fabric, by cutting my yardage down the middle lengthwise. I needed three pieces, 1 yard, 1 and 3/4 yards, and 3 yards. I ended up with two pieces three yards by roughly 22 inches. These were then trimmed down to the proper length for each window by sixteen inches. I then bought a yard of my complimentary fabric and cut it into 6 inch wide strips. These were pieced together to correspond the length of each curtain.

Once I had my pieces cut, I started by attaching my yellow border strip to the blue pieces.

I attached one strip, got my bobbin thread in a giant tangled mess, and then promptly popped my bobbin and spindle right out of the machine.

Reaching back into my memory, I tried to remember how to thread my bobbin into my machine, with no luck. I was forced to wait until I had internet access to download and print off the manual to my sewing machine. A couple days later, I was back in business. After I ripped out a yard of hem, that is.

Once I’d attached the yellow to the blue strips, I hemmed my sides and the bottom of the yellow strip. I used a half inch hem, which seems to work just about right.

To form the rod pocket and ruffle across the top, I first checked with some curtains already hanging in my house, to see how big my rod pocket needed to be. The average size was between 1 1/2 and 3 inches. So I folded down the top of my curtains 4 inches. I zipped a hem along the bottom, and then put another seam in 1 3/4″ up. This created a pocket, and left a ruffle across the top.

Then my loving hubby hung my curtain rods for me.

The door, and the “window” that looks out into my sunroom addition. I love how the pretty floral softens all the hard surfaces in my kitchen.

I now consider myself living proof that one doesn’t have to fear the sewing machine, even if your relationship got off to a bad start!




4 thoughts on “Around the House: Homemade Curtains

  1. They’re gorgeous, Kitty! Oh goodness, I love the complimentary fabric you chose. I don’t know if I would’ve thought to pair those but it came out perfectly. Very proud of you.

    • Stephanie, I had a gal in a fabric shop tell me once “pick something unexpected, its what makes your things unique.” I keep that in mind now any time I do a project – if its both unexpected and I like it, I figure it will work! And… shucks… thanks…

  2. I love the curtains! They really brighten up the kitchen. But, I am still afraid to use a sewing machine.

    • Thanks! I understand – I don’t think using a sewing machine will ever be a relaxing hobby for me – but at least I know that I can do it when I need it!

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