In this complete guide to DIY draperies, you'll learn how to select the perfect fabric, measure your window and calculate the yardage you'll need and sew up quick and easy rod and pocket curtains in no time!
Check out this video for a step-by-step guide:
Choosing Fabric Weight
When beginning your hunt for the perfect drapery fabrics, the search can feel a little overwhelming! If you’re unfamiliar with choosing fabrics for a project, always be sure to consider texture, color and pattern repeats.
Fabric weight, texture and transparency all play a factor in the overall mood of a room and are a key element to consider when choosing drapery fabric.
Lightweight drapery fabrics like cotton and linen will allow some light to pass through and create a breezy effect. You might consider this fabric option in a kitchen, laundry room or bathroom where you’d enjoy more light.
Heavyweight drapery fabrics like velvet and damask will block more light and fall in heavier folds creating a warmer and more romantic mood in living rooms and bedrooms. If you’re looking to control light and visibility in spaces like bathrooms and bedrooms, various drapery linings can allow you to to completely block light, usually referred to as blackout linings or fabrics.
Measuring and Curtain Placement
A few common mistakes homeowners make when hanging drapes and curtain rods are choosing curtains that are two short for the room and hanging rods too close to the window trim. This can make ceilings feel lower and windows smaller. You can drastically create the illusion of higher ceilings by placing curtain rods almost to the ceiling. A good rule of thumb is halfway between the top of the window trim and the ceiling, but take your personal preference into account.
Standard drapery panels for 35” windows you can purchase in a store are usually about 50” wide. In most rooms 96” long panels would lightly brush the floor while having a rod placed well above the top of the window trim. If you have an older house you might find the proportions are different and require more customized measurements to adequately cover the window and hit the floor at the proper length. After measuring the width of the final rod placement add an additional 6-8” width to your total width depending on your curtain style to account for seam allowance and some extra gather.
*Fabric shown: Premier Prints Ikat Domino Drew Slub Berries
Choose A Hanging/ Installation Method
Next you'll want to choose a hanging style for your DIY draperies! Today we will cover a few basic styles that are ideal for beginner and intermediate sewists.
Rod & Pocket
The rod and pocket style is great for novice sewists and renters! You can easily achieve different looks by altering the length and fabric weight of drapery panels. Tension rods are an economical way to hang drapes without installing any hardware that could damage trims. You can sew quick valances with a few yards of fabric to temporarily conceal roller shades and blinds and install in minutes with tension rods! Stylize the hem shape or add trim to add design elements to the space.
*Fabric shown: Michael Miller Sommer Sundborn Blueberry
Tabs (Intermediate sewists)
Adding tabs to curtains is a bit more work but can allow for drapes to create larger folds when pulled to the sides instead of bunching up and creating gathers on the rod like the rod + pocket method. Cut and sew 3-4” wide strips to fold in half and attach to the drapery header evenly distributed along the finished width of the panel.
Using ring clips is another quick and easy way to create a beautiful effect and is ideal for beginners.
*Fabric shown: P/Kaufmann Imperial Velvet Drapery Aegean
Pleat Hooks + Tape
Transform regular panels with drapery clips and drapery tape to create orderly pleats at the top of the curtains. Just be sure to add an additional 6” per pleat to your overall fabric width to accomodate folds while still covering the windows when drawn closed.
*Fabric shown: P/Kaufmann Imperial Velvet Drapery Peach
Get the grommet look without the hammer and hassle! You can now find this hardware in a handy click-together format you can install without any additional tools. Love these antique gold grommets on fabric.com!
Simply measure and mark hole placement with chalk along the panel’s top edge, distributed equally depending on the amount of grommets in your kit, cut out the center, and press the grommets into place! Now you can easily slide curtain panels onto a curtain rod for easy installation!
*Fabric shown: Cotton + Steel Rifle Paper Co. Menagerie Canvas Monstera
Here's a quick guide to DIY draperies that will help you choose the perfect fabric and look for your space!
Sewing Basic Panels and Linings
Sewing window treatments is a great home improvement project for those just getting comfortable on a sewing machine because essentially you’re only sewing straight lines! No piece work or pattern making required.
Once you’ve determined the desired dimensions of your finished curtains, add 1” seam allowance to the bottom and sides of the panel and add an additional 3”+ inches to the top of your curtain panel to accommodate the width of your curtain rod (if using rod & pocket method). Turn-under the raw edges ½” and turn over again to create a ½” fold. Press the edge and pin in place before sewing around the outside of the panel. Fold the top edge down 3” and test that your curtain rod can still pass through the channel before top stitching down the fold. This pocket will allow a rod to pass through to easily install in a window.
Lining curtain panels is an economical measure you can take to enhance the practicality of draperies. In addition to filtering light, linings can also aide in lowering room temperature, adding body to lightweight fabrics and enhance privacy.
Now you are ready to get starting sewing your perfect drapes!
*Illustrations and photos created by Lindsey Crafter