Friday, February 28, 2014

Easy Lined Curtains

I've come to appreciate that "farm skills" are not just outdoor tasks, but can also be inside-the-home projects.  Sewing, cooking, baking, canning, and raising the kids all count!  I'm a bit proud to say I can muck out a stall, hay a field, and put up a fence as much as I can bake a good loaf of bread and sew pretty curtains.

When we moved into the farmhouse, I envisioned the sitting room as a blue-toned throwback to the Federal period.  The hand-carved molding from the early 1800's and the wide-plank American chestnut floor are original and the beautiful fireplace and mantel have been restored.  Most of the stenciled furniture is from the historical Hitchcock factory, only a short walk down the road.  

When I started thinking about curtains, I had very specific requirements.  I didn't want long curtains in this room since they would cover up the carved window moldings, so I decided on valences.  I also needed a fabric and print that would be reminiscent of the Federal period.  It had to be perfect, since I know I'll be living with these curtains for many years.  And it needed to be inexpensive.  If you've ever looked at good quality, lined curtains made with upholstery fabric, you know they cost a lot.  With decent sewing machine skills, I decided to order the fabric and make my own.    

When I saw this lovely blue and white floral upholstery fabric online, I knew it was "the one".  I even ordered a bit extra to make pillows. I found a thick white twill on clearance to become the lining and bought a new spool of thread.  I was able to make valences for all three windows for less than $25.                          

I came up with this really easy method for making lined curtains; just adjust the height and width to make different sizes and styles. If using washable fabrics, wash and dry before cutting to avoid shrinking later on.  With pets and kids, machine washable is the only kind I would consider!

You'll need:
- fabric for the front side 
- lining fabric for the back side
- thread
- straight pins
- pinking shears or scissors
- iron and sewing machine (or sew by hand if you like old-school)

Step 1:  Measure for height and width of panel.  I decided I didn't want a gathered look, but if you do, the rule-of-thumb is to have a panel width 1 1/2 times the window width (so if the window width is 3 feet, the panel width would be 4 1/2 feet).
- If your curtain rod is curved at the ends, measure around the curve also. 
- Although my directions are for one valence per window, it's easy to adjust this to make two longer panels per window.
- This plan has a curtain rod pocket that is 1 1/2" high (3" circumference), plenty for most curtain rods.  Measure your curtain rod to make sure it will fit.

Step 2:  You will want 1/2" seam allowances on all sides, so add 1" to each the height and width.  Using pinking shears, cut out two pieces from your fabric: one from the front-side fabric and one from the lining.  (Keep in mind how the pattern or grain is facing.  I used a pattern with a large design, so I had to make sure it was centered and looked the same on each curtain.)

Step 3:  Match up both pieces of fabric, right sides facing in.  Pin around the bottom edge and both side edges (but not the top).  Measure 2 1/2" down each side from the top and make a mark; this top section will become the curtain rod pocket.

Step 4: Starting at the mark you made near the top of one side, stitch down one side, across the bottom, and up the second side until you come to the other mark.  Leave a 1/2" seam allowance.  Do not stitch across the top yet.

Step 5:  Turn the panel right-side-out.  Iron the stitched seams so they lay flat.  Continue to iron the fold up each side past the mark (see photo below).

Step 6:  Fold the top edge of both fabrics in 1/2" for a seam allowance.  Iron flat.  (See photo below)  The top edge should align.

Step 7:  You will now be stitching three lines across the top:
- Stitch a straight line across the top, 1/4" from the top.  This will sew the edge closed and cover the seam allowance.
- Stitch another straight line,  1/2" from the top edge.  This will be the top of the curtain rod pocket.
- Stitch another straight line, 2" from the top edge.  This should create a curtain rod pocket that is 1 1/2" high.

Step 8:  Iron, hang, and enjoy your awesome new curtains!


 - Katie

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