Simple & Sensible Tips for Sewing Curtains

Shortening the hem or adding a pole pocket on a curtain are some of the easiest sewing endeavors there are, but as many a Project Runway disaster proves, a wonky hem can make the whole project look like a mess. Here are a few simple tips to help get it right every time.

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After many a disappointing result hemming an extra long set of curtains from Ikea, I've realized that the job can't be rushed, so when I converted these Alexander Girard for Urban Outfitters shower curtains into window curtains for my son's room, I made sure to do it carefully.

Sewing a hem or pocket simply involves folding the fabric twice — once to hide the raw edge and twice to finish and/or add the pocket — but cutting and folding in a straight line is essential to creating finished curtains that look polished, not wavy and off-kilter.

Measure Carefully: Before cutting the fabric, carefully measure the length you want to cut. Draw a line with pencil or chalk and make sure it is as straight as possible. Measure the length from the edge of the fabric and make reference points every 10-12 inches. When you draw the cutting line, make sure that it includes at least three of the reference points to insure you don't veer off diagonally.

Press Often: Fold the raw edge over about half an inch and press well. Make sure the fold line is straight as you press and the fold is the same length all the way across. Especially on a long piece of fabric, it's easy for the fold to start to curve or wobble. Pin the folds after pressing to make sure that everything stays in place when you get it to the sewing machine.

Take Your Time: Measuring, cutting and pressing take at least twice as much time as actually sewing, but checking and double checking the straightness of your folds will make the time you spend sitting at the sewing machine that much easier. Sew as close to the fold like away from the edge as possible — about 1/4-inch — and you're done!

Images: Sarah Rainwater

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