Making progress on those curtains er….drapes

Since I bought the fabric over two months ago I’ve made two drapery panels. This is the slowest I’ve ever been about completing a project. The other two panels for the bigger window are sewn together and the lining still needs to be pressed before I can sew it. I think I mentioned in my last post how unmotivated home sewing makes me feel. img_5361These curtains are looking a little lackluster, aren’t they? After consulting my mom about what I may have done wrong, she let me know that I should not have washed the linen fabric since I will probably never get those wrinkles out. Apparently drapery workrooms have giant iron pressing machines to get all the wrinkles out. While the curtains are lined, they still need weights at the bottom to improve the hang of them. I will have to take my hand held steamer to these and sew on some weights by hand.

Also, I used one width of 54 fabric for the drapes for a window width of 28 inches. That’s not quite two times the width of the window area.about the same as store bought drapes.

My mom says to get the best look I should have made the panels two and a half times to three times the width of area I needed to cover, so I really needed each panel to be almost two widths wide. I would have needed to have twice the amount of fabric making them twice as expensive. And that’s why those custom drapes are so pricey. They are total fabric hogs! I’m still debating whether I should just go ahead and make the next pair since I already cut everything out or buy more linen and make them more full. img_5361At 46, I’m old enough to be a grandmother, my own mom was already one at my age, but apparently I’m not too old to take her advice. And did I?  Nope. Sorry, Mom!

Aaah the joys of drapery sewing!


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  1. Belinda says

    I think they are still lovely curtains for the farmhouse casual look that you’ve eluded to. Please show us another photo after you steam and weight them. What kind of pleat did you do? It looks more interesting than the standard 3-pleats sewn together and then a space before the next 3-pleats. Thanks for your advice and sharing your adventures!

    • says

      I used pencil pleating tape and i will show a photo after a complete the other pair. hopefully by the end of the year!

  2. Dagmar says

    Hi Justine,
    I always look at whether the panels are meant to be left in the closed position to provide privacy or simply positioned open at the sides to provide colour and texture to the room. If you need them to shade the room and provide privacy, I would remake them, adding more fabric as well as the fabric weights.
    I might have washed the linen too, if only to guard against future shrinkage when being washed. How would your mother have handled that issue in her workroom? Would she say that any curtain/drape goes to the dry cleaner?
    I am sorry for the frustration but thanks for sharing with us – I am really learning from your experience in this area 🙂

    • says

      Yes she says it’s better to dry clean drapes because they lose there shape in the wash and then need to pressed out so there’s no point washing the fabric. Live and learn! I should have asked first, cut later, but I always soldier on in projects like a bull in a china shop.

  3. Carol Gardiner says

    Making curtains er.. drapes is probably one of the most boring types of sewing. In my opinion, of course :). It always takes me forever to get them done. I am very impressed that you finished as much as you did. And they look very nice. Yep, your mom is right, you don’t prewash the fabric, but it does give it a more casual look. When I was a kid we had a pool table. My dad made pieces of wood to cover it for parties (to hold all the food) and for cutting out fabric, of course. When I moved away from home I had the hardest time figuring out how to lay out my fabric for sewing without a pool table. Now my excuse for not sewing drapes and other large home dec items is I don’t have a pool table to lay it all out on. I agree with the reader above, if you are going to have them mostly open they don’t really need to be all that full.

  4. karen lyon says

    Justine, just borrow some of your husband’s clamps, weight the bottom of the drapes in situ, and use your steam gizmo to help with the wrinkle situation. It works, believe me. Mind you, you will have to leave the clamps on for a couple of days so the drape don’t get ideas again. lol
    If buying additional linen fabric is too costly, allowing for the fact that the new fabric might not match the washed shade, you might invest in some sheers for the middle of the window area. Cream is a safe colour, but I would go with chocolate brown sheers.
    I am not a fan of home decor myself, but over the years have learned some different ways to “make do”
    as they used to say in my mother’s generation.
    Good luck with the finish!

  5. Val Green says

    Hello Justine,
    I had this problem with curtains, i’d washed them and they wrinkled. I used a damp tea towel over the curtains and ironed on the highest setting, it worked a treat. With winter coming up, the less fabric on your curtains, the more light you will gain in your room, when i make curtains now, i have a little extra width, just one panel not two, that way on the darkest of winter days, i still get more light in my rooms.