How to make curtains and draperies

Usually made of sheer or lightweight fabric, panel curtains have a casing, or pocket, for the rod and, sometimes, a heading above the casing. Draperies are generally of heavier fabric, sometimes lined, and are hung on hooks. For draperies you need pleater tape or stiffener (firm, nonwoven interfacing or buckram) to sew across the top. Estimating yardage First, install the hardware according to package directions. Then measure from the top of the rod to the desired length (the windowsill, the bottom of the molding, or the floor-less 1/2 inch for clearance for floor-length draperies). Add hem allowances (2 to 4 inches for curtains, 3 to 6 inches for draperies), headings (2 inches for curtains, 11/2 inches for draperies), and casings (the diameter of the rod plus 1/4 to 1/2 inch for ease).

To determine the finished width, measure the length of the rod and double it for fullness (triple it for sheer fabric). Allow for side hems: 11/2 inches for curtains, 21/2 inches for draperies; also add 1 inch for seams if you are joining panels.

Divide the finished width by the fabric width to determine the number of panels needed. Multiply the finished length per panel by the number of panels and divide by 36 to find the yardage. Add extra yardage, if necessary, for matching a design.

Joining panels
Straighten the fabric ends by cutting the selvage and tearing the fabric or by cutting along a line left by a thread pulled across just below the cut edge. Join panels with an interlocking fell seam: place right sides together with the bottom piece extending 1/4 inch. Fold back the extension, then both layers together; press. Pin and stitch.

Finishing the sides
For unlined panels, turn and press the side-hem allowance, turning under the edge 1/2 inch. Straight stitch or blindstitch along the inside fold.

Straight stitch
For a lining, cut lining fabric 4 inches narrower and 2 to 5 inches shorter than the drapery panel. Stitch a finch hem at the lining bottom. With the right sides together, stitch the lining to the panel at each side, stopping 2 inches from the lining hem; press the seams toward the lining. Center the lining on the panel and press. Unless you’re using pleater tape, stitch a 1/2-inch seam across the top.

Finishing curtain tops
To make a casing for curtains, press the raw edge under 1/2 inch, then turn
and press the casing the diameter of the rod, plus ease allowance. Stitch 1/8 inch from the edge.

For a casing with heading, press the raw edge under 1/2 inch, then press the top edge down. Stitch the hem edge, then stitch again at the heading depth, usually 1 inch.

Finishing drapery tops
To attach pleater tape, first turn its ends under 1/2 inch and stitch. Lay the tape on the right side of the fabric, lapping edges 1/2 inch. Stitch the edge. Fold and press it to the wrong side, then stitch on the tape’s guideline. Slip a single hook into each end pocket. Insert 4-pronged pleater hooks

Attaching pleater tape into adjacent pockets and across the top, leaving 2 to 4 empty pockets between pleats; finger press the folds.
If you are hand pleating lined draperies, attach stiffener as shown; stitch close to the edge. Turn the panel right side out and press all around. Mark overlaps (center edges) and returns (outer edges) on each panel; space the pleats evenly between them, allowing 5 to 6 inches per pleat plus 4 inches between pleats. Fold each pleat in half and stitch from the top to the edge of the stiffener. Divide each pleat into 3 equal parts and press; machine stitch them or tack by hand.

Bottom hems
Fold and baste the hems and tack weights in place. Hang panels for a few days, then adjust if necessary.

For a single hem, press the raw edge under 1/2 inch, then fold and press the remaining hem allowance, mitering the corners. Fuse or sew by machine or hand.

Single-hem unlined curtain
For a double hem (suitable for sheers), press under 2 inches, then fold and press another 2 inches; sew.

On lined panels, slipstitch the last 2 inches of lining in place. Tack the lining to the hem. Attach weights.