The Sewing Place

A little knowledge is a GOOD thing


A little knowledge is a GOOD thing
« on: August 30, 2020, 11:51:54 AM »
I`ve been making curtains for 30+ years, basically taught by a friend who scribbled a few instructions on a bit of paper.  Since then I`ve made many curtains, for myself and others, and they`ve all hung well and looked absolutely fine.
However since moving house I decided I wanted to do things "properly" so I bought the Merrick and Day Encyclopedia of Curtains.  Well, it appears I`ve been doing everything wrong!  I only allow about 4 inches for a hem - they allow 10.  I only turn over the top about an inch - they allow 2 inches.  I do likewise at each end of the tape - they allow 8 extra inches of tape per curtain.  I also put the tape on first and then hem.  They do the opposite.

For about 30 seconds I panicked.  Then I thought Blow It.  My existing curtains look good.  Why pay for fabric and tape that nobody sees?  So Merrick and Day have been put away and I shall carry on doing things wrong
Attempting to be a Tailor of Gloucester


Re: A little knowledge is a GOOD thing
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2020, 12:01:13 PM »
I've only made them once completely and used a 6 inch hem and around 1 inch turn up (now being used as decorating sheets), the alterations to shortening curtains the same.   From memory I just followed what was on the curtains already.  I've just looked at my very expensive dining and sitting room matching curtains and they look  around 5 inches.

So in other words you do what you think best and save a bit of fabric.  Experts, who'd have them.
Stash extension 2021 -
Left at the end of 2020 - 47.5 meters


Re: A little knowledge is a GOOD thing
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2020, 12:15:51 PM »
I learned to make curtains "properly" on a City & Guilds course but sometimes you just gotta skimp. No one knows but you and, as you say, if they look good, who cares.

Helen M

Re: A little knowledge is a GOOD thing
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2020, 12:23:12 PM »
I'd made curtains before I did a soft furnishings afternoon and evening class probably 20 years ago.

There we did 6" turn ups for curtain and 4" for linings with 1" for turnings at the top.  We made little bags of lining fabric to hold the gathered cords from the tape which you attached between the heading tape and linings at the outside edge of each curtain.

We did hems first which was new to me but I'd recommend it, as it is so much easier to get them done before you attach the linings and tape.
Stash Busting 2021
Goal: 35 metres
So far: 0 metres


Re: A little knowledge is a GOOD thing
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2020, 12:30:10 PM »
I do about 4" hem - but doubled, the folded over bit goes right to the bottom.  That gives a bit of extra weight.

If I'm using tape on the top the fold over is about an inch, and the tape is folded in about an inch at each ens.  There's no point in using more, but when buying it is necessary to add a small amount especially if it's the type which pulls up to form triple pleats or something, like allowing for a pattern repeat. 

The last pair of curtains I made have goblet pleats done without tape - and they passed inspection by DD's beady eye! 0_0  (she makes 'em professionally)

I don't think it really matters whether you do the top first or the bottom, although if they are floor length and you want to be sure of the exact length you might want to do the top first, hang them and then check for length.  Likewise with shirt collar and sleeves, I was taught that it doesn't matter which is done first as neither interferes with the making of the other.
Brenda.  My machines are: Corona, a 1953 Singer 201K-3, Caroline, a 1940 Singer 201K-3, Thirza, 1949 Singer 221K, Azilia, 1957 Singer 201K-MK2 and Vera, a Husqvarna 350 SewEasy about 20 years old. Also Bernina 1150 overlocker and Elna 444 Coverstitcher.


Re: A little knowledge is a GOOD thing
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2020, 12:53:44 PM »
I do deep hems... around 8 inches. I needed the extra when I had them dry cleaned, they shrunk about 2 inches.


Re: A little knowledge is a GOOD thing
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2020, 13:10:20 PM »
@sewingj i am shocked and horrified to hear you have been making them wrong for all those years! :laughing:

I haven’t made any for ages.  I refused to do the last lot for our lounge and dining room.  The previous lot had me crawling round the floor and shifting furniture to accommodate them.  Never again!  Didn’t really save much money either.  But when I do make them I judge everything by the weight, where they’re going and how much fabric I have. 


Re: A little knowledge is a GOOD thing
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2020, 14:06:26 PM »
I use very similar measurements to Brenda. I've always done the tape before the hem
Triumph of hope over experience :D