Pretty curtains softly billowing in the breeze of an open window are a sure sign of summer. You can almost smell the honeysuckle, can't you? Our guest room curtain panels are made from two simple width-of-fabric cuts with a flange accenting their seam. Long, loopy tie-backs let you pull your curtains off to the side or cinch them in the middle with a generous bow as we did. We also show you a fast and easy way to handle the lining.
The majority of our Fresh Linens projects started with pre-cuts, thanks to our friends at Moda Fabrics who provided us with a full set of all the pre-cuts available for Joanna Figueroa's beautiful Fresh Cottons Collection.
However, the only pre-cut in this project is the small flange accent, made from a Jelly Roll strip. The balance of the large fabric panels should be cut from full yardage.
This collection of fabric has a softly nostalgic feel, but there's nothing old-fashioned about it. That's one of the magical things about Joanna's designs; she pulls in wonderfully vintage themes and colors but the result is never dowdy or out-of-date. In fact, they are always new and fresh and fun. To learn more about Fresh Cottons, pre-cuts and our nine Fresh Linens bedroom projects, read our article, Fresh Linens Liven up a Guest Bedroom with Crisp, Comfy Color.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 6600P)
Fabric and Other Supplies
The fabric yardage shown below is based on ONE 41" x 74" curtain panel and ONE tie back. Depending on the size and number of your window(s) and height of your rod(s), you will need to adjust the measurements accordingly. We fully explain how we determined the sizes of our cut pieces below.
- Fabric for top of panel and tie back: 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric: we used Joanna Figueroa's Fresh Cottons by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda Fabrics in Apple Green Bouquet
- Fabric for bottom of panel: 2 yards of 44-45" wide fabric: we used Joanna Figueroa's Fresh Cottons by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda Fabrics in Apple Green Fleur
- Jelly Roll for flange (we used just one of the forty 2½" x 44" strips in the standard Jelly Roll; if you choose not to use a Jelly Roll, you'll need to cut one 2½" x 44" strip from your chosen fabric): we used Joanna Figueroa's Fresh Cottons Jelly Roll by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda Fabrics in Coral Rose Crisp Rose
- 2½ yards of standard white cotton drapery lining
- All purpose thread to match your fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
The first step in designing the panel curtain is to do some math! We'll explain how we determined our cut and finished measurements. If you have a different size window and/or your hardware (or curtain rod) is set at a different height, you'll be able to follow our example to design your own curtain.
Finished length measurements
Measure from the top of your rod to where you want the curtain panel to end. We wanted out panel to hit at about the middle of our high baseboard molding. The height from the top of our rod to the mid-point of the molding is 74". So, our finished height will be 74".
Top fabric height
We decided to make our panel from two different fabrics... 'cause it would just be boring otherwise. We decided the best look for our design was to make the top fabric a 12" finished length from the top of the rod.
You'll notice we have what's called a 'flange' in between our top and bottom fabrics. Ours is made our of a pre-cut 2½" strip from a Jelly Roll. It's basically piping, but without the 'pipe.' Our flange overlaps the bottom of the panel and so does not add anything to the overall length measurement.
Bottom fabric height
Our bottom fabric is easy to figure out, just subtract the finished length of the top fabric from the total finished length of the panel body. 74" - 12" = 62".
Cut length measurements
Now we need to add on for hem allowances at the top and bottom, as well as the seam allowance where the top fabric is sewn to the bottom fabric.
We need to account for the rod pocket at the top. Our rod is 2" in diameter, so we need to make a pocket that is large enough for the rod to easily slide through; 3" should do the trick. Plus, we need to account for a seam allowance to stitch the top of the curtain panel to the lining. So, we need to add 3½" (3" rod pocket on back + ½" seam allowance) to the top. We also need ½" at the bottom for a seam allowance to sew the top panel to the bottom panel. With all this taken into account, our cut length for the top panel fabric will be 12" + 3½" + ½" = 16"
We do not need to calculate the flange since we're using the precut 2½" strip. Plus, it's not part of our overall length, it's just a decorative detail.
We need a total of 7½" for a nice deep hem on the bottom (that's just kind of a home décor standard... you'll just have to trust me on this one) and a ½" seam allowance at the top where the two panels join. Starting with our finished measurement of 62", we add 62" + 7½" + ½" = 70"
Cut width measurements
Well, this part is fairly easy. We simply used as much of the width of the fabric as possible. We decided the finished width of our panel curtain would be 41". So, we cut all our pieces the full width of the fabric, using the excess as our seam allowance, including the selvedges.
Finally, we're ready to cut! Referring to the cut length and width measurements we figured out above, we can cut our pieces as follows:
- One 16" x width of fabric piece from the top fabric.
- One 70" x width of fabric piece from the bottom fabric.
- Repeat to create as many panels as necessary for your window(s).
Let's not forget we need to cut a lining. It's important to use a proper lining for your panel because it helps with light control, protects the fabric from fading in the sun, and gives the curtain body. Before we cut the lining, we need to do some math again. Oh boy! You need to think about how you'll be lining your panel. It's standard to make the lining shorter than the actual panel so the lining doesn't hang below the hemline (much like the lining in a skirt). That's another one of those standard home décor measurements: 3" less than the total. So, we need to subtract 3" from our total cut length.
- Our total finished length is 74". Our hem allowance at the bottom was 7½" and at the top 3½". 74" + 7½" +3½" = 85"
- The cut length of the lining will be 85" - 3" = 82"
- For the width, we cut the lining 5" less than the cut width of the panel. This is also a home décor standard.
- The cut width of the lining will be 45" (width of fabric) - 5" = 40"
- Cut the lining piece 82" x 40".
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Fold and press the flange piece in half, wrong sides together.
- Align the raw edges of the folded flange with the top raw edge of the bottom panel fabric. Pin in place.
NOTE: Pay attention to the direction of your fabric, depending on the style of print.
- Using a basting stitch, sew the flange to the bottom panel fabric within the ½" seam allowance, ie. at about ¼".
- Place the top panel fabric right sides together with flange/bottom panel fabric.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the top fabric to the flange/bottom fabric. Press the flange down and the seam allowance up.
NOTE: Depending on the actual widths of your selected fabrics, you may need to trim the width on each side of the sewn panel piece to make it all flush.
- On the top panel fabric only, topstitch through all layers of the seam allowance, just above the seam line.
- Fold and press the bottom hem 3½", then fold and press again 4". Stitch close the fold to finish the hem. Set aside.
- Repeat the same hem on the lining piece (3½" and then 4"). Remember, this piece will finish shorter than the curtain panel piece.
- Lay the curtain panel flat on your work surface, right side up. Place the lining piece right side down (the sewn hem allows you to tell right side from wrong side) on top of the panel.
- Pin one side, starting at the top. Align the top raw edge of the lining with the top raw edge of the top of the panel. Remember, the lining piece is shorter and narrower than the panel piece. Pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the front panel to the lining along this first side.
- Pull the lining to so it is flush with the opposite side of the panel. This will cause the sewn side to kind of turn in on itself. That's okay.
- Again, align the top raw edge of the lining with the top raw edge of the top of the panel. Pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the front panel to the lining along this second side.
- Lay the sewn piece back out on your work surface, lining side up. Now, in order to lay flat, both sides of the front panel will curve around to the back. Match the raw edges of the front panel and the lining along the top edge, making sure the center point of the lining matches the center point of the front panel. To find your center point, you can either measure from each side or fold the entire unit in half and mark.
- Smooth the panel flat. Use your measuring tape to make sure your side hems are even. To get our 41" finished width, our side hems were each about 1½".
- Press the side seam allowances towards the outside edges. Pin in place along the top.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew through all layers (including the folded-in side hems) along the top of the panel.
- Clip the two top corners of the panel at a diagonal. This makes it easier to push out the corners so they are nice and sharp.
- Turn panel right side out through the finished open bottom (remember, we did the panel and lining hems first).
- Push out the top corners so they are nice and sharp and press.
- Re-press along the side edges.
- The bottom of the back side of the panel will look like this.
- For a more finished edge, at the very bottom corner of the panel, fold under the remaining raw edge of the side hem. Make a short vertical stitching line, in thread to match your fabric, to secure the side hem to your bottom hem.
- Along the top of the panel, fold 3" to the wrong side to create the rod pocket. Pin in place. Press the edge.
- Edgestitch through all layers along the bottom of the rod pocket.
- We wanted our tie backs wide and extra long so they could be tied into a soft bow with tails that would fall almost to the bottom of the curtain. To accomplish this, we cut two wide strips the width of the fabric (Apple Green Bouquet in our sample).
- We decided on a finished width of 3" (no magic 'standard' here, just our preference). Our tie will be created by folding the fabric strip in half, which means we need the finished width times two. And, we need a ½" seam allowance on each side to sew it all together. 3" + 3" + ½" + ½" = 7". We cut our strips 7" wide.
- Since we also want it 'extra-long,' each tie requires TWO pieces 7" x the width of fabric (44-45").
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew two strips together end to end (along the 7" side). Press seam open.
- Fold the tie strip in half, right sides together. Pin and press in place.
- Using a fabric marking pen or pencil, draw a gentle point at each end. Place a dot 1" in from the end and 1½" from the fold (this is the point). Place another dot 2½" in from the end and ½" in from the raw edge. Finally, place a third dot 2½" in from the end right on the folded edge. Now, just connect the dots.
- Repeat the marking the the opposite end so both your points will the same.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, begin to sew at one end. Sew along your drawn line, pivoting at the point, then continue along the straight edge. Stop near the middle and back tack, leaving about a 6" opening for turning right side out. Continue to sew to the other end, finishing by sewing along your drawn line at the opposite end.
- Trim the fabric around the point close to your seam.
- Turn right side out. Use your finger or a long, blunt-end tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick to push out the points. Press. Be sure to press in the raw edges of your opening so they are flush with your sewn seam. Put a few pins along the opening to secure it.
- Topstitch around the entire tie back, which adds a decorative touch, a bit of stability, and closes the opening used for turning.
Hints and Tips
More on curtain measuring
Above, we gave you the steps we used to determine our panels. However, you might want to read some other basic tops in our article, How to Measure for Curtains.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Jodi Kelly