Curtain panels are a perfect beginner project. They're fast, super simple, and you get a great sense of satisfaction when you hang them up and instantly transform your window from plain and boring to pretty and bright. These fast and easy curtains combine two fabrics and use a simple row of ribbons to tie the top in place. This is a traditional cafe style hanging method and works well for full-length as well as half-window curtains. We have a link below to our full tutorial on window measuring basics.
Our panels are lined, which gives them more sun-blocking power and means they are finished on all sides. We show you all the steps for the simple yet clever seaming that makes it happen.
The supplies listed below are for two finished curtain panels measuring approximately 42" wide x 42" long each. These were created for a 36" x 36" window. The ribbon ties make the height somewhat adjustable. Please note that the window in the photo above is a bit taller and thinner, which is why the curtain rod appears "set down" from the top of the window. With flat curtain panels, they are flexible and pretty easy to adjust. However, if your window(s) are very different in size, check out our tutorial: How to Measure for Curtains.
If someone you know has just moved into a new house or apartment, a set of new curtains makes a lovely gift. Just ask them to measure their window(s) and give you their room's color scheme. Although we've used "kitchen" in the title for this project, the panels could work equally well for any room.
We originally used a retro combination of fabrics from the Simply Sweet collection by Barbara Jones for Henry Glass. This fabric is no longer readily available, but we found two other options with a vintage feel.
The mid-century style is often accented with gold metallic.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Remember, the supplies listed below are for TWO finished curtain panels measuring approximately 42" wide x 42" long each.
- 1 yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight fabric for the top and bottom accent borders
- 2⅛ yards of 44"+ wide quilting weight fabric for the main curtain panels
- 2⅛ yards of 44"+ wide quilting weight fabric or standard curtain lining fabric for the lining panels
- 9 yards of 1" ribbon for the upper ties
- All purpose thread to match all fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Fabric pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
- Fray Check or a similar seam sealant for the ends of the ribbons
- From the accent fabric, cut FOUR strips 8" high x the width of the fabric (45" for our sample).
- From the main panel fabric, cut TWO panels 37" high x the width of the fabric.
- From the lining fabric, cut TWO panels 37" high x the width of the fabric.
- Trim all these pieces to a matching 43" width.
- Cut the ribbon into eighten 18" lengths. Trim the ends at a diagonal. Each curtain panel uses eight ties, the two extra ribbons are to use as tie backs.
- Apply a line of seam sealant to each end of each piece of ribbon. Allow the seam sealant to air dry or iron dry with low heat. This will help prevent the ribbon from fraying and raveling without needing to hem the ends.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Thread your machine with thread to match the curtain panels in the top and bobbin.
- Match up the two main fabric panels with the two lining fabric panels. Pin each set right sides together, aligning all the raw edges.
- Sew both sets together along both SIDES (but not the top and bottom), using a ½" seam allowance.
- Press all four seam allowances open and flat.
- Turn the curtain panels right side out and press the seams flat so they make a nice sharp edge along each side.
- Fold one accent strip in half lengthwise wrong sides together. Press.
- Open up the accent strip and lay it flat on your work surface right side facing up. You will be able to see the pressed crease down the middle.
- The crease marks the center line of your strip and the line on which you will place and stitch the ribbon ties.
- Collect eight ribbon lengths. Fold each length in half to find its center point. Place the center line of the ribbon on the center crease line of the accent strip. The ribbons will lay perpendicular to the fabric. Space the eight ribbons evenly along the strip with the first and last ribbons ½" in from each end. Our ties were approximately 6" apart. Pin in place at the center points.
- Re-thread your machine with thread to match the accent strip in the top and bobbin.
- Stitch straight across each ribbon, keeping your seam right along the center crease. We recommend stitching back and forth several times to create a nice, strong tie.
- Fold the accent strip in half again, wrong sides together, along the crease line and press the ties up and away from the strip. Your seams will run along the very top fold of the accent fabric but will be hidden between the ribbons.
- Open the accent strip up and match it to the top raw edge of the curtain panel, centering the accent strip. The right side of the accent strip should face the right side of the main panel fabric. Pin in place. Push the ribbons down and out of the way of the seam.
- Stitch across the top through all layers, using a ½" seam allowance. Start and stop at the main panel's side seams.
- With the accent strip still opened flat, press the seam allowance away from the curtain panel towards the accent strip.
- Flip over the panel and press up the long raw edge of the accent strip ½".
- Fold the accent strip in half, right sides together, and pin in place along each end.
- Stitch across both short ends with a ½" seam allowance. This seam should be flush with the finished edge of the curtain panel as shown in the photo below.
- Trim back seam allowance to ¼" and clip the corners. Turn right side out and press. Reach in with a long, blunt tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner to gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp.
- On the lining side of the curtain panel, the pressed edge of the accent strip back should cover the original exposed seam. Pin in place across the panel.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch around all four sides of the accent strip. This stitching will be visible, so be very careful to keep your seam line straight and remember to pivot at each corner.
- Finish the lower edge of the curtain in the same manner, using a second accent strip, but omitting the ribbons.
- Repeat to make the second curtain panel to match the first.
- We found it easier to tie all the ribbon ties into matching bows first, and then slip the panels onto the curtain rod, adjusting as needed once in place.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler