making your own curtains

Few feelings of accomplishment match the emotional high of completing a crafting project. That feeling is even better preserved however when the outcome of your hardwork is a practical keepsake that brings new life to a room or your home as a whole. In this regard a simple pair of panel curtains or lined drapes is highly recommended for one of your early endeavours. In this entry of the Ajanta Studios blog, we have the first part of a double-entry explaining how to properly plan and measure out the fabric for your own curtains, ensuring the un-draped room in question is covered up just the way you want it to be!

Measure Up Your Personal Space

Before you can even start buying materials, let alone begin work on the curtains, you need to assess what it is you need. This of course starts with getting your tape measure out and examining those window openings. Ideally your curtains should measure 1.5 to 3 times the width of your window opening (or wall if that's what you plan to cover up), and the more fabric you apply the more folds you'll get out of the finished cut. Length is a bit easier; you just need the fabric to hang at least just below the window trim, whilst leaving at least 2" for the hems.

You also need to think about what purpose these curtains will serve. Are they giving you your requsite privacy, or are they just darkening a light sensitive room? The last thing you want is to buy a fabric that, whilst looking great, really doesn't serve the purpose you had in mind and ultimately ends up a waste of time and money.

Calculating For Fabric

This is tricky, especially for anyone who's math isn't their strongest suit (like us...). Drapery fabric, including the Clarke & Clarke patterns available at Ajanta Studios, is ordered in metre lengths cut from the roll. Before you start working out your desired length, you'll need to have worked out the following from the previous step:
  • Length of your curtain pole - Obviously this won't apply if using clip rings
  • Your finished curtain length - The aforementioned height.
  • Width of the fabric - The standard length is 142cm (56"). Anything wider, and you'll need to sew panels together.
  • Vertical pattern repeat - The vertical distance between where the pattern is identical again.
  • Fullness Ratio - The relationship between the length of the curtain track or pole and the amount of fabric used.
  • Hem Allowance 
  • Heading Allowance 

Once you have this information, you can calculate A. the widths of fabric required to make up both pairs of curtains, B. the fabric cut drop (the point at which you match your fabric) and then C. the amount of fabric required.

So, for example, lets say your window is 62 inches wide, and you want your curtains to be primarily decorative. Since this means they'll probably be open most of the time, you only need to add an extra quarter that width to your fabric's width. For height, you add the hem allowance for both top and bottom to your finished curtain length, and then ensure you have double that length to cover each window. Don't be afraid of having lots of extra fabric; it can be used later on for pillow cases and other bedding bits.

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Clarke & Clarke's new Storybook collection of drapery fabrics are ideal patterns for children's curtains.

Gathering What You Need

As well as the fabric, there are some basic tools and supplies that are required. If you're hanging your curtains on a curtain rod, then you'll need to track down one to your liking. Other alternatives include curtain rings, or creative versions made from dead wood, discarded tools or even hockey sticks!

Unless you want this project to go on for months rather than hours, you'll need to own, or at least have access to a sewing machine. We outlined what to look for in your first sewing machine buyers in our blog on how to sew your own clothes, but essentially you'll need to know how to sew a basic seam, in a straight line, before starting work.

Other essential tools you'll need include fabric and a thread, some pins, measuring tape, pencil (preferably a sewing pencil), a large space on the floor or a work table, iron and an ironing board and a washer and dryer.

Make sure you follow us on into Part 2 of our curtain guide, where we'll be explaining how to prepare your fabric, and cut/sew it in shape for your making curtains. Don't forget to also keep up to date with all our crafting guides over at the Ajanta Studios Facebook page, Twitter and Google+.

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