Window Treatment Tips

A fair amount of moons ago I designed and sold custom window treatments. It was something I found challenging, fun, and really enjoyed. I learned a lot about construction from the two workrooms I used. I loved going in the workrooms and seeing the staff cutting on the large tables in rooms so well lit it brought on jealousy. Then there were the rolls of pricey designer fabrics just waiting to be turned into a designer's fantasy. That's where I was lucky and the workroom ladies thought so too. Many designers had not a clue about construction, dreamed up designs, and then left the rest to the workroom. Far too often these were ideas defying fabrication due to a lack of knowledge of what machines and fabric can do. I was lucky to develop a great relationship with the workrooms. They would let me troll their digs, ask tons of nosy questions, and respect their skills. On the other hand, they knew with my designs they had someone who understood grain, pattern matching, fabric qualities, etc. It was a great mutual respect and I learned so much.

Since those days I have tried to make all my window treatments "custom". As I put together these simple bathroom rod runs a few things came back in their construction.
 This first pic came out really blurry and now the curtains are put together but I think you will get my drift. This shows my much used oak tag template being used to turn and press a half inch hem. This is simply made from a manila folder and marked out with perfect 1/4, 1/2, 1 inch, 1 1/2 inch, and 2 inch lines. The raw edge is turned to meet the appropriate line and pressed. I have had this template for years. While it is showing, I will mention lining. Unless it is some sort of sheer treatment, I personally wouldn't dream of not lining any window treatment. Well, maybe if I lived in a saltbox on Cape Cod and was doing real Cape Cod curtains, but other than that, no. I also have a big issue with how the windows look from the street. Well, you all know how anal I can get by now, but I don't like the windows to not match across the front of the house, or the rest of it for that matter. Ah, but she uses a brown gingham lining, you say......This is a bath windwow that no one would ever see from outside. This side of the house is not a place where anyone would walk around and it abuts woods. Ima gave me TONS of brown gingham so I used that and my inner tightwad was happy. It actually looks pretty good too. But normally I plan and sew so that everything looks matchy matchy from the outside of the house. As we speak it does other than this window.
Much better quality on this pic. In this and the last pic I am working on the headers, that top section the rod will go thru. These will be simple rod run tiebacks. I always figure 4 1/2 inches over the finished edge to add for the header. So we turned back a half inch and now we will measure, turn, pin, press, and sew down the next 4 inches. I use blue tape to mark this on my clear ruler and get a perfect hem.

These last two pics show how I go about hemming the header. I have on a clear foot with a red mark on it for the center needle position. The even feed is engaged. Use your walking foot for stitching these long lengths of fabric. The red line in center is lined up with the absolute edge of the fold. The needle position if on position 5 right of center. I am actually starting to stitch here and you can see the needle is about half an inch from the side edge of the curtain. So start one half inch IN from the edge. Put your stitch length at 1.5, BACKWARDS. Start stitching backwards till you hit the edge, then change the stitching to forward and continue for that half inch. Now change the stitch length back to 2.0 and stitch across the top of the curtain. When you get to one half inch short of the opposite edge, change stitch length back to 1.5 and stitch to the edge. Change to BACKWARDS. Go back one half inch and stop. Clip your threads and use a little fray check if you think your fabric will take it. Starting and stopping the header and hems this way will make it much stronger. I remember in my lean years of buying cheap little curtains from the discount store they would always come unstitched at the beginning and end. This method will prevent that. Who wants to be reminded of the lean years every time they look at a thread hanging from their curtains? Here you can see the result.
 Once I got these up it was time to "train" the drapes. Learned this trick from the installers. You really should use clothes pins for this but who has clothes pins in this day and age so I used  some clippy sucker thing and large paper clips. OK, you just don't put these on the rod and walk out the room. It takes some fiddlin' and diddlin' to get them just right. Play with the header and pull the fabric toward the floor to get it to hang even. Once your header looks pretty, go for the hem and make large accordian pleats with it. Make sure the ends face the wall. These are soft pleats. Once you are happy pin them at the bottom. Don't pin the pleats on the front or they will look like a sharp press when you are done. You want a soft effect here. Now take your trusty CLEAN water filled spray bottle and spray the dickens out of your window treatment. Of course you would not do this on any sort of silk or water stainable fabric. Now walk away,,,,,
Twenty four hours later unclip the drapes and let them fall out. They may look a little stiff at first but within the next 24 hours they should look great. You just "trained" your drapes!
Hope these little hints help. I should have these done soon. Right now I am ripping thru my studio and the basement, major reorganizing. Once that is done I will hit the shower curtain. I am going to upholster the rod and do a single panel. More to come......Bunny


  1. Thank you for this information on making curtains/drapes. A few months ago I purchased some home decor fabric at $2 per yard from someone going out of business. Mainly I had thought I would try making pillows but maybe now I'll try drapes. Oh and yes, I already own liner fabric--aren't you proud of me!

  2. Thank you for the tips, I am always hungry for new ideas and I love the way you always have a little story to tell BTW when I hang my curtains and I want train them I wrap a couple of remnats of fabric about 6" wide around the pleated top and one bottom.. and pin them in place and like you leave them there for 24 hours...this isn't my idea I also picked the idea up from a professional.

  3. I am just enjoying the color combination of those drapes. Since I have see a little glimpse of how this room is going to look I am anxious to see the whole room put together.

    I learned a lot about the training of the drapes, thank you for the information.


  4. Thanks for these tips. Making curtains seem to be my nemesis! BTW clothes pegs (as we call them) are alive and well here in Australia. Washing is hung outside on the Hills Hoist using our trusty clothes pegs. I also use them to tie up open packets of food ;))

  5. I like your template for turning a perfect seam width, what a good idea!

    Plenty of clothes pins in our house, laundry fresh off the line is one of the joys of a sunny day.

  6. I've learned something new, thanks for sharing, Bunny!

  7. Thank you so very much for this timely information. I'm making lined long panels this week and will definitely come back here to review your tips.

  8. Such a nice article. I own a custom drapery workroom and I agree with you about lining.... and interlining.


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