Saturday, April 13, 2013

Kitchen Curtains Tutorial - Give Your Kitchen Window A Fresh New Look!

It is so hard to find the right curtains for your kitchen windows at the right price.  After literally decades of shopping for curtains, everything I find that is in my price range is SO ho-hum and generic.  But if you have an idea of what you want, the fabric stores are full of beautiful possibilities.  Remember the old adage, "If you want something done right, do it yourself."

Still, I know there are many of you that hesitate to make your own curtains. If you're not sure how to do it, this post is for you.  If you know how to sew but have never made anything like this without a pattern, this project is for you.

Step One

Begin by measuring your window height (top of curtain rod to bottom of finished curtain hem) and width (side to side where you want the left and right edge of curtain to hang).  For curtain height measurement, add about 4 inches additional length for hem and rod pocket.  For curtain width, multiply the width measurement times four.  For example, if I wanted my finished curtain to cover an area 40" high x 50" wide, I'd want my fabric to be about 44" high and 200" in width.

Step Two

For my kitchen window, I chose a simple and straightforward valance and  curtain.  Measure the valance the same way you measure for the curtain.  If you want the valance to drape over the curtain like the one in the photo, make sure you allow for that in your measurements.  In other words, it is like making a top curtain and a bottom curtain using the same formula.

Step Three

Once you've measured, begin by cutting fabric to the correct size and finishing your edges (top, bottom, left, and right) with a serger to prevent fraying.  

NOTE: If you're using a standard sewing machine, just straight stitch about one fourth of an inch away from the edge.  Fold along stitch line and iron flat.  Then zig zag your fold in place.  It works the same way, but it takes a bit longer. You could also pink the edges with pinking shears.

Step Four

For my valance, I had to sew two pieces of fabric together to achieve the desired width.  If you're covering a very large window, you may need even more pieces.

To sew them together, pin along your unfinished edge.

And serge or stitch them together.

After this step, your valance will have a seam that looks like this

Step Five

Using a hem gauge, form your rod pocket by folding your fabric length over, wrong sides together, to form the pocket and ironing all along your edge.  The pocket shown here is two and a half inches deep.  This easily fits a standard, economy type white curtain rod with brackets.

This easily fits a standard, economy type white curtain rod with brackets.

I wanted to use some special trim on my curtains, and opted for some lace from a lace tablecloth we bought on our honeymoon many years ago.  If you want to see how it was made here is the post:DIY Vintage Lace Trim

Step Six

Pin the trim to the front of the rod pocket.

Step Seven

Machine stitch the lace to the valance along the top and bottom.  Be careful to leave enough room for your curtain rod to fit in the pocket when you're done.

NOTE:  If your lace is a bit stretchy like mine, the ends may look a bit curly or ruffly.  As you can see in the photo below, I used my finger to gently pull out the ruffly part so that it would lay down straight for stitching. 

When you're finished with your rod pocket and lace trim, you valance should look like the photos below.

 This is what the back of the valance looks like at the seam where the two pieces are sewn together.

You can see that mine does not lay entirely flat after ironing due to the stretchiness of the lace.  That is okay, because these will be scrunched up together on the rod pocket anyway.

Step Eight

Using your hem guide again, measure your desired hem length and iron your hem in place. 

NOTE:  I used to want to get done so quickly that I'd deliberately 'skip' ironing my sewing projects.  Don't do that!!  You won't save any time.  It will just take more time fixing the mistakes you make.  Believe me I learned this the hard way.

It only takes a few minutes to iron a simple hem.

Step Nine

Now sew your hem in place, stitching over your finished edge.

For best results, stitch right down the middle of your previous stitching.

NOTE:  All sewing machines are different.  This is what my setting for straight stitch looks like.

Step 10

When you are finished, your valance is ready for display in the window.  Just hang it up.

Voila, you're halfway done!

Now, we are going to repeat this process for the curtains, minus the lace trim of course.  I bought this beautiful bird print fabric years ago.  It has all the state birds and flowers of the United States, with the state images in the background.  The copyright design is 1982 USPS Birds and Flowers of the 50 States by artists Arthur and Alan Singer

Can you tell from the number of pictures of this fabric how much I love it?

 Have you seen your state yet?  I tried to show as many as I could.


I even like the color numbers and copyright notice in the selvage so much that I left it visible on the finished curtain.


Wanna guess how long ago I planned to make these curtains?  Honestly, HUBBY got tired of waiting for me to make them after I bought the fabric, and he bought new curtains show in the photo below.  Those curtains got bleach spattered on them, so it was time for me to get busy sewing.

My former curtains: Walmart Basic Blue Ho Hum Curtains
Step Eleven

Review your window measurements from Step One.  Now that your valance is hung, check your curtain measurements to make sure your length is correct.  I wanted my curtains to fall just below the window sill, just enough so that they didn't cover the trim under the sill.  I also did not want to see any daylight between the valance and the curtain, so they needed to overlap a tiny bit. With a measuring tape, look at your valance and re-measure the length for your curtains.  The width will be the same as the width for the valance.  Remember to add about four inches to the length for the rod pocket and hem allowance.

If you are using an average grade of 100% cotton quilting fabric for your curtains, I suggest cutting your finished edge about an inch, and then RIPPING it across to the other finished edge to square up the top and bottom edge. This technique was taught to me by my dear friend BINGO.  BINGO is an excellent seamstress and former manager of several JoAnn's Fabric stores.  Ripping cotton is fun and easy.  For more information, check out the Ripping Cotton Tutorial.

Ripping Cotton Tutorial

NOTE:  I did not use this technique on the valance, because it is made from a lightweight cotton broadcloth and is not as suitable for the RIP technique. Don't try this on blended cottons either.  Only rip quilting weight 100% cotton fabrics.  Be sure to wash and dry fabric first before ripping.

Step Twelve

This step is identical to Step Three above.  Rip or cut fabric to the correct size and finish your edges (top, bottom, left, and right) with a serger to prevent fraying.  If you are creating more than one curtain panel, repeat Step Twelve through Step Sixteen for each panel.

NOTE:  See Step Three for edge finishing with a traditional sewing machine.


Recently I found more methods for finishing the thread tail on a serged seam.  For me, the easiest way is to tie it in a knot at the edge of the fabric and clip it with scissors.

NOTE:  I did not sew two pieces of fabric together to get my desired width for the curtains.  The curtain fabric width was perfect for one individual panel.  I made two curtain panels that can be opened in the center to allow light in the room.  Your project may be different, depending on the size of window and the fabric width.

Step Thirteen

This step is just like Step Five above. Using a hem gauge, construct your rod pocket by folding your fabric length over, wrong sides together, to form the pocket and ironing all along your edge.  The pocket shown here is two inches deep, a bit smaller than my valance rod pocket.  This easily fits a standard, economy type white curtain rod with brackets.

Step Fourteen

Machine stitch along your finished edge of the rod pocket, stitching a straight line right through the center of previous stitching.

Step Fifteen

This is the same process as Step Eight above.  Using your hem guide again, measure your desired hem length and iron your hem in place.  My hem is two inches.

Step Sixteen

Now machine stitch your hem in place, stitching straight down the center of previous stitching along finished edge.

Now the curtains are complete and ready to hang in your window.

Please send me an email if you have any questions.  I love my new curtains because they're exactly what I wanted.  Happy sewing!

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  1. Saw these on Google+! I have made a bajillion curtains, but never as nicely done as these! Your tutorial is incredible, and I, too, LOVE that fabric!

    Hope you're having a great weekend!

    Joy @

  2. Great tutorial on these drapes. They are awesome. Coming over from @ Eclectic Red Barn. I am your newest GFC follower and G+.
    Have a great week,

  3. Reecea,
    Thank you for the invite over. I am now following you too! Love the curtains and the fabric. I have a link party on Tuesday's, hope you'll come on over and link up @
    Wanda Ann @ Memories by the Mile

  4. I am always looking for the right curtains for my kitchen and I never find them, so why not make them?? Hear! Hear! Yours came out really nice, and the tutorial is perfect.

  5. Great tutorial and cute curtains! Would love it if you would link this up to Give Me The Goods Monday: 1 Party, 5 Blogs!
    Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

  6. What a lovely curtain, Reccea! And quite informative, too! I'm certain that everytime you see this curtain, it reminds of each state that you want to visit! Well, if I have to do my own version of this, I think I would look for a fabric that has a world map on it! Job well done!


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