What I'm about to try to explain is a little complicated. Actually, it's not really. Each step is perfectly simple and logical. It's just that there are a fair few steps. I've tried to include plenty of photos of each stage to make it clearer what I'm gabbling on about.
The first step, rather obviously, when you're embarking on a curtain-making project, is to measure the window in question. You need to do this before you even think about buying your fabric, so you know how much to get and can take the window into account if you have to consider an awkward pattern match.
Two important measurements are needed:
1) WIDTH: The width of the curtain rail. This will tell you how wide to make your curtains. These instructions are for tab-top curtains, for which you need to make the total width of the curtains (both of them, remember!) about one and a half times the width of the curtain rail - that ensures that there are still some pleats when the curtains are pulled closed. For pencil pleat curtains, you'd need to make the total width about two and a half times the width of the curtain rail, to allow for plenty of smaller pleats. But really it's up to you, sometimes a full-length curtain is lovely.
2) DROP: The distance from the curtain rail to where you'd like the curtains to reach. If you have a radiator under your window, like I did, aim for your curtain to reach halfway between the windowsill and the radiator.
With these measurements, you can then purchase the right amount of fabric and lining. If the width of one curtain is greater than the width of your fabric, you will need to buy extra and make your curtain with more than one "drop". Make sure you buy extra for hem and seam allowances, and for tie-backs.
Ok, so you've got your fabric. The first thing to do is cut the fabric the right length. Remember that drop measurement? Add to it. You need to add enough for a double hem at the bottom (much neater - essential in curtains) and a hem at the top. For my curtains, I think we added a good 10cm for hem allowances. Measure twice, cut once. It's not necessary to measure and mark all the way along the fabric - you can just measure along the edge so you know where you're starting and make a snip. Then, as you cut a bit, fold the fabric over to create a straight edge to follow. That's what Mum's doing in this photo - see how the fabric is folded in half and she's following that edge?
Now, since my curtains are for the baby's nursery, they have an extra layer - some thick interlining to block out more light and act as insulation in the cold winter. (If your curtains don't have interlining, scroll down and miss this bit) So our next step was to lay over and cut the interlining to size. Slightly narrower than the width of the fabric, so the edges of the fabric could be folded over and sewed to it. And the length the same as the curtain, minus the extra for that large double hem at the bottom. If you look at the bottom, you'll see that big strip of extra red, with the neat 1cm turn up I ironed earlier:
Firstly, fold the side edges over and pin to the interlining, then fold up the bottom hem over the interlining, measuring from the top of the curtain to make sure it's exactly level all the way along. Pin the bottom hem carefully into position.
Then it's a lot of hand-sewing - a neat running stitch just going through the top layer of fabric and the interlining. NOT through the other layer of fabric, otherwise your curtains will have a running stitch visible on the front!
Now, if your curtains do NOT have interlining, you'd miss all of this. Instead, you would lie your lining and fabric right side to right side, pin neatly and machine stitch along the side edges, making the curtain fabric wider than the lining, so when you turn it the right way through the edge is neat with the lining invisibly behind. Then you'd turn it the right way out and iron flat.
However, for an interlined curtain there is yet more delightful hand-stitching in store, because once the interlining is stitched into place, you next have to measure and trim the lining to size!
Then fold the edges under and pin to the edges of the fabric.
You get some variety, however, because you sew this with a different stitch - a loopy overstitch this might be called hem stitch, I'm not sure). I forgot to take a photo of it, unfortunately. Sorry.
I also failed to take any pictures of the tabs being made, since I was chained to the sofa hand-sewing while Mum ferreted away in the kitchen making them.
However, I can attempt to describe this part of the process. Cut the tab material about 2-3cm wider than DOUBLE the final width of the tab. Fold and iron over the narrow ends, then fold and iron in the long edges about 1cm, then fold in half and machine stitch down both edges. Mum interlined these tabs to give them some weight and heft to them, so she cut the interlining to the exact size of the tab and tucked it into the ironed in edges before sewing. Does that make any kind of sense?
Once constructed, you then have to do some careful measuring and dividing to work out how far apart your tabs need to be laid out (in fairness, you should probably work out how many tabs you'll make first, considering the width of each curtain!), then pin them into position, in between the top of the lining and the top of the curtain fabric. We decided that our tabs needed two lines of stitching to hold them really firmly in place. We only sewed in one end, since we used buttons to sew the tab onto the front later, but you can hide both ends between the fabric and lining and sew right over all the layers to make the loops in one go (it'll be thick, so go gently with your sewing machine).
Et voila! One curtain, complete with tabs, ready for the last step:
For cuteness, we covered some button thingies with some the co-ordinating blue fabric, ready to sew the tabs down with:
I really enjoyed clipping the fabric into place - look how cute our little buttons were!
Oh, it's worth mentioning that we didn't trust the button and hand-stitching alone to hold the tabs down flat, so Mum put a little vertical bit of stitching to hold the tabs in place. We did measure and pin them carefully first, so that they were all the same size.
Then, you've guessed it, more hand-stitching. Oh joy. Quite fiddly hand-stitching at this point, too, trying to get the buttons level and firmly in place!
See the intense concentration?!
However, it was all worth it, because I am VERY pleased with the finished result. The interlining means that the curtains have good "heft". Very cosy and they hold their shape beautifully. They'll also make sure that the heat stays in the room during the winter, so baby doesn't get chilled.
Phew, that took some explaining!
I'll add posts later about how to make tie-backs and Roman blinds.