Types of Curtains
Tab Top Curtains
Image by Just a Girl and Her Blog.
Cafe curtains are short curtains that only cover the bottom section of windows. Cafe curtains create privacy but still let the light in. They are quick to install (without drilling holes!) using a tension rod, curtain clips and a light piece of fabric. They are traditionally used in the kitchen but are also great for bathrooms and other spaces where you don't need a dark room.
Just a Girl and Her Blog has a simple tutorial for DIY cafe curtains.
Grommet or Eyelet Curtains
Grommet curtains are another simple and easy option. A grommet is a reinforced eyelet made of plastic or metal that slide over a decorative rod, with the curtain fabric draping into neat, clean folds. They are also known as Eyelet curtains. Craftsy has a great tutorial for how to sew grommet curtains.
Use grommet tape to save time in making sure the grommets are evenly spaced, reinforcing the holes while you're at it. Tip: make sure you buy matching diameters for your grommets and grommet tape! They come in different diameters!
If you are looking for a quicker project, you can buy fabric by the metre that already has the grommets attached. Get the fabric cut to your desired width (typically using 1.5 times the width of the rod), and all you have to do is hem the bottom and sides of your curtain. This fabric is available at Spotlight in Australia. Do you have any other sources for it?
Pencil pleat curtains
Pencil pleat curtains have lots and lots of tiny gathers (or pencil pleats!). How in the world do you get all those tiny gathers even over such a long width of fabric? This is easy - you sew on pencil pleat curtain header tape to the top of your curtains, pull the strings attached to the header tape, and voila! There you have perfectly pleated curtains. Slide curtain hooks into the pleats and attach to a rod with curtain rings, or hook onto a curtain rail. They are super simple to make. Here's a tutorial from Sew Helpful for how to sew your own.
Pinch pleat curtains
Pinch pleat curtains are similar to pencil pleat curtain in that you sew a header tape to the curtains. There are two styles of pinch pleat header tape. One has strings to pull to gather the fabric in the pleats, like pencil pleat header tape. The other has thin pockets at even distances (shown below). You then insert hooks to create the pinch pleats. You can make double or triple pinch pleat curtains depending on the hooks you use (three-prong or four-prong). This gives you greater flexibility in deciding the spacing of the pleats.
I love the look of triple pinch pleat! The curtains again can be attached to a rod with curtain rings or a curtain rail.
Rod Pocket Curtains
Best Fabrics for Curtains
Curtains can be made with almost any fabric, from lightweight sheers to heavy velvet. Whilst there are a range of curtain-specific fabrics in the home decor section of fabric stores, from sheers to solids and jacquards, you are not limited to those fabrics. Quilting cotton makes a great choice with a great range of prints, but apparel fabrics can also be used.
The first step in selecting a curtain fabric is determining the purpose of the curtains, whether it is privacy or to block out light.
Blockout fabrics have an acrylic coating on the back to block the holes in the fabric weave. They are perfect for bedrooms, where you want the room completely dark. Care needs to be taken with your curtain design, such as extending beyond the window and to the ceiling or having a pelmet to get the full benefit of blockout fabric
Thermal fabrics are great for insulation, whether you want to protect your home from the hot or cold weather. They typically have 1-2 coats of acrylic, which provides some light filtering from the weave, but not a total blockout. These are perfect for living areas and are typically cheaper than full blockout fabric.
Sheer curtains, such as netting, voile and lace, let in light while providing screening and privacy (although you will be able to see through the curtains somewhat when the light inside is brighter than outside (such as in the evening or when the lights are on). They work well for kitchens and windows in doors or as a second layer of curtains for bathrooms, bedrooms and living rooms.
Tips and Tricks for sewing curtains
Here are some additional tips and tricks for sewing curtains:
- If you need more than one width of fabric for your curtains, try to keep a full panel on the side of the opening, and have an even distance for the seam on both sides (but in mirror image) for windows with two curtain sections.
- Try to keep as much of the fabric as possible on the table next to your sewing machine as you sew. Curtain fabrics can be heavy (especially when lined), and fabric hanging off the table can pull the fabric making it harder to sew a straight seam.
- To ensure you cut the fabric straight, clip the edge of the fabric, find a single thread and gently pull the thread out of the fabric. This will give you a line across the fabric to cut along. Lining up your fabric with the grout lines on a tiled floor is another great way to ensure you cut straight.
- Always make your lining shorter than your fabric. Curtains can expand and contract with changes in temperature, and you don't want the lining poking out the bottom (which happened at my parents' place!).
- Hem the curtains by hand with a blind-hem stitch for the most professional look.
- Looking for more sewing projects for beginners? Find the best beginner sewing projects here.
- Decorate your home with these cushion and pillow sewing projects.
- Search the Threadistry library for more sewing inspiration!