Materials
  • - Fabric
  • - Lining
  • - Thread
  • - Heading Tape
  • - Weights
  • - Curtain Hooks
  • Tools
  • - Sewing Machine
  • - Needles
  • - Pins
  • - Clamps
  • - Scissors
  • - Set Square
  • - Straight Edge
  • - Invisible Marker
  • - Tape Measure
  • Step 6: Make up the Fabric panels
    Printable Worksheet
    Printable Worksheet

    PLAIN and PATTERNED FABRIC are treated differently at this stage

    Check your fabric for faults and that the correct length has been supplied NOW before making any cuts.

    CUT PLAIN FABRIC DROPS

    With plain fabric we do the same as with the lining. Press your fabric* before measuring and cutting so any shrinkage will be before the curtain is made up. As once the curtain is made it will probably be quite creased and if you have not already ironed the panels they will shrink if you press/steam them later having not done this first.

    WARNING *

    • Cut the widths of plain fabric the length of the FABRIC CUT DROP calculated in step 3
    • As with the lining if you are working with an odd number of widths each curtain will contain a half width. Cut down one of the widths to split it into 2 equal halves.
    • Check the bottom of the panels are straight, if not trim.
    This video shows you
    • How to measure and mark your cut drops.
    • How to cut your cut drops.
    • How to split a width in half.
    • How to make sure you use the correct sides the right way up later.

    If each curtain is more than one width wide, we now need to join the required widths to make each curtain fabric panel.

    JOINING PLAIN FABRIC

    • Lay fabric panels to be joined right side together (make sure the panels are the same way up) align bottoms and edges.
    • If you are working with an odd number of widths each curtain will contain a half width. The half widths should be on the outer edges of the curtain. Join the selvedge to selvedge.
    • Join the panels with a plain seam.
    • Press the seams open
    • Check the bottom of the panels are straight, if not trim.
    This video shows you
    • How to make sure you are joining correct sides and the right way up.
    • How to sew a plain seam.
    • How to press a plain seam.

    PATTERNED FABRIC

    Press your fabric* before measuring and cutting so any shrinkage will be before the curtain is made up. As once the curtain is made it will probably be quite creased and if you have not already ironed the panels they will shrink.

    This tutorial is based on a normal pattern repeat fabric, if your fabric has a half drop pattern repeat please read HERE and adjust the instructions accordingly.

    MARK EVERYTHING OUT BEFORE CUTTING

    It is very easy to make a costly mistake cutting your drops wrong with patterned fabric, That is why we recommend the following method marking out everything before cutting. This also gives you the opportunity to check the fabric for faults and thatk you have enough length.

    MARK OUT THE FIRST DROP (PATTERNED FABRIC)

    The calculation of the quantity of patterned fabric included an extra pattern repeat to enable you to position the pattern where you want it. Decide where the pattern will finish on the bottom of the curtain. (we choose the position at the bottom of the curtain because this is what your eye picks up)

    • From the bottom of the fabric roll move up the fabric to the point on the pattern where you want the bottom of the curtain to be and mark with pin 1.
    • Measure back towards the end of the fabric the hem allowance and mark with pin 2. If not you do not have enough fabric for the hem you will need to move the bottom point of your curtain further up the pattern.
    • Note the position of pin 2 in the pattern and measure up the adjusted cut drop in number of pattern repeats and mark with pin 3.
    • Pin 3 marks the position of the first cut
    • Check the distance between pin 2 and pin 3 is the adjusted cut drop calculated in STEP3.

    MARK OUT THE REMAINING DROPS (PATTERNED FABRIC)

    The length of the first cut drop will probably be slightly different to the other cut drops, as this first section of fabric included an extra pattern repeat to postion the pattern in the correct place. To mark out the remaining drops.

    • Measure up the number of PATTERN REPEATS (ADJUSTED CUT DROP) calculated in STEP3 and mark the fabric at the correct point in the pattern ready for cutting. (The fabric should be cut at the same position in the pattern each time)
    • Check the length of the drop to be cut is the same as the ADJUSTED CUT DROP. Example
    • Repeat until you have all the drops of fabric required.

    CUT THE MARKED DROPS (PATTERNED FABRIC)

    • Some printed fabrics (particularly light weight linens) may need a bit of manipulation at this point to make sure that the pattern across the width of the curtain is all in line otherwise your panels will not line up when it comes to joining them together. Once you have rechecked all your measurements and your pattern is straight across the width of the fabric you can draw a line across.
    • Cut the drops at the marks

    If the curtain fabric panels contain more than one width each we now need to join the widths to make the curtain fabric panels

    This video shows you how to cut your patterned fabric. It includes in detail
    • How to calculate the Adjusted Cut Drop
    • How to position the pattern.
    • How to check the Adjusted Cut Drop.
    • How to mark out your drops.
    • How to cut your drops without a long T-bar.

    JOIN PATTERNED FABRIC WIDTHS

    Your fabric panels* should begin and end in the same place in the pattern if you have cut them accurately according to the true pattern repeat.

    *The first panel will probably be longer due to positioning the pattern.

    Tip

    • If each curtain has a half width, cut down one of the widths to split it into 2 equal halves. The half widths should be on the outer edges of the curtain.
    • Lay fabric panels right side together (make sure both panels are the same way up) align bottoms and edges. Join the selvedge to selvedge.
    • At the joining edge lift back the top layer of fabric until you get a continuation of the pattern where the two fabrics meet. Finger press along this fold.
    • Fold the top layer back down and cross pin a regular intervals.
    • Mark along the pressed line and sew the panels together with a straight machine stitch. (Your sewing machine should be able to cope with the pins but it could become blunt quicker.)
    • Remove pins.
    • Press the seams open
    • Check the bottom of the panels are straight, if not trim. (The first panel may have an excess of fabric that needs trimming.)
    This video talks you through each step with extra hints and tips for easy pattern matching. It includes in detail
    • Where to start the matching.
    • How to align the pattern.
    • How to pin.
    • How to mark the fold.
    • How to stitch the panels together.

    PLAIN and PATTERNED FABRIC are now treated the same.

    Your Questions & Comments

    Hannah

    Hi. I'm finding the tutorial really useful, but I just wondered if there is meant to be a video accompanying the explanation about how to cut patterned fabric drops? I can't see that there is one. Thanks.

    SewHelpful:

    There isn't one in this tutorial.  But we did make one in the newer interlined curtain tutorials. I will add that one into the lined tutorials. (might take a day or two).

    Catherine

    Do you ever cut off the selvedge on the curtain or lining fabric?

    Do you use a double hem on thick, heavy fabric?

    SewHelpful:

    I generally leave selvedges on fabric and lining

       1)   I never cut off the selvedge joining fabric, if it is tight long the edge you can snip into it to release the tension.. 

       2)   Again on the lining I would only cut off the selvedge when trimming a panel to the right size. I would not cut it off as a matter of course.

    I prefer to use a double hem on thick, heavy fabric as it can add weight to the bottom of the curtain.

       1)   If you do use a single hem you would have to neaten off the raw edges

       2)  On a single hem you would not have the flap of fabric to attach the weights to. In this case you would stitch curtain weight chain into the bottom of the hem.

    Naomi

    What kind of curtain weights do you recommend?

    SewHelpful:

    You will see in the video the type of fabric covered weights we use, how we set them out and sew them in.

    Barbara

    I have a large pattern repeat (64 cms )with very large modern flowers. Would you advise me where to start the pattern on the heading. Do think it would look better if I placed the start of the pattern which includes the whole flower at the top of the curtain rather than at the hem.The curtains are full length 229 cms and will be hanging from a pole

    I think this tutorial is excellent Thank you.

    SewHelpful:

    There are no rules, it's a design decision. But generally on a curtain we would position the pattern so the whole flower falls at the bottom of the curtain.

    Peggy

    The selvage on my curtain material is only about 1cm wide. The pattern repeats every 45cm. If I use a wider seam then I will remove one of the circles in the pattern completely. The circles only appear every 45cm and not staggered as in some fabrics.

    Shall I do a wider seam or match the pattern as show in the excellent video?

    SewHelpful:

    We would join using just the 1cm selvage. Unfortunately some fabrics are a bit tight for space on the edge. You would be losing alot of fabric if you came across to the next pattern.

    Julie

    The selvedge on my curtain fabric is very wide,8cm. Should I trim it to make a narrower seam

    SewHelpful:

    You can it won't do any harm. We probably wouldn't bother though.

    Julie

    Which method would you recommend for getting a straight edge from which to measure the curtain lengths? Can I rely on the pattern being straight horizontally. My pattern has horizontal zigzags. Thanks Julie

    SewHelpful:

    You can't always rely on the pattern being straight and it can move with the fabric, it varies according to your fabric (hopefully everything will be true and straight with yours). You basically have to smooth it out, check it and in some cases try to manipulate it, if the pattern is not true. However you need to stay true to the selvedge edge when measuring and cutting though.

    Rose

    Hello,

    Somehow I've made a mistake with my measurements and ended up with only a 10cm hem allowance (not the 20cm). What do you recommend I do in this situation?

    - do a double hem of 5 cm

    - a single hem of 10

    - or buy some interfacing at 10cm deep and add this to the back of the single 10cm hem to add some weight.

    Your advice would be appreciated!

    SewHelpful:

    in this case we would go for a double 5cm hem.

    Mandy Kay

    These videos are really useful thank you.

    My question is regarding my patterned material. When joining two drops so right sides are together, selvedges aligned, the patterns won't match up. I seem to have to move the top fabric about 6" in from the underneath fabric to match the pattern. It is a printed pattern with 45cm pattern repeat I have cut the lengths starting from the same place on the pattern each time. I wondered what you would advise?

    SewHelpful:

    You are correct in that you have to cut the lengths at the same point in the pattern (on the lefhand side) this is effectively what you are doing when you measure and cut adjusted cut drops.

    If your pattern is not lining up have you got a half drop pattern repeat? Go to the tutorial list  basics section to see info on half drop pattern repeats

    On some fabrics we have had the join right on the selvedge edge.

    Kate

    Please help me........ Basically I have joined together patterned material that has a very large pattern, one width and a half. Although it has married up correctly, some how along the way I have managed to loose the pattern being able to correctly be in line when I add the heading tape. I don't really understand how it's happened. I think it's because the material is silky and it's where I have manipulated it to match. I have already added interlining and the lining. So unless I start again (I could cry at the thought) I am faced with either making the pattern straight at the top but the curtain will be longer gradually along to the other side. Or I loose some pattern and make them hang straight. Because the pattern is so large it is noticeable. I know when I gather them you won't be able to tell as much. It's out by as much as 5 cm from one end to the other. What shall I do ? Thank you so much for your wonderful web site

    SewHelpful:

    When you hemmed the curtain- did you notice that the pattern was not running straight? I am thinking that if you unpick and start again and make the pattern straight you might not have enough fabric at the top. With some fabrics you do need to be a bit firm with them and get the pattern straight as some have a lot more give in them- cutting them straight is the key. 
    You are quite right about your options. You can unpick and straighten fabric (make sure you will have enough heading/hem allowance) Or just carry on and hope the rise in the pattern is not so noticeable once the curtain is pleated up. This is a tricky one- for a hobby sewer take into account your  sewing experience, confidence, how much patience you have left and also how much it will annoy you if the pattern is not straight. If the curtains are going to be there for a while ( and I guess they will as you have invested money and time in them) I would always recommend getting them right but it's your call.

    Judy

    is it a good idea to lock in the lining to the curtain or is that old fashioned now? I am making very wide curtains but not to the floor and locking in will be a lot of work - can I miss this step out do you think?

    SewHelpful:

    We do not lock the lining to the curtain in our lined curtains.

    Judy

    Just another quick question - what make is your l shaped ruler and how long is it?

    many thanks

    SewHelpful:

    The rulers are generally used in carpentry.
    We use a 1metre steel ruler purchsed from a builders merchant



    And the steel L ruler is unbranded again from a builders merchant. 40cm by 60cm


    Lara

    You say that you can machine stitch the hem, but it is not recommended. What if you where using a blind hem foot on your sewing machine?

    I've just finished making a pair of curtains for my daughters bedroom and I did the hem and sides by hand as I didn't realise I had a blind hem foot on my machine.

    The end result is great so I am happy, but as I am just about to start my next batch of curtains I was wondering if I could speed things along by using the machine without compromising on finish.

    SewHelpful:

    We are talking about a straight machine stitch there. You are right in there are blind hemming feet for machines that blind hem and infact you can buy a blind hemming machine (which we have in the workshop) that does a really good job, but only worth buying if you are making lots of curtains.

    We've just shot some video demonstrations showing the finishes using a straight machine stitch, blind hemming foot or a hand stitch on the hem. Those should be available shortly. 

    Sara

    Could you please tell me brand/colour of the the fabric you used in this video- it is exactly what I am after and looks like a linen mix!

    SewHelpful:

    The fabric in the videos you viewed is Romo Linara   - Colour French Blue. Linen union ( a cootn linen blend. New videos will be coming soon using a different fabric.

    Louise

    Thank you for such great tutorials! I have just finished my first pair of curtains and they look great! So now I'm attempting a more challenging style. I have patterned fabric for the main body of my full length curtains then a 60cm band of plain fabric on the bottom. My question is, would you attach the pattern and plain fabric together as one panel before sewing the vertical panels together or would you sew the pattern match panels together first, then join the plain bottom panels to each other, hem them then join the pattern and plain sections together? Also what type of seam would you use for attaching the plain and patterned fabric together so it sat nice and flat? Thank you again.

    SewHelpful:

    You need to sort the pattern out first joining and cutting where you need to,  then join your plain fabric to the made up patterned panels. Join with a standard plain seam as in the video for joining fabric.

    Louise

    Sorry, I refreshed my screen and it sent my message again.

    Another question, would I overlock the bottom of the patterned panel and the top of the plain fabric before joining the two to finish them off or is there a better alternative. Also, would you press the seams open or up?

    Thank you again, I keep looking at the curtains I already made and I feel so appreciative of your expert guidance. Also thank you for such fast responses to my questions. I have told many people about your tutorials. Louise

    SewHelpful:

    We would not overlock as the seam will be hidden behind the lining, We would press the seam open.

    Here are a couple of photos of a curtain we made with a panel joined to the bottom.

     


















    The Seam is pressed open with no overlocking


    Helen

    I'm using a fairly heavy fabric and can't get my seams to lie flat along the join. I've used a 2 1/2cm seam allowance and have pressed it several times with a dry iron. Any advice??

    SewHelpful:

    Unfortunately some fabrics are like that.

    Susan

    I am making my first extra wide drapery panel in a sheer pattern. The selvedge edges are opaque. You still do not trim them off? Won't that look like an opaque line between fabric widths?

    SewHelpful:

    This tutorial is not for making shears. It is for cotton lined curtains that are not see through.

    With an unlined  shear if you trim the opaque selvege it will fray badly and you will have to sew a french seam. There is always going to be darkness on the join of a shear.  Many shears are double width to avoid unsightly joins.

    Sue

    I have a selvedge on each side of my curtains.They are unlined. Should I leave it as it is - or hem it?

    Thanks for all your advice!

    SewHelpful:

    Hem it definitely

    Sue

    Thanks for your advice. I have hemmed them and of course it was the thing to do!

    So helpful to be able to ask questions.

    Lady Sewful

    I am making 3 curtain panels 1 single width, 1 double width and another single width to cover 2 windows. The double width will be in the middle. When joining the plain fabric where do I put the join? Many thanks

    SewHelpful:

    I'm afraid the question is not quite detailed enough as to why there are 3 panel for 2 windows.

    Are the windows separate or joined along side each other or is it an L?
    Are the 2 single widths forming a pair of curtains together?
    Is there any reason you are not just making a pair of curtains for each window?

    Samantha

    Hi there

    Thank you so much for the excellent videos! I think I'm doing well but I have a question about joining plain fabrics. If I use 4cm of my trimming allowance on one panel, but only 1cm on the others, won't the panels be different lengths and uneven when I join them and hang them? Apologies if I missed your having covered this but how do I ensure all three panels are the same length after trimming/straightening?

    Many thanks

    SewHelpful:

    You'll see in the video we join them at the bottom inline to form the hem and they are uneven at the top. We deal with the uneven top and any excess fabric when we trim it down to form the heading in STEP 8  (first video).

    Rebecca

    Your tutorials are fantastic. I'm on my 3rd set of curtains with no previous experience and can't believe the results.

    My question is about patterned fabric. I cut my fabric in the same place on each drop and followed the pattern when doing the hem. I'm now ready to hem the top of my curtain ready for the heading tape and noticed there is about a 0.5cm difference in the length of my curtain if i follow the pattern. Hope this makes sense. My curtains should be 218cm drop but following the pattern in places they are 217.5. Do i follow the pattern or stay true to the drop measurement. I'm worried if i do this the pattern won't match when the curtains are drawn. What do you think i did wrong?

    SewHelpful:

    The pattern not being true on the fabric is an eternal problem for cutain makers. 0.5cm isn't much of a difference and will only really be noticable on a tight regular pattern.

    Stick with your measurements and make the curtains the correct length. 

    Pat

    I’m joining three widths of fabric. How do I hide the edges after sewing together? They are not to be lined

    SewHelpful:

    Use a french seam.

    Lis

    Just cutting my drops. Patterned light weight linen fabric.

    It seems that the pattern is printed a few degrees off the horizontal.

    Should I cut the lengths exactly by length along both selvages (this would mean that the pattern will look slightly different along the top of the curtain) or should I start at the L hand selvage and measure and cut using the same point along the pattern ?

    SewHelpful:

    Unfortunately your curtains are only going to be as good as the fabric you use . We try and manipulate the fabric as best we can and then cut square to the selvedge. Pulling the corner can work with some fabrics (there is a risk it make move back though). If the fabric is really bad we will return it. Depending on the number of widths you are joining you will end up with some stagger at the bottom so will need to make sure you have enough trimming allowance. If it is a random pattern it is less noticeable than a very regular one. Sometimes you just have to use the fabric the best you can.

    Detty

    I'm joining patterned fabric.I also have a large floral pattern repeat and the only way the patterns match up is if I go in 10cm from the selvedge on one panel. I lose a lot of material and actually have to compromise on my curtain width. But the seam now has a short selvedge and a large selvedge. Would you recommend trimming the large selvedge side so it equals the other? I'm using non-blockout lining so I'm wondering if it would look weird the the light shines through? Thank you! Second time I'm following your videos, they are excellent!

    SewHelpful:

    Yes we would trim the selvedge down so they are the same size. (Not unusual for this to happen)

    Phillipa

    Hi, I am making one large curtain for the landing. It is 270 long and 350 cms wide. Do you have any advice for how to grapple with the material. I laid it out on the floor in the largest room I had but still struggled to get it flat because of all the furniture etc. Also, I am using a velvet. I've left the selvedge edge on the fabric but wasn't sure where to sew when joining panels- ignore the selvedge and pretend it isn't there, so get a wider hem than usual? If I sew just the selvedge then it risks showing on the right side.

    SewHelpful:

    Have you watched the videos? You join selvedge to selvedge but always sew in from the edge so there is no chance of the selvedge showing on the face.

    Tips

       1).  Make sure the nap of the velvet is down and the same on all panels. 

       2).  Use a walking foot to prevent slippage when sewing.

       3).  I'm afraid we haven't got an answer for not having enough space. You just need to work in sections.

    Ulrika

    Hi there and thank you so much for this excellent tutorial! I'm using a patterned fabric which says it has a pattern repeat of 64cm and half pattern match. Got the information on website I bought it from. So I've been looking at your information about using half drop pattern repeat which all makes sense and is very well explained. But if I fold the fabric in half the pattern match perfectly together..... it wouldn't do that if it was half drop pattern repeat would it? I haven't cut the fabric yet, but I feel like if I cut it as a normal patterned fabric it would still match. Am I wrong?! Thanks for your help! Ulrika

    SewHelpful:

    To us it looks like the fabric has a half drop pattern repeat, but because the width contains 2 full horizontal pattern repeats, it would join as a normal pattern repeat. 

    Fabric companies can be very variable in their interpretation of half drop pattern repeat and sometimes get the figures completely wrong. Always measure the pattern repeat on your fabric.


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