Do you ever get fixated on something and there is just no stopping you until you find it/get it/buy it/make it? Yeah, me, too. This was the case with these curtains for my bathroom. I decided sewing striped curtains myself was going to be the solution.
I made these as part of my master bedroom/bathroom refresh. I had all my bedding and coordinating bath towels picked out, and I just haaaaad to have this certain shade of mint green. I searched far and wide for the perfect fabric and couldn’t find it. The sheets for my bed were the perfect color. I knew I didn’t want plain curtains for the bathroom but could not find fabric I liked (that didn’t also break the bank) anywhere.
This one might sink your heart a little when I tell you what I used to make my striped curtains, but not when you see the finished product. I used a king-sized sheet for the green and a queen sheet for the white. Yep, I went there.
Stick with me here, and don’t let the sheet thing scare you away.
I found different, less expensive sheets than what I used for my bed, in the very same color but a shade or two darker. Thank you, Target. In fact, there’s more to the story . . . I ended up with a sheet set, which I fully utilized:
- A flat sheet for the curtain fabric.
- A fitted sheet to cover my box spring (I am not a lover of bed skirts — they don’t work well with my bed — but I also am not a lover of exposed box springs).
- A set of king pillowcases for decorative extra pillows that I use on my bed.
How’s that for frugality AND utility? Because I was a little nervous about the weight of the fabric (it is a sheet, after all), I went ahead and purchased curtain liner fabric (6 yards) from Hobby Lobby for less than $20. Gotta love that 40% off coupon!
By the way . . . Who in the world, aside from me, has FOUR windows in their bathroom? I love the natural light, but four seems a bit of overkill for a bathroom, especially when you are making custom curtains (wink). I actually only made curtains for three of the windows, because I figured the neighbors might enjoy the view from the fourth exposed window. Kidding. The fourth window is in the pitch of our bathroom ceiling which is more than 14 feet high. If someone wants to peep, more power to them for their effort on the 3-story climb. Kidding, again! We have an etched glass window at the top.
On to the details . . .
Of the three windows, two are 28″ wide and the large picture window is 52″ wide. I needed 48″ finished length for my striped curtains. I decided to go with stripes that would be 8″ when finished, therefore, I needed to make six stripes (three green, three white). This meant I had to add in an extra 1″ of raw fabric for the seam allowance when attaching the four inner stripes. For the two stripes that would become the top stripe and the bottom stripe of my curtains, I added in an extra 2″ (instead of the 1″, as with the four inner stripes). I did this because I wanted a finished 1″ hem on the top and bottom. Stick with me, here.
I cut two white 9″ stripes and two green 9″ stripes for the four inner pieces. Then I cut one white 10″ stripe for the top and one green 10″ stripe for the bottom. Got it? If not, I’ll jump ahead a little bit by showing you the picture below.
Makes better sense to see it as a visual, right? Now that that’s out of the way, let me back up and tell you the steps I went through to get to the point in the photo above.
I started off by washing the sheets and curtain liner. Both are a cotton-heavy blend and I don’t want to deal with shrinkage when the time comes to launder my curtains. Next, I ironed out the sheets a little (not perfectly) and spread one sheet out flat on the floor to begin finding and cutting a straight edge to work from. Not surprisingly, the sheet already had hems and those hems were not perfectly straight, so cutting off the top hem to get my initial straight edge was the best solution.If you are new to sewing or unfamiliar with what I’m using in the picture above, I’ll tell you about those, too.
Some of the things I keep in my sewing closet are:
- A 5-foot measuring stick — You can find one at the local hardware store and it’s particularly useful when working with large pieces of fabric.
- An L-square ruler — Handy when you are working with a straight edge on one side and need to mark and cut a perpendicular straight edge.
- A rotary cutter — Scissors work just fine, but I find myself getting jagged with my cuts at times. This makes my cuts less jagged.
- A cutting mat — This is used with a rotary cutter so you don’t, uh, cut through your surface underneath your fabric!
- A clear acrylic ruler — Frankly, this came with my rotary cutter and mat. I find it helpful to sandwich the fabric in between the clear ruler and the mat to see what I’m doing in case the fabric slips. It has happened!
Back to business!
After cutting the initial straight edge, I measured out the width for the widest set of curtain panels, adding an extra 75% for fullness, plus an extra two inches on either side for hemming. (Some folks recommend adding 100% or 150% additional fabric for fullness. Since these are not drapes that are being hung in my living area, I was satisfied with the additional 75%. Plus, I was working with the limited fabric of a sheet.)
Recap: For the window that is 52″ wide, my desired finished width for the pair of panels was 92″, or two 46″ finished panels. I added an extra inch to each side for seam allowance, then multiplied that by two (panels) to get my raw cut figure.
46″ desired finished width + 1″ for left seam allowance + 1″ for right seam allowance = 48″
48″ x 2 panels = 96″ raw cut
Phew, that was cutting it close on the fabric I had available, but I made it with a few inches to spare!
TIP: Because I wanted the stripes on my curtain pair to line up, I measured and cut the stripes for both panels as one large piece (hence, the 96″ raw cut in the example above) rather than measuring and cutting the left panel, then measuring and cutting the right panel separately.
By the way, here’s a link to a great, short video tutorial on cutting large pieces of fabric the easy way. This is the method that I used, shown in the photo below. It involves folding the fabric in a specific way to make your cuts. So much easier than cutting one gigantic piece of fabric! Most of us don’t have free space in our homes to do that, do we?!
After all of my stripes were cut, I pinned the stripes together, right sides facing one another. I found it easiest to work on only two stripes at a time rather than piecing and pinning together all six of the stripes that would make up my curtain.Next, I began sewing the stripes together two at a time. Once I finished sewing three pairs of stripes together, I pinned and sewed those to their mates and completed the face of the panel. Had I pinned all six stripes together before sewing, I’m convinced the pinned areas that I wasn’t actively tending to would have caught on the machine or my table. TIP: Once I finished sewing all six of the stripes together, I cut the panel in half down the center to get my two panels for one window.Next, I ironed the seams open on the back of the panel to ensure my stripes were not puckered and my fabric was smooth. Important, since I would be lining the curtains.
Front view of the panel after seams have been ironed open. See how crisp those lines in the seams are?
Next, I ironed a 1/2″ seam around the perimeter of my panel. Then I cut the fabric liner to match each of the panels, minus 1/2″ on each side of the panel and minus 1″ on the top and bottom of the panel.Cutting the liner this way makes sewing the liner to the panel a bit easier. When you cut the curtain liner precisely to match the size of the curtain panel, then fold the liner in with the seams of the curtain panel to sew, you may risk fabric puckering. After all your hard work, the last thing you want is puckered curtains! Cutting the liner just shy of the panel will typically save you from the pucker.
I used a 1/2″ hem on the sides of each panel, so after I folded and ironed the first 1/2″, I laid the liner on the back of the curtain, then folded the panel another 1/2″ on either side, ironed the hem, and pinned it in place. This method “catches” the liner when you complete the sew. Next, I sewed the liner in place on the left and right sides of the curtain panel. It may be difficult to tell from the photo, but I am sewing very close to the left edge of the seam to ensure my seam lays flat and my curtain liner catches in the stitch.As a reminder, at this point, I still have not hemmed the top or bottom of the curtain panel. That’s next!
After the liner was sewn in place on the sides of the curtain panel, I ironed a 1/2″ hem in place on the top and bottom of the panel. I followed this with a second fold of 1″, then I ironed and pinned the hem in place. Once the liner was sewn in place, I ironed the panels and hung them.
If I were sewing panels for a bedroom or living space, I would have used a final 3″ hem on top and bottom. I wasn’t tied to that for these bathroom panels, since a) I had a limited amount of fabric to work with (sheets) and b) I knew I would be using curtain clips to hang the panels.
Sewing striped curtains, six panels with six stripes each, plus lining them, resulted in approximately 5 – 6 hours worth of work. It was a weekend project that I did during my daughter’s naptime. I will definitely make curtains again in the future. Super easy and you can get exactly the look you are going for. Let me know what you think!