Sew a French Seam Curtain
The Goal: Covering a Bare Window
Problem: I have just moved into my daughter's condominium and am faced with no window covering on the window in what is the beginning of my craft room. The window measures 35" W X 58" L.
Solution: I have a a little over 4 yards total of two blue fabrics and decided to sew a curtain for color and privacy.
Author's note: If you decide to make a curtain using this design for a similarly sized window, 2 yards each of 44-45" width of 60% cotton, 40% polyester of two (2) fabrics that go well together, perhaps one solid or near solid will work well. You'll also want matching, all purpose thread.
Yardage Requirements for 3 Window Sizes
23" X 35"
35" X 58"
48" X 61"
The Design Idea
I have only 1 3/4 yard (not enough alone for a fluffy curtain) of one print that I really like, so I decided to combine two fabrics and frame the lighter print with the darker one. I will be using a French seam to join the fabrics together vertically.
The window has a basic curtain rod, so this will be a simple, but pretty curtain with two panels, a top ruffle, and a two-inch (2") hem. There is just enough fabric to reach the window sill, with a little to spare.
Author's note: I had already hung the light blue printed fabric on the window with safety pins, so I knew the length was sufficient.
Preparing the Fabrics
Both fabrics have been prewashed. I mist my fabrics and iron them so they are nice and smooth for cutting. I have to remove the selvage and frizzes from the darker print. I do this with my rotary cutter, cutting ruler and mat.
Next, I trim both fabrics in half VERTICALLY.
Author's note: You can mix the fabrics horizontally for a different design, if you wish, but this will be much more work, as you will have additional seams taking up the desired length, so an additional 1/4 yard of fabric is recommended for a horizontal design variation.
Panel Layout Prior to Sewing
To get the effect of the lighter fabric being framed by the darker one, it helps to lay out the panels before sewing anything together. That way, you can see clearly where you are going to put the seams.
Sewing the Curtain Panel with a French Seam
QUESTION: Why a French seam?
ANSWER: French seams are sealed, with no raw edge apparent. This type of seam is also narrow, so it works especially well with sheers, such as chiffon.
QUESTION: How do you get the French seam to be sealed?
ANSWER: You make it similar to a regular seam, but you start with the WRONG sides of the fabrics together. Sew the seam. Press. Trim the seam to about 1/8" from the seam line. Now turn the fabrics so the RIGHT sides are together. Press. Sew the seam beyond the 1/8" allowance from the folded edge, about 1/4".
A Video Review of a French Seam (5/8" Allowance)
As the video shows, you can create the French seam without actually trimming the first seam if you don't mind a wider seam and are accurate with your stitching.
I trim my seam to ensure I don't have raw edges sticking out after I've sewn my final seam line. I also like the look of a narrow seam.
Sew the Vertical Hems
With the WRONG side of the fabric facing up, turn 1/4" of the raw edge toward you. Press entire fold. This will seal the vertical hem when it is sewn.
Now fold the pressed edge toward you once again, this time to form a 1" hem. Press.
Sew the entire vertical hem along the folded edge where it meets the wrong side of the fabric. Do this for both vertical sides of each panel.
Author's note: It so happened that my lighter fabric already had finished edges, as I had sewn it previously for a table cover, which was no longer used. So, in my case, I only had to sew the very outer vertical hems to enclose the raw edges of each panel.
Author's note: The small fold at the bottom of the picture above is actually the first step for the top, wide hem. You can make this fold before or after making the vertical hems. My written instructions are for making this fold after, though my picture here shows it already folded.
Making the Top Hem and Ruffle
Starting with the left panel, fold the top edge down to the INSIDE of the panel 1/4". Press.
Now fold the top edge down again, still toward the INSIDE, 3 3/4". Press or pin baste.
Sew near the edge of the hem where it meets the inside.
Now sew a straight line 1 3/4" from the folded top. This will define the curtain's ruffle.
At the bottom edge of the panel, and with the WRONG side of the fabric facing up, fold the edge of the fabric toward you 1/4". Press.
Fold again 2" to create the bottom hem. Press or pin baste.
Stitch the edge of the hem where it meets the wrong side of the panel.
Follow these instructions for both panels.
Author's note:The curtain is hung so that the rod goes BETWEEN the two sewn hem lines at the top of each panel. If you try to put the rod between the folded edge and the top seam, you won't get the top ruffle effect.
Sew On and Sew Forth
With these instructions, will you be making a French seamed curtain?
Credits and Resources
All photos are my own work. Instructions are based on life experience and the actual making of the curtain.
© 2014 Marie Flint