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Sew a French Seam Curtain

Updated on July 17, 2016
The bare window in my craft room that needs a curtain.
The bare window in my craft room that needs a 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

Window Size
Total Yards
23" X 35"
2
35" X 58"
4
48" X 61"
6
These are estimated yardages based on a fabric width of 44". When using two fabrics, buy HALF the total yardage for each.

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.

The two fabrics being used for the curtain's panels.
The two fabrics being used for the curtain's panels.

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Misting the fabric with water from a spray bottle. Ironing the fabric so it's smooth for cutting.Removing the selvages. Removing the loose fringe while straightening the fabric's edge.
Misting the fabric with water from a spray bottle.
Misting the fabric with water from a spray bottle.
Ironing the fabric so it's smooth for cutting.
Ironing the fabric so it's smooth for cutting.
Removing the selvages.
Removing the selvages.
Removing the loose fringe while straightening the fabric's edge.
Removing the loose fringe while straightening the fabric's edge.

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.

Finding the center point to make the vertical cut on  the fabric.
Finding the center point to make the vertical cut on the fabric.
The vertical cut is along the straight of grain of the fabric.
The vertical cut is along the straight of grain of the fabric.

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.

Lining up the fabrics in a layout  prior to sewing.
Lining up the fabrics in a layout prior to sewing.

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".

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Putting the WRONG sides together.Sewing a 1/4" seam. The RIGHT side of the fabric is up, facing you.With the seam pressed and trimmed, turn the seam so the RIGHT sides of the fabric are together, as shown.A close-up of a finished French seam (inside of curtain).
Putting the WRONG sides together.
Putting the WRONG sides together.
Sewing a 1/4" seam. The RIGHT side of the fabric is up, facing you.
Sewing a 1/4" seam. The RIGHT side of the fabric is up, facing you.
With the seam pressed and trimmed, turn the seam so the RIGHT sides of the fabric are together, as shown.
With the seam pressed and trimmed, turn the seam so the RIGHT sides of the fabric are together, as shown.
A close-up of a finished French seam (inside of curtain).
A close-up of a finished French seam (inside of curtain).

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.

Measuring a 1" fold for a vertical hem.
Measuring a 1" fold for a vertical hem.

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.

The 3 3/4" fold to be sewn with a straight stitch to catch the left edge and then again 1 3/4" from the right fold.
The 3 3/4" fold to be sewn with a straight stitch to catch the left edge and then again 1 3/4" from the right fold.
TIP: When machine sewing a large hem with a straight stitch, it helps to use a piece of masking tape to serve as a guide.
TIP: When machine sewing a large hem with a straight stitch, it helps to use a piece of masking tape to serve as a guide.

Bottom Hem

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.

FINISHED!


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?

See results

Credits and Resources

All photos are my own work. Instructions are based on life experience and the actual making of the curtain.

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    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 2 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Arachnea and Kimberly, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my hub.

      These sewing hubs can be quite time consuming! The sewing part isn't hard--it's getting the pictures, organizing them, and then keeping the steps straight in your head so you can write about them.

      Nevertheless, the French seam is a very nice technique that can be used whenever an enclosed seam is desired. While this type of seam takes longer to do than serging, I agree with you, Kimberly--they are better!

      May both of you have continued joy and success in all your sewing endeavors!

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 2 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      I am a big fan of French seams--much sturdier and more finished-looking than serging.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 2 years ago from Texas USA

      Initially, I thought this was a tut for a felled seam, then I watched the video. I'm delighted to add this to my tome of sewing knowledge. Great hub.

    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      Thank you, DDE. The French seam is so nice when working with sheers or when you want a closed seam.

      There's a tutorial video on making a pillow case using a French seam; I'll probably be doing a hub on that type of pillow case in the near future.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Simple to follow steps and so easy to make. I like the way you shared this hub. Informative and helpful indeed.

    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      So nice of you to stop by and read this one, Nadine. I'm glad I've inspired you to write about your crafts.

      Good writing!

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for sharing your what you call a French seam. You gave me an idea about writing a tutorial post on all the arts and crafts I've done in the past.

    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      And thank you for the read and the comment, Dora. Blessings!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Now I know the description and the purpose of the french seam. Good tutorial. Thanks!

    • Marie Flint profile image
      Author

      Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I made my first French seam when I was around 24 years of age. My costume blouse was made of sheer fabric, so I had to enclose the arm seams. It looked really nice because it was sealed and narrow.

      Thank you for the visit, Grand Old Lady. I appreciate knowing the instructions are easy to understand.

      Blessings!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      I never knew this is what a French seam is. It's so pretty, and your tutorial is very easy to follow.