Monday, June 03, 2013

Sewing Drapes for Big Openings

I thought I would give a slightly more in-depth explanation of how I sewed the drapes (curtains?) for the living room sliders.

The sliders in the living room are quite large, measuring 95" from the inside frame (96" would be eight feet).  When we moved in the sliders were covered with shears.  Not being a shears kind of person, I wanted to replace them (plus the mechanism to close and open the shears wasn't working properly).  We got a curtain rod and new brackets from Ikea, and I purchased a single set of Ikea Merete drapes.  Each panel measured 57" wide, so I assumed that 114" (two panels) would easily cover the slider.  It didn't.  I started doing some research on-line to see what I was doing wrong.  Turns out that even simple, non-full drapes require at least twice the width to really cover adequately.  For a really full look, especially if you like the pleated look, you should really look for three times the width.  That meant I needed at least 190" or 95" per panel.  The widest panels I could find were 59" ... nowhere near enough.  After thinking it through for a couple of weeks, and considering other options, I decided to take two sets of Merete drapes and sew them together.  I really came to this conclusion while considering sewing my own drapes.  I was chatting with a salesperson in a fabric store.  I asked how they dealt with their custom drapes that they sewed for clients since I didn't see any fabric bolts that were wider than 59" ... turns out they sewed panels together to get the full look.  Dah!

So, back I went to Ikea for a second set of Merete drapes.  When I got home I took two of the panels and put them facing each other, with the side that would face towards the slider (the backside, so to speak) on the outside.  Since the Merete drapes have large, over-sized grommets that are used to hang the drapes, I knew I would start sewing at the top end to ensure that they lined up properly. 

Holding them together with the tops lining up I used my sewing machine to attach the two panels on one side.  It wasn't difficult to do; however, two panels of Merete drapes are quite heavy, so I did have some wrangling of fabric to do while sewing.

When I came to the bottom I realized that the panels weren't perfect.  One panel was definitely a different length then the other.

Since this was the bottom of the curtain it didn't matter too much.  I would be folding and re-hemming.  I simply needed to consider this when doing my folds.  Next, I ironed the seam flat.

I then took the sewn panels and laid them flat on the living room floor.  I measured from the curtain rod to the floor - 89" ... almost 90.  All the instructions I found for sewing curtains said to check what the shrinkage of your fabric is and consider this when making a decision on length.  The Merete package said the fabric had a 4% shrinkage rate.  90 * 1.04 = 93.6" - I decided to go for 94" since I was still considering moving the curtain rod closer to the ceiling.  I used my measuring tape, and with the help of Walter I marked the fabric with pencil at several intervals along the length.  I then used a ruler to connect these markings in a complete line drawn across the fabric. 

I returned to the ironing board with pins and began a first fold iron of approximately 1/2 - 1".  This step was to protect the possibly exposed cut portion of the fabric (and in my case, take care of that uneven meeting of two panels).  I then took a second pass with the iron, this time folding to the pencil line.  As I ironed I paused to put pins in - these would hold the fold until I could sew the hem. 

Once I completed this step I went back to the sewing machine and sewed my hem, keeping the stitch close to the fold (about 1/2" in from the fold). 

Then I simply repeated all the steps for the second two panels.

We've gone from this:

 To this:

It's definitely more our style.  I like the feel of the cotton window coverings over the scratchy, synthetic feel of the shears.  The new drapes still let some light in, but it's definitely harder to see in at night.

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