Curtains are real mood setters: they give color to a room, prevent or filter incident light, provide privacy and dampen the sound, especially if you have a hard floor. Take the curtains out of your room, because you want to wash them out and you’ll be amazed how hollow everything sounds! In bedrooms, curtains provide blackout and warmth.

But small spaces can also improve with a few curtains: a motorhome, boat or caravan becomes much cozier if you sew a few cozy curtains for it. Because, to be honest: it is not that difficult to make curtains yourself. Certainly not if you do that with the help of ‘old-fashioned’ curtain pleat tape. Pleated tape is available in different colours, so that you can choose the right color for the curtain fabric or in a special transparent variant. Transparent pleated tape  is usually used for net curtains. 

How do you proceed? It is important to measure the windows properly first, so that you know how much fabric you need. Note: if you want to open the curtains, you want to prevent the curtains from hanging in front of the glass. If the situation permits, you would rather have the curtains slid open on 2 sides of the windows, so that the glass remains completely uncovered. So make sure that the curtain rail, if it is not already in place, has about 15 to 20 cm extra space on each side of the window. This way you can easily slide the curtains next to the windows. Do you want to sew curtains? This generally hangs inside the window: it is therefore sufficient to measure the width of the window. In the other cases, you measure the width of the window plus 2 x 15-20 cm, or you measure the curtain rail that is already there.

Curtain fabrics come in two varieties:

  • Floor-to-ceiling curtain fabric: the fabric is rolled up lengthwise and the width of the curtain fabric is cut for you. Floor-to-ceiling curtains are usually heavier qualities of curtains or net curtains. Pay close attention to net curtains because different heights are sold here. We will explain to you later how much fabric you need.
  • Curtain fabric width: here the fabric is cut in width and the curtain fabric is cut in length for you. Most curtain fabrics are 140 or 150 cm wide. So for an average window you usually need several lanes. If there is a pattern in the fabric, you need extra fabric. We will explain to you later how much fabric you need.

Then measure the height of the curtain on what you want to make. Measure from the top of the rail, or if it isn’t already hanging from the ceiling or from the point where you want to fix the rail above the window. Measure tight to the floor or other length. Possibilities are:

  • Curtain to the window sill: measure from the ceiling/top of the rail to the window sill. Subtract 1 cm from that length so that the curtain hangs freely from the windowsill
  • Curtain slightly over the windowsill: measure from the ceiling/top rail to about 30 cm below the windowsill
  • Curtain to the floor: measure from the ceiling/top of rail to the floor. Subtract 2 cm from that length so that the curtain hangs freely from the floor

Now you have measured the tight height of your curtain. Later you will charge extra fabric for this for the top and bottom seams. Including seams you need for a curtain: the tight height + 10 cm top seam + 15 cm bottom seam. In many cases, the net curtains have a lead lace  at the bottom of the curtain: this ensures that the net curtains fall nicely and means that you do not have to finish the bottom seam. In the case of net curtains with lead laces, you can therefore suffice with 10 cm extra height, only for processing the top seam.

How much fabric do I need?

You have measured the tight width of the window. Now you need extra fabric to make pleats in the curtain. When using pleated tape, we advise you to use 1.85 x the tight width of fabric. This gives you enough space to make pleats and to sew side seams in the curtain.

In the case of floor-to-ceiling curtains or net curtains, it is rather easy. Multiply the tight width of your curtain by 1.85. This is the number of meters of fabric you need. Because the possible pattern on a floor-to-ceiling curtain continues in the roll, you do not have to calculate extra fabric for this. Keep in mind the maximum height of your curtain. For example, if a fabric is 280 cm high, it means that your curtain cannot be higher than 255 cm. After all, you need 10 + 15 = 25 cm for the top and bottom hem.

In the case of wide curtains, some calculations are involved. An example:

You have measured the tight width and the tight height. In this example we assume a tight width of 220 cm and a tight height of 195 cm. How much fabric do you need now?

First calculate the number of strips of fabric you will need. Multiply the tight width of the curtain by 1.85 and divide by the width of the fabric. In the case of a fabric 140 cm wide, the calculation will be as follows:

220 x 1.85 divided by 140 = 2.9 lanes. You round this up. So you need 3 strips of fabric.

Then calculate the cutting size of the strips. You have measured a tight height of 195 cm. Because the curtains hang down to the floor, you need to subtract 2 cm from this. Then add 10 + 15 cm for the top and bottom hem. So the calculation is as follows:

195 – 2 + 10 + 15 cm = 218 cm per lane. You already calculated that you need 3 strips of fabric. So in total you need 3 x 218 = 6.54 meters of fabric.

Do you have a fabric with a certain pattern? Then you will have to ensure that the patterns continue on the strips that you have cut. For this you often have to have some extra fabric cut per lane. How do you calculate this? With printed curtain fabrics, the length of the pattern, also called rapport, is often stated on the fabric specification card. Suppose there is a pattern in the fabric with a repeat length of 63 cm. Then divide the cutting size of the curtain strips by the length of the report and round up. Then multiply this result by the length of the report. The calculation in our example becomes:

218 divided by 63 cm = 3.5 rounded up means 4 x the pattern length needed to continue the pattern. 4 x 63 = 252 cm. So you need cutting strips of 252 cm instead of the previously calculated 218 cm. The extra fabric that you cut from the web so that it will connect to the previous web is called decay. In many cases you can use this decay to make nice matching accessories. Think, for example, of embrasses, decorative ribbons or cushions.

How much pleated tape do you need?

You will sew the pleated tape onto the top of the curtains. So you need the same amount of pleated tape as the total width of the strips stitched together. In our example you need 3 strips of fabric that are 140 cm wide. This means that you need 3 x 140 = 4.2 meters of pleated tape.

How many curtain hooks do I need?

When using pleated tape, you use so-called  duplicate hooks . With this you will secure the pleats in the curtain and you can hang the curtains on the runners of the rail. Calculate 10 pleats per lane for a fabric of 140 – 150 cm. So in our case you need 3 x 10 = 30 curtain hooks.

And now we sew the curtain:

Sew the fabric strips together. You do this by carefully pinning them and then stitching them together. To do this, place the ‘wrong sides’ of the fabric together, so that the side seams remain at the back. You will get nice seams if you stitch the strips together first and then finish on the side with a zigzag stitch. If you are working with patterned curtain fabric, make sure that the pattern continues smoothly when pinning. Iron and press seams flat after sewing. Do you want to slide the curtain to 1 side when it is open or do you want to hang a curtain on both sides of the window? In the latter case you will be working with 2 equal parts curtain. You have 3 strips of fabric, so 2 equal parts means 2 x 1.5 strips of curtain. Before sewing, cut the center strip straight in the middle. Now you can finish the different curtain parts separately.

Now finish the top of the curtain. Fold the top seam in half twice, using the 10 cm extra space that you have cut on top of your tight height. Pin the hem first, then pin the pleated tape to the fabric. Keep in mind that the pleated tape is pinned 2 cm below the top of the curtain. This way you will soon have a nice ‘head’ above your curtain hook, so that the curtain rail is covered by the curtain. When you have pinned the band nicely straight on the fabric, stitch the length of the pleated band twice: at the top and bottom. Now the top seam is also directly fixed without needing an extra stitching which you will see later.

After sewing the pleated tape you can finish the side seams. Fold a nice wide side seam and topstitch the strips from top to bottom. The bottom hem is still unfinished and open.

You can now attach the curtain hooks in the curtain band, so that you can fit and pin the curtain. Divide the extra fabric you have for pleating under the number of hooks, so that you get nice even pleats. You attach a duplicate hook in the strap by inserting it from below and then turning it around. Now the pleat is fixed and you can put the hook through the runner of the curtain rail. Replace the first and last runner of your rail with so-called ‘stoppers’. This prevents you from sliding the curtain further than the side of the rail.

When the curtain is hanging, you can pin the bottom seam. You have 15 cm for this, so you can make a nice spacious bottom seam. Don’t forget to keep 2 cm clear of the floor? This prevents the curtain from hanging on the floor or dust clouds from sticking to the bottom seam. When the curtain is pinned to the correct length, you can topstitch the bottom hem. Or, if you want to make it easy on yourself, use us  iron-on hem tape . This allows you to attach the seams with the iron. Easy and moreover you prevent a stitching in the bottom seam.

Do you want your curtains to hang down nicely, without the bottom seam on the sides bulging up? Then, before closing the bottom seam, drop curtain leads into the side seam on both sides of the  curtain  . As a result, the curtain will always hang nicely taut. Moreover, if you have the window open, the curtain will not flutter in the wind.

The advantage of working with pleated tape is that you can make curtains quickly and easily. Pleated tape is especially ideal for smaller curtains, such as in the kitchen, for a caravan, camper or boat: you are quickly ready and you have flexibility in how the pleats are distributed. Do you want to wash the curtains ? Then remove the curtain hooks and wash the curtains on a gentle cycle without spinning. Hang the curtains to dry completely: you prevent creases and the curtain hangs out nicely. You can then replace the hooks and hang the curtain back in place.

Tip 1: If you sew small curtains, a bottom hem of 15 cm is very spacious. In this case, measure 10 cm for a double folded hem. If you have very little space, for example with curtains for a caravan, camper or boat, you can also suffice with a rolled hem.

Tip 2: When sewing curtains, always use  Gütermann sewing thread  for best results. For larger projects, Gütermann sewing thread is also available in spools of 500 meters or in a special  Advantage spool  of no less than 1000 meters of sewing thread.

Tip 3: For small curtains or if you have limited space, you can hang the curtains using so-called  spiral wire  or tension spring. This is flexible, stretchable wire that you can easily attach using the supplied stoppers and hooks. This way you can easily hang a spiral wire instead of a curtain rail. You don’t even need curtain hooks and pleated tape when using spiral wire. You sew a tunnel at the top of the curtain, with which you can slide the curtain over the spiral thread. By puckering the fabric at the height of the tunnel, pleats are created automatically. You can also make a tunnel at the bottom of the curtain instead of a bottom seam. Attach coiled wire to the top and bottom of the window. Now you can stretch the curtain on the window.