Make Simple Curtains and Valance for any WindowWritten by Robin Hall
Making a quick set of curtains and a valance is something that you can do even if you don’t have much sewing experience. It’s just a matter of thinking through process and calculating for fabric needed and knowing how to use a sewing machine.
Tools needed: calculator, pencil and paper, tape measure, yard stick, pins, scissors, iron, thread and sewing machine.
Decide what color or pattern will work best with your room décor now. Going to fabric store is always one of my most fun times, I keep my imagination open and get swatches of fabrics (and prices) first time to see what all my options are. Take swatches home and start eliminating them by laying them next to major parts of already decorated room (couch, chair, tables, walls, etc). Once you’ve decided on your fabric start measuring.
To measure for material, decide how long you would like valance to be. Where will you place curtains in window? Will you do them café style or halfway down window? Maybe you only want a small space between valance and curtain, use your imagination, draw a sketch of window and do some placements on it to see what looks good.
Once you make these decisions, measure from your top reference point (top of window, top of rod) down to where you want valance to end. Add additional 7” for top and bottom hems(this will give you 3” for top hem, which rod will go through and 4” for bottom hem). Let’s say you want your valance to be 10” long, add 7” for hem and you have 17”. Now measure for your bottom curtains. The same goes here, measure from top reference point (where your curtains will start) to just BELOW or ABOVE windowsill. Add 7” to this length. EXAMPLE: 32” bottom curtain length, add 7” = 39”. Write all this down. For width across, measure across window from outside to outside molding. Depending on how “full” you want curtains will be deciding factor on how much material you purchase. Normal fullness recommendation would be twice window width, or at least ½ again as much. We are going to be very basic, let’s say a normal window is 36” across X 60” length. This means you will need to calculate double width for valance and curtains, but remember curtains are split in middle. Most material will run 36”–44” (regular material) to 60” (drapery & upholstery material) in width. If you choose a fabric width of 36”- 44”, it will be easier to just use width and cut a little off ends it needed.
Now it’s time to go get your material! Take your swatch, sketch and measurements with you! I would recommend a pliable fabric that is easy to work with (cotton, broadcloth, etc). Have your material store sales person help you with calculating amount, and give you any details in laying especially if it has a design going a specific way or has a nap. In most cases, 3-3½ yards should be plenty per window.
Pre-wash material if you choose. If you do not pre-wash material and wash curtains later expecting them to be same length, you may be surprised! If you have pre-washed your material, take it out of dryer, fold in half, wrong side out (if you can tell), like it was previously from store off bolt, and lay it on your surface and smooth it out (table, floor, etc). Do same for 60” width material; this will make it easier to handle. You may want to touch up with an iron.
The Making of a Slipcover: A Lost ArtWritten by Robin Hall
Today in this world of fast everything, most of us just don't have time (nor patience) to do an all consuming job of making a slipcover. We go buy them and not always are they what we want. They are generic in most cases and just don't work on furniture right or look professional. If you can find time and feel creative, you can produce a masterpiece for an old (or new) piece of furniture that needs a change to correspond with a new room update. The slipcover will produce a sense of confirmation and beauty for "you", person doing work. A job well done is always good for growing self- confidence and character!
I owned a very busy tailor shop and I was use to "custom fitting" my clients and worked slipcovers same way. When one was finished, it was hard to tell if piece had been re-upholstered or slip covered. What a great feeling it was to see finished piece!
So with that said, I have a few techniques for you to use that will make this lost art of slipcover making a bit easier.
Start with a simple furniture piece. A good example would be an ottoman, simple dining chair or a toaster! Look at piece, see where natural lines are? That is where seams will be for slipcover. Scratch out a picture of your furniture piece, this will help as you take measurements for pieces. Measure width and length, add an extra 1¼" to width and length for seams. Write each piece size down on drawing to reference from. Make sure you have your closure type figured out. You will need to add extra material for overlapping if using velcro or ties and zippers. Where will your closures be? Do you even need one on this slip cover? All of this needs to be calculated into original diagram of furniture piece. We will tailor fit these pieces to furniture INSIDE OUT. You will end up with all your slipcover pieces being odd sized squares or rectangles, etc. This is easier for quick marking and cutting instead of attempting to cut exact shape of each piece. There will be some extra material in certain areas (which you will cut away) but it gives you room for making a few mistakes! Remember, art of slip covers and upholstery is very forgiving!
If you are using denim or heavy cotton or anything that does not have to be dry-cleaned for your slipcover, I suggest you preshrink material. You can wash and dry it later many times without shrinkage (a great option if you have small children and newer furniture). Choose a solid color. Sheets or curtains (even older ones found at Goodwill if you're on a budget) can work for making slipcovers and you may find them on sale to make cost less. Cording can be covered and added into prominent seams of slipcover if you want to add some detail. Most of your material to cover cording with will come from leftover inches at sides going along length. They will be long pieces sewn together on a mitered seam. Cording material width is 1 ¼". Cutting everything with pinking scissors will eliminate (to a certain degree) having to serge or finish edge of raveling fabric.
You will "railroad" your slipcover measurements by marking them (and eventually cutting), going length wise on fabric and then side by side across width of fabric. If you have an exceptionally wide piece you will "railroad" it going length of material instead of across, thus avoiding seams. Visualize how sizes will lay out on fabric, using drawings here will be very helpful. Example: If you use 60" width material, you will get at least 3 dining chair slipcover backs across, if they are 16" – 18" wide. They could run 36" – 48" in length down material. Then you will need to figure inside back, seat, and sides or skirting (remember, if you are doing 2 or more of same, times each piece by number you are doing). Depending on how much turn up you want for hem will depend on how much extra you add on side or skirting measurement. Figure out how much material you will need by calculating length of longest slipcover pieces, adding them together and divide by 36" for yardage. Make sure to utilize most from your fabric. There are cheat sheets at some material stores that give basic yardage for upholstering & slip covering furniture , see if you can find one, their priceless!