Sometime last year I made these cafe curtains using tea towels and a wooden block wrapped in yarn to stamp a design. I loved the idea, but the execution fell short. They just didn’t turn out the way I’d anticipated and, as much as I tried, I never loved them.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I painted my kitchen. I took the curtains down to paint the window frame and decided I liked the extra light coming in, but I didn’t love the curtain enough to hem them to hang lower. So I hung some fabric napkins up in the meantime while I devised a plan.
I consulted you lovely people, chose a fabric, and yesterday I finally got around to sewing! I have been without a functional washing machine for several weeks now and I was waiting to be able to pre-wash the fabric, but I got sick of waiting and just handwashed it in my kitchen sink. And since I’ve made curtains a billion times now I decided I’d try something new this time and actually line them with some white muslin I already had on hand. You know, like a real live seamstress would do.
The care instructions for the printed fabric said not to machine dry it, but I live on the edge so I did anyway. I didn’t want to never be able to machine dry my kitchen curtains for fear that they would shrink and pucker. I have no regrets, despite the fact that I don’t think those horizontal lines you can see running through the blue parts were there before. Anyway, the first thing I did was iron my fabric and then lay it out to cut. I decided to make just one panel using the entire width of the fabric (it’s folded in half in the photo below). I cut it to 36″ long knowing that I would lose several inches to hems.
With my smaller piece of fabric laid out flat I gave it another quick pass with the iron and then pressed a hem along the two short sides. I did this by spritzing the fabric with water, folding it over 1/2″, and pressing with my iron. After each side was complete I folded it over another 1/2″ and pressed again. This gives a nice finished edge that won’t fray.
Then I repeated the same process with the top edge, except this time I folded over 1/2″ and then 2″. I was also extra careful here to make sure my folds were straight and even, as a wonky hem at the top could make a geometric pattern like this one obviously crooked.
With three sides of my fabric folded over and ironed down I brought in the white muslin I was using for the lining only to discover that I had a problem. I hadn’t accounted for the fact that the muslin was not nearly as wide as the printed fabric when I cut it and so the piece I’d already invested time in handwashing was too small.
So I got out the big bolt of muslin that I’ve had for years and cut a piece long enough to cover the full width of the printed fabric (plus a generous allowance to account for possible shrinkage).
I quickly handwashed it in my sink, then busied myself with other tasks while I waited an hour for it to dry (it was the only thing in the dryer but I didn’t have the benefit of a spin cycle so it went in sopping). When it was finally dry I laid it out over my printed fabric and carefully lined up one corner, tucking it under the folded edge along the top and one of the sides like so.
After making sure they were lined up nicely along those two sides I pinned it in place, making sure to grab both the printed fabric and the lining with the pin.
Then I brought the pinned fabric over to my machine and sewed a straight stitch along both sides. When I was finished I brought it back to my mat and used the iron to get it super smooth and flat. If you’re trying this at home be sure to stop your stitches a few inches before the edge on the top so you can still lift the remaining edge.
Then I carefully trimmed the lining fabric to be just ever so slightly smaller than the printed fabric.
And tucked it in along the third side the same as I’d done a moment before, then pinned and sewed.
Bam. Three sides hemmed and the bottom left raw so I can adjust the length, I brought it into the kitchen and clipped it onto the hooks already hanging on the tension rod. I faked a pinch pleat by pinching the fabric before clipping it a few inches below the top of the curtain. You could also use the hem at the top as a rod pocket if you don’t have clips around.
As soon as I hung it up and stepped back to take a look Jack scrambled up onto the stepstool I’d just used. He’s really into climbing these days.
I was thrilled with the look so I folded and pinned the fabric at each corner to mark the length. If you’re trying this at home and using a curtain rod that’s attached to the wall you might want to pin it all the way across, but since the tension rod is easy to move up or down a smidge if needed I just pinned the corners.
Then I folded the fabric over neatly and ironed it right there on the counter. I didn’t choose the quartz counters but I love that they are pretty much indestructible.
The hooks are barely big enough to fit around the tension rod and really hard to get on and off so I just brought the whole operation over to my sewing machine. Here’s how the back of it looked after I sewed the bottom (and final!) hem.
It was a little late in the day to be taking natural-light photos in my kitchen but I really wanted to post these today instead of waiting until next week (which is the soonest I’d be able to time well-lit pictures). I love love love the way they turned out.
Seeing these photos, though, I’m kind of wishing I’d hung them a little lower. The shadow just below the top is bugging me. I could probably fold the bottom hem over once more and it’d be just right. Thoughts?
One thing I considered when choosing a curtain fabric was how it would look with the floral fabric skirt in the adjacent laundry room. I’m calling it a win.
This has been a super long post so if you’ve made it this far, congrats! I’m so proud of myself for trying something new with the lined curtains–they were actually not too difficult! I’m really happy with the finished result. Do you think I should lower them so that the shadow where the window sashes meet is behind the pleats?
Update: I hemmed and lowered them!