Our guide to curtain making
Hotcourses Editor

Our guide to curtain making

First published date January 30 2014 Amended date January 30 2014

Be it a slick, urban crash pad or a sprawling, rural pile, for many of us, a set of well-made, perfectly-hung curtains can be the icing on the cake for every room in the house. As well as injecting a decorative touch, curtains also help to keep a room warm in the winter while in the summer months they filter out the sun's dazzling rays and prevent furniture fabric from fading. It might be that you love the satisfying drape of a heavyweight brocade at your bay window or you might just prefer the simplicity of a sheer lace panel. Whatever tickles your interior tastebuds, how about constructing your very own set of curtains from scratch on a curtain making course? This way you can tailor your window dressing to suit your every design whim...and have the satisfaction of seeing something you have made, day in day out, for years to come.


Courses on curtains

Whether you are a complete novice with a needle and cotton or a dab hand with the sewing machine, there is a curtain making course to suit. Check out our huge range of curtain making courses and workshops across the country and choose from a fixed venue in a nearby college or an online/distance course if that's a more convenient way of learning for you.

Basic sewing skills might be preferred in some colleges and courses, so do check beforehand, but even if you do know your way around a sewing machine with ease, there is still masses to learn about the art of curtain making. These are really practical, useful courses which will enable you to create your own curtains for the home to brilliant effect (and save you money to boot). Or, who knows, a taster course might unleash your inner 'sewing bee' and prove the first steps to your very own, curtain-making business (after lots of practice, obviously!).

A part time beginners’ course will equip you with a range of curtain making skills including choice of fabric, measuring and calculating fabric quantities, general construction methods and a variety of finishings, including pencil and pinch pleat headings. You might also cover pattern, drop, fullness, hemming and lining fabrics. Skills will be practised through small scale projects – there are no exams, it's just your own personal journey in the art of curtain making! A two-day workshop elsewhere will demonstrate the different ways that curtains can be made – from the quickest, unlined, machine-hemmed versions to the most expensive, all-singing, all-dancing hand-stitched, lined and interlined drapes that should last you a lifetime. Curtain-making techniques might also form part of a general furnishings course if you want to learn the techniques of hand and machine sewing for a variety of homeware projects such as cushions, blinds, tablecloths and runners. Discover a wealth of information and inspirational curtain making courses on offer near you..


Know your headings

There's far more to the art of curtain making than first imagined. As well as fabric colour, print and weight, curtains are finished off with a variety of different headings, that is, the pleating or gathering at the top of each panel which defines the curtain style.

BOX PLEATS are a series of evenly-spaced, boxy-looking pleats to create a plain, modern look.

PENCIL PLEATS are a popular heading style and work with curtain poles or tracks. This heading features a continuous row of tight pleats (which look like pencils laid side by side) that run across the top of the curtain. Deep pencil pleats are another option.

GOBLET PLEATS create a more formal, fancier look, perfect if you like a traditional style. Goblet-shaped pleats are sewn and filled with wadding for a decorative finish.

TAB TOPS create a plainer, less tailored look for contemporary rooms. Simple fabric loops are sewn into the top seam, which are then threaded on to a curtain pole.

EYELET curtains also do not need a heading tape and work well with more contemporary schemes. These only work with curtain poles and have a row of eyelets (usually metal) sewn into the top of the panel, resulting in a softer, unstructured fold.

SMOCKED curtain headings look intricate and complex and are created using a series of diamond-shaped pleats. These give a countrified feel and can be used with tracks or poles.


Cool curtain tips

• Don't go overboard with frills, flounce and chintz, but equally, never skimp on fabric. This doesn't mean you have to break the budget with the most expensive fabric you can find, but floor-length curtains will look far better with a generous mass of fabric. If it's a choice, go for an abundance of cheaper fabric over a skimpy amount of pricey cloth.


• Look at the size of window you are planning to dress: great swathes of drapery look elaborate and overwhelming on a small window, particularly in rooms with low ceilings.


• If you are making curtains for a south-facing room that gets the sun all day, it is wise to steer clear of silks that can fade over time if exposed to strong sunlight.


• Curtains should be vacuumed regularly with an upholstery nozzle while they are in place at the window. Sunlight, dust and daily wear and tear do take their toll, but regular vacuuming will prevent dust and soiling from building up.


• Lined curtains add a professional finish to window dressings. A lining can protect fabric from mildew, sunlight and excess dirt, add extra weight and body and disguise raw edges and seams.


• Create a one-off curtain design by incorporating a beautiful piece of embroidery or an antique cotton lace panel.


Let your imagination and newfound creative skills run wild with our range of curtain making courses.


By Lara Sargent

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