Monday, April 29, 2013

Back Tab Curtains

I have been slack about posting here...but I have good excuses.

We have been diligently working to put the playroom / office / sewing / everything room! back together again since we repainted (3/22/2013)  and re-floored (4/2/2013). And it has been a chore! 

But I will share lots of things we've been working on - as I get them off my list!

Starting with-- Curtains

Please ignore the few things on the floor...I was tired. It's been a long month with lists too long.

The first priority was curtains -
 The old ones were worn out, didn't match, and short. 
I wanted TALL curtains to elongate the room (the room is about 4-5" shorter than a standard room - don't ask.) 
And I wanted back tab - I love to be able to throw my curtains open (or closed) quickly - but I didn't want tab top (I loved them in the past, but not what I wanted here.)

For each pair of windows, I made 2 panels (4 panels total).
I didn't originally have a 2-color design, but the fabric I liked had only cut pieces on the remnant table to work with, so I bought enough for the original design and then altered later.

$$$$$$$$$$$$                     Here's my shopping list:                     $$$$$$$$$$$$ 
  • a little over 11 yards of the main fabric (black / green / white)  
(By the measurements below, I could have gotten by with 8 yards or 8 1/2 to be sure)
  • 3 yards of the contrast fabric (red)
  • and 4 sheets from walmart (for lining)
(or you can buy 10+ yards of cheap white fabric- plus a little extra if you expect a lot of shrinkage. 10 yards gives you a minimal amount - the lining will be shorter than each panel, so when you fold up the hems, they will only overlap the lining by 1/2")
  • thread to match (of course)
After you do your math, these numbers may be different for you - if you copy my numbers, you can stick with this shopping list.

yeah, I know it's a pain, but trust me - everything shrinks differently, certain colors run, and even if you use 1 solid color and no other color/cut of fabric, they will shrink the first time you wash/dry them and then you'll have high-water curtains!

**update - I am making more of these for my daughters' room since we have moved and the fabric I bought is dry clean only...and they're old enough I'm not worried about having to wash them and get little kid stains I'm skipping this step.- If I ever have to wash them, I will hang to dry (or follow the directions for once and dry clean - unlikely.) **

ON TO THE MATH - custom curtains need some math.
The math is the trickiest (and scariest) part for some people, so let's start there and get it over with.
(It's not that bad, really, and I'm not just saying that because I like math.)

You have two options for measuring/cutting:

1. you can just copy and use my same numbers.

2. you can use the way I got my numbers (assuming you can do basic number problems)

The finished length of each panel is 88" and the finished width is 54" (I started with 58" wide fabric).

First, just one color fabric..................Then, two colors, like mine

OPTION 1 - To use my numbers
for one color (entire length of panel) - 
cut your fabric 96" long by the full width of the fabric (mine was 58" before washing/drying)

For two colors -  
cut your top (main) fabric 70" h
cut your bottom (accent) fabric 27" h
(trim the width of whichever is wider to match the other so they are the same width - hopefully, 54-60" wide fabric)
(skip down to LINING)

Option 2 - using my formulas (get your own numbers)
First, measure the height you want your curtains to be. I wanted mine to fill the wall as much as possible ceiling to floor, with a few inches to spare - for me, that was 88" high. 
Call that number "x".

Measure the width of your window - I did each half of my double window - then multiply it by 1 1/2 (1.5) - this will give you enough 'gather' when they're closed so they won't look stretched out flat. 
We'll call this number (window width * 1.5) "y".

Still with me?  
  • I chose to have a 4" hem at the bottom and a 3" hem at the top.  
  • I also wanted a 1 1/2" "self hem" (where the front fabric shows on the back after seaming, flipping, and ironing) along each side.
  • Lastly, all my seam allowances are 1/2".

If you are only using 1 color for the panel,
here's your formula for each panel (cut, before sewing): 
length = x +8" 
(that is, desired length + 4" bottom hem + 1/2" seam + 3" top hem + 1/2" seam)

If you want 2 colors of fabric like my panels--
Cut the main fabric .75x + 4" 
(or if you like fractions: (3/4)*x + 4")

Cut the contrast fabric (bottom color) .25x +5"
(or if you like fractions: (1/4)*x + 5")

(in case you're wondering why 4 and 5 don't add up to the 8" we added for a solid color panel - it's an extra inch to account for seaming the top and bottom portions)

the width --
for the width - I would just stick with whatever the fabric width is 
- it never hurts to be more gathered, but just to be sure it is WIDE ENOUGH, check that
fabric width = y + 4"
mine was a little narrow here, but I called it close enough and moved on!

(If you have wide fabric 54/60", you're probably fine - just trim the width of whichever is wider to match the other)

Lining is optional, but I prefer the look of it from the outside. (It does add another element of aggravation though.) :)  If you choose unlined, skip down to TABS.

Regardless of option (1 or 2) above:
AFTER washing, drying, ironing everything (yes, I'm still harping on that - experience here)
cut the lining fabric to be 3" narrower than your main (front) fabrics.

Lining hack - just buy a cheap flat sheet from Walmart for each panel
($4.50 each for these white twin flat sheets, mainstay brand)

The length can be cut too, but after I seamed the sides, I just trimmed the excess at the end that stuck out - 
see pics (left and right)

*funny note - two of the sheets shrunk up to be the same length as my panels; the other two shrunk up to be a few inches longer. How's that for inconsistent?
If you're using fabric, you can cut it the same length as the main fabrics, or up to 6" shorter - leaving 2 1/2" exposed at top and 3 1/2" exposed at bottom of panel- (when you fold up the hems at the top/bottom, it would overlap the lining by 1/2", leaving less bulk to fold over.) 
I chose to just leave it the same length to since the sheet was already a cut piece of fabric.

This is the last thing to cut - I promise!

I wanted my tabs 3" high (same as top hem) and 2" wide, so after folding in half and adding on a hem, that's 7" long and 5" wide (cut measurement). I needed 6 for each panel - for me, that's 24 tabs.

If you have a rotary cutter and mat this is a good time to use it -
cut (6) pieces -each 5"w x 7"h -for each panel.

READY TO SEW - this is the easy part

  • So, now that your pieces are cut, sew together the top and bottom pieces of the front (if you chose the 2-color design) - 1/2" seam, right sides together. Open and iron flat.
  • With right sides together, sew lining fabric to main fabric at sides (the main fabric will be wider than the lining - this is intended). If your lining is not the same length as your main fabric, be sure to start sewing at the same end of the panel when going down each side.
  • Flip everything to be right sides out and iron the 'self hem' (front fabric that wraps around to the back) so that it is even on both sides. IRON.

(I like to sew things like this "assembly line" fashion - here's my stack of curtains ready to hem.)

We need to make some tabs before doing the top hem -

  • Fold tabs in half, right sides together ("hot dog style"  - meaning it's long and skinny rectangle) and seam . 
  • Adjust the seam so that it's in the center and seam across one end.
  • Clip your corners and flip right side out. (The other end is left with raw edges for now.) Iron.

Back to your panels -
Fold fabric to back 3 1/2". Pin and press. Fold raw edge under 1/2" (so it's hidden under the remaining 3" that is your hem) - press.

  • Unfold this 1/2" pressed hem and pin the tabs even along the hem -

They should be seam side of tab down (against panel) with raw edge of tab aligned with raw edge of hem. One tab should be at each end. I was able to space mine apart 8". (If your fabric was made or shrunk differently than mine, you may have to space yours a little more or less.)

  • Pin in place.

  • Baste (sew a quick stitch) across tab to keep it attached at raw edges with hem. (repeat for all tabs along this panel)

  • Re-Fold under 1/2" seam of hem and extend tabs toward length of curtain (raw edge should be folded under with the hem of the panel; seamed ends of tabs should be flat on the lining - we will fold these up into tabs in a few minutes).
  • Sew across (topstitch through folded hem, tab raw edge, and front of panel) across width of panel.

  • Fold up tabs so that seamed end of tab meets top folded edge of curtain panel. Top stitch through curtain and tab close to the edge (across width of panel).

The top is done - the bottom hem is even easier.

It's essentially the same thing but without tabs involved and having a larger hem.

  • Fold up bottom edge 4 1/2" to back of panel and pin in place. Press. 
  • Fold raw edge 1/2", folding under hem (that is, the remaining 4" that are on the back of the panel) - pin / press.

  • Top stitch across innermost edge of hem (where your 1/2" hem is hiding) - you do not need to sew again close to bottom edge. (you can if you like though.)

And you're done.

Sorry I am a little lacking in pictures throughout the tutorial - that's unlike me, but I did most of this project after procrastinating for about 2 weeks, and then half of it at night with pathetic lighting (not good for sewing, but worse for pictures)...

But if you have questions, just leave a comment and I'll get back to you!

(The sheers were put up using bungee cords attached at each end of the curtain rod - pinterest win!)

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