How to Make Curtains

Lined curtains are suitable for most windows, but you may prefer unlined ones for the kitchen and bathroom, as these are easier to launder. To make unlined curtains, simply omit the lining steps shown below and turn and stitch a narrow double hem along the side edges before attaching the heading tape

  1. Place the lining on the fabric that you have chosen for the curtain (drape) with the right sides together and the lower raw edges aligning. Mark the centre point of the curtain on both the fabric and the lining, using a dressmaker’s pencil.
  2. With the right sides of the fabric and lining still facing, pin them together along the side edges, taking care that the lower edges of both the fabric and lining are still aligned. At the top, the lining should be 4 cm/11/2 in shorter than the fabric.
  3. Mark the finished length of the curtain and the sewing line for the hem on the lining with a dressmaker’s pencil, taking into account the 15 cm/6 in hem allowance. Stitch along the side edges 12 mm/1/2 in from the raw edge, stitching from the top of the lining to about 10 cm/ 4 in from the hem sewing line.
  4. Turn to the right side. Press the side edges, making sure that the fabric pulls over to the wrong side by about 2.5 cm/1 in. Matching the marked points at the top of both fabric and lining, fold 4 cm/11/2 in of fabric over on to the wrong side and press.
  5. Tucking under the raw edges, pin the heading tape in position just below the top of the fabric. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, machine stitch the tape to the curtain, taking care to stitch each long side in the same direction to avoid puckering.
  6. Fold over a double 7.5 cm/3 in hem along the lower edge of the fabric and press in place. If you are using heavy-weight fabric, fold the corners over to form a mitre and then carefully trim away the surplus cloth. Tack (baste) along the hem.
  7. Turn up and pin a double hem along the lower edge of the lining so that the hem edge will hang about 20 mm/3/4 in above the finished fabric hem. Trim away any surplus lining and then tack along the hem to hold it in place.
  8. Pulling from the centre of the heading tape, pull up the cords until the curtain is the correct width. Knot the cords loosely at the centre of the curtain. Hang the curtain for a few days to allow the fabric to settle, then slip stitch both the cloth and lining hems. Finally, slip stitch the lining to the fabric down the remainder of the side.


To calculate the length, measure downwards from the track or pole to the required curtain length, then add on 4 cm/11/2 in to accommodate the heading tape and 15 cm/6 in for the buttons.

To calculate the width of fabric, multiply the width of the curtain (drapery) track or pole by the amount of fullness needed for the chosen heading tape (usually between 11/2 and 21/2 times the width of the window), and allow 3.5 cm/1.5 in for each side hens. Divide the curtain width required by the width of the fabric, rounding up as necessary. Allow 3 cm/1 1/4 in for each join that is needed.


Floor-length curtains can add the illusion of height to square windows. Accentuate the effect by holding the curtains back at windowsill level, using a pair of tiebacks.

With a narrow window, extend the curtain (drapery) track or pole at each side so that, when open, the curtains do not obscure the window.
To calculate the total amount of fabric, multiply the length by the number of widths required.

If you are making lined rather than unlined curtains, you will need almost the same amount of lining as curtain fabric, with just 5 cm/2 in less in the width and 4 cm/11/2 in less in the length.