Retired now, Loraine was owner/operator of a custom window treatments business. She now shares sewing and window treatment tips and ideas.
How to Customize Purchased Curtains and Drapes
Did you know that you can customize purchased curtains or drapes and have window treatments that appear to have cost you a bundle? It's so very easy to do, and if you don't have a sewing machine or can't sew, you can use fabric glue or iron-on hem binding to get the equivalent results. One of the defining things about custom made curtains is that most of them are lined. Lined curtains and drapes hang much nicer than unlined ones.
In this article I'll give you ideas, and send you to sites, that will tell or show you how to add lining to store bought curtains. In this article you'll also find information on how to change a rod pocket type curtain into a curtain that has top tabs, back tabs or grommets.
Long curtains or drapes which frame your windows give your room elegance. Color and texture adds personality and glamour. Notice the elegant look achieved by the use of metal tie backs with these solid color drapes.
Plan Ahead: A few things that you should know before you go out to buy curtains or drapes:
* It's a good idea to have swatches of wall, carpet, sofa and chair colors with you when you buy curtains. If you don't have swatches of the real objects, find paint chips or magazine pictures with the needed colors. With this aid, you won't have to guess if the colors are right. While you are shopping, consider the pattern in the fabric as well as the color.
*Decide before you go shopping the length that you'll need for the look that you want. If you want a streamlined look, the curtain should just skim the floor. The curtain shouldn't be more than a finger width (about inch) from the floor. To achieve a rich and elegant look, have the curtain puddle on the floor. For the puddle, you'll add anywhere between an inch, and up to 12 to 16 inches, more in length to the curtain.
*Choose lined curtain panels whenever you are able, but make color, texture and print of the curtain fabric a priority, and then add lining. Something to keep in mind when buying lined curtains, or purchasing lining to do it yourself, is the different types of lining available. For basic lining, a cotton lining is sufficient and will protect the fabric. To keep heat out during the summer, and cold out during the winter, choose an insulating lining. And if you want to keep outside light from the room, use blackout lining.
*When measuring for the length and width of the curtain panels, take into consideration the type of curtain rods that you'll be using. Choose rods or rods and finials appropriate for your room and the type of fabric in the curtains. Heavy fabrics will look best with large and decorative rods and finials. For lighter weight fabrics, use smaller rods and finials. For sheers and laces consider more dainty rods. Also when choosing rods, consider the rest of the room for the color and material that the rods are made of, you'll want them to "go with" the rest of your décor.
How to Measure for Curtains or Drapes
CURTAINWORKS has a great tutorial on measuring for window treatments. Make a worksheet, like the one above, that you can write your measurements on to take along shopping. The "A" is for a wall mount curtain rod. The "B" is for a trim mount rod. The "C" measurement is the window sill curtain length, the "D" is the measurement for a below the sill curtain length. And the "E" is the floor length measurement. Remember, when you purchase curtains, it’s always better to have the curtains too long, because you can always shorten them.
The instructions at Living in the Rain Garden shows how to line a wide drape, one where more than one width of lining is used. I like the way the lining is hung behind the drape using the little clips with the drapery hooks.
Add a lining to a rod pocket curtain
Start following the tutorial from Sew Many Ways starting where is says, Lining Tutorial... Since your purchased curtain already has a hem, the side hems and the rod pocket sewn in, make these adjustments going forward with the tutorial. Hem the sides of the lining so that the finished width of the lining is two inches narrower than the width of the curtain.
Press a four inch hem in the bottom of the lining, fold out, press the hem in half, refold again and sew. This gives you a double fabric hem that is two inches wide. Lay the curtain, right side down, on the floor. Lay the lining, right side up, over the curtain. Center the lining over the curtain, with the bottom of the lining one and one half inches from the bottom of the curtain. Pin along the hem and up the sides of the lining, making sure the curtain and lining are smooth.
Fold the top of the lining and press, so that a row of stitching can be made through the lining and the curtain. Cut the top of the lining leaving a 5/8" of lining to turn under and sewn to the seam in the rod pocket. The sides of the lining can be left loose, or sewn to the curtain sides with long running stitches.
Back Tab Curtain Panels
Follow the instructions at I heart nap time to make beautiful and easy soft pleated panels from purchased rod pocket curtains. Add ribbon loops to the back of the rod pockets.
Tab Top to Tab Back Curtains
This tutorial at VIEW ALONG THE WAY shows how to change a purchased tab top curtain to a tab back curtain. Very easy and a perfect update.
Perfect Panel Puddles
You'll find the tips and tricks of making perfect panel puddles at in my own style. You'll want to make deeper puddles with heavier fabric and taller windows. An extra 12 inches of fabric gives this style a beautiful and elegant look.
Hang 'Em High
See how impressive purchased curtains can look by hanging them just a couple of inches from the ceiling. Go to here for some great curtain hanging tips.
How to Hem Curtains
Find out the perfect way to shorten curtains by going to and following the tutorial found at the shabby creek cottage.
Or, How to Lengthen Curtains or Drapes
This tutorial at a thoughtful place explains how to add length to curtains or drapes by adding an insert of fabric. A beautiful way to customize too short curtains.
In this tutorial by DECORADVENTURES tips are given on stenciling store bought curtains for a custom look. Choose the design and color that enhances your decor.
Make Any Curtain Into a Shower Curtain
Have you ever thought that the shower curtains available for purchasing just weren't what you wanted to use in your bathroom? I know I have and I'm happy to see there is a solution to that problem. The tutorial given at Jenna Burger Design makes this look like a project I'll be doing. Easy and impressive!
Greek Key Curtain Panels
All you need are curtain panels and grosgrain ribbon to make custom curtains with the Greek key design. Find the complete tutorial at VIEW ALONG THE WAY.
Beaded Trim Valance
Although this tutorial by Exquisitely Unremarkable shows how to enhance a valance with beaded trim, don't be afraid to use the same method to add beaded trim to the inside edge of a pair of curtain panels. Beads do lend a look of elegance.
Add decorative trim to store bought curtains to give them a beautiful custom made look. There are so many outstanding trims to choose from, and if you use coupons or wait for sales, you can get the trims at a reasonable price. Choose your trim and follow the tutorial that you'll find at Red Door Home. Consider using fringe trim for tie backs also.
Before and After
It's easy to see what a difference decorative trim can make when you see these before and after photos. You'll find the instructions for how to add decorative trim to curtains at Jenna Burger Design.
Customize Your Curtains Ideas
Check out this site on how to paint stripes on curtains. The View Along the Way has the tutorial for custom designing curtains with paint.
© 2014 Loraine Brummer
Would You Customize "Store Bought" Curtains? - or a comment will do.
anglnwu on October 15, 2014:
So many ideas and useful links. I have yet to be that adventurous when it comes to curtains but from your hub, it looks like one can really get creative. Rated up and shared.