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Sew a French Seam Curtain

Marie is a self-taught seamstress and has been sewing since 1970.

sew-decor-curtain-bedroom-craft
The bare window in my craft room that needs a curtain.

The bare window in my craft room that needs a curtain.

The Goal: Covering a Bare Window

Problem: I have just moved into my daughter's condominium and am faced with no window covering on the window in what is the beginning of my craft room. The window measures 35" W X 58" L.

Solution: I have a a little over 4 yards total of two blue fabrics and decided to sew a curtain for color and privacy.

Author's note: If you decide to make a curtain using this design for a similarly sized window, 2 yards each of 44-45" width of 60% cotton, 40% polyester of two (2) fabrics that go well together, perhaps one solid or near solid will work well. You'll also want matching, all purpose thread.

Linked Sections

1. Yardage Requirements for 3 Window Sizes

2. Preparing the Fabrics

3. Panel Layout Prior to Sewing

4. Sewing the Curtain Panel with a French Seam (scroll down for video review)

5. Sew the Vertical Hems

6. Making the Top Hem and Ruffle

7. Bottom Hem

Yardage Requirements for 3 Window Sizes

These are estimated yardages based on a fabric width of 44". When using two fabrics, buy HALF the total yardage for each.

Window SizeTotal Yards

23" X 35"

2

35" X 58"

4

48" X 61"

6

The Design Idea

I have only 1 3/4 yard (not enough alone for a fluffy curtain) of one print that I really like, so I decided to combine two fabrics and frame the lighter print with the darker one. I will be using a French seam to join the fabrics together vertically.

The window has a basic curtain rod, so this will be a simple, but pretty curtain with two panels, a top ruffle, and a two-inch (2") hem. There is just enough fabric to reach the window sill, with a little to spare.

Author's note: I had already hung the light blue printed fabric on the window with safety pins, so I knew the length was sufficient.

The two fabrics being used for the curtain's panels.

The two fabrics being used for the curtain's panels.

Preparing the Fabrics

Both fabrics have been prewashed. I mist my fabrics and iron them so they are nice and smooth for cutting. I have to remove the selvage and frizzes from the darker print. I do this with my rotary cutter, cutting ruler and mat.

Next, I trim both fabrics in half VERTICALLY.

Author's note: You can mix the fabrics horizontally for a different design, if you wish, but this will be much more work, as you will have additional seams taking up the desired length, so an additional 1/4 yard of fabric is recommended for a horizontal design variation.

Finding the center point to make the vertical cut on  the fabric.

Finding the center point to make the vertical cut on the fabric.

The vertical cut is along the straight of grain of the fabric.

The vertical cut is along the straight of grain of the fabric.

Panel Layout Prior to Sewing

To get the effect of the lighter fabric being framed by the darker one, it helps to lay out the panels before sewing anything together. That way, you can see clearly where you are going to put the seams.

Lining up the fabrics in a layout  prior to sewing.

Lining up the fabrics in a layout prior to sewing.

Sewing the Curtain Panel with a French Seam

QUESTION: Why a French seam?

ANSWER: French seams are sealed, with no raw edge apparent. This type of seam is also narrow, so it works especially well with sheers, such as chiffon.

QUESTION: How do you get the French seam to be sealed?

ANSWER: You make it similar to a regular seam, but you start with the WRONG sides of the fabrics together. Sew the seam. Press. Trim the seam to about 1/8" from the seam line. Now turn the fabrics so the RIGHT sides are together. Press. Sew the seam beyond the 1/8" allowance from the folded edge, about 1/4".

A Video Review of a French Seam (5/8" Allowance)

As the video shows, you can create the French seam without actually trimming the first seam if you don't mind a wider seam and are accurate with your stitching.

I trim my seam to ensure I don't have raw edges sticking out after I've sewn my final seam line. I also like the look of a narrow seam.


Sew the Vertical Hems

With the WRONG side of the fabric facing up, turn 1/4" of the raw edge toward you. Press entire fold. This will seal the vertical hem when it is sewn.

Now fold the pressed edge toward you once again, this time to form a 1" hem. Press.

Sew the entire vertical hem along the folded edge where it meets the wrong side of the fabric. Do this for both vertical sides of each panel.

Author's note: It so happened that my lighter fabric already had finished edges, as I had sewn it previously for a table cover, which was no longer used. So, in my case, I only had to sew the very outer vertical hems to enclose the raw edges of each panel.

Measuring a 1" fold for a vertical hem.

Measuring a 1" fold for a vertical hem.

Author's note: The small fold at the bottom of the picture above is actually the first step for the top, wide hem. You can make this fold before or after making the vertical hems. My written instructions are for making this fold after, though my picture here shows it already folded.

Making the Top Hem and Ruffle

Starting with the left panel, fold the top edge down to the INSIDE of the panel 1/4". Press.

Now fold the top edge down again, still toward the INSIDE, 3 3/4". Press or pin baste.

Sew near the edge of the hem where it meets the inside.

Now sew a straight line 1 3/4" from the folded top. This will define the curtain's ruffle.

The 3 3/4" fold to be sewn with a straight stitch to catch the left edge and then again 1 3/4" from the right fold.

The 3 3/4" fold to be sewn with a straight stitch to catch the left edge and then again 1 3/4" from the right fold.

TIP: When machine sewing a large hem with a straight stitch, it helps to use a piece of masking tape to serve as a guide.

TIP: When machine sewing a large hem with a straight stitch, it helps to use a piece of masking tape to serve as a guide.

Bottom Hem

At the bottom edge of the panel, and with the WRONG side of the fabric facing up, fold the edge of the fabric toward you 1/4". Press.

Fold again 2" to create the bottom hem. Press or pin baste.

Stitch the edge of the hem where it meets the wrong side of the panel.

Follow these instructions for both panels.

FINISHED!


Author's note:The curtain is hung so that the rod goes BETWEEN the two sewn hem lines at the top of each panel. If you try to put the rod between the folded edge and the top seam, you won't get the top ruffle effect.

Sew On and Sew Forth

Credits and Resources

All photos are my own work. Instructions are based on life experience and the actual making of the curtain.

© 2014 Marie Flint

Comments

Marie Flint (author) from Jacksonville, FL USA on April 23, 2020:

I used what I had at the time, Denise. Since the French seam is a double seam, it's especially durable. I no longer live in my daughter's condominium, the space in which this window and curtain are depicted. I had fun living there, though, and made a number of quilts while there.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on April 22, 2020:

The French seam was the perfect choice for this curtain. A flat-felt seam would have worked too. Good choice.

Blessings,

Denise

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on January 30, 2018:

I love sewing. Your directions here and the explanations were wonderful. Makes me want to get busy sewing again.

Marie Flint (author) from Jacksonville, FL USA on November 29, 2014:

Arachnea and Kimberly, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my hub.

These sewing hubs can be quite time consuming! The sewing part isn't hard--it's getting the pictures, organizing them, and then keeping the steps straight in your head so you can write about them.

Nevertheless, the French seam is a very nice technique that can be used whenever an enclosed seam is desired. While this type of seam takes longer to do than serging, I agree with you, Kimberly--they are better!

May both of you have continued joy and success in all your sewing endeavors!

Kimberly Schimmel from North Carolina, USA on November 29, 2014:

I am a big fan of French seams--much sturdier and more finished-looking than serging.

Tanya Jones from Texas USA on November 29, 2014:

Initially, I thought this was a tut for a felled seam, then I watched the video. I'm delighted to add this to my tome of sewing knowledge. Great hub.

Marie Flint (author) from Jacksonville, FL USA on November 13, 2014:

Thank you, DDE. The French seam is so nice when working with sheers or when you want a closed seam.

There's a tutorial video on making a pillow case using a French seam; I'll probably be doing a hub on that type of pillow case in the near future.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 13, 2014:

Simple to follow steps and so easy to make. I like the way you shared this hub. Informative and helpful indeed.

Marie Flint (author) from Jacksonville, FL USA on November 08, 2014:

So nice of you to stop by and read this one, Nadine. I'm glad I've inspired you to write about your crafts.

Good writing!

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on November 08, 2014:

Thanks for sharing your what you call a French seam. You gave me an idea about writing a tutorial post on all the arts and crafts I've done in the past.

Marie Flint (author) from Jacksonville, FL USA on November 03, 2014:

And thank you for the read and the comment, Dora. Blessings!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 03, 2014:

Now I know the description and the purpose of the french seam. Good tutorial. Thanks!

Marie Flint (author) from Jacksonville, FL USA on October 30, 2014:

I made my first French seam when I was around 24 years of age. My costume blouse was made of sheer fabric, so I had to enclose the arm seams. It looked really nice because it was sealed and narrow.

Thank you for the visit, Grand Old Lady. I appreciate knowing the instructions are easy to understand.

Blessings!

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on October 30, 2014:

I never knew this is what a French seam is. It's so pretty, and your tutorial is very easy to follow.