Tutorials

Sewing Simple Curtains

Last week I decided to make some simple curtains for our living room before holiday guests arrive. I’ve been sewing simple curtains like these for our houses since we were first married. At first, I used basic quilting cottons from the clearance section (usually for $2-3/yd.) At that price, I could make a pair of floor length curtains for less than $20, so I decorated our newlywed apartments very frugally.

Quilting cotton works great for a limited budget, but I recommend using a home decor weight fabric if possible. With sales and coupons, I’ve found some really nice fabric for around $5/yd. Even at $10-15 a yard, you are getting a great deal for custom curtains. Some of my favorite prints are from Premier Prints, through Fabric.com.

I bought an expensive pair of curtains from a popular mail order catalog once…but I won’t do it again. For the price, I expected better quality stitching and a full lining, but what I got was the same basic curtains I’ve been making for years.

Sewing Simple Curtains | Radiant Home Studio

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks!)

So, here’s how you can sew simple curtains for your own home! The finished length is about 90″ (which is longer than typical store-bought drapery panels—and I’ll tell you why toward the end of the post).

And…I’ve added extra instructions for no-sew curtains at the end of the post!

 

Materials Needed for Simple Curtains:

5 1/2 yds of fabric (pre-washed, if you plan to wash them later)

matching thread

iron and ironing board

sewing machine

Step 1:

Cut your 5 1/2 yds of fabric in half across the width.

You should have two equal length pieces. Technically, 5 1/2 yds, cut into two, should leave you with 2 pieces that are 99″ long. After the shrinkage from the wash and squaring off the ends, I found that my fabric measured about 96″.

Start on the selvage edges (lengthwise, on each side) and press 1/2″ toward the wrong side. You can usually use the selvage as a guide. It makes the folding much easier! Fold over and press again to enclose the raw edges.

Press Curtain Edges | Radiant Home Studio

Step 2:

Fold one cut edge to the wrong side (across the width) 1/2″. Then fold over again, 2 1/2″  and press in place. You will do the same thing on each cut edge across the width of the fabric. These folds will form the rod pocket (if you choose to use a rod) and the bottom hem.

Curtain Hem Top and Bottom | Radiant Home Studio

Step 3:

Open up the top and bottom folds, while you stitch along the sides. Use a 1/2″ seam allowance or your folded edge as a guide. Stitch along the each of the long edges.

Sewing Curtains Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

The hardest part about sewing curtains is the mass of fabric that accumulates at the sides of the machine, like this –

Curtain Fabric Bunch | Radiant Home Studio

If you can manage this big fabric pile, the rest of the curtain sewing process is very simple. If your machine has a “needle down” option, this is the perfect place to use it. Each time you stop to adjust the fabric, your needle will stay down and keep everything aligned so you can stay on track. If you don’t have that feature, turn the hand wheel to put the needle down in the fabric while you make adjustments.

Needle Down Sewing Machine | Radiant Home Studio

Step 4:

Fold the top and bottom edges along the creases you made earlier. Use the folded edge as a guide for stitching (about 2 1/2″ seam allowance). With precise measurements during the pressing step, you’ll have a nice even line across the top and bottom.

If you want to include a lining layer, add it before stitching the tops. Follow the same steps above for hemming the edges of the lining layer, (probably a neutral poly/cotton blend), assuming it is the same width. Align the bottom hems (usually the lining layer is a couple of inches shorter, so you may align it to the top edge of the hem). Then trim a couple of inches off the top and slide it in to be caught in the top line of stitching. This will make a lined curtain with free-floating layers. Since sewing the lining to the front on all sides usually creates big wrinkles, two separate layers help you to avoid problems and make the curtains look more professional and streamlined.)

Press out any wrinkles and trim all of your loose threads.

Sewing Curtain Hem | Radiant Home Studio

Step 5:

Hang them up!

You can hang your finished curtain panels with clips or you can slide them onto a rod. For a thinner style rod, you may want to add another line of stitching about an inch below the top fold to create a smaller rod pocket. The uppermost section will form a small ruffle, and the curtain rod will fit in the second section.

The finished length of these panels is longer than typical store-bought panels, at about 90″. Home decor experts recommend hanging your curtain rods several inches above the top of the window. The 84″ curtains available at big box stores end up being too short, and 96″ inch panels (which are difficult to find) end up being a bit long if you don’t have 9′ ceilings. So, 90″ seems to be the right length for floor length curtain panels with a rod hung 4-6″ above the window casing. Of course, you should always take your own measurements, but you can adjust the length to fit your needs without too much extra math!

 

Sewing Simple Curtains | Radiant Home Studio

Bonus: No-Sew Curtains

What if you don’t sew? Easy! All you need is an ironing board, iron, and some fusible hem tape. (You’ll need 3 packages of this!)

Follow all of the cutting and pressing directions above. Then instead of sewing, carefully place the hem tape under the folds and press the hems down. Each brand has slightly different instructions, so just read the package carefully and follow the recommendations given.

Fabric Design, Patterns, Sketchbook

Sketchbook to Pattern // Mitten Knitting Party

Mitten Knitting Party | Design by Sara Curtis | Radiant Home Studio

Originally, I was inspired to create this pattern for the Spoonflower “Mittens Gift Wrap” competition. Winter weather always causes me to pick up my knitting needles and wool yarn again (though I haven’t attempted mittens yet!) Snowflakes, “warm woolen mittens”, and bamboo knitting needles make this cozy pattern feel like a mitten knitting party!

The mittens are traced from my original hand-drawn sketches, so they have an organic, imperfect shape. Little Nordic snowflakes are layered under the mittens.

I’ve updated this pattern design a couple of times since this original post. The colors are more muted and give the pattern a warm winter feel. I also have a cool blue and green version available in my Spoonflower shop.

Holidays

Handmade Stocking Stuffers

I love the idea of homemade Christmas gifts, and I am always looking for ideas that will be unique and useful (because—let’s face it—a lot of homemade gifts are not). These are a few of my most successful handmade stocking stuffers from previous years to inspire some creative handmade gifts this year!

Many of the ideas are small and perfect for stocking stuffers or priority mailers (for those that don’t want to spend more money on shipping gifts than the actual cost of the gifts). With some repurposing and craft store sale shopping, many of these gifts can be made inexpensively. Most of them can be assembled in large batches as to save time if you have many people on your Christmas gift list.

10 Handmade Stocking Stuffer Ideas | Radiant Home Studio

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks!)

Ribbon Belts

Last year I made several belts in different colors and patterns for my younger siblings and my children. For a simple belt, choose a patterned ribbon and coordinating color of belt webbing. (Here’s a good deal on Amazon belt webbing with tons of color choices!)

You can either stitch along each edge of the ribbon or use an iron-on hem tape to attach the ribbon to the webbing. Loop one end of the belt through a pair of D-rings (or another type of buckle) and finish the edges.

Each of these belts cost less than $5 to make. Try variations of this projects with two layers of ribbon, braided leather cords, rope, or lace.

If you’d like to buy some ready-made, this Etsy shop has a really nice selection of kids belts.

Homemade Belts | Radiant Home Studio

Coffee Cup Sleeve

These were fun to make—coffee cup holders to match personalities! I free-hand embroidered the name lettering to give them a custom-made look. The pattern is available from House on Hill Road (there’s a text link to a PDF about halfway down the page).

Handmade Coffee Cup Sleeve | Radiant Home Studio

Embroidered Coffee Cup Sleeve | Radiant Home Studio

Zippered Pouches

I have made dozens of these zippered pouches using the tutorial from Anna at Noodlehead. They are perfect for storing little items that get lost in a big purse or for holding cosmetics. You could also make it in fun kid-friendly fabrics to contain art supplies or small toys.

Many of the people I have made them for have expressed how useful the little bag has been. It’s also great fun to watch people light up when they see that you have chosen a fabric that matches their personality—something they would have picked themselves.

Noodlehead Gathered Clutch Linen | Radiant Home Studio

Felt Flowers (hair accessories or pins)

I love this felt flower tutorial from Jess at Craftiness is Not Optional. I have made these on ponytail holders and attached them to alligator clips and pins. With good quality felt in stylish colors, they look nice as accessories for women, as well as little girls. Felt flowers are also the perfect craft project for pre-teen and teen girls (we made some at a Christmas tea party once). No sewing skills necessary—just fabric, scissors, and a glue gun!

Felt Flower Ideas | Radiant Home Studio

Leather Business Card or iPod Case

My husband looked at several stores for a business card holder and wasn’t able to find what he was looking for. After browsing through some handmade options, I decided that I could sew one myself using some of the ideas and designs I had seen.

I bought a piece of scrap leather for about $6 and had enough to make 3-4 small gifts. If you decide to sew on leather, choose a thinner, pliable type of leather with a sharp needle. I also used my triple stitch so that the stitches would show up more boldly.

Leather iPod Case | Radiant Home Studio

Leather Business Card Holder | Radiant Home Studio

Leather Business Card Holder | Radiant Home Studio

Calendula Salve

This is a wonderful and easy recipe for homemade calendula salve, which can be used to treat minor skin irritations, small cuts and burns, and rashes. You can repurpose old jars or buy some small containers to package it in. I think this would be best made in large batches and packaged in small quantities for many people. Try adding a personal touch with handmade labels.

If you don’t want to make your own, try this cute jar of salve from Amazon.

Calendula Salve | Radiant Home Studio

Handmade Notecards

A pack of blank cards, some pretty scrapbook paper, and some simple stitching can make very nice notecards. Use a stencil to cut out some shapes and stitch then right on the card! If you don’t have a sewing machine or sewing skills, try a needle and thread to dress up the card with a few hand embroidered stitches.

Here’s a good deal on some blank note cards. They come in a few different colors.

Embroidered Note Cards | Radiant Home Studio

Cloth Napkins

Cloth napkins can be made for as little as $.50 each with discount store fabric and you can make them to match anyone’s style. Or choose a really nice quality linen for a beautiful and expensive looking cloth napkins.

Decide how large you want them and cut squares that are 2 inches more than your desired size. Fold over 1/2 in. on each edge and press. Then fold over each edge one more time and press. Stitch with a 3/8 seam all the way around. Choose fabric that is mostly cotton or linen for the best absorbency. Poly/cotton blends tend to smear spills rather than absorb them.

Over time I have added enough napkins to our home stash to use these every day, eliminating the waste and cost of paper napkins. So, cloth napkins make a thoughtful and eco-friendly gift for naturally-minded friends.

Sew Handmade Cloth Napkins | Radiant Home Studio

Fabric Baby Book

I have made a few of these soft color-block baby books for friends with fabric scraps that normally would have gone to waste. I randomly stitch pieces together until I have a large enough area to cut out my square for the page. These pages are 8 in. finished, but I think a smaller book would be easier for little hands. This doesn’t require advanced sewing skills, but figuring out the page order during construction can be a little tricky. (This sounds like a good idea for an upcoming tutorial!)

If you aren’t feeling crafty enough to make one, or you’re short on time, here’s a similar baby book on Etsy already made for you!

Fabric Baby Book Colors | Radiant Home Studio

Little Felt Dolls

These little dolls are about 4 in. tall and fit perfectly inside little girls’ pockets and purses. We also made a felt cat and felt chicken to go with the doll family. (I posted a pattern and tutorial for these here!) Be creative with the details!

There are other more complicated felt doll tutorials out there, but this is meant to be quick and easy. One doll, start to finish, can be made in less than an hour. My 5-year-old was able to do the stitching around the body of the cat, so I expect this would be a great craft for a pre-teen girl to try for a friend or younger sister.

This high-quality wool felt will make beautiful little dolls that will last for years!

Fabric Doll House | Radiant Home Studio

Felt Dolls with Cat | Radiant Home Studio

What other handmade gifts are you making?

Uncategorized

Vintage Lace

My neighbor recently gave me a giant box of old sewing supplies. It took a while to sort through and find the things that were still usable. There were dozens of cards of seam binding tape, which I have never used before but may have to experiment with now. Most of the items were too damaged or brittle to be used though. My favorite discovery were these bits of vintage lace.

Vintage Lace | Radiant Home Studio

I don’t usually use much lace on my projects (the mainstream craft retailers don’t carry much of this kind of thing anymore), and many of the pieces are small (like 10-20 inches).

Vintage Lace Close-ups | Radiant Home Studio

Now…what to do with it? Maybe maybe a pretty linen clutch bag like this or this? Some type of hair accessory, like this denim and lace headband?

Do you have any ideas or projects for using bits of lace in a modern way? Please share in the comments!