Saturday, 6 June 2015

Lined curtains - Part 3

This whole curtain business is no walk in the park.  For starters, how difficult is it to put up a curtain pole?  Or should I say two curtain poles which need to be cut to the same length, placed at the same height and sit level.  Now that was a fun evening.

And why do I make things harder for myself?!  Not one to shy away from new techniques I decided to hand sew my headings which means NO curtain tape.  I'm opting for hand made pinch pleats instead.

This is an example of what pinch pleats look like.  This curtain uses a tripple pleat whereas I'll be using a double pleat.


I started by applying buckrum to the top of the curtain.  To do this I cut the buckrum approximately 8cm wider than the curtain and folded each end under by 4cm.  I then placed the buckrum underneath the lining and sandwiched it on top of the curtain (I had to unpick the curtain side seams a little).  I then adjusted the positioning of the buckrum to make sure the top edge was 200cm from the bottom hem (200cm is the finished length of the curtains).

After pinning the buckrum in place I then folded over the remaining curtain fabric (my 5cm allowance for the top hem) and pinned and tacked this in place (whilst keeping the top of the lining free from any pins).  I mitred the corners of the curtain and then I hemmed the lining by turning it under 1.5cm from the top of the curtain.  I finished the lining off by slip stitching it into place.

This is the top of the curtain, wrong side
Measuring for the pleats

Time for some maths again, and it's a good job I've put the curtain pole up.

I have three things to measure:
  1. width of the curtain pole
  2. the return from the pole to wall
  3. the width of the pleats.

Width of the curtain pole
I started by placing my rings on the pole where I want them to be ie with one ring touching the finial bracket at either end.  I then measured the distance from the attachment holes on each of these rings. The distance was 132.7cm.  This is the distance that my two curtains need to cover.

Return from the pole to the wall
Next I measured the return which is 10cm.  This is the space between the curtain and the wall.  A 'proper' pair of curtains will cover this distance by allowing for some fabric to travel perpendicular from the curtains to the wall.

The width of the pleats
This is dictated by the first two measurements:

  • divide the width of the curtain pole by two (=66.35cm)
  • add on the return (+10cm = 76.35cm).
This is the total width which EACH curtain needs to cover and it will be spread out across the return and the distance left between each pleat.  Ideally though, the curtain will be a little bit wider than this because we should allow for a overlap.  This is an allowance for the curtains to overlap in the middle, otherwise they would only just touch each other when closed and what we actually want is for them to close comfortably without the end ring moving away from the finial towards the bracket.

Next I measured the width of a curtain (=128.5cm wide).  I then calculated the width of the curtain subtract the total width which the curtain needs to cover (128.5cm - 76.35cm = 52.15cm).  This gives me the amount of spare fabric in the curtain with which I can make the pleats.

Typically you allow 10cm for a double pinch pleat and 15cm between each one; so I have enough spare fabric for five double pleats and that leaves an excess of 2.15cm (I will use this to form the overlap).  I will need four gaps between my five pleats (4 x 15cm = 60cm) and this leaves a total of 8.5cm after the last pleat [(66.35cm - 60cm) +2.15cm].  However, only 2.15cm of this is actual overlap and this seems a bit tight to me.  Therefore I allowed 9.8cm for each pleat (9.8cm x 5 = 49cm) so that I have 9.5cm after the last pleat (and therefore an overlap of 3.15cm).

Making the pleats

Now that the hard bit is done, it's on to making the pleats.

  • Mark the pleats and gaps using pins.
  • Start with making the pleat next to the return.  Fold the curtain fabric wrong sides together so that the pins which mark the pleat are in line with one another.  Use bulldog clips to hold the fabric level at the top and transfer one of the pins to the right side of the fabric (remove the other pin).  

  • Fold the buckrum down the length of the fold you just made.  Now tack the layers together near where you will be stitching.  Next, use a set square to draw a stitching line where the pin is.  

  • Using a walking foot, start stitching 5mm down from the top of the curtain and reverse stitch to the top.  Continue to stitch along the stitching line until you reach the end of the buckrum and finish off by reversing.  
  • Remove the tacking and you now have the formations of a pleat. 
  • Repeat the process for all of the pleats.  

View from the wrong side
Now all that's left to do is to pinch the pleats into shape and stitch them into place.  And repeat for the other three curtains.  And hang them up.  To be continued I think...

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