Fancy Curtains (Or; hide the clutter)

Posted by Bree Frost

Love your grown-up colouring books but felt it was time you could be using to sew?  Combine the two with some easily strung up curtains to hide the mess and keep that much needed mindfulness flowing where everyone will see it.

You Will Need:

  • Medium weight upholstery fabric (amount depends on space to be covered)
  • 4-8 colours of embroidery thread (But maybe only 1 or 2)
  • Medium Tear-away
  • Matching construction thread
  • Lumiere metallic fabric paints (or any old acrylic, these are just nice)
  • Curtain stretch wire and appropriate fittings (eyelet and cup hooks)
  • 6mm thick cotton rope
  • 1-3 Embroidery designs (used here are Urban Threads UT18912, UT7897 and UT7511
  • Optional: "Design Master" spray paint in some darker metallic colours, masking tape and some cheap paper to use as masking.

Hardware Needed:

  • PFAFF embroidery machine
  • Standard sewing foot (#0A)
  • Narrow edge foot (821142096)
  • Embroidery foot (6D) foot
  • Welting foot (820530096)

TL:DR (too long: didn't read)

Embroider, colour and string up like fairy lights.

How to work out what it’s going to be:

The space I was trying to neaten could be divided into 4 smaller spaces and then further split in two for the traditional “curtain” look.  Measure the space and then lengths or “Drops” you need.  Don’t worry about widths for the moment.  So, 8 drops of approximately 80cm, but because there will be a channel at the top it need only be approximately.


Each drop would have 3 embroideries each but before I got that far, I decided to paint 20cm broad stripes onto my fabric to bring in the colour and styles I was going for. 

How to moosh this together:

Cut 4 drops from the width of the fabric, as most Manchester fabrics are 140-150cm wide, and overlock/clean up the edges.  While cutting fabric. Also cut the top bands that the spring will run through.  I cut 6 pieces at 48cm by 10cm and two pieces at 35cm by 10cm.  This includes seam allowances of 1.5cm.  Overlock/ clean up around all the edges of these pieces too.


Marking out pins at 20cm intervals on the top and bottom, I then taped masking tape between the pins and then put strips of paper to fill in alternating stripes which were taped down on the first set of tape.  Taking it outside on a clear still day, spray briskly along the tape edges so that it gradients toward the middle of the stripe.  Use smooth even stripes back and forth making sure to only change direction off the edge project.  If you are careful getting the masking off, you can use the same tape and paper on all four drop lengths and not just waste it a bunch.  Leave it to air a bit so you don’t drag all the solvents inside immediately.  Stripes painted, I cut the vertical edges of each panel so there were three and half stripes each and then overlocked anything raw and fraying.


Once you’ve either done all that or decided not to bother, lets get to the embroidery.

I’ve chosen three different embroideries that are broad at the bottom and taper to the top, a bit like a skirt godet, as a sort of flounce simulator.  Another note to the embroideries is that they’re just outlined running stitch patterns, so either look for those or only stitch the outline of your favourite designs.  The whole idea of making your colouring in count is that the machine won’t just go ahead and fill it in for you. 

When hooping up the first embroidery, make it easy on yourself to hoop everything the same by picking things either on the hoop or the fabric to line up with.  After hooping up the tear away first, I would fold each stripe in half to find the middle, line that up with the centre notch on the bottom edge of the hoop and pin it down, square up the hem of the fabric with the hoop edge and then (because my fabric also had small self stripes) line up the top notch and then pin around the edges to the stabilizer making sure not to skew the lines and stitch it out crooked.  If you can do it easily and precisely every time, you can bang out the 24 embroideries fairly easily… over a couple of days maybe. 


*A note to the colours I chose* I let the shades get lighter as the design went to the top but now realise I should have kept them dark across all the embroideries.  I also alternated between darker colours on the painted panels and metallic colours on the plain panels which would have been fine but once again should have kept each version darker.  This also means you wouldn’t have to change colours as often for that many embroideries, were you to do quite a few.


Baste each embroidery down to the tear away, rather than hooping the fabric, then when done, unpick it all and tear off the tear away from around the edge of the embroidery.  Don’t tear any other parts of the design away as the tear away will stop any paint from the next step coming through your fabric and smearing around your work surface.

Prepare your paints thusly:  I used very slightly watered down Lumiere (by Jaquard) metallic fabric paints but any acrylic art paints will do this. I have an old smooth bathroom tile that I tape a piece of grease proof paper to as a palette.  This means that when I’m finished, I just take off the paper and bin it, rather than washing acrylic paint down the drain.  I used to use cling film but binning paper feels better than plastic.   Also have 3 sizes of basic artist brush handy; a broadish one about 6mm for being impatient with, a fine detail one about the size of a long grain rice and a titchy tiny detail brush because you’ll get annoyed at yourself if you, a grown adult, doesn’t colour in the lines in the fiddly bits.  Have a non-tippable cup of water that you absolutely do not leave brushes sitting in because they’ll warp, absolutely not.  I also like having paper towel handy for drying brushes, dry-brushing and just generally mopping up untippable cups etc.  Using one colour at a time so they don’t dry out before you finish, colour in anything that needs highlighting.  If you embroidered just an outline, you may even colour in similarly to the original design.  If the design seems too heavy, you may even like to paint one edge of any given space and gently feather the colour to nothing rather than painting the entire thing. 


Take your time with this bit.  It’s supposed to be restful, relaxing and in no way stressful. This bit is for doing, not getting it over and done.


After filling in everything and cleaning up, give each panel a press to set the paint in.  If there were any slip ups, it’s nice to have the same colour paint as your fabric handy and just use it as “correction fluid”.

Once everything was pressed, I hung up the curtains from skirt hangers to prevent further pressing.


First up, turn the side edge of each curtain and stitch neatly.  I only turned the overlocking under once and sewed a narrow hem as I didn’t want it too stiff.  Next press the hem of each curtain up 2cm.  Using the welting foot, enclose cotton rope in the hem at the bottom.  Catching the rope at each end and turning corners, sew the 2cm hem up so there are two lines of stitching at the hem.  That’s three edges taken care of!


For the top edge, start by pressing the short ends of the band in by 1.5cm seam allowance.  This will be left like this to allow threading of the spring wire through the channels although you can stitch this down if you like, but I just pressed it.  Because my panels had 3 and a half stripes, it made sense to put marker pins at the edge and the middle of each stripe and divide the band by the same amount to pin right sides together evenly and then box pleat the extra fabric in the panels at the stripe edges.  It always seams easier than just measuring everything and getting confused… to me.  My sewing is suspiciously organic and that’s okay.


Sew the band to the panel, making sure to pull the pins out before things explode, then press the bulk toward the band.  While you’re communing with the iron, press the top of the band down by 1.5cm and then fold in slightly more than half so the folded edge goes down a bit  further than the pleated seam (this is totally like a waistband if you’ve done one before), pin from the front to hold everything and sewing from the front, stitch in the ditch to finish everything off.



The last bit is DIY with powertools!...Different power tools! (Sewing machines are totally power tools)

Work out where the eyelet hooks for the ends of the curtains will go. I cheated on this because the shelves I was covering have had this before and there were marks left behind.  The down side is that some had been ripped out and I had to move them over.  Using a drill bit smaller than the thread of the eyelet screws, drill a little pilot hole and screw in the eyelet.  Screw your cup hook into one end of the stretch wire and hook it on to measure out the length you need.  Estimate where the hook will go at the other end, mark where the hook meets the wire and then cut it 1cm shorter so it does have to stretch taught to reach.  I separated my fixture into two lengths and put eyelets at the halfway point AND halfway between them too, so each panel had structure on either side so that nothing went all saggy.

Check nothing needs another press, thread the panels on and hook to the ends, stand back and admire.


Great! Time for a cuppa and forget all the mess that’s lurking under the new curtains.


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