Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Drapery Tutorial Update - Hems

The cabinet in the Home Office Redesign is heading off to Houck's, to be stripped of all traces of lead paint. I know, it will lose all its aged character...but I have two kids, a dog, a husband and my own health to consider. So that trumps all. After it is returned I will attempt to paint it in a way that has a bit of patina, so the finish doesn't look oddly new on such an old piece!

Now let me revisit the drapery panels which were made for this room and their tutorial. I've gotten a few emails asking about the final step, hemming the panels, a step I didn't cover. You are a bunch of sharp readers and I am busted. Here's the deal, the panels never actually got hemmed, until yesterday. And even then I only hemmed one panel, and did so only to be able to get photos for this final drapery tutorial post!

Once the panels were hung on the rods I simply pinned the hems into place. I usually don't wait this long to get around to hemming drapes, but once you move on from a project it is so hard to return... right?! However, I do recommend you pin the hems in place and wait just a few days before stitching the hem, which allows the panels to fall into place. This ensures they don't get hemmed too short or long.

I personally like drapery panels to stop just above the floor, with approximately 1/2inch clearance. When the panels end here they won't 'break' and will have a clean tailored appearance. This is just my own preference. Allowing the drapes to hit the floor or even puddle creates a more luxurious look.

This is how I finished the lower sides and hems. The sides of the panels are turned back 2 inches, with the lining stitched down this edge stopping about an inch above the point where the turned up hem will be stitched. The remaining length of lining will be stitched down after the hems are sewn in place.

The hem is shown pinned in place. For these panels the hem is 2.5 inches wide with the cut edge turned under for a clean finish. For these panels I didn't add any weights, I've actually never added weights. Just one more step which for my application has not seemed necessary!

Starting at the bottom side edge the layers are stitched together, moving up to the top of the hem, continuing along the width of the panel. The hem is stitched into place using a slip stitch.

The hem height may not end up being the same across the width of the panels. I typically find the hem gets a bit wider through the center of the drape, probably due to the edges of the panels becoming slightly shorter after getting sewn. To make the hem height look even across the width of the panel, (this may be important on lightweight or solid panels) simply increase the amount of fabric which is turned under to create the clean edge.

Additionally, if the floor is uneven the hem itself may not be straight. By hemming the drapes in place you can account for this issue and the end result will look even, with the hem ending at approximately the same distance from the floor across the width of the panel. To avoid all this exacting work...I'm starting to see the advantage of letting drapes simply puddle onto the floor!

The final step is to stitch the last bit of the lining into place.

So there you have it, drapery panel tutorial: done. Of course, there are endless ways and variations to make drapery panels...this is a just a method I've gotten used to that tends to result in the look I like.

I wish I could also say the hemming is all done, along with this tutorial. The three remaining panels are still only pinned in place. I have to say there is limited motivation, they actually look pretty good as is. In fact, tell me, does the above photo show a finished hemmed panel or a panel that is simply pinned?


  1. That cabinet is a great piece! Can't wait to see how it turns out. This is also a great tutorial on hemming. My curtain hems are a joke, but no one looks at the back hem, so as long as they look good from the front... I really should try to do it the right way some day.

  2. Wish I were as detailed and meticulous as you. Great post for us "slackers" out here in blogland. Your curtains are beautiful. You are smart to send the piece to be "de-contaminated."

  3. Looking good lady! Another post saved to my "DIY folder". Between you, Little Green Notebook, and High-Heeled Foot in the Door I might just survive decorating my whole first house with my fiance on a serious budget.

  4. Nope, I can't tell your panel is just pinned. But I'm sure it will bother you every time you see them. Knowing you have to finish them. Thanks for the post. This one is easier for me then how to attach the lining. I still don't get it. The next time you are in Naperville, Illinois you need to stop by and just show me. PLEASE!!!

  5. I think you made the right choice with the piece :)

  6. Sheesh, I wish I had your sewing skills ! You oonstantly remind me to try to be better - I thank you for that !

  7. I'd have never known they weren't hemmed! Like you, I too, like mine to fall just above the floor....not a big fan of the puddled look....although I know it has its place. I've got slightly uneven floors in my family room...and I remember the workroom having to hem everything slightly differently...then we had to make sure the right panels made it on the right windows. Who knew?

    Sorry about your chest but I think you made the right decision.

  8. Nice follow up piece - you do make these things look easy!

  9. Wow! Thank you for the help! I will definitely be referencing your blog for my next projects!

    I'm Sarah and I heard about your blog from my friend Chloe who nannies for your neighbors??? Haha! It sounds like a long string of people, but anyway, when she told me about your website and blog, I just HAD to check it out!

    I was going to OSU for fashion design, but my husband's job is moving us to Portland, and because of this break from school I have been discovering some other passions of mine. I have been designing a couple of rooms for different people and I love it!

    Anyway, looks like we have a little bit in common, so I will definitely be stopping by your blog on a daily basis.. and be catching up on all of your other posts : )

  10. Oh if only I was half as talented! I am bookmarking this post in the event I ever have the time or energy to dare try this on my own! Beautiful! Marija

  11. Love the cabinet! Your window drapes look amazing too.


  12. gawd you are amazing.
    hope i can remember all of this fantastic info + tidbits...

    thanks for the post!


  13. You make it seem so easy! As soon as I figure out how to use my sewing machine I'm going to be all over making these curtains! Including "training" them :o)

  14. You're a very neat seamstress, to be sure! How reassuring to find the other 3 panels are (so far) only pinned.
    I didn't link today to you in my musings about art because it seems like I link to you so much I was starting to feel like a stalker or something. But your chalkboard wall was uppermost in my mind when I decided to get a grip on my arty situation!

  15. Great tutorial! I agree, I like them 1/4 - 1/2 off the floor ~ nice and straigt and less chance of them getting eaten by the vacuum cleaner :)
    Paula Grace ~
    P.S. Sorry I haven't visited, I have been swamped. I literally just came home from a Board meeting (it is 10:00 PM here). I needed to chill out so I came for a visit!

  16. I love that cabinet and have a question--i thought that lead paint isn't a problem as long as no one is chipping or sanding the paint off. did you hear differently, or are you just having it stripped to be on the safe side? i'm always finding old furniture and want to make sure that i'm not exposing myself to danger.

  17. Wow...I guess it's good that I prefer drapery panels to break on the floor, because that's way more work than I ever care to do on a hem! :) Yours do look great, though. They hang so perfectly!

  18. ! You oonstantly remind me to try to be better - I thank you for that !
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  19. Janell- I just want to THANK YOU for such an awesome tutorial! My cousin discovered your incredible DIY projects, and sent me over. I am almost finished with drapes (only 2 panels) for my guest room, and did them just like yours. Like you, I like these style drapes best with either clip or hook. I am so thankful for an easier route and so proud of myself! Thanks again!

  20. Caroline, WOW, I'm always happy when someone lets me know they had success with this is certainly a long one! Glad you are like the outcome, you should be proud of yourself, drapes are not easy!!!



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