No Sew Curtains… No, Really


There are few things that make me want to give up instantly.  Like sewing machines.  Chris made a really good point once (note that key word “once” :)).  He pointed out that pretty much everyone’s grandmother is a master at the sewing machine so why is it that our generation, the one that grew up with technology advancing faster each year than it did over a full century, is so puzzled by these devices?  It’s seriously like trying to translate hieroglyphics.  It must make sense to someone but to me, it’s just button and knobs placed in a strange pattern, its methods an utter mystery.

So here’s my dilemma:  I’m tired of the lack of variety in store-bought, ready-made curtains.  I want to be able to choose my own fabric, width and length and make custom curtains.  Is that really asking too much?  According to Calico Corner’s quote for turning my master bedroom drapes idea into reality, yes, it was asking too much.  $700 too much.  Oy vey!  But look at this fabulous chevron fabric.  Could you say no?  Especially if I told you it was only $7.48 a yard?  Didn’t think so.

It didn’t take me long to turn to my mom to help me decipher our sphinxlike sewing machine.  Before you scoff, note that both Chris and I tried our hand at the sewing machine.  After 4 hours, we got nowhere but two broken needles and one jammed machine.  But moms can fix anything… right?

Nope, not this time.  The machine found a foe in my mom as well as she jammed thread after thread.

But I was determined to have custom drapes so we ventured to Michael’s and came back with this hot, little number.

Note the “Ultra Hold” and the “For No Sew Projects.”  Cha-ching!  Yes, this would be our ultimate savior.  I bought the ultra hold version because our cat had already ripped out the hem on our living room curtains playing Superman.  Yes, you read that right.  She slinks behind the curtain and jumps about a foot into the curtain, causing it to flutter behind her like a Superman cape.  She has a tiny head and thus a tiny brain.  That’s all I’m going to say.

The project turned out to be easy once we eliminated the sewing machine.  Here are our simple steps:

1. Determine the size of the drapes you want, considering you will need to fold each side for the hem.   For each side, we decided on a 1.5″ hem.

2. We lucked out as the width of the fabric was the perfect width for the curtain panel so I didn’t have to do as much work on the sides. Since the sides were the ends of the fabric and thus had a finished edge already, we only needed to fold them over once to be hemmed (so you wouldn’t see the pattern abruptly end… see picture above).  For the top and bottom, because we cut the fabric, we folded the edges over twice to prevent fraying.

To put it simply, we folded the sides over once at 1.5.”  We folded the top and bottom over twice 1.5″ each time so 3″ total.

3. To help hold the folds down, we ran a hot iron over each fold creating a crisp crease.

3. Heat n Bond time!   Turn the iron on to the silk setting, no steam.  For the sides (folded once), we placed the Heat n Bond on the back side of the fabric on the edge then ran an iron behind it.  For the top and bottom (folded twice), we folded the fabric once, then placed the Heat n Bond on the fold then ran an iron behind it.  We ran the iron slowly (about 1-2 seconds) giving the Heat n Bond time to melt and bond to the fabric.  After we finished ironing it and it had cooled for about a minute, we removed the white paper backing.

4. Once we removed the paper back, we folded the fabric over and ironed the other side of the fabric which bonded the Heat n Bond to the fabric.  We moved the iron slowly to give the Heat n Bond time to melt (about 4-6 seconds this time).

5. We repeated this for each of the four panels.  It took some time but, hey, we avoided a sewing machine!

6. We bought curtain rods and curtain rings with clips.  It’s perfect for using custom panels of cloth for curtains.  No holes needed for the rings.  You just clip it to the rod, much like a binder clip.

And how’s the durability you may ask?  Well, it’s lasted three months and several cat attacks so far.  I think Heat n Bond and I will be friends for a long, long time.


I’ve noticed two things about the women in my life: 1) they all blast the A/C in the car but turn the vents away from themselves, and 2) they have useless things in their house- towels you can’t use, chairs you can’t sit in, and in this case, curtains that don’t close. I had curtains in my apartment before I got married, and they were there simply as a guarantee that I could sleep past noon on Saturdays.

Just as I had feared, Julie once again suggested putting up curtains that wouldn’t close. I suppose I should rephrase and mention that, technically, it’s not that the curtains can’t close… it’s that I’m not allowed to. Anyway, after doing our typical fabric-choosing runaround (which basically means Julie shows me two dozen patterns before remembering that I really don’t care), we had a new puzzle lying before us: assembly. Curtains are made of cloth, and cloth had to be sewn, right? For some reason, Julie thinks I can sew. I learned how to re-stitch buttons and small tears in Boy Scouts, but beyond that I’m pretty useless with a needle. Seeing as we’d need to sew several feet, stitching wasn’t really an option, and Julie wanted curtains stat.

I decided to swing for the fences and attempt to use the sewing machine again. We had borrowed my parents’ sewing machine, and I nicknamed it Christine. If you’ve ever seen the movie of the same name, you’ll know what I mean- it works flawlessly every time for my dad, and has tried to kill everyone else. Anyway, a few hours down the drain and I gave up on the sewing machine. We were desperate for a solution, and remembered that our Ikea curtains came with iron-on strips for hemming (gotta love the Swedes for their refusal to properly fasten anything).

One trip to the craft store later and we were cooking… or ironing. And it was tedious-measure, fold, iron, fold again, burn fingers, measure, fold iron… repeat. Julie may have laid out instructions, but she failed to mention that it takes at least an hour per curtain to get it right. So, once again, a late Saturday morning whim turned into a weekend project.

Once everything was put together and installed, I have to admit that it looks pretty good. What was originally a confusing extension of the bedroom had turned into something that looked almost intentional. I just wish she would let me close them on Saturday mornings.

And now for the final results!





Filed under Master Bedroom

11 responses to “No Sew Curtains… No, Really

  1. Those curtains are very elegant!

  2. This really answered my drawback, thank you!

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  5. Rikki Stolle

    Where did you get that curtain rod? I am looking for something similar for my dining room? I need a U-Shape and no one sells them!

  6. alicia

    You did an amazing job. I love the bay windows and how you did the rods. I love Chevron!!

  7. Such lovely writing. You guys are so cute and funny.
    I just bought heat n bond ultrahold and planning to fix my denims with it.

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