If you make your own drapery panels, you’ll save money on your window treatments and get exactly what you want. But keep in mind that it could take at least a whole day if you’re confident in what you’re doing and more if you’re a novice.
The following instructions are really just a simple overview. If you are making your first drapery panels, you’ll need more detailed steps and illustrations to guide you through the steps. There are many books and craft magazines with helpful step-by-step instructions.
Drapery panels can be made from a variety of fabrics, from sheer to heavyweight. They are usually pleated or gathered and attached to a rod with rings or hung by hooks on a traverse rod.
To make drapery panels, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Large, flat work surface
- Fabric for the panels
- Lining (optional)
- Sewing machine
- Straight pins
- Tape measure
Start out by measuring your window carefully. Purchase the chosen rod determine the proper placement. Install the rod according to the instructions that come with the rod. To make the room appear taller, hang the rod just below the ceiling or crown molding rather than at the top of the window.
Measure for the length and width of the panels. For fuller panels, you‘ll need several widths of fabric. If your panels will be stationary, you’ll need only one width of fabric per side. For panels that will draw to close, the rule of thumb is that the fabric panels should be about 2 ½ times the width of the window opening plus overlap at the center and the return on the sides. If you’re using sheer fabric, you might decide on 5 times the width of the window for a sensual look. Unless you’re a pro, ask for assistance from the fabric store staff. Include fabric for the header and double hems. Be sure to allow for matching prints or plaids.
Cut the fabric panels the determined length, adding for double hems at the bottom and a single foldover at the top. Be sure to match the pattern or plaid before you cut.
If you’re using lining, which I recommend, cut the lining panels, including hems, slightly shorter and narrower than the decorative fabric.
Once you get the fabric panels and lining panels sewn together and hemmed, lay them right sides together to sew on the drapery heading and the side seams. Then turn the panels right sides out, lay flat, and press the panels.
Once you have the panels hemmed at the bottom, faced with heading at the top, and hemmed on the sides, you can sew a channel at the top to slide it onto a rod. Or you can clip rings, evenly spaced, across the top and thread the rings onto the rod.
If you choose to make pleats in the header, you’ll have to measure carefully and draw on your 8th grade algebra. Determine the width of the panel that goes across the rod. Leave enough width for the overlap at the center of the drawn panels and the return on each end. The remainder of the fabric width will be pleated evenly across the top.
Carefully determine the amount of fabric that goes into the pleats and pin the pleats in place across the panel. Stitch the pleats from the top of the panel to the bottom of the drapery header. Split the pleats into 3 sections and fold like an accordion. Tack the tucked pleat in place by hand or machine.
Install drapery hooks into each of the pleats and hook the panels onto the draw drapery rod. Or sew rings at the top of each pleat and on both sides, then slide the rings onto the rod.
Professional drapery rooms do not press drapery pleats. Instead, once the panels are hung, gently create the pleats, drawing your hand from the pleats down to the hem of the panel. Loosely tie the pleats in place down the panel to the hem and leave the ties in place for at least 24 hours. When you remove the ties, the drapery panels should hang straight from the pleats to the floor.
Whether you draw the drapery panels closed every day or leave them on the sides of the window for decoration only, you’re sure to love the look that custom drapery panels make to your window.