Monday, January 9, 2012

Lengthening curtains

I finally got around to fixing the living room curtains.

When I bought our living room curtains last year, I bought a pair off Craigslist and a pair off ebay.  One pair was 84 inches long, and the other pair was 96 inches long. Since our windows in the apartment were fairly low set, the 84 inch curtains fit just fine.  I hemmed the 96 inch pair by tucking up the excess fabric and pinning it with safety pins, and I put that pair behind the chair in the living room so it wouldn't be seen.

The windows here are much higher, and the 96 inch pair fit much better.  Except....I only have one 96 inch pair.  So I hung the curtain rods at the middle of the molding so the curtains didn't look like floodwater pants.  I hated it from the moment I did it; it looked dumb.  And then we left it like that for six months.

Last week we moved the curtain rods up.  That looked soooo much better.  Except for the pair that were 12 inches too short.

I had some teal fabric left over from the lengthening of the shower curtains in the dining room, so I pulled some of that out.  I had one piece that was 11.5 inches wide and about 98 inches long.  This was a weeeeee bit short, but its what I had, so I used it.

I ironed the blue fabric and then cut it to the width of the curtain. This is the lazy man's decorating; as you can see in the picture I didn't even take the curtains down to do this.

Then I took iron-on hemming tape and ironed that onto the back side of the curtain. There are different types of hemming tape; some kinds are like a sticky tape that you sandwich between two pieces of fabric and iron.  This kind is like a roll of tape with backing; you iron the backing onto the first fabric, peel it off, then iron the second piece of fabric onto the sticky piece that's on the first piece of fabric. I prefer the sticky tape kind but I bought a large amount of the wrong kind a while ago so I'm using what I have.

Sadly, it appears I did not take a picture of the next step--put the second piece of fabric on top of the sticky tape, then iron it down.

And voila, a lengthened curtain!

Astute readers and people good at math will notice that I did not have quite enough fabric. People who sew are thinking, were the edges left raw? Did you hem the sides and bottom??

No, that's why it's lazy man's decorating.  I left the sides and bottom raw and unhemmed, because I didn't have enough fabric.  For the second curtain, not only were the sides left raw and unhemmed, but I was also nearly a foot short of material, so I took another small scrap, trimmed it to the amount I needed, and ironed that on too.  Then I draped the curtains so that the vertical line scrap was at the back of the fold.

Note that if you planned on having a curtain with finished edges, you would want to cut the fabric at least an inch longer than the curtain on both sides and the bottom, so that you have enough fabric for hemming.

Considering that these curtains are in a corner, partly behind a sofa and chair, and aren't really seen that much, I'm fine with the unfinished edges that aren't visible unless you are inspecting them close up.  If this were my forever home, I'd probably invest in making both curtains the same length with matching fabric, and I'd probably pay someone to do it.  As it appears we will probably move when our lease is up (have I told you about our rat problem?), I am disinclined to spend much money on decorating this house.

Not that I will stop decorating, because, hi, that's what I like to do.  But I'm trying to do most of it with stuff I have on hand, or inexpensive fixes.  I'm also looking for temporary solutions, so those solutions aren't always the same as what I would do if I were looking at the long term.  Case in point--I now have two pairs of slightly mismatched curtains, since the 96 inch pair has the same material all the way to the bottom, and the 84 inch pair has blue material at the bottom.  It's easily undone, however--just rip the blue material off and they are back to their original lengths.  

Edited to add: linking up to Pancakes and French Fries William Morris Project.


  1. Great job. I don't even have curtains in my living room the fact that you got them up...well done.

  2. I think they look even better with the banding at the bottom! Perfect fix!

  3. The curtains look fabulous. I never thought I could pull off the "add a band of color at the top or bottom to make it work", but you've proven that it can be done. Love your shower curtain curtains, too. I've had my eye on that pattern for our downstairs bathroom, but I like it even better as curtains.

  4. Looks great! I should use hemming tape more often instead of waiting months (or years) before deciding to sew something!

  5. They look great! It's the little things that matter, and I'm sure striking that off your list felt gooooood.

  6. Love it. Being a renter myself, I totally understand the need to make a place feel like home even though you my be moving in 6 months!

  7. Nice job! Finding the right curtains is hard, and I am glad you made it work with the ones you have and like!

  8. I agree that they look even better with your adjustment.

  9. Looks great! We still have the sheers up that were in the house when we bought it 10 years ago. There is an ongoing difference of opinion related to curtains and therefore no curtains have gone up! Good job!

  10. Love your blue banding, and love this easy fix. I'm filing this idea away...I plan on some white linen curtains for my living room, but a pop of color/pattern at the bottom would be even better.

  11. Pretty fabric, and I think that band of blue at the bottom makes them look so custom!

  12. This is a great solution to short curtains. Your dining room is awesome too! I have never used hemming tape, I've been too intimidated, so my curtains in my dining room all have unfinished ends. They were just the right length, so I didn't worry with them either. Next time I need curtains hemmed, I will remember your example. I am also impressed with your solution on using the additional blue fabric on the bottom, making due and it looks great! Thanks for sharing your progress. I am sorry to hear about the rats, we live in the country and have had to deal with some unlovely stuff too. I hope that you can get them under control and never see them again.


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