Cutting the Curtains

By | March 12, 2013

Yesterday, Wyatt shared about his part in finally getting some curtains up in the living room, here. He also mentioned that I was having a bit of a struggle on what to do with the actual curtains since I didn’t like the look of just one panel on each window.

living room curtains before

Just not so spectacular, huh?

Well, as several of you guys suggested, I wondered about cutting each panel in half, giving us four “mini panels” instead of buying two more and doubling our cost. (Since curtains, even middle-of-the-line ones from Target, aren’t super cheap.)

So even though I’m a sewing newb, and not so great at sewing a straight line without wiggles, (embarrassing maybe, but at least I know my limits, right?) I set out to figure out a more feasible plan.

Luckily for me, there are a couple of options for non-sewing experts, namely, iron-on hem tape.

hem tape

I realize the tape might not be quite as durable long term, but it does claim to be washable, and I used the heavy duty version for this heavy fabric, so I have high hopes that these will last just fine.

As my super-sewer mother-in-law advised, it wasn’t as easy as I originally thought it might be, considering you have to make sure to maintain the little pocket at the top for the curtain rod to slide through. Still, I managed, and I even took notes along the way so I can share it with you guys in case you ever have a similar curtain-cutting dilemma.

cutting living room curtains

First, I carefully measured each panel and divided it right down the middle, marking it in three places and connecting each with a straight edge. I knew the panels were supposed to be 54 inches across, but they didn’t hit that exactly on the mark all the way along the edge, so just be careful you’re cutting an actual straight line. See how my  line didn’t line up exactly with the “center” fold that had been in the fabric from the package?

cutting living room curtains2

Then it was time to cut! (This was the scary part…no going back now!)

cutting living room curtains3

At this point, I went ahead and measured where I wanted my hem to be, marking a line 2 inches to the side of my cut, which would give me a 1-inch hem after it was folded over the line. (See the faint pink line I was folding over to?)

cutting living room curtains5

I went with a 1-inch hem because my iron-on tape was about 3/4 of an inch, and the seams on the other side of the curtain (the factory-finished edge) were already about an inch.

After marking that line all the way down the curtain, I pressed the hem with my iron to set it where it needed to go, which made the next part with the tape a lot easier. It especially helped with the turned-up edge you see here that hadn’t lined up perfectly with the center fold since that would have been hard to work with later on.

cutting living room curtains4

Then I rolled out the tape, placed it under the fold, and worked my way down the curtain, pressing gently and moving the iron around on the fabric for several seconds to melt and set the hem tape.

cutting living room curtains6

Just make sure you don’t go all the way to the end on the side with the rod pocket. That part comes next.

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Now for the tricky part, the top ends.

You can’t just snip them open after sealing the edge all the way down or the fabric will fray, especially in the washer or dryer if you ever wash these. After some deliberation with my mom, we figured out a way to cut and tuck in the edges to give a finished edge on all the surfaces.

You need to snip the fabric at the top (where it’s folded over to make the pocket) and at the bottom of the pocket. (This photo was taken before I ironed my hem on the rest of the curtain, so if you did that part first, you’ll see your new hem to the right of the cut in this photo.)

cutting living room curtains8

This will give you two flaps to fold inside the pocket to make your own finished edge on the end of the rod pocket.

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It’s a bit difficult to get the hem tape to stay in the hem as you tuck it in so you may have to use your fingers and maneuver it back where it needs to be before ironing to avoid accidentally sticking the two sides together and thus, closing up your pocket.

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If that does happen, it’s okay, just pull it apart and find some scrap fabric to place in between there to avoid letting it get stuck down again when you re-iron.

Pretty soon, I had four panels, complete with rod pockets, for the price of two, which was pretty exciting.

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I quickly steam ironed the rest of the curtains to get out the wrinkles and creases, then it was time to hang them up!

living room curtains done

I’m way happy with how these turned out. I think the double panels look way better on the windows that just a single one did. Plus, I love the look of the skinny panels on the skinny windows.

living room curtains done 3

Since our windows are really close the outer wall on one side and the fireplace on the other, there wasn’t room to let all the fabric hang outside the curtain. If we had used full-sized panels, all that extra fabric would have really closed in the window space and blocked a lot of light.

living room curtains done2

And since one panel was enough to cover the window if needed, we still have the option to close them and block the whole window if we want. I’d say this was the best of both worlds! (And yes, my window is open to feel a nice little breeze today, I’d say I’m ready for Spring!)

Oh, and the next step for this room will probably be finding or creating something big to hang on the wall above the fireplace (maybe have to move the chalkboard…), as I’m very aware of the big hole up there now. I’m thinking something roundish with color, maybe something wooden……Ideas?

Psssttt! Here’s an updated look at our living room after a bunch of more recent projects. (Click here for more on how we’ve transformed this room, including our DIY honeycomb shelving and our hardwood flooring adventure!)

Living Room Rug 2 2016 Easter Decor Living Room 2

What do you think? Was this a good solution to the curtain problem? Do you agree it really finished the room off? Have you ever done anything similar? And thanks for the suggestions, you guys! I’ll be sure to ask the next time we have a problem like this to figure out!

14 thoughts on “Cutting the Curtains

  1. Melissa Howard

    Good job! I would’ve been scared to try that, but it looks great! For above the fireplace, maybe you could try a big clock. There are so many styles and sizes out there to complement pretty much any space. Just a thought! 🙂 Again, love the curtains.

    1. Melissa Post author

      That’s a great idea! I’ve been looking for a big clock for awhile with another spot in mind, but if I find one I like, I’ll now seriously consider putting it up there. I think I like that more than the place I was going to put it! Thanks!

  2. Gabby Bladdick

    I love them!! Such a good decision, even though it was a bit of work. They look fabulous! I saw those curtains in Target the other day but sadly our windows are too long for their longest length, otherwise they’d be in our living room!

    1. Melissa Post author

      Thanks! I love them, too. Sorry they didn’t have these in your length, though. I actually prefer longer/higher curtains too, but in our space, the vaulted ceiling doesn’t leave room for anything longer at the edge of the room, even though these go no where near the full height of the ceiling in the middle of the room.

  3. grandma Lois

    The curtains look “just right” in your living room. Good job !!! Well done !!!

    1. Melissa Post author

      Thank you! We are really pleased with how they turned out! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!


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