Curtains and Other Window Treatments, Part 1

One thing you have to think about when you move into a new home is, how are you gonna cover the windows? If you’re lucky, the house comes with blinds or draperies. If you’re lucky enough, the new windows are roughly the same size and number as your old home, and you can just move the old treatments to the new home. If you’re me, then you wind up with a new house that has twice as many windows as the old house, almost none of which are the same size as any of the old windows….

The old house had one sky light in the kitchen (which I miss so dearly!), and twelve other windows: eleven floor-to-ceiling and one high up with privacy glass, so no curtain needed. The new house has, let’s see… twenty-six – no, twenty-seve… no! oh my, twenty-nine! – and of varying sizes. I not only used up every curtain from the old house, but has to scramble to get rods, curtains and sheers for many of the remaining windows. I say scramble because: why are curtains and rods never anywhere near the size of the windows you have? But I made do, and now we get to the mend part – shortening curtains and sheers for windows that are shorter than my old house. Not to mention making tie-backs as well.

For sheers, I really like to use the rolled hem – also called merrowed hem – on my serger. It’s a three-thread stitch, and when you use wooly nylon, you get a lovely finished edge all in one pass.

Since most of these sheers are quite a lot longer than I need, I will be cutting the excess before going to my serger. If it were only a couple of inches, then I would just cut and hem at once. But twelve inches or more is a lot to keep a straight line on the serger, so two steps give a more even hem.

It’s OK to fold it up to cut, it’d be too wide otherwise

After cutting off the excess length at my cutting mat, I fed one end of the curtain into my serger. To get a clean start to the hem, I slowly worked the leading edge up to the needles, and just as the fabric caught, I pulled the chain of thread straight back to clear the stitch fingers, then pulled it forward and across so the end would be caught in the hem.

See? Nice clean start.

If you have speed control on your serger, now’s the time to crank it all the way up, especially if you have 20-plus panels to get through!

Now we’re at the other end: how to finish? First, run your thumbnail along the entire length of the hem. This will help redistribute the stitches, and cover any little bald spots you have. There’s nothing wrong with your machine, it’s just the nature of the rolled hem, especially when you use woolly nylon. This fabric is a polyester, about the same weight as organza, so the fibers are bit stiff, and can make little “pokies” if the fabric is off grain (it’s a store-bought panel, it’s definitely off-grain.) If running your thumbnail along the hem doesn’t fix all the little pokies and bald spots, grab the hem on either side of the spot and circle them gently, that’ll work any fibers back in.

To finish the other end of the hem, I like to use Fray Check or something similar. I put a small dot right at the edge of the fabric, letting it absorb into the threads. After it dries enough in a few minutes, I clip the thread right at the edge of the fabric – you’ll never see it. You could otherwise try to turn the project over and capture the end of the thread tail as for the beginning, or you can knot it or use a needle to run the tail back under the stitching, but I find the fray check method is the simplest.

Now I have lovely sheers in all my windows, that float just above the sill.

I like to use a contrasting color for the wooly nylon, I think it adds a nice pop. And yes, I do use a while needle thread, and yes, you can see it in the hem; but I like the looks it gives, a small bit of white against the color. It’s not really noticeable, but you can always match your thread colors of course!

That’s all for part 1; join me next time for part 2 where I discuss hemming curtain panels.

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