2013 © Debbie Shore

Sewing hints and tips for curtains, blinds and window dressings.

Think about the way you want your window to look.  Is it a small window that you want to make look bigger?  Do you want drama or simplicity?  Do you need to let in light or keep it out?  A north facing room can be dark and so could benefit from brighter colours, south facing sunshine can face some fabrics.  All of these elements reflect the weight of fabric you need (heavy fabrics will be warner and blackout lining keeps light out, if you need more light then a voile gives a dressed look but is sheer so allows no privacy).

If curtains, what length?  For if blinds, in the recess of the window or on the outside?  Check the opening of the window to make sure the curtains or blinds will clear when the window is open.

If you have a window over a radiator, the heat could distort some fabrics, a blind may be the better option.

Look through interior magazines and steal ideas!

If the curtains are used daily, check with your fabric store as to whether the fabric is washable.

Weights can be used in the hems to help curtains hang well, well chain from a DIY store should do the trick!  Simply thread through the hems before sewing the end.

Measure, measure and measure again...be confident that your measurements are right...it's easier to cut a little off than add a little on!

To check squareness of fabric, a set square is useful but if you don't have one, lay the material onto a tiled floor and use the tiles as a guide, or place on the edge of the dining table that has a right angled corner.

For a dramatic dressing with little effort, simply tie voile or muslin around your pole.  You could get away with no cutting or sewing with this look.

If you have problems threading a needle, spray a little hairspray on your fingers and pull the end of the thread through, leave a couple of minutes to dry and thread will be smooth and stiff enough to thread.

Always keep a spool of clear thread in your sewing box.  If you can't colour match your fabric and thread perfectly, this is the invisle option..

To help you sew straight, sew slowly.  You will be more accurate.  As you sew, try to keep the presser foot funning down the edge of the fabric, or take a look at the needle plate on your machine, most have grids that you can guide the edge of your fabric along.

Pin across the fabric rather than along, then you can sew over them without catching your needle in them.

Snip up the seams of shaped edges, this helps stop puckering.

Cut corners.  Cut across corners before turning inside out, this makes a neater shape.

Use a large stitch for curtains, this again helps to stop puckering.

Always use a quality thread.  Consider the route of the thread inside the machine travelling through the eye openings and tension discs, a cheaper thread will be more fibrous, weaker than a quality one, and could ultimately damage your machine.  I am one for a bargain, but cheap thread is a false economy.

A seam ripper is a handy tool.  If you make a mistake you can simply un-pick but be careful not to catch the threads of your fabric.

Always use sharp scissors, using long and clean strokes to get the best finish.  Dressmaker's scissors are preferable as they have a light bend at the handle and allow you to guide through the fabric at a straight angle.

To help keep scissors sharp, occasionally cut through a few layers of kitchen foil.  This won't re-sharpen blunt scissors.  For needles, sew a length of foil or use a covered wire wool as a pin cushion.

End of line fabric is usually cheaper but bear in mind that you probably won't be able to buy any more.

If you're buying curtains, buy an extra set to make a matching blind, cushion set, table cloth etc.

Tie-backs don't have to be an effort, try a necklace, chain, belt or scarf for an individual finishing touch to your curtains.
Needles.

There are many different sewing machine needles on the market, numbered from 60 - 120.  The smaller the number the finer the needle, suitable for voiles, and the large the number the thicker the needle, for fabrics like denims.

Ballpoint needles have a rounded point to allow penetration between fibres of stretch fabrics without cutting through them.

Leather needles have a slightly angled tip to cut through the material.

Universal needles are the ones to use if there is any confusion, they work with most fabrics.

Self threading or handicap needles have a very slight gap in the side of the eye so that the thread can be slipped through the side instead of threaded through the eye.
Presser Feet.

Most used is the straight stitch foot, your machine should come with one of these.

A walking foot is good for when you're sewing two different weights of fabric together or multiple layers as it feeds the fabric through from the top at the same rate as the teeth feed from underneath.

A zipper foot brings the needle right up to the edge of piping and trims or zippers to give a neat edge.

Invisible hemming foot or blind stitch foot creates an invisible stitch and has a guide for the fabric to help keep straight lines.

Open or clear toe feet provide a better view of the stitch which is particularly helpful for embroidery or applique work.