Introduction: The Easy Way to Hem a Curtain

With winter fast approaching, a cold chill sneaks it ways into any home. One easy way I have found that keeps out the chill is to hang heavier curtains on the windows. Not only does this help keep the cold air out but also helps save money by not letting the heat escape. There are many different sizes of windows and curtains, so having to hem them to fit isn’t that uncommon. I purchase my curtains from thrift shops and hem them to size, I don't like to spend forty dollars on a single curtain, I would much rather spend three dollars and an hour worth of my time. This guide shows just how I hem winter curtains before the snow falls, which might just save a lot of money on next month’s heat bill. Cause who couldn't use extra savings before the holidays?

Quick note: A sewing machine is used for this guide. It is possible to sew by hand and follow the same steps. However, it will take a lot more time.

Step 1: Needed Items

Below is a list of items that I prefer to use. There are many different tools and techniques that can be used, I recommend using the best method and tools that feel comfortable.

Sewing machine

Thread (color match to curtains)

Clothing iron (optional)

Winter curtains

Fabric scissors

Tape measure (fabric measuring tape will work too)

Seem cutters (just in case)

Fabric pins (safety pins will work too)

Chalk (optional)

Large flat surface such as a kitchen table

Step 2: Let's Get Started

Measure twice, cut once! Before any sewing can be done, make sure to hang the curtain rod and hang the curtain up to fully see how much needs to be hemmed. Write down the length of the window, then how many inches it should hang under the bottom of the window, most importantly add one inch for the seam that will be sewn. I like to pin the curtain once I have found the right length.

Step 3: Pinning the Curtain

When pinning the curtain to length, start on the sides of the curtain and then pin the middle. Remember to pull the material snug but take care not to stretch it too hard before placing a pin. Doing this could cause a slant to the finished project.

When that is complete take the curtain down; laying it flat on a kitchen table or some other large flat surface that makes it easier to work with.

Step 4: Double Check the Measurements

Once the curtain is on a flat surface, be sure to check the measurements one last time before ironing the edge down.

The window I'm covering for the winter is 55 inches in length. The curtain I choose is 84 inches in length (thrift store find!). I want the curtain to hang five inches under the bottom of the window and I added an inch for the hem, which means I'll be taking off 23 inches from the bottom of the curtain.

let's break that down...

55 window length

5 inches longer

1 inch added for seam

= 61 inches total.

84 - 61 = 23 inches that need to be cut off.

Step 5: Ironing Before the Cut

Now that the hardest part is out of the way; with the curtain on a flat surface and the measurements double checked. Add more pins to secure it from moving and heat up the clothing iron. I find using chalk to mark the exact measurement is very helpful in case the fabric is difficult to work with. Iron down the edge slowly, pressing firmly.

Quick Note: If an ironing board isn't available, make sure to place a towel underneath the curtain before any ironing is done, no need to damage the surface being worked on.

Step 6: Snip, Snip!

Once the ironing is complete, cut along the edge using the freshly pressed edge as your guide. Large fabric scissors are the best to use for this part of the guide. It's okay to not be exactly on with this cut, just try to stay within a 1/4 inch from the ironed line, it makes it easier when the sewing begins. After the cut is done, remove the pins.

Step 7: The Final Seam

Now that the first and last cut is complete, use the method to pin the final seam, except this time flip just one inch of the bottom seam over and pin every six to eight inches. Iron this seam but remember to take time and watch for shifts in the material. Keep the pins in place, no need to remove them until sewing begins.

Quick note: If sewing by hand, add more pins at this point to help to keep a straight edge while hand stitching.

Step 8: Quick Sewing Machine Set Up Guide

Step 9: Finishing It Up!

The sewing machine I'm using is pretty straightforward; put the starting point of the fabric under the shoe and flip the lever downward to hold the curtain in place. The fabric can still move, so always be aware of where the edge of the curtain is and where the sewing needle is headed.

Saftey Note: Take caution sewing at a high rate! I have come very close to putting a needle through my finger because I was in a rush. Slow down!

Once the edge of the curtain is lined up with the side of the shoe, slowly press the foot pedal and get a feel of the speed changes. While sewing the seam make sure to take out the pins as they get closer to the sewing needle. Sew all the way along the bottom and use the lever shown in the video to reverse stitch over each side of the curtain to secure the stitch. Cut the thread when done and hang up the newly hemmed curtain!

Step 10: All Done!

This process of hemming can be used on a lot of different sewing projects around the house, from clothing to bedding and beyond.

Happy sewing!