Last week, I shared a curtain hack that, while handy, is a little obscure and may not be something you ever use (you can learn how to widen curtains here). On the other hand, today’s curtain tutorial is one that I am pretty sure most of you will find useful! I want to show you how to hem curtains. And although there are lots of similar tutorials out there on the subject, I want to share my foolproof and super simple method for getting your curtains to hang at just the right length, every time, the first time!
Unless you order custom drapes or happen to be very adept at hanging curtain rods at the precise height you need for your specific curtains, you will likely find yourself in a situation, at some point, when you need to hem a pair of too-long curtains. And you may even tend to put it off and off and off because it seems too hard or you’re worried you’ll get it wrong. I’m not going to lie…of all the crafting skills, measuring is NOT my strong suit, and I’ve hemmed curtains to the wrong length more times than I care to admit. But the method I’m going to share today is not only easy, but will practically guarantee your curtains end up at the right length…the first time!
After I widened our master bedroom curtains, I still needed to deal with their length…
But in about 20 minutes (start-to-finish) and without measuring (seriously!), I had my curtains hemmed to the perfect length!
Now…I came up with this method for hemming curtains for a few reasons. First, as I said, even if I measured precisely and checked it twice, without fail I’d go to put up my newly hemmed curtains and they’d still be too long or too short. I’d then have to pull out the hems to let them down or take them up more. Further, even if I hemmed curtains a consistent length across the bottom (2″ up across the entire width of the panel, for example), it always seemed like they ended up too short on the ends and too long in the middle. Has anyone else had that problem?
Tired of never getting it right, I decided to hem my curtains the way my Mom used to hem my pants: instead of taking my pants up XX” all the way around, she’d have me put them on and would then pin them up so that they fell to the same height all the way around. Full disclaimer: I’m pretty sure this is NOT the “proper” way to hem curtains, but it really works! Ready to see how?!?!
- Too long curtains
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine
- Coordinating thread
- Iron and ironing board
- Clear ruler or yardstick (optional)
Hang Your Curtains
Before you hem your curtains, hang your curtain rod(s) to your preferred height, and go ahead and put your curtains onto the rod.
TIP! Some curtains shrink a lot, so if you anticipate washing your curtains regularly, go ahead and pre-wash them before you hem them!
Pin the Curtain Hem
Next, decide where you want the bottom of your curtains to land. I personally like my curtains to just touch the floor, so it makes measuring (or rather, not measuring) quite easy. To get your curtains to touch the floor, start on one side and put it gently toward the floor so it hangs straight down. On the curtain, mark where the floor/carpet meets the wall/baseboard with a pin.
Work your way across the entire curtain panel in 8-10″ intervals, always making sure that the curtain is pulled straight down before marking your desired location with a pin.
NOTE: I don’t take into account if the pin is in line with the previous pin, or if each pin is equidistant from the current hem. Rather, I focus on making a line of pins that meet the same place on the wall/floor when the curtain hangs straight down.
If you want your curtains to hang 1″ off the floor, you can adapt this method by using a yardstick instead of the wall/floor to place your pins. Still pull the curtain straight and taught at intervals across the panel, but hold up a yardstick (set on the floor but standing vertically) and place a pin on the curtain at the 1″ mark (or 2″ or 3″ etc). Again, by having your curtains hung and straight and relying on an external source for measurement (the yardstick), you will be much more likely to have a straight and perfect hem!
Fold and Iron the Hem
Next, take the curtains off the curtain rod and move them to a heat-safe surface such as an ironing board. Place the curtain RIGHT SIDE DOWN with the bottom of the curtain sitting on the ironing board.
NOTE: I should note here that you don’t need to un-do the existing hem (unless you really, really want to). I always keep all the extra length in tact because I often need to re-adjust our curtains in future houses. As such, I use the current hem as the finished inside edge of my new hem.
If your curtains don’t have a finished hem, be sure to fold the raw bottom edge up at least 1″ and then another 1″ before proceeding. If you have the length to spare, I like to first fold my curtains 1″ then 4″ before creating the final hem (as shown below). This gives the inside of your hem a clean edge rather than a frayed, tattered edge.
To create the new hem, you are simply going to fold the bottom of the curtain up (toward the back of the curtain panel) along that pin line you created while the curtain was still on the rod. Once you have the bottom folded up across the width of the panel, pin it in place along the top of the hem (the vertical pins shown below).
Before sewing your hem in place, iron your hem fold to give it a nice, neat crease. Use steam here as necessary to get it to lay nice and flat.
Sew the Hem In Place
With the hem “measured,” pinned and ironed, load your sewing machine with coordinating thread and sew the hem in place across the width of the panel. I like to sew about 1/8″ – 1/4″ in from the finished edge.
TIP! You can certainly use heat-n-bond tape under your hem here to make this a no-sew project. However, iron-on products are rarely removable, and I always like to have the option to take my hem out!
TIP! If you don’t anticipate changing your hem anytime soon, a standard stitch length is fine. However, I always like to lengthen my stitch length to 3 or 4. It holds just as well, and is much easier to pull out when I need to re-do the hem down the road!
Take the time to press your curtains (the full panels) one last time before hanging them back up.
Then step back and enjoy your perfectly hemmed curtains!
Home Decor Sewing School
I learned long ago that many home sewing projects are not complicated…most of them require basic measuring, ironing and sewing straight lines! And once you know basic techniques and how key items come together, the sky is the limit for decorating and customizing your home using fabric and your sewing machine! It is my hope with this series that you feel empowered to try these simple sewing projects and create a home you love too! Be sure to check out the other tutorials in this series by clicking on the picture below!
I don’t know if this is how you’re “supposed” to hem curtains, but it’s been a game changer for me! Not only am I thrilled with how quick and easy it is, but since I know the hem is going to turn out right, I’m much more motivated to actually get it done!
I hope you guys love this curtain hemming hack as much as I do! Have you ever hemmed your curtains this way? Do you have another trick I should try?Posted In 2 - DIY & Home Decor, California '16, DIY Decor, Home Decor Sewing School Series, Rental Solutions, Sewing & Crafts, Window Treatments