Curtain Training

You’ve heard of lion-taming, right?  And you must have heard of dragon-slaying.  But have you heard of curtain training!  I’m not lying: the man in the John Lewis curtain department told me that’s what you have to do for weeks after hanging up your new curtains.  Every time you open them, fold into identical pleats then tie them gently together.  In time they should assume this shape automatically.

Curtain training!  Honestly… It’s a good job there was a pile of rugs in the John Lewis furnishings department so I didn’t have to roll on the floor laughing.

But apart from the ludicrous name, I confess that’s what I did every morning for at least a week after making these curtains for my daughter’s room. I lovingly 😯 pressed the plump folds into a concertina-like position(tying them seemed a step too far.).  These picture show what they look like after  I abandoned the regime and went back to my usual routine of a rushing thug.  What can I say:  life takes over.

In making them, I followed all the good advice you gave me after I posted pictures of my bicycle curtains:

  • I cut off the selvedges.  Also I pulled at lengths of thread, both crosswise and vertically, to establish the true grain of fabric.  Last time I sewed patterned curtains, I relied on the graphics instead and it didn’t produce a good enough hang.
  • I forked out for a walking (even feed) foot.  This really saved me time when matching up the pattern horizontally.  I still had to use my seam ripper when I made vertical mismatches.  With a pattern like this, a millimetre off the seam line and I risked the curtain opening out to reveal mutant three-eyed kitties!
  • I used bump.  Actually, I used Synthetic Interlining.  Bump is a word I like the correct term for expensive cotton interlining.  But even so, these curtains feel very luxurious and are actually a pleasure to be near!  My best curtains so far and I don’t think these photos do them justice but it’s a small bay window that I can’t stand in front of because of a high sleeper bunk in the way!


A chance to get one leftover Fat Quarter (18″ by 22″) with one Regular Quarter (9″ by 44″) of the fabric: a lovely cream cotton called ‘Cocoland Musical’.  It’s a  Kokka Japan  bought from Frumble.  (Not sure what a FQ is?  All explained here.)  It won’t get you curtains but plenty for a peg bag,  a pencil case or a  door stop.  To go into the draw, leave me a silly comment below and one winner will be drawn on Friday 30th.  Make sure you can be contacted.  

So, tell me about your curtain taming!   Er, training!  

16 thoughts on “Curtain Training

  1. So I was forced to train my bedroom curtains because (after I had banished my husband and three children so that I could make them without risk of (a) having to interrupt value curtain making time by finding something in a hidden corner, (b) further interrupting said curtain making time by rustling up snacks/lunch/ingredients to make cupcakes and (c) horror of horrors, smudgy greasy little fingerprints on my beautiful fabric) I spent hours making them look gorgeous with thermal blackout interlining and cotton lining and hand sewn hems. Then I hung them and admired them and noticed that I had left in a pin in, one that was holding all the layers together, before I pinned on the curtain tape, and sewn it in place, with no hope of removing it without unpicking things… and it glinted at me as the light hit it. So I have spent a lot of time training my curtains so that the 1/2″ piece of pin doesn’t show. Still very pleased with them though.

    • Excellent anecdote! 🙂

      I often walk around with pins in my clothes right under my chin where I can’t see them. This seems to freak people out!

  2. Odd as it sounds, this is 100% correct advice. I work with many interior designers and custom textile workrooms and they all give their clients this same information. Some even provide large clips expressly for this purpose.

    Your drapes are darling!

  3. Clothes pegs! That’s what you use – clip the clothes pegs to the folds at eye-level and hem for one day and that’s the curtains tamed – nothing like a sharp, short, severe pinch to get things the way you want….works with children too (only kidding!!)

  4. Blimey! Never heard about this! Isn’t life too short for that? 🙂 I can spend ages choosing the right fabric for curtains and sewing them, but after I hung them up, that’s all, I’m not interested in them any more.. And they can hang however they want…
    I love your fabric choice, so cute! Great fun curtains.. And thank you for introducing to Frumble, lots of cute fabric there 🙂

  5. I was always told to hang curtains for at least a week before hemming them, and put those little weights in the hems as well. Or is this just certain types of curtain? does anyone do this? Love the cat fabric , the curtains look great without much taming.

    • It certainly seems that the curtains stretch after being hung. My book suggests making them 1cm shorter than desired length and in a day or two the curtain actually grows!

  6. I have done this in the past. I didn’t do it every day though. I did it once and then left them like it for a week and hoped for no peeping toms. Since then I haven’t had the sort of curtains that need taming (or was it training?) but I did get very chuffed with myself the other week when I shortened some curtains (bought on Ebay) by doing it from the top so that I didn’t have to faff with the lovely mitred corners, hems and weights at the bottom. The cat on that fabric reminds me of Lisa Simpson’s cat, Snowball – just saying…

  7. My parents had curtains professionally fitted last week. The installer spent some time folding the pleats perfectly with the curtains open, then said they had to be left like that for 24 hours before they could be closed. Interesting that there seem to be so many theories on the right way to do this! Your cat curtains are adorable.

    • Thanks!
      Lots of theories but one theme in common: we’re a long way from staple-gunning a bed sheet over the window frame/buying something from IKEA. You know you’re a grown-up when you’ve been introduced to curtain training!

  8. He’s right. I’m professionally trained and I usually tie them back for at least a week. I wouldn’t recommend using a peg as you might get a peg shaped mark. I usually use a length of scrap fabric and place one at the top, one in the middle and one at the bottom of each curtain. You’re aiming to set the pleat. It sounds crazy but does make a major difference to the look of the curtain. I promise!

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