Quilting Cotton Curtains

So, you think you can sew and are wondering if it’s a good idea to try making curtains out of quilting cotton?  Well if you ask me, based on my hair-raising experience of doing just that, I’d give you my typical sit-on-the-fence rounded answer: yes and no.

Yes, it’s a good idea if you’re

a) young, or

b) strapped for cash, or

c) unsure of how long you’re going to be staying in your current place.  Made-to-measure curtain don’t travel well, though you can take them with you and re-use the fabric for other projects.

d) Or if despite your advancing years you find that your taste in furnishings definitely isn’t turning towards the traditional as everyone said that it would.  A year ago, when I started looking for curtain fabric, I told a friend I had trouble finding something for my bedroom that I liked  She directed me towards Laura Ashley saying, “It’s not as bad as you think, you’ll be surprised!”  So I listened, popped in and ran out moments later, screaming and waving hands in the air. 

It wasn’t difficult to find lovely, expensive fabric.  Furnishings shops had books and books of samples and very boring it was too flipping through them 🙄  When I picked a few favourites, like the Designers Guild sample on the right, they varied in price range from £36 a metre to over £100 per metre.  We needed 13….   

So, we turned to quilting cotton, searching online from the comfort of having bums on the sofa and the telly on.  Bliss!  We wanted a fabric that  matched the love-at-first-sight bedroom lampshade we’ve had for years (from Lush).  It also had to be cheerful and not block out the morning sunshine on our south-east facing window.  Finally, we both had to like it…. (We didn’t dare ask the kids for their opinion!)  Here to There in Blue from Frumble Fabrics matched the criteria and was within budget.

While making the curtains, I did have moments of wonder about whether or not I was actually going mad….  It was hard: making the panels with a vertical as well as a horizontal repeat, and all without a walking foot (never again).  I had to trim off lots: these aren’t quite fat quarters but seem too nice throw away.  Any ideas what to do with them?  They’re on the grain or crossgrain but too small for bias.  

I bought cheap curtain lining from Rolls and Rems and added little parcels of curtain weights wrapped in fabric, which look like ravioli, to the inside of hems at the corners and where the panels join.  And I bought “curtain tidies”: it’s not a good idea to cut off the surplus cord in case you have to ungather the curtain for adjustments (please, NO! Not again..). 

Total cost: well under £200.

But do the curtains “hang beautifully”? 

Er, they’re alright.  Not great.  The right side is better.  That could be due either to my relative inexperience in making curtains or maybe the fault is in the grain of the cheaper fabric, which admittedly appeared ok. 

No, it’s me. 

Or, is the reason why furnishing fabric is so expensive because it’s perfect and other fabrics often aren’t?  Let me know if you have experience of this.  I’ll be making more curtains soon.

In the meantime, I’ll be using this gem of a tip a friend gave me for sorting out those sides when they’re looking a bit …. er, wavy:

15 thoughts on “Quilting Cotton Curtains

  1. The curtains look nice! To answer your question – whenever I’ve made curtains, I have used real home dec fabric, and also lined and interlined them. (Some refer to interlining as ‘bump’.) The interlining gives the drape nice soft folds, and also helps to keep heat/cold out. The lining and interlining both help to protect your expensive face fabric. The combined weight of the fabrics along with your curtain weights help the curtains to lay nicely. I made pleated, traversing drapes for my daughters nursery when I was 8 months pregnant with her. She is 17 years old, and the curtains are still being used by a friend whose daughter is younger and still in to pink. 🙂 All that to say, I believe that the initial investment is worth it, just make sure you really love the fabric!

    • Hi Andrea,
      Thanks for the very helpful comment.

      How lovely that your work lives on 17 years later! I think curtains can make a girl’s bedroom.

      I have a question: would you ‘bump’ fabrics even if the windows are thickly-glazed; i.e. is it worth it for the appearance alone?


  2. I’ve used quilting cotton for dress making , but you should wash it first and cut off the selvedge- I’m sure you did! Curtains look great.
    Ikea is my first port of call for funky design, but very good quality , and cheap home dec fabric. (Plus they sell great calico for toilles.) I wanted a new roman blind for my daughters bedroom, quote from curtain shop: £500; 3 metres of lovely blue fabric with fun bird design from Ikea: £18. No brainer – had to make it myself. Using lining and battens from old blind and You Tube video on how to make Roman blind plus a day of frustration and loads of hanging it up and readjusting, I was really pleased with the result.

    • Ah….
      No, I didn’t cut of the selvedges 😯 In fact, I went very close to the selvedge on the bit that I later had to cut off and redo because I wasn’t pleased with the hang (right side of left curtain) . Thanks so much!

      I’ll know better when I make my daughter’s curtain. A fabric which will feature cats in wellies, with umbrellas……

      I’m glad you give IKEA home dec fabric a thumbs-up. I like a lot of their designs though none of them matched the lamp and tiles this time. Great designs for teens too. http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/categories/departments/Textiles/10655/

      And saving nearly £500 in return for a day’s work (even if it was hard) really was non-brainer. Worth taking up sewing for!

      • I learned at Morley that you have to cut off the selvedge as otherwise your seams will tend to pull or pucker. The finer the fabric the worse this effect will be. I have now started noticing this effect and surprised I never knew this before!

  3. Pretty curtains. I have a lampshade from lush as well! Have you seen their fabric, it’s fabulous but horribly expensive .

    Curtains are a pain to make unless you have a huge table (my friend makes them professionally and uses an old table tennis table). If you are using cheap fabric interlining really helps make them appear more luxurious.

    I’d have been with you running out of Laura Ashley in horror! I usually get curtain fabric from Ikea these days.

    • Thanks Jane. Yes, you’ve made some lovely IKEA curtains!

      I wish I’d been able to make use of the floorboard for laying out the fabric and cutting straight lines but there just wasn’t room.

      As for Lush fabric: it would have been perfect but a lifetime of saving up, methinks!

  4. The curtains look great, I’m sure you are being too critical of yourself. I agree though, making curtains should be so easy, but it’s not for some reason and is a hideous business. A friend once asked me if I could make curtains for her new house…’er, sorry. I hear Curtain Wunderland has some good prices for readymade!’

  5. Thanks Megan, I admit I wake up and think how lovely they look and don’t at all look for faults but a “hideous business” pretty much sums it! And I like how friends think that if you do it for them, they’d save money…. Well, maybe they would but someone would be putting in serious slave labour 😯

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