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: