Sewing wide drapery panels

Louise54September 25, 2005

I have volunteered to make drapery panels for my daughter in law's bay window. I will be making pinch-pleated panels (2) that will meet in the center, and that can be drawn back from the center to each end with the use of a hanging little pole (like you have on a mini-blind). The size of the window requires that I use 4 lengths of 54"W fabric for each panel. Although I've made single lined drapery panels before, I've never tackled one of this size. Should I sew the face fabric panels together first, (as well as the lining panels) and then attempt to join the lining to the face in 1 piece? I cannot imagine how I will be able to get the lining to fit properly on such a wide width. Any suggestions? Thanks so much in advance. Want to be prepared before I cut into my 18 yards of $$ fabric....

Thanks ahead for any advice.

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Wow, what a nice MIL you are! I have never made drapes that size before, but if you look at it on a smaller scale, it might help you visualize what you have to do. I am hoping that you have already sewn lined draperies before attempting this monster of a size.

Yes, I would sew all the panels first and the linings as well. If you have an area where you can lay out your drapery panels with the right sides together (making the lining a bit smaller such as two inches per side and maybe one on the top) I would also use safety pins starting from the middle to keep it as flat and smooth as possible as long as the fabric will not show the pin holes, then sew the edges and then turn them inside out and work on the hem and pleats. Does that make sense to you? Or did you plan to do it differently?

I quilt a lot and the secret to sandwiching a large kingsized type of quilt it having it layed out smoothly before attempting to baste it together. When I quilt a kingsize quilt on my machine, I make sure I have lots of table space around me to hold the bulk of the fabric and it makes a huge difference.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 6:13AM
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Thank you for your suggestion. Yes I have sewn lined drapes before, but never larger than 1 width of fabric per panel. I know how awful drapes can look if the lining isn't sewn in properly, and that's why I'm concerned about tackling these. Thank you for validating how I thought I needed to to this! By the way, have you ever seen inverted pleat drapes? They look pretty neat, but can't seem to find instructions/patterns on how that's done. Have you ever seen instructions for that method of pleating?
Thanks again-

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 8:47AM
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I have never tried the inverted pleat on draperies, but I have put one or two in a skirt years ago.

I did a google search and came up with how they are made for the corners of a bed covering and I am sure they can be adapted to your draperies.

Here is a link that might be useful: Inverted pleats

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 2:36PM
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maybe you can practice on inexpensive fabric before cutting the expensive fabric.
I made drapes with my mom when I was young and we bothed
sewed, but I have not sewn in probably 15 years.
I found some nice fabric that matches perfectly my sofa and chair so I want to make some curtains out of it.
But before I went ahead witht he good fabric, I got a few yards of inexpensive and cut one panel and made it to make sure I could do.
It came out nice so I then cut and made my drapes and the came out really nice.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 7:53PM
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Hi Louise,
Since you are sewing 4 panels togther, remember to cut off your savage and clip your seams to prevent puckering. It will also be easier to sew if you have someone who can direct the bulk of the fabric as you sew. The safety pin idea s a good one, since it will prevent getting stuck with pins in so much fabric. Pin just to the left of the seam line so you don't have to stop to take the pins out as you sew. You are mostly likely aware that the easiest way is to sew 2 panels together then sew the 2 new big pieces together. Good luck, you are a wonderful MIL!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 9:32PM
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Many thanks to everyone who has made suggestions. I plan to take the plunge this weekend - enough worrying about it - time to get started! Bug Key - makes sense about cutting off the selvage and clipping the seams. Would you sew the lining to the face fabric in any special way or in any particular order (i.e. side seams first, then hem, etc.) Thanks ahead for any add'l suggestions.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 10:16AM
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One suggestion I'd like to add is to maybe keep an extra chair right beside you to help with the weight other wise It will pull.when I need that large of a space i use the floor- I had tile so it isn't a prob. but that is quite a bit-lol

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 7:59PM
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Louise - it's been years since I've made lined draperies, but in answer to your question Would you sew the lining to the face fabric in any special way or in any particular order (i.e. side seams first, then hem, etc.), I'd definitely HEM both the main fabric and the lining before sewing them together. That is, of course, if the material isn't the type that is going to stretch after you hang the draperies and then you need to adjust the hem for the stretch.

I always had the lining separate from the main fabric at the hem... two separate layers with the lining a bit shorter than main fabric.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 11:09AM
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Four widths of 54" fabric - you are a brave woman, indeed, Louise.

I second separating the lining from the fabric at the hem. I didn't do it for the first set of light-blocking curtains I ever attempted, and the mistake still stares at me. As for joining lining and fabric together, I would finish the hems, and join the layers first on the top only and maybe a couple of feet down the sides. Then, I'd hang the draperies in their place and let them stay there for a few days. With two pieces that large, letting the gravity take out any potential sagging problems would be good. After two weeks, pin the lining and the fabric together while the layers are hanging. Then take the curtains down and sew them together.

Let us know how things turn out, and good luck!


    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 2:27PM
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I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all of your help. Should I not be lining these drapes? I thought I should because they are in the front window, in full sun. Now I'm beginning to wonder if this task is TOO BIG for me.....

Getting a little nervous in NH.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 4:53PM
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Oh, please don't even consider NOT lining them! After all the expense of the main fabric, you need to finish them properly. The lining will protect the main fabric from the sun, it will add "body" to the draperies and make them hang properly, and it will add a 'finished' look to the final product. Please line! Just be sure to measure, mark, measure, and re-measure before you do any cutting. And plan everything out on paper, including lining, hem depths, allowances, etc. You can do it! It just takes patience (and a wide table and helper - LOL!).

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 6:12PM
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Did you get them started, Louise? How'd it go? Did you get a big table to support all that fabric? Did you enlist a good helper to maneuver the material?

Or did all that hurricane-leftovers rainstorm 'dampen' your sewing plans...

    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 5:16PM
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I am new to this forum but would offer the following hints. I have made custom drapes for several years for an interior designer.

1. Sew all panels of lining together and all panels of fabric together. Press seams flat. We do not clip our seams? Should not be any puckering if tension is correct on machine.

2. Press up 8 inches along the bottom of fabric then pres in half so that you have a 4 inch double hem. Blind hem. You will want to put a 2 inch double hem in the lining. Don't forget weights in the hem.

3. Measure from your finished bottom hem to get finished length and press at top. Add buckram under double hem.

3. Press 1 1/2 inch double hem in each side (after trimming off edges).

4. Lay fabric flat (right side down) and place lining on top of fabric (right side up). Line up seams if possible and pin in place. The bottom of the lining should be about 2 inches shorter than the fabric. Tuck the lining underneath the top header and pin in place. Tuck the lining under the side seams and press so that you have a trim line if lining is too big. Trim off excess lining on the sides and hand sew in place along the full length of drape. Don't forget to miter your corners.

5. Mark pleats and stitch.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 1:49PM
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Have not yet started. Need a free weekend so that I can accomplish a lot. I work full-time so weekends are usually hectic. I hate to start a project like this until I have several hours of time to devote to it. I did, in the meantime however, sew up some valances for their bedroom. Quick, simple project that they were really happy with, which always makes me happy. My DIL is eager to help as she would like to learn to sew. She can see how useful it can be. I tried for years to teach/encourage my own daughter to learn/try, but she always had an excuse not to. Now she regrets it!
Thanks again to all of you for your help. I will post again when I've started.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 9:53AM
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I have a major curtain project to do, so I was most interested to read all this - will bear in mind, when I start.

However, one thought - while lined curtains will always look more professional and will be worth the effort - I have seen lining done as a separate curtain. There are hooks that go into the curtain with a little eyelet underneath, onto which the lining hooks. This means that the curtains and lining can be laundered or replaced separately.

This would only work if the design/face fabric was heavy enough on it's own not to need the body provided by a stitched lining.

If you have a standard cotton weight decorator fabric - be brave and go for it!

Best of luck,

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 2:23PM
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Hmmmm. Anybody have any thoughts on this last idea? Over the weekend I cut the face fabric panels, cut off the selvages and stitched one section (4 panels) together. The fabric is a small check, so there was lots of matching to do, but the (very large!) panel looks good so far - no puckering at all. Unfortunately I had to go back to work this morning, so may not get a chance to work on again until next weekend, but I'm feeling a lot more confident now than before I started - thanks to everyone's tips and encouragement!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 7:42AM
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Just wanted to let you all know that I finally have finished (almost!) one of the two panels for this window. Using all of the advice given, I am very pleased at how it turned out. I brought it over today to try it on for size, and it looks great. My DIL is extremely happy. I only have to do the final hem (had basted it just in case I was off on the length, and sew the lining in at the ends (I am taking the advice of Kasiaw and will let them hang a little while before sewing the side hems. I have 1 last question before I finish the bottom hem. I am also posting the question under another topic in case it gets missed here. I bought weighted tape (it's about 1/8" in diameter) instead of the normal little square weights, on the advice of the clerk at the fabric store. I'm not sure how that works. Do I just lay it in the hem fold and sew the hem shut? Or do I need to tack it in another location. I tried letting it rest on the bottom, but it takes away the nice crisp pressed hem edge and makes it a bit rounded. Any advice on this final step?
Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 6:21PM
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I don't know why she told you to buy the sausage weights. They're usually just used in sheers. But since you have it, it just gets dropped in the hem and tacked at each end so it doesn't shift.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 9:19PM
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Not sure why - but it didn't cost that much and I can save for another project. Maybe I'm better off just going to get regular weights. I should have trusted my own judgment. Would I figure one at each end, and then maybe one at each seam? (I have 4 fabric lengths per panel). Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 8:27AM
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Yes, one at each end and one at each seam. You can also use the sausage weight in valances, to help it hang better.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 8:41AM
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Louise - I'm going to do a similar project for my son and his fiance, but only 2 panels per side. Where did you find the wand for opening the panels? I found out they are called batons, but can't locate them anywhere.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 8:02AM
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clt3 - I also looked everywhere and couldn't find any. I was told by a woman at JC Penney that she was not aware where they could be purchased. She said that she always saves the ones that come with mini-blinds for this purpose. I didn't have any, so was going to buy a wooden dowel and find a hook eye thing at Home Depot. But then I found a "curtain tender" at Country Curtains that I have since ordered but have not yet received. It's a long stick thing that doesn't fasten to the drapes in any way, but is used to draw open/shut drapes. Hoping it will work. I'll let you know! The woman on the other end of the phone said they work great. If not, I'll probably go back to the dowel option, which could be spray painted to match the drapes.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 9:24AM
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Thanks Louise. I can go look at Country Curtains. They do seem a little expensive for what they are. I'll go look.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 4:27PM
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Here's one place I found:

Here is a link that might be useful: Batons

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 5:17PM
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You might try using the wands normally used for mini blinds. Here's a link to a company that sells just the parts for mini blinds and the wands come in several different lengths.

Also, thanks for all the helpful advice on sewing large panels. I am about to tackle a similar project and I really appreciate all the "free" advice :)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 12:44PM
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I am making living room drapes (120" wide) and have never done this before. I am ready to do the top of the drape and I have 90 inches left for the length. It appears I will need 83 and 1/8 inches for the correct length. Should I put 2 3/8 on the first fold and 4 on the second fold? I have never done this before. I welcome any suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 9:42PM
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I am sewing 4 42" panels together 2 times... and My question is when you press the seams open you just leave the edges raw? These are unlined curtains, I have made many before but not unlined and not for a "client" How ever you want to put it. Its my first professional job.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 2:10PM
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I have never tried these pleats on draperies. I got grommet curtains installed from tbs gallery, they look good too.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 4:12AM
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