Moving last fall involved a lot of changes. One of the biggest is adapting comfortably to a rental house where I need to make what we already own work within the new space. Like many of you I’m working with a limited budget to make changes that make the home feel more like “ours”. One of my dilemmas is window treatments. The owners have installed 2″ blinds in all the windows. Although they’re very nice, they are quite stark and I like a softer treatment, especially in the bedroom.
In our previous home I had installed these drapery panels in the dining room. They worked perfectly with my color scheme and the big bold plaid was modern but warm. There are actually 3 windows so I have 3 panels.
Enter: new house, no dining room windows and a different main floor color palette. So I have nowhere to use the drapes, right? Wrong. Because my master bedroom uses similar colors (the spread is more blue than aqua like this dining room but you’ll see that’s okay), I’m going to use the panels in the bedroom. **DESIGNER TIP** One of the most compelling reasons for using a cohesive color scheme throughout your house is that your furnishings become interchangeable which greatly increases your decorating options. Read about establishing an overall scheme here.
Here my helper (thanks honey) is giving me an idea of what the panel will look like in place. What I don’t like is that the curtain rod will have to be barely above the window frame and it’s LOWER than the top of the armoire. Plus I have all that excellent space above the windows that’s going to waste. However, I absolutely can’t stand drapery “high-waters” where the hem doesn’t kiss the floor. It’s a dilemma……
Time to Try Iron-On Hem Tape
My solution? I decide to cut up the third panel and use it to lengthen the hems on the other 2 panels. My husband doesn’t like the idea because he thinks seeing a seam 12″ from the bottom will look odd but I think I can make it work. While a stitched seam will most certainly show, maybe an iron-on one won’t.
Whenever I talk about customizing ready-made drapes I suggest using iron-on hem tape instead of sewing seams. Personally I’ve always sewn everything so I thought it might be time to try my own advice and see if it really works.
The supplies are super simple and not expensive: a ruler (VERY important), iron-on hem tape (I used Stitch Witchery-about $3 for 13 yds), blue painter tape and an iron.
My first step was to determine the finished length I wanted and from that determine how big of a strip to add on to the existing drape. Then, because this fabric has such a large, easy repeat, I matched the pattern repeat and cut a generous strip of fabric from the extra window panel. At a minimum you want to fold over the top edge of the strip you’re adding by 1/2″ and allow 2 1/2″ at the bottom (1/2″ fold over of the raw edge and 2″ hem) so that means the strip you need is 3″ more than the finished size of the added strip.
Fold the top edge down 1/2″ and press in place. Check your measurements frequently to make sure your pressed unfinished edge is straight.
Right sides up and matching the pattern as needed, align the new strip on top of the existing panel and sandwich the hem tape between the pieces of fabric that you want to join. Press, following the package instructions. Continue the length of the seam. I was totally lazy and did not rip out the existing hem but just added the new piece right over it. (I’m all about easy but this might not work with heavier fabrics.)
When I finished ironing and went back to check the adhesion, I found a couple places where the tape didn’t stick. Just press that section a few more seconds for an easy fix. Repeat the process for the hem: fold back the raw/cut edge 1/2″ then fold up 2″ for a decent hem depth, press for a sharp crease. That will make using the hem tape easier. After I completed one panel, I used the blue painter tape to mark the hem spot on the second panel. Instead of fussing with measuring again and again to make sure the panels were the same, I just laid one on top of the other and used the tape to indicate where the hem needed to be. EASY!
Here’s the final seam result – a practically invisble seam along the added 14″ strip of fabric. Once they’re hung, I don’t think anyone will be able to tell I lengthened these panels. The best part? It only took about an hour of measuring and ironing – and my sewing machine stayed in the closet!
Finished Bedroom Drapes
I love my new softer windows. I love the added height that the longer panels give and that the drapery hardware is now above the top of the armoire.
Since we don’t need light or privacy control, the panels are strictly decorative and don’t need to close across the windows. Hardware spanning that long of a window is expensive so I used two 24″ rods (on sale!) - just enough to gently gather my rear tab top drapes at each side. I included one of the bed pillows in the photo to show the new-to-the-bedroom panels work with the color palette of blues and golds and browns. The next project: recover the bench since the 2 plaids do NOT play nice together.
This project is truly easy enough for anyone and the results are outstanding. The hardest part is accurate measuring! If the pattern of your fabric is hard to match consider using a contrasting fabric or a piece of trim at the seam line. That will emphasize the break and actually make the panels even more customized.
I hope this tutorial will encourage some of you to tackle your window treatments this spring. You don’t have to be an expert seamstress when you start with ready-made panels. If you want to keep up with all the upcoming projects Cindy and I have to share, be sure to subscribe. Register at the top right of the page and you’ll get an email every weekday filled with helpful information for your home.