So you found some curtain panels that you like and put them up and you are NOT happy with them. They really look amateurish, sloppy, or just not right, and you don’t know what to do to fix them. Here are some of the reasons that they don’t look/hang properly and some things that you can do to make them look more professional.
1. Problem: Multiple Panels that Hang Separately. You want curtains that you can close and open so you had to buy four or even six panels to cover the window when they are closed. Now you have to pull the centre panels across, then pull the next panel across on each side, or you have the panels pinned together with safety pins at the top! It is a pain and you often end up with gaps between the panels that require endless adjustment. It just looks bad and you know it!
Fix: Sew the panels that form each side of the window together so that each side of the window has a single panel, not two or three separated ones. To do this properly, you have to unstitch the side seam and pick back both the hem and the header about 6″ so that you can sew the two side seams together, then restitch the hem and the header over the new seam.
A less difficult but also less professional fix is to not unpick anything, just lay the two edges together, facing each other and carefully hand baste them to each other right along the edge by hand, as invisibly as possible. It is not as good a fix as above but will at least keep the two panels together and if you sew carefully, it will not show. You still have the two side hem stitching lines showing on the front side of course, but there is nothing you can do about that.
2. Problem: The Curtains Look Sloppy on the Rod. They don’t hang properly.
Fix: This depends on the kind of curtain and the diameter of the rod. Both things can come into play here. We will deal with them one at a time.
Rod Pocket Panels.
The pocket and the rod must match.
Rod pocket panels come with different size pockets. Some have narrow pockets for 1/2″ rods and some come with as much as 3″ wide pockets for wide flat rods or thick round rods. For the curtain to gather crisply, the pocket must fit snugly on the rod. If the pocket is too loose the curtains don’t gather well, they are bunchy and hang haphazardly.
Fix: If the pocket is too wide for the rod, sew a new bottom seam line across the pocket in the correct place so that the rod slides snugly into the pocket. It should not be loose at all. You should not remove the old seam line as it forms the bottom part of the hem for the header.
Fix #2: Buy a rod that is the correct size and style for your new curtains.
Back Tab Panels
Problem: Same as rod pockets. They hang haphazardly and unevenly and with this type even irregularly. In this case the back tab, which is up to 3″ deep is too big for the rod. It doesn’t hold the front of the panel snugly to the rod and the curtain sags in odd directions. I really don’t like back tab panels as they are really difficult to get to hang nicely.
Back tab panels actually do not hang well on round rods. They tend to slip around it, each tab finding the place it wants to be, which is not the same as the one beside it. They hang much better on wide, flat rods, that keep them hanging straight up and down and not drooping forward like they will do on a round rod. The problem with this is that the wide, flat rods are not decorative and not meant to show.
F1x: Each tab is tacked to the front of the panel at the top and the bottom of the tab. Put an extra tack farther up from the bottom with a sewing machine or by hand, to make the tab smaller and fit more snugly on your particular rod. They still tend to tip forward at the top, but at least they do it evenly.
Fix #2: Replace your rod with one that is thicker.
Fix #3: Ignore or remove the tabs and insert pin hooks and hang them from curtain rings. This works well.
Problem: 84″ Long Curtains are Too Short, but 96″l are Too Long.
Most ready mades come in various lengths. Those lengths are based on a standard 8′ ceiling (96″) or the height of the average window frame a long time ago (84″). The problem is that most curtain rods, to be stylish, end up being placed about 90″ from the floor these days, between the window frame and the ceiling. Another problem is that, in newer houses, windows are placed higher on the wall than they used to be with only about 6″-8″ clearance from the ceiling. 84″ doesn’t work well for most people anymore.
Fix: Take out the hem and let it all the way down. Either hem it with a tiny rolled hem, or add wide seam tape/extra wide bias tape, to the bottom, then turn the added tape/fabric up and stitch by hand preferably or with a machine, to replace the back side of the hem. Actually, a strip of any fabric that coordinates with your curtains reasonable well, will do. The original fabric is on the front side and the added fabric is on the back side this way.
Fix #2: Add a contrasting or decorative band to the bottom of your drapes. A contrasting band is a stylish look right now too! Unpick the hem and about 6″ of the side seam, and simply sew a band of fabric that is the appropriate width to the bottom. Resew the side seam then hem it. Don’t forget to have enough fabric for a 4″ deep hem. The deeper the hem, the more professional it looks and the better it hangs.
Fix#3: Buy 96″ long panels (if you can find them) and shorten them to just barely brush the floor.
Fix #4: Buy some large rings with clips and put them on your decorative rod. Attach the panels to the clips, which will lower a pinch pleat or back tab panel an inch or even two, and some rod pocket panels even more. This may just be the answer for your particular situation. Careful with those clips on delicate fabrics though – the clip could snag and put pulls in the fabric.
- NOTE: Ready made curtain panels can be a very economical way to dress your windows, but shop carefully, some of those ready made panels are very expensive and when you add it all up, you could have had custom draperies for the same price or less, if you used a low cost fabric. The cost of draperies is not in the making of them, it is in the fabric, which can be extremely expensive. It is the same for ready made curtain panels and frequently they still need to be altered to look good!
Also see: “Easy Drapery Project”, ”Turn Rod Pocket Panels into Real Pinch Pleats”, ”More About Converting Rod Pocket Panels”
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