How To Sew Curtains | Beautiful Bordered Curtains

Much-loved curtains don’t need to be ditched if you move house or transfer them to a bigger window – simply enlarge them by adding borders. These zingy-looking curtains have contrasting borders of plain fabric on the outer and bottom edges. They also use of one of the most popular header tapes – pencil pleat tape.

From The Sewing Bible: Curtains by Wendy Gardiner

You will need:

Pair of curtains to extendPicture 177

Contrasting fabric for borders

Pencil pleat header tape (the total width of the curtains plus 2½in (6.5cm))

2–3 reels of matching thread

Pair of ready-made buckram tieback shapes

Fusible interfacing

Piping cord

4 curtain rings





1 Calculate the finished length (total drop) required. To do this, decide on how far you want the curtains to fall. That might be to the windowsill, just beyond (apron length), full length (½in (1.25cm) from the floor), to puddle on the floor or any other length to suit your needs. Measure from where you want the top of the curtains to sit in relation to the pole, rail or track down to the point where you want the hem of the curtain to rest. If the pole, rail or track has not yet been erected, allow 4–8in (10–20cm) above the window frame.

2 Calculate the new width of curtaining required by measuring the length of the pole, rail or track. If this has not yet been erected, allow at least 6–8in (15–20cm) on each side of the window frame. Then multiply this measurement by 2½ for fullness. Divide that measurement in half to give the width of fabric needed in each new curtain.

3 Remove the header tape and undo the hems on the original curtains. Press the fabric and trim off any obvious creases that will not smooth out, making sure the panels are the same size. Measure the length and width of one curtain.

4 To calculate the dimensions of one bottom border, which will be self-faced:

•  subtract the length of the existing curtains from the new drop required

•  double the resulting measurement and add 3/4in (2cm) for two seam allowances to give the length of the fabric.

The width of this border is the same as the width of one existing curtain.

5 To calculate the width of one vertical border, which will be  self-faced:

•  subtract the width of one original curtain from the width of fabric needed for one new curtain

•  double the resulting measurement and add 3/4in (2cm) for two seam allowances.

The length of the border is the same as the length of the existing curtain, plus the depth of the new bottom border, plus 5/8in (1.5cm) for the bottom seam.

Attaching the bottom borders

1 Cut out two new bottom borders and two new vertical borders. Fold each border in half lengthwise with the wrong sides facing and press.

2 Unfold one bottom border and place it right sides together with the lower edge of the existing curtain. Pin and sew together, taking a 3/8in (1cm) seam allowance and using a straight seam. Press the seam flat, then press the seam allowances towards the border.


3 Turn the remaining long edge of the border over by 3/8in (1cm) and press. Refold the border to the wrong side of the curtain, enclosing the seam allowances. Slip stitch the border in place.



4 On the leading edge, fold 1in (2.5cm) and 1in (2.5in) again to make a double side hem down the length of the curtain and border. Pin it in place. At the bottom corner fold up the side hem diagonally to make a mock mitre. Hand stitch the mitre and machine stitch the rest of the hem in place. Press.




5 Repeat this method to attach another border along the bottom edge of the other curtain.


Attaching the new outer-edge borders

1 Sew the new border and the curtain together in the same way as for the bottom borders. Position the new border so that the raw edges at the top of the curtain match and the bottom of the border extends beyond the bottom of the curtain.


2 Press the seam flat, then press the seam allowances towards the border.

3 Fold up a 5/8in (1.5cm) hem on the border and press. Turn the remaining long edge of the border over by 3/8in (1cm) and press. Refold the border, enclosing the seam allowances. Either slip stitch the border in place or ‘stitch in the ditch’.  Finish the hem edge invisibly with slip stitch. Press.

4 Attach a new border to the other curtain in the same way.

Attaching the header tape

1 Lay the curtain on a flat surface and smooth out. Measure the required drop from the bottom edge towards the upper edge and mark with a row of pins or chalk. Fold the excess fabric at the top to the wrong side.

2 Pin the top edge of the header tape in place a scant ¼in (6mm) down from the top of the curtain. Pin the other long edge in the same way, without trimming the ends. On the leading edge machine stitch through the tape only to secure the cords at that end. Trim the tape to about 1¼in (3cm) beyond the width of the curtain and then tuck the raw ends under so that the tape comes to about ¼in (6mm) from the edge of the fabric. Pin the ends, placing the pins on the header tape two finger widths from the end so you can machine stitch without moving or hitting the pins.

3 Using the machine, straight stitch the tape in place close to the edges. Start at the bottom left corner, continuing up the side, along the top edge and down the opposite side to the bottom right, keeping the cords out of the way. Secure and cut the threads. Starting again at the bottom left, machine along the bottom of the tape.


Figure 6: Machine along the top and bottom of the header tape in the same direction to stop it twisting.

4 Pull up the cords in the header tape by the required amount and tie them neatly.

About The Book:


This is a must-have collection of essential techniques and projects for sewers of all abilities looking to create the perfect curtains to embellish their homes. Whether you want to learn new techniques or brush up on your sewing skills, the comprehensive step-by-step technique advice and invaluable tips and tricks will help you along the way. Twelve beautiful projects from a variety of designers allow you to put the techniques into practice and create the perfect headings, valances, linings and pelmets for your curtains. Stylish photography and easy-to-follow layouts complete the package, making this an essential buy for anyone who sews, or wants to get started.

About the Author

Wendy Gardiner has been in the sewing industry for over 26 years and during that time has been involved in publishing sewing magazines, books and DVDs. For the last 10 years she has been the editor of Sewing World magazine. She is also a co-founder of the sewing website ISEW ( Wendy is based in Waterlooville, Hampshire.

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