How To Add Lining and Hem Your Drapes or Curtains

Finding drapes in the color, length and fabric you need is not an easy task, unless you get them custom made. But that is expensive.

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I found a set of drapes in the color and style I wanted, but the length was too long. Also, when I stood on the curb outside, they didn’t look good because the window in the bedroom next to this one had white lined drapes. Maybe you aren’t concerned with that type of thing, but it stuck out like a sore thumb to me.

Back inside the house, I decided to hem them and line them in white to match the other window, Because it’s the guest room, I thought it might be nice to line them with “block out” or “black out” fabric so that whoever is sleeping there, wouldn’t be blinded by the early morning sun.

You can use most any type of fabric for lining. JoAnn’s sells a brand called Roc Lon. It is Dry Clean only. So, if you can wash your drapes, choose a lining fabric that is washable. Cottons are the most common. Check with your local fabric store for ideas.

I found some decent block out fabric by the yard and on the roll at Joann Fabrics. I chose it partly because it was a little wider than the width of each drapery panel, which would mean I could figure out the yardage easily. I only needed to measure the length of the drape panels, add those measurements together and add enough for hems (at the top of the drapes and on the bottom).

My drapery rods were hung at a strange height by the previous owners. They were hung at 90″ above the ground and store bought drapes are 84″ and 95″ in length, so I either had to move the rods or buy longer panels and shorten them. On this window, I decided to shorten the drapes. I didn’t want to rehang rods, patch holes and paint.

Let’s start with the hem and proceed to the lining after that.

My drapes have metal grommets. Other drapes have pleats or gathers.

First, I measured from the top of the grommet hole to the hem. If your drapes have gathers, measure from the top of the casing opening where your rod fits in. If your drapes have pleats, measure from where the hook goes into the hole along the rod.

Don’t measure from the top of the drape!

Do you see why?

The drape hangs from the rod, so the top of the drape doesn’t matter in this case. Measure from where the drape hangs from the rod.

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To begin, I took out the original hem with a seam ripper.

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Then, I folded and pinned up the hem at the length I needed.

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The original hem was 3 inches and had another 1/2″ turned over to hide the raw edge.

So, I measured up 3 1/2″ from the hem edge and cut the excess off.

Be careful not to cut the drape underneath!

Since you are smarter than me, you will probably choose to unfold the hem and cut it so there’s no chance of accidentally cutting the drape, but I guess I like to live on the wild side. Ha!

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Press that folded edge. That will be your new hemline.

Remove the pins as you press, of course!

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Next, fold down 1/2″ from the cut edge and press it. This may seem a little backwards, but I like to make sure my hemline is straight. If the cut edge isn’t straight, the hemline won’t be either. Does that make sense?

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Now, just turn up your hem on the fold line and topstitch along the edge of that fold on the back of the drape, using the folded edge as your guide. You can topstitch from the front of the drape, if you can see the folded edge as you sew. I usually stitch from the front, but stitching from the backside of the drape makes it easier for you to see in the photo below.

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Ok, now you are ready to add the lining.

On a flat surface, lay out your lining fabric.

This is my “block out” lining fabric.

Cut the lining fabric at least 2 inches larger all the way around than the finished size of your drape. If you can make it larger, that’s fine. This drape was 54″ wide and my blockout fabric was 60″, so it was 3″ wider on each side of the drape, which was perfect!

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Once you cut it out, lay the top edge of the lining to the top edge of the drape like this photo below:

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It looks like its upside down, but this is what you want. You are going to be sewing at that fold just under the grommets all across the width of the drape. So, lay the right side of the lining to the wrong side of the drape and it’s upside down! Study the photo above until it makes sense to you.

Keep reading and I think you’ll see how it works.

In the photo below, can you see how there is a fold (bump) to the left of the presser foot? I am stitching barely to the right of that fold (bump). You can see the wrong side of the drape off to the right in the photo:

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Once you stitch across the width of the drape, along that fold or bump, pull the lining down to cover the entire wrong side of the drape (in the photo below) and the raw edge will be hidden under the fold. You don’t have to finish the raw edge of the block out fabric because it doesn’t ravel.

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Now, you’re going to work on the hem of the lining.

As long as your lining covers the folded hemline that you topstitched earlier and as long as the lining hem is not longer than the drape, you are good. Any length in between those areas is fine. Unless your drapes are see through. Then, I would have your lining end just under the topstitched line on the drape.

Here I folded up the lining so that it was 1″ above the bottom edge of the drape:

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Pin only the lining fabric. You don’t want to set an iron on block out fabric because it will melt. It is a man made material.

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I added a half inch to the length of my lining fabric and cut the excess off.

Now my lining is 1 1/2″ above the bottom edge of the drape:

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Next, I stitched along the folded edge of the hem of the lining fabric:

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Next, measure the “side” hems of the drapes. They run along the vertical edges of the drapes. In this case, they are about one inch:

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So, I folded under the sides so that they were 1 ” from the edge of the sides and pinned it all the way down (just like I did for the hem of the lining at the bottom):

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This time, I pinned the lining to the drape along the sides:

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Next, I stitched along the edge of the lining. If you have light colored drapes and the stitching is going to show, then stitch from the right side of the drape and use the original stitching line as your guide. Stitch right over the top of it being as exact as you can be. With my drapes, it didn’t show at all.

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This is what the inside should look like, except that the bottom edge of the lining will have already been stitched:

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Here’s the length before I started:

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Here’s the length after:

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I know there are other ways to line and hem drapes, but this one works the fastest for me.

Enjoy your project!

How to Make A Dress With A Tulle Skirt

As you readers know, altering garments is my focus, not constructing them.

But, I just got a great question from a reader and I would love your input in helping her.

I’d love your thoughts on the tulle (netting) fabric. Do you have some tips on how to expedite the process and make that skirt bottom look even without a lot of heartache? Do you use a rotary cutter or what is your secret? Thank you ahead of time! Linda

Here is what she wrote:

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My daughter will be wearing this C version (green full length dress in the photo above) and I have been asked how much it would be for me to do all 8 dresses. I’m a little concerned about the skirt material.
I’ve made tutus for dance costumes, but not for dress. I would love any hints or advice you can give. I have no idea what to charge above materials, so if you can, give me a suggested $ amount to ask for. Because it’s for a wedding I’m a little nervous. I sew well, I just haven’t worked with this style.
Thank you, your blog is fantastic for referencing “how to” do different projects.
Paulette

How to Alter a Top With an Elastic Hem

You’ve seen these blouses everywhere:

ImageThey’ve got elastic running around the bottom edge.

Many women complain that they don’t like how they look when they wear them and pass up the idea of buying them.

Altering them is an easy fix.

Just trim off the elastic close to the edge:

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I use sharp small scissors to accomplish this task:

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Next, turn the hem up and press if necessary.

I hand baste the hem as well so that the knit doesn’t slip around.

If you have a woven fabric, you should press the hem up as well.

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In addition, if you are sewing on a woven cloth, be sure and finish the edge with a serger or a zig zag stitch first.

Next, look for a thread to match:

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On this top, I will sew a double row of stitching on the hem.

This means I’ll need two spools of thread.

If I don’t have two spools of matching thread, or they are very close in color, I will wind two bobbins.

One bobbin will be used in the bobbin case and the other bobbin will be used as the second spool of thread.

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Then, get yourself a double stretch needle. They look like this:

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Put the spool of thread on the first spool pin and a bobbin on the second spool pin.

To thread your machine with two threads, treat them as one thread and thread through until you get to the needle area:

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Then, thread one thread through each needle:

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Stitch the hem, keeping the right side of the shirt facing up so you can watch to make sure you are doing a good job.

As you can see, if you flip it over, the bottom threads form sort of a zig zag stitch:

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As you can see, it doesn’t take long to convert your top and the hem looks great!:

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How To Hem Jeans Using The Original Hem

So many of you have wondered how to hem your jeans by using the original rolled hem.

I had never done this before as I hadn’t personally had any customers ask for it.

Until now.

My own daughter asked me to hem hers that way.

So, who better to try a new technique on than my own offspring?

Based on her recommendations, which corresponded to some of your instructions, I hemmed her jeans in no time.

I’ve always written posts based on alterations I have done before.

Some of them I’ve done hundreds of times.

But, this is the first post where I am a rookie.

So, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail with your technique for getting this done.

(Update January 12th: Here is a photo of my daughter’s jeans using two different techniques:

The technique for the leg on the right (Technique #1) is described below.

Ignore the thread bits I forgot to pull off the hem before I shot the photo!

I did the left leg based on instructions that Blankenmom gave us in the comment section and the link which shows us step by step how she does it.

Technique #1

The basic idea is that I am going to cut off the old hem and restitch it farther up the pant leg.

The new seam I make will next to the stitching on the original rolled hem.

Let’s take a look at this technique step by step.

First, I had my daughter try on the jeans.

I folded up the jeans and pinned the denim where she wanted the bottom edge of the hem to be:

Next, I pressed that bottom edge with an iron:

(Yes, you could turn the hem to the inside and press it the other way, but this edge isn’t going to show later, so I eliminated a step by just pressing it as is.)

This pressed edge will be our guide to show us where to stitch the new seamline for the hem.

The next step is to trim off the original hem edge.

I don’t want to cut right next to the rolled hem edge because that wouldn’t give me any seam allowance and I’d have to sew over the big hump of fabric at the hem.

I decided that one inch allowance gave me enough “insurance” and gave the hem enough extra fabric so that the hem doesn’t roll to the outside while wearing the jeans.

So, I cut the jeans like this:

Do you see the extra fabric I have to the right of the scissors?

I cut it far enough away that I can make a seam allowance.

That’s the amount that is crucial to the success of this hem. Make sure you give yourself enough denim.

As I mentioned, I gave it an inch.

This is what it should look like, completely cut away from the jeans:

Next, you’re going to match this “circle of denim” right sides together to the pant leg.

Match up the side seams.

then, pull ithe “circle” down the leg (up the leg?) like this and pin below that pressed fold:

Now, we’re going to make sure it is in the right spot.

Fold up that original rolled hem and peek under the cut edge to make sure the rolled hem edge lines up with the fold that you pressed earlier like this:

Looking at the above photo, the pressed folded edge is lined up with the rolled hem edge. You just can’t see it because the rolled hem is covering it up.

But, it’s there, under my thumbnail.

Everything from the top of my thumb down, will be what the jeans will look like when we’re finished.

Is this making sense?

Ok, holding that rolled hem edge very carefully, so that nothing slips, unfold that rolled hem edge and put a pin in that spot like this:

You’re now going to sew right next to the rolled hem edge like this:

Just make sure you don’t sew over any pins.

Take them out before that happens!

Now. fold the raw edges under to the inside of the jeans.

From the right side of the jeans, the new hem should look like this:

This is what it looks like if you peek inside the jeans:

My raw edges are not finished yet.

I want my daughter to try them on first, before I trim anything or finish the edges.

This is what they look like after I pressed them on the outside:

Ok, now you’ve seen this first technique.

Now jump over to Blankenmom’s website and see how she does it.

My daughter liked her technique better.

I do too.

It seems like the hem will stay down better and not flip up.

It also encases the raw edges, which is another plus.

Thanks again, Blankenmom!

We all learned something new.

Hem Stays

For a long time, I used a six strand cord of embroidery floss to make my hem stays.

Is that what they are called?

Hem stays?

I couldn’t think of a better term for them.

They are the cords that keep the hem of dress pants and its lining from straying too far from each other.

They look like this:

Once I realized that the embroidery floss wasn’t holding up well to everyday wear, I began to use Perle Cotton.

I buy it at quilting shops and it comes on a spool that looks like this:

As you can tell, it is a little thinner than the original cord that is put in by the manufacturer.

But, about a year ago, it dawned on me that I could use a strip of satin ribbon just as easily and it would hold up well.

I like that I don’t have to thread a needle with any cording.

That, in itself, was an encouragement to me.

I cut two pieces of ribbon (one for each pant leg) into about three inch pieces:

I don’t measure; I just eyeball it.

Then, I fold under one edge of the ribbon and machine stitch it to the seam allowance just above the hemline on the pant:

Then, I take the other end of that same strip and fold under the edge and attach it to the lining seam allowance:

It takes a little bit of manipulating to get it sewn on the seam allowance without catching other parts of the lining.

But, I patiently work on it until I get it just right.

And, it occurred to me today, that I don’t have to work so hard to get the ribbon sewn onto only the seam allowance!

I can stitch right through the lining.

Revelation!

Yes, the stitches show through the lining, but they won’t be seen as they are up the hem of the lining a few inches:

I can hear some of you out there saying, “Duh!”

I love it when I get a new idea that saves me time and makes things a little easier.

How about you?

Have you been doing this trick for years?

What do you make your hem stays out of?

Rolled Hems…..Another Method

This is a fast and easy way to make a professional looking rolled hem on your wedding gown, formal dress, blouse or on an accessory like a scarf.

In my first post on how to make a rolled hem, I used a rolled hem foot.

This method doesn’t use a rolled hem foot.

In fact, you don’t need any extra gadgets on this one.

First, fold up your hem and press it:

Stitch close to that folded edge.

I like to stitch 1/8″ away from the fold:

Then, as careful as you can, trim close to the stitched edge, on the wrong side of the dress, taking great care not to cut the dress:

 Now, turn up the edge 1/8″ more and press:

Turn to the right side and stitch close to the edge, about 1/8″ away from the edge:

Once you are finished, you can look on the back side of the hem and see that there are the two lines of stitching:

Because there are two lines of stitching, I don’t typically like to use this method on see through fabrics that are sheer.

But it works great on satins, crepes, silks, cottons, most polyesters, etc.

But on the right side of the dress, you’ll see only one row of stitching:

I like to press the dress from the wrong side to ensure that there isn’t a “shine” from the iron.

That’s all there is to it.

See, I told you it was easy!

How To Hem a Bubble Dress

Let me show you how easy it is to hem a bubble dress.

Here is a strapless gown that a customer brought in earlier this week:

Sometimes, I can just tack the dress up at random spots and stitch a bar tack in to hold up the hem.

Most of the time, that is how I hem these bubble dresses.

But this dress needed to be taken up 2-5 inches at various spots around the hem.

The bride tried this dress on, and I stuck pins in every 4-6 inches around the hemline:

Once I was ready to start the hem, I made myself a diagram to show myself how much needed to be taken up at the various points on the hem.

I make diagrams because I like the visual.

You may come up with a different system of transferring those measurements.

This is how my little diagram looked:

CF stands for Center Front. CB stands for Center Back. SS stands for Side Seams.

The four darker lines represent side center seams (princess seamlines).

The numbers near each of the lines represent how much needed to be taken up in inches.

Just remember that when you turn the dress inside out, check to make sure that you have the left and right sides of the dress correct. It may now be a mirror image depending on what system you used for keeping track of the measurements

When you look at the hem of a bubble dress, usually, the lining is attached to the dress at the bottom of the hem. The dress side has gathers and the lining side does not.

So, I opened up a seam somewhere where it wouldn’t show or be a bother to the bride.

Here, I decided to open up the center back seam:

When I pulled the dress inside out, I pulled that hemline seam as flat as possible before I began to measure what I need to take up.

Here at the center back, I needed to take up 5 inches, using my seam gauge, so I put a pin at that point:

When I put a pin in place, I poke it through the topside:

and then I poke it through the bottom so that I can see that the seamlines match up:

I’ll put a pin at each corresponding seam and at all the points in between.

You’ll find that this does not have to be done perfectly as you would for a regular dress hem.

In fact, I just begin sewing at the center back and “eyeball” it as I sew along, using the seam gauge to guide my sewing:

You’ll notice that you have much more dress fabric than lining fabric as you sew along, so you’ll need to work in gathers as you sew.

I suppose you could spend the time to stitch in a long basting stitch and pull those threads up, but it would take much longer and this method works just fine.

No one sees the gathers when the dress is hanging.

When you are finished sewing, trim the seam and turn the dress right side out.

Here are how my gathers look. (They aren’t too bad, are they?)

Once you turn the dress right side out, just machine stitch that opening closed.

And that’s all there is to it!

If you’d like to do any other alterations to a bubble dress,

here is a link to a post that I think you’ll find helpful.

The biggest fear people have in altering a bubble dress is how to get in and tackle it.

Once you know how to get into the dress, you just do the alteration the same way you do with other dresses.

Knowing that makes it much less intimidating.

Just have confidence in your ability and you’ll do great!

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