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!

Should You Charge A Minimum Fee For Alterations?

I get asked this question alot.

So, let’s take an example.

This morning, I found a bag on my front porch.

Inside was a pair of workout pants:

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The customer said there was a hole in the seam at the knee and would I stitch it up?

Certainly!

Here is a photo of the small hole:

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Here’s what it looked like on the inside:

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So, I switched the thread to black and put in a stretch needle and sewed it up:

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When I have a small job like this, I like to see if there’s anything else that needs stitching up or reinforcing..

I noticed that the other knee seam was coming apart too:

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So, I stitched it up as well.

That way, the customer is happy you went the extra mile for them.

Did I charge this customer?

Actually, no.

This customer is my niece!

Personally, I don’t charge my family members.

And there are others I don’t charge.

Sometimes, I just want to bless them.

I may not want to charge a person for a small item if they are a first time customer.

They always come back with more alterations the next time.

So, when do you charge a minimum fee?

The bottom line is, you have to figure this one out for yourself.

You have to do what seems right and best for you.

I ask myself…”Do I feel comfortable charging for this?”

If the answer is “yes”, then I charge.

If it is “no”, then I don’t.

Now you’re wondering what amount to charge, right?

Ask yourself these questions…

What would you want to be charged for such an alteration?”

“What is your time worth?”

“How much work was it to get the job done?”

Answering these questions, and any others that pop into your head, should give you a pretty good idea on whether or not to charge a minimum fee.

How To Alter a Top That’s Too Low Cut

Have you ever tried to alter a blouse that was lower at the neck than you were comfortable with?

To make this alteration, we are going to do two things: take up the front shoulder seam and take in the collar.

Generally, you don’t need to take up the back of the blouse, but have the customer try it on so you can see how the back fits.

If the back fits well, don’t touch it.

If it doesn’t, you could pull up the back and front at the same time.

This back of this blouse fit great, so it didn’t need to be altered.

The only seam on this collar was at the back:

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and I was glad because I didn’t want to mess with the “fluff” on the front.

The center back neck seam was stitched and then gathered to fit:

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Let me explain what we’re going to do and then we’ll get after it.

We are going to decrease the circumference of the neck at the middle back seam and when we do that, we’ll need to decrease the circumference of the top as well.

To begin, take a seam ripper and unstitch the stitches that hold the collar and the shoulder seam together:

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Take out the stitches from just past one shoulder seam, all around the back of the neck to just past the other shoulder seam like this:

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Next, you’ll want to open up the shoulder seam. This was a delicate knit and I had to be careful where I placed my seam ripper so as not to cut the knit, but just cut the stitch:

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I opened up the shoulder seam halfway:

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Once that was opened up, I was able to shorten the front of the blouse by pinning like this:

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Stitch that shoulder seam by sewing along the original back shoulder seamline and trim off the excess front fabric.

Next, you’ll need to take in the back neck seam on the collar. Can you see the excess collar material?

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Since I took one inch off of the front of the blouse on the left and the right for a total of 2″, I need to take up 2 total inches on the collar as well.

I took the seam apart and stitched up two inches of fabric and trimmed the seam.

I apologize that the photo is not real clear, but I hope you get the idea:

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Now, stitch the collar to the neck edge of the blouse:

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You can see the newly adjusted collar:

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You might want to re-serge or zigzag any uneven edges.

That’s all there is to it!

If you have a t-shirt type top, you may need to work with ribbing or a facing.

Use the same principle of taking up the shoulders and taking in the circumference of the top to the measurements you need.

This will work for tank tops too.

Unless you have a really long top, you may not be able to adjust more than a couple of inches before it affects the look of the blouse.

But this should help those tops that are just a little too low for your comfort level.

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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Last Minute Gift Ideas

I thought you might like some ideas for Christmas presents for those who you know who sew.

And I may be talking about you!

Here are a few ideas in various price ranges from lowest to highest price:

1. How about some cute and practical flower head pins?

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These are great for all kinds of sewing including quilting projects.

They are 2″ long, nice and thin, and come in a variety of colors.

They run anywhere from $2.99 to $11.99 depending on the brand and number of pins per package.

Here are some shown at JoAnn Fabrics.

2. My daughter bought me this really cool Dritz Omnigrid suction cup device.

If you use a rotary cutter and cutting mat, this is a great tool

You push the suction cup ends down on the mat and it helps you keep your ruler in place while you cut with your rotary cutter.

It’s great for all of you who quilt!

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This is what the underside looks like:

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It will keep you from cutting your hand accidentally as you cut the fabric.

It’s very easy to use and runs around $14.

Here’s a link to where you can find it at JoAnn Fabrics.

If you are on their mailing list, you can get one for 40% off.

3. How many of you have really nice scissors?

I mean REALLY nice?

I didn’t, until my husband bought me these for our anniversary.

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What a great guy, huh?

I have used the orange Fiskars my whole life and they work great.

BUT, when I got these puppies in my hand and cut some fabric,

OMG….it was paradise!

It’s like cutting butter….smooth and easy.

You just have no idea.

If you don’t get some for Christmas, use your Christmas money to get you a pair!

Did you notice how cute the design is on them?

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Ok, you noticed that they have a five inch blade, right?

I’ve never had a 5″ pair of scissors before in my life.

I either use the 8 or 9 inch scissors or the really small 2 to 3 inch blades.

But, I find that I can do everything with these scissors, whether it’s a large project or small.

I don’t know if you can get the cute handled scissors in a longer blade or not.

My husband got these at the local quilt shop and they were $44.

If you haven’t tried Gingher, or a similarly high-end scissor before, treat yourself this year.

You won’t be sorry!

How To Alter Tulle or Netting on Your Dress

This dress had two layers of satin and two outer layers of netting:

so I folded up the amount needed and pinned it in place:

as you can see, the amount that needs to be taken up is not even all the way around:

So, I couldn’t  just cut off 2 inches.

I had to find a way to mark the new line.

If your netting (or tulle) is made of polyester, you can just use the iron and press the folded edge like this:

However, if the content is acrylic or acetate or some other heat sensitive fiber, I wouldn’t iron on it.

In fact, always test the iron on a section of the netting that you’ll cut off anyway to make sure your iron is set at the right temp before going on.

If you have a heat sensitive netting, I would hand baste a long running stitch to mark the line.

Once you have marked the line, slowly and carefully, cut the edge with a sharp pair of scissors:

On this hem, I decided to keep the hem folded because I was concerned that if I opened it up, the two pieces might move apart and then it would have been difficult to get it lined up again exactly where I had it.

If you are a little uneasy about this, just practice on a scrap first.

Just as I was getting ready to cut the netting, I got an e-mail from Christy.

You remember Christy. She owns an alteration shop in North Carolina.

She gave us the great tip on using rings when making a French Bustle.

Well, she told me that she now cuts her netting with her serger!

Yeah!

Just take the thread out of the serger and use the blade to cut the tulle:

She said it may dull the blade a little, but a new blade is worth the time it saves her from having to use scissors.

Give it a try.

(Of course, you’ll want to test it on a scrap first.)

Whether you use the serger or scissors, your hem will be just as straight as the satin hem below it:

If you are creating a gown from scratch, you can always use the rolled hem foot on your serger to stitch a decorative edge to the netting if you wish.

I have done that when making bridal veils and it is very pretty.

You can experiment with the tension, stitch width and stitch length to get just the right look.

Have fun with it.

Thanks Christy!

French Seams

I want to teach you how to alter a garment that has French Seams in it.

But, first, I’d like to talk about what they are and how they are made.

The French Seam is a seam that is encased within itself so that no raw edges can be seen.

You’ve probably seen French Seams on many types of garments including lingerie, bridal and even on fancy pillow cases.

I use them most often when making a “wrap” for a bride or a girl going to prom.

French Seams are often found on fabrics that are sheer like this blouse:

The photo above is taken of the right side of a blouse and the photo below is taken on the inside of the blouse:

The only difference is that you can see some small stitches on the inside.

French Seams are also found on garments where the fabric frays easily.

They are generally sewn on seams that are straight.

It’s very difficult to make them on a curved edge like a sleeve or princess seam.

But they are perfect for side seams and shoulder seams.

Let’s take a look at how they are made.

I found a scrap of sheer fabric:

The main point I want to emphasize here, is that the consruction of a French Seam is different than that of a regular seam.

In this case, to sew the seam, you will put the two pieces of fabric wrong sides together!

Stitch that seam with a 3/8″ seam allowance.

I used a contrasting bright pink thread so that you can see it better:

Trim the seam to a scant 1/4″.

“Scant” means that the seam allowance should be a little less than 1/4″ wide after you trim it off.

You might feel more comfortable trimming with scissors.

Here, I used a rotary cutter and mat to do the job.

Next, press the seam open.

Be careful not to scorch the fabric.

Some fabrics are not to come in contact with an iron.

They might melt.

In that case, just “finger press” the item by pushing it down with your fingers and running your fingernail on the seam to help it lay flat.

Next, fold the fabric so that the seam allowance is on the inside and press close to that edge.

You want the stitches to be on the very edge, not going toward one side or the other:

Make sure you trim off any frayed edges along the seam allowance.

This is a very important step. If you don’t do it, you’ll risk having lots of wispy “whiskers” sticking out after you sew the seam.

Now, stitch using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Pull the two pieces of fabric apart and fold them so that the stitched seam is on the inside and the right sides are to the outside (just like the garment will be when you are finished with it).

Press the seam to one side or the other.

Ok, now to alter a garment that has French Seams.

Whatever amount you need to take in, is the amount you’ll need to trim off the raw edge of the fabric.

For example, let’s say you need to take in 1/2″ all the way down the side seam of a blouse.

I would open up the French Seam all the way (From armpit through the hem) and press the seam flat.

Then, trim off the 1/2″ off the raw edge of the seam.

Then, referring to the instructions above, put the seam back together wrong sides together first.

Follow the rest of the instructions above.

What if you don’t need to take in that much all the way down the seam?

Let’s say you need to take in 1/2″ under the arm and then taper it to nothing, seven inches below the underarm.

Then, just rip out about 9 inches (or whatever you need to have room to work) of the seam, press it flat and trim off the amount you need to take in.

Then put the seam back together again.

It’s the same procedure for any French Seam.

My next post will cover how to turn a French Seam into a serged one.

The post will also talk about how to alter a top that has binding around the armholes and neck.

Just be careful to do the math and check it twice before you begin!

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