Our quick guide to sewing curtains - AE Sewing Machines

Curtains are next up in our series of quick guides! We work with lots of businesses and home sewers who make curtains, and it’s no wonder that such a widely used item is so popular. Our team are often asked about the best processes and machines for the job, so we’ve written this quick guide to run through some of the factors you may wish to consider when looking to produce your own curtains as a business or for home use!

Measuring your curtains

If you are producing bespoke curtains or making some for your own home, it’s important to double check the measurements to avoid costly mistakes! As curtain making involves working with one large sheet of fabric, it’s harder to hide errors than when working with items such as apparel which involve several smaller pieces. Once you’ve calculated the width and height (often called the drop) it’s a good idea to measure a second time to make sure it’s correct before cutting your fabric!

Choosing curtain fabrics

For small windows you can use a lightweight material if you like, but for windows with a larger height you will usually need a heavier weight of fabric to ensure that they hang correctly. Using the best quality fabric available is the best way to get long-term value from the finished curtains. Cheap fabrics can often lose their colour in sunlight and aren’t always woven straight. Curtain fabrics shouldn’t be stretchy at all, so it’s useful to check this before you start by gently pulling a sample of the fabric.



Cotton fabrics are probably the most popular choice for curtains! Both 100% cotton and cotton/polyester blends are versatile, look good, and are easy to sew. As cotton is a lightweight fabric it usually needs to be lined to protect the fabric from sun damage and to help it hang better. Blackout lining is a good option to help shut out as much light as possible!


Linen fabric is sometimes used for curtains and can be anything from lightweight to heavyweight. It is a natural fibre which is prone to creasing and is susceptible to sunlight damage. It does have the benefit of a relaxed look and lighter varieties can be used to allow some light to enter the room whilst covering the window for privacy.

Upholstery fabric

Heavier fabrics such as wool are sometimes used in curtain making. Wool in particular appeals to many people as it is a natural and sustainable fabric. Curtains made with it have a cosy look and are great for insulation thanks to wool’s thermal properties.

Silk, faux silk, and velvet

These materials, particularly real silk, can be much more expensive to use, but give a luxurious feel. Silks are thin and lightweight, and generally require lining to give a fuller look. Velvets are heavyweight so require a curtain pole/track which can support their weight and a specialist machine for sewing them together.

Extras – Curtain lining Fabric and weights

If you’re intending to line your curtains, you’ll need to use an appropriate lining fabric. You’ll also need enough curtain tape, if you’re sewing a taped curtain, and plenty of thread! If you can’t get an exact colour match for the thread, it’s usually best to choose one that is slightly darker than the fabric. Some makers like to weigh down curtains with curtain weights, although this not a popular practice. Weights are sewn into the bottom hem to help stop the curtains blowing about if the window is left open and encourage neat folds. If you are using them, it’s important to check before purchase that the weights you select are the right size for the weight of the fabric.

Making lined curtains

* Adding a lining to curtains means they keep out light and draughts more effectively. It also means that they provide better insulation for the room. You will need the same amount of lining material as the main curtain fabric.

* Sew the curtains and linings right sides together at the sides when you’re making up the curtains, turn right sides out, and iron, so that the lining is slightly narrower than the main curtain. Sew the top as though it is a single piece of fabric.

* It’s best to hem the lining separately from the main curtain to help the curtains hang well. Unpick a little way up each side seam, using a thread unpicker, and hem separately.

* You can make linings that are separate from the main curtain, so they can be removed in the summer. In this case, you’ll need to make the entire lining separately, and sew hooks and eyes at the top so they can be attached to the bottom edge of the curtain tape, not the curtain fabric.

Sewing the curtains

* If you need to sew two pieces of fabric together to make one curtain, do this first. Make sure you pattern match any stripes or other details, sew with a 2.5 cm seam and iron the seam open. If you have 3 pieces to make up two curtains, cut one in half lengthways, and sew one to each of the whole pieces to make two curtains of equal width.

*Next sew the side hems. These should be selvedge edges so won’t need finishing, but if they aren’t, double hem to create a neat edge. It’s a good idea to make a small snip in the selvedge about every 45cms to make sure the hem doesn’t pucker. Iron the hems.

* Sew the top next. If you’re making tab top curtains, make the tabs first. To do this, you make a tube, turn it inside out and iron flat with the seam running down the centre back. Make one of these for each tab. You can then tuck the raw edges into the hem at the top of the curtain. Measure the spacing between tabs carefully so they are equally spaced.

* Fortape top curtains, or curtains with rings, make a deep double hem at the top of the curtain and attach the rings or sew on the tape afterwards. Tape usually needs to be about 8 or 10cms down from the top edge so the curtain will stick up above the rail when the curtains are hanging.

* Pull the strings in the tape to the actual width of the window and tie loosely. Don’t cut the strings, as you might want to alter the width later, for example, if you use the curtains for a different window in the future.

* It’s a good idea at this point to hang the curtains, so you can mark the bottom hem accurately. If you’re hanging heavy curtains, you’ll need someone else to help take the weight of the fabric until the curtain is hung, or you can find that the curtain is hanging from one hook or tab for a while and this puts strain on that one hook or tab and can 5rip the fabric. If you have to hang the curtains alone, let the top of the step ladders take the weight of the rest of the curtain, until you’ve got most of it up.

*With heavy curtains, wait a couple of hours to let them ‘settle’ before you measure for the bottom hem.

* Measure and turn up a double hem at the bottom and sew. If you’re using weights, place these in the hem, and hand stitch in place.

* Traditionally, the bottom hem was hand sewn so the stitching didn’t show on the front of the curtain. You may find your machine has a hem-stitch which is ideal to use for this type of hem.

Preparing to sew your curtains

Prepare all seams or hems by either basting or pinning in place. If you baste, use a contrasting colour of thread so you can easily find it later to unpick it. It can help to iron hems in place first.


You can use many different kinds of industrial sewing machine to make curtains, if you are looking for something specific then our team are here to recommend the right machines to make your life as easy as possible! You can speak to us directly to receive recommendations tailored to you and you process, but this list is a great starting point based on the machines other makers we work with currently use: 

For slippery fabrics:

A needle-feed machine like a Juki DLN – 9010A is a good choice.

For standard cottons etc.:

Machines like the Juki DDL 7000A-7 or DDL 9000C are good options.

For overlocking:

We’d usually recommend a 5-thread overlocker for the extra stitching line which ensures that it will not become unravelled. Models like the Juki MO-6716DA or MO-6816S work well for curtains.

For working with heavyweight fabrics:

A top and bottom feed walking-foot machine like the Juki DU-1181N or DU-1481-7

For working with very heavy fabrics like thick velvet:

A unison-feed machine like a Juki LU-2810 or LU-2810-7 (which comes with automatic functions such as thread trimming)

For overlocking very heavy fabrics:

We’d recommend using a top-feed 5-thread overlocker like the MO-6916R which allows greater thicknesses of material to be sewn.

If you are looking for a machine to take your hobby sewing to a professional standard, planning to start up a new business, or even upgrading existing machines, we can help! We don’t just sell machines in boxes; our team build and them up set up every machine in a way which is tailored to you and your processes. We are also on-hand to provide advice and technical support to keep things running smoothly! You can contact our team directly through the contact form on our website or by emailing info@ae-sewingmachines.co.uk



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