Tuesday, October 8, 2013

nursery details: ruffle curtains (plus a tutorial!)

I hope you're not sick of all all the posts detailing my daughter's nursery... because I have another one for you today! This is a project that took me seven whole months to complete. Yes, I literally formed the idea for these curtains about a month before she was born... and I bought all the materials at that time. Then I didn't get my butt in gear and actually start working on them until she was about six months old. Pathetic, I know. In my defense, however, she didn't actually start sleeping in her nursery at night until she was four months old and we didn't really start spending much time up there until she was close to six months... That's when I realized how pathetic and empty it looked without curtains.

ruffle curtain tutorial

ruffle curtain tutorial

Aren't they lovely??

I am very happy with how they turned out. At first I wasn't so sure, but that was only because I had seen the windows bare for so long that it looked weird when they were finally covered in curtains. I'm over it now and I love them!

ruffle curtain tutorial

And that's why I've decided to create a tutorial so that anyone who likes these can make some for themselves. If you're much of a sewer, you probably looked at the photos and know exactly how they were made already... if that's the case, good for you! This tutorial is geared toward the novice or occasional sewer who is less familiar with common sewing techniques (ruffling, for example!).

These curtains would be cute in any little girl's room... not just a baby's. They would even look great in an adult room, depending on the color scheme you choose!

Materials:
Curtains
Fabric for ruffles [I used 2/3 yard of fabric for each ruffle per pair of curtains, but this will depend on the length of your curtains and the width of your ruffles]
Thread

To start with, you'll need some curtains. I used Vivan curtains from IKEA because I wanted a bright, airy look. They are only $9.99 for a pair and to me it was totally worth it to avoid making the curtains myself. Oh, the hemming.... cringe. However, if you prefer to make your own curtains, please do. There are many patterns and tutorials online. You may even be able to find a better deal on fabric.  Oh, and just so you don't think I got off totally scot-free, however, I did have to hem the bottoms of my store-bought curtains to fit the windows.

Ok, now that you have finished and appropriately-lengthed curtains, you are ready to start adding ruffles!

First, you need to determine the length and width of your ruffle strip.

For the width: The strip will be folded in half width-wise, so cut the width twice as wide as you would like your ruffle to be. I cut my strips 6 inches wide because I wanted 3 inch ruffles.

For the length: You want a length about 1.5-2 times the width of your curtain section. A longer length will result in a tighter ruffle. Each of my curtain pieces was 57 inches. My fabric was 45 inches wide. So... for each curtain section I cut two strips and the sewed them together (right sides together!) to make a final strip that was 90 inches long by 6 inches wide.

ruffle curtain tutorial

Now that you have your strip, you're going to sew it into one long tube. Fold the strip in half along its length, right sides together (pinning if necessary) and sew with a 1/4" seam along the open side.

ruffle curtain tutorial

ruffle curtain tutorial

Then, starting at one end, gently turn the entire strip so that the right side is out and the seam is on the inside of the tube. This will take some coaxing because the tube is so long, but just have patience. It may help a little to attach a large safety pin to one end of the tube and work it through.

ruffle curtain tutorial

Now that your ruffle tube is turned right-side out, you want to flatten it with the seam in the center of the back. If you want, you can iron it down. I didn't bother because ruffles don't really need perfection, but if it makes it easier for you to sew, go ahead and iron it.

Then tuck in the ends and sew them shut.

ruffle curtain tutorial

ruffle curtain tutorial

ruffle curtain tutorial

Ok, now for the actual ruffling. We'll be sewing a two gathering stitches down the entire length of the tube. Use the longest straight stitch on your machine and sew a seam down one side of the center of the flattened tube. Do NOT backstitch to secure the ends. Then sew another down the other side of the center. Make sure to leave a length of thread on both sides. Sew your gathering stitches as close to the center seam as possible without crossing each other.

ruffle curtain tutorial

ruffle curtain tutorial

Now, take the the top thread of each seam and gently pull while gently pushing the fabric up, gathering the fabric into a ruffle. This part can be very trying, but be gentle and patient and it will work. The reason we sewed two gathering stitches is that in the process of gathering them, one of your threads will probably break... and then you will have a second to fall back on. Trust me. I think it happened to me every. single. time.

ruffle curtain tutorial

ruffle curtain tutorial

It worked best for me to gather the ruffle toward the center from one side, and then when that side was completely ruffled, to start from the other and gather that one toward the center.

ruffle curtain tutorial

ruffle curtain tutorial

I prefer to gather the fabric as tightly as possible, but you just need to gather it enough so that your ruffle piece is slightly shorter than your curtain width.

ruffle curtain tutorial

Now that you have your ruffle ruffled, you need to mark where you want it on your curtain. I did a little experimentation and decided it looked best if the bottom ruffle was 15 inches from the bottom of the curtain. So I measured 15 inches from the bottom and made a light-colored line across the entire curtain.

ruffle curtain tutorial

Now pin your ruffle to your line, seam side down. I suggest finding the center point of your ruffle and pinning it to the center point of the line. Then gently loosen the gathers of your ruffle until it is the same length as the curtain width and pin it to the curtain.

ruffle curtain tutorial

ruffle curtain tutorial

Now, just sew it on! Start on one end, and making sure to backstitch to secure, sew down the length of the ruffle.

ruffle curtain tutorial

ruffle curtain tutorial

You did it!

Now do this for each ruffle on the curtain. I spaced each of my three ruffles 6 inches apart.

ruffle curtain tutorial

Tips:
* As with any sewing project, be sure to determine the amount of fabric needed and purchase enough for the whole project at once. I didn't have enough of a couple of the colors and when I went back, the bolts of fabric of the "same color" were actually quite different because they came from different dye lots. This is especially noticeable in solid colors.
* When sewing the ruffles onto the curtain, be careful not to catch any extra fabric from the backside of the curtain in your sewing machine. I did this several times and had to pick out some stitches with my seam ripper. Annoying.
* Ruffling can be tedious and frustrating, especially if your threads keep breaking (just me? no?). If you are getting discouraged, scroll back up to the top and look at how cute your curtains are going to be! Then just keep trudging on.

Good luck and happy ruffling!

ruffle curtain tutorial

To see more details from my baby girl's nursery, please check out:

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