DIY: Simple Panel Curtains (in Four Hours or Less)


Our living room features large deck doors that look out over the San Francisco Bay — a beautiful view, no doubt, but one that was previously obscured by some boring, less-than-aesthetically-pleasing vertical shades. Intent on making a Spring change, I decided to whip up some simple panel curtains to improve the view both inside and out. I chose a pretty, patterned Amy Butler fabric, which added a textile highlight to the room, and with a few simple but smart techniques, I managed to get these off my ironing board and onto curtain rods in about three hours.


Want to learn how to make these curtains? Then read more.
What You'll Need

  • 2 to 4 panels of fabric (cotton is easy to work with, and seasonally appropriate), cut to the correct window length, plus about 1/3 of a yard extra to allow for shrinkage and seams
  • Sewing machine
  • Matching thread
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Curtain rods

How to Do It

  1. The first time-saving technique begins before you even step into the fabric store. Measure the length of the window/wall you want your panel to cover. Add 1/3 of a yard to this number. (For instance, if your window/wall is six feet, you want seven feet of fabric cut, and would ask for 2 and 1/3 yards cut.) Now, decide how many panels you need. Two? Four?
  2. At the fabric store, ask (nicely!) the fabric store employee to cut your fabric out in panels, instead of in one long piece. This will save you a lot of time measuring and cutting at home. Just remember to measure very carefully before jotting down your needed lengths.
  3. At home, toss the fabric in the laundry, as it will definitely shrink.
  4. Iron your fabric panels. Look at the long sides of the fabric. The edges are already semi-finished (no raw edges), but the name of the fabric designer, as well as the color stamp, are visible. Iron this edge over, and then sew the sides first with a straight stitch. You won't have to double the edges over, since the edge is semi-finished to start with.
  5. Next, fold over about half an inch of fabric for the bottom hem. Iron this hem over, onto the wrong side (the side with the lighter fabric pattern). Now, fold that hem over and iron it again. This will hide the raw edges. Sew this bottom hem with a straight stitch.
  6. Now, start on the top of the curtain. Fold over about half an inch of fabric onto the wrong side. Iron, then sew. Then, fold the top of the curtain over so there is enough room to slide the curtain rod through. Iron, then sew with a straight stitch.
  7. Your first panel is done! Now, repeat these techniques with the remaining panels. If you're using a pattern like I did, you may want to check to make sure your patterns match on each panel. You can easily do this by pinning the unfinished panel next to the finished (hung) panel, and then adjusting to line up the patterns.

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