Curtains are a good way to add warmth and character to a room. Depending on the type of fabric you use, they can also be a great way to block out light or ensure privacy. Fortunately, it is not difficult to sew curtains from scratch. Rod pocket window panels only require basic measurements and sewing skills.
Before you sew curtains, you should consider what type of fabric you want to use. Keep in mind the feel of the room where the curtains will hang. Velvets or other heavy fabrics will add a richness to the room, and also block light, but could be oppressive in a room with light decoration. Lace or sheer fabrics will let in lots of light, but could be overpowered by strong room furnishings. Fabric with a nap, texture that looks or feels different from different angles, or a distinct pattern will require extra caution during sewing. Some fabrics, especially silks, can fade in direct sunlight. Fabric that is durable, easy to clean, and that will not stretch from hanging is often a good choice.
There are many types of curtains. The single rod pocket panel curtain is typically considered the simplest style if you want to sew curtains yourself. This type of curtain has a loop or pocket sewn at the top for the curtain rod to be threaded through. This is in contrast curtains that are attached to a curtain rod or track with hooks, or cafe curtains which are affixed to a curtain rod at the top and at the bottom.
To sew curtains for a single rod pocket panel, first determine the width and length of the curtain. For the width, measure the length of the curtain rod to be used and multiply by 2 or 3, depending on how much fullness is desired, and add 4 inches (10 cm) for side hems. If the fabric chosen for the curtains is not wide enough, two or more narrower pieces can be sewn together, or multiple panels can be hung. Extra fabric may be needed to make the pattern match up if curtains are made of several pieces.
For the curtain's length, measure the window area starting at the curtain rod to the desired length. To this measurement, add the circumference of the curtain rod to be used, plus 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) for the rod pocket opening and finishing. Add a desired hem length and multiple that amount by two. The bottom hem can be any width, but up to 6 inches (15.2 cm) is recommended for long lightweight curtains. A proper hem is made by folding the fabric twice, so a 6 inch (15.2 cm) hem would require 12 inches (30.4 cm) of fabric.
When sewing curtains, it's generally recommended that you start with the hems. For the sides, you'll want to measure in about 1 inch (2.5 cm) and use an iron to press the fabric flat. Be sure to iron on the side of fabric that will not show, which is also called the "wrong side." Fold the sides over again and press, to create a double hem. Next, you'll want to top stitch along the hem.
For the bottom hem, you'll want to follow basically the same procedure, though your first measure will be larger, perhaps about 6 inches (15.2 cm) or some other desired hem length. You'll want to double the lower hem too. If using curtain weights, insert them into side hems before sewing the bottom hem and make sure that the weight is secure in the bottom corners of the panel when you're all finished.
Next, you'll need to sew the top pocket. Measure 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) along raw edge at top of panel. Press flat. Next you'll need to measure a length from the fold that is equivalent to the circumference of the curtain rod plus 1 inch (2.5 cm) so the rod can be easily inserted. Then press flat again. Next, sew along the top of the curtain, about 1/4 inch (6 mm) from lower folded edge. Finally, just insert the curtain rod and hang your newly sewn curtain.
In addition to rod pocket curtains, it is easy to make custom curtains with a pleated header, tab top pocket, or attached to the curtain rod with ribbons or clips. Roman and balloon shades are other types of simple-to-make window coverings.