Make It Yours: Reversible Curtain Sewing


By now, you’ve measured your space and bought or found the fabric you’ll need.

When I said this project was simple; I meant really simple. First, you’ll need to cut out your rectangles to the measurements you made earlier. Measure twice before cutting. Sometimes I measure twice incorrectly. That is really annoying. So just be careful with your measurements.

The example curtain I am using is from Captain America fabric that my daughter wanted. The store only had enough for a single curtain, and it was 42 inches wide. So I adjusted my secondary fabric to 42 inches wide as well. I needed to change fabric the pictures of the original fabric were completely blurry and unusable, so I changed to another pattern. A little cutting with the rotary tool, which I highly recommend when cutting rectangles, and I had my cut pieces.

pinned before sewingNext, pin your two fabric together right sides together. The order for sewing on this project is probably a bit different than you are used to or will be told to do so in the future. I make sure the top and bottom line up perfectly, or as close to perfectly as possible. I sew the top first using a one-half inch seam allowance. Then, I press the seams open. You definitely want these seams pressed open.

Then, I sew the bottom seam allowance of one-half inch. This can be tricky if there was any error in cutting, sewing, or drape that escaped noticed – this happens, don’t worry about it. Press these seams as well, but they don’t have to be open. Next you will need to measure three-to-four inches down from the top on both sides. You will leave this portion open for the curtain rod. It also is big enough to accommodate a hand for turning and enough room to stitch the seam allowance down with the sewing machine later.

pressed outSew both sides leaving the gaps and backstitch a couple stitches at the opening. Press the seams open. You want to press the seams open all the way to the top.

sewing the curtain rod opening downFor the next step, you have a few options. First using your sewing machine, you can sew the seam allowance down being careful not the close the gap or stitch what will be the circle for the curtain rod closed; this is what I do. You can also hand stitch your seams down. This will take longer, but has the advantage of being easier. You can use fabric glue to hold the seams in place; the disadvantage is that you can’t hang your curtain up immediately. Last, you could leave it alone and risk fraying later. It is up to you.

Hang your curtain up, and you are done.

Advanced techniques for this curtain would be to sew a straight line from the bottom of the left side gap to the right side gap. This creates a channel. You can also top stitch around the curtain to give it a more finished look.

captain america curtain marvel character curtain

Make It Yours: Reversible Curtains Preparation

A selection of the boring curtains available in local stores.

A selection of the boring curtains available in local stores.

“Make It Yours” is my series of projects you can do to make your house, and yourself and other items that you own, more friendly to your design tastes. At no time am I going to claim that this is cheaper than the alternatives. For example, if you want curtains for your home, it could be cheaper to buy them. However, you are limited to what you can find pre-made. There might be a custom option that is cheaper than making them yourself too.

For me though, it is generally easier if I just make it myself. Maybe, my tastes run a little too esoteric for prime time.

This week, we’ll learn how to make very simple reversible curtains because I like my curtains to look nice from both sides. Nothing fancy here, a novice can complete this project, and you can have them finished within an hour.

You will need:

  • Sewing machine or hand needles
  • Exterior fabric, yardage will be determined
  • Interior fabric, yardage will be determined
  • Thread to match
  • Pins or bulldog clips

First, measure the width of the window, including any additional area of the wall or window frame you want the curtain to cover. You can also measure the length of your current curtain rod to get an idea. Now, measure a second time just to be sure. Add one inch to your measurement. For example, the window I want new curtains for is 34 inches wide, so my first measurement is 35 inches.

Keep in mind that the width measurement is for a single very simple curtain. With these measurements if you make a single curtain, you will not have much in the way of gathering (folds) when you put your curtain up. Many will want a pair of curtains per window. To determine the width each curtain will need to be, you will need to do a little math. Each curtain should be about 75% of your total width. In my example, I would then need a width of 26.25 inches. Or you could just make two full size curtains have a lot of folds – this technique can be very pretty with lightweight fabrics or cumbersome with heavier ones.

Next, measure the length you want your curtains to be. This is up to personal preference. Perhaps, you want a half-curtain with a valance in your kitchen window, or you want a floor length curtain for the living room or you want the curtain to stop at the end of the sill. Decide and measure; measure again. Remember measure twice, cut once. We’ll repeat this mantra over and over again. Add one inch to your measurement. Add additional inches equal to the depth of your curtain rod if you have a rod that bends around the side of the window. In my example, I have 37 inches that I want to cover. So I need 38 inches.

If you don’t have fabric, now is the time to figure out what you will need. The fabric you purchase factors in your width, and you are limited to the stock on hand there. Most fabric at a typical American fabric shop (local quilt shop, JoAnns, etc) come in widths between 36 to 54. You may find some specialty fabrics come in other widths, so this is just in general. The length of your fabric will determine the number of yards you need. If you need help with the inches to yards math and don’t want to use a calculator, there are all kinds of apps that can help. In general though divide your inches by 36. My measurement ends up being 1.06. I round-up to quarter yards, so I need 1.25 yards of each fabric.

Remember to consider, how many curtains you are making as well. Using my example, if I wanted two panels out of each cut I would need a fabric that is at least 52.5 inches wide. If I fall in love with a fabric that is only 44 inches wide, I will need an additional 1.25 yards (for a total of 2.5 yards) to make two curtains.

Once you have your fabric, launder it. Wash it on the highest temperature the fabric can handle and dry it. This should take care of any shrinkage. My method is to wash my fabric on speed wash with about one-quarter to one-half the normal amount of detergent. Do not use fabric softener. I dry my fabric based on what it is. Then, iron your fabric.

In the next post, I will share step-by-step instructions on making your curtains.

Learn to Cross Stitch: Part 4 Finishing Touches


xmensymbolLooking for the first three parts? 1, 2, and 3.

When you’ve finished stitching, you aren’t quite finished.

You need to wash your cloth to remove any dirt or oil that has gone from your fingers  into your cloth. Trust me, you don’t want to see your fingerprints six months from finishing your work. A little bit of light detergent or dish washing soap and a sink full of water will do the trick. Get the Aida good and wet, gently scrub it with soap, and then rinse until the water is clear. You’ll want to lay your design flat to dry.

Once the design has dried, iron your embroidery as well. You never want to iron the front of your work though. Instead lay it face down and use a pressing cloth or thin fabric. Ironing your stitches make them bond with the fabric and sets them nicely. This also makes the embroidery pop from the surface giving the entire design as crisp and neat appearance.

You’ll probably want to display your design some how as well. Be creative, there is no wrong thing to do here. Many people frame their stitches in some way. Typically, I finish the edges of my designs with lace or ribbon at the very least. The X-Men symbol would make a good button or necklace pendant if you’ve got the tools for that or a decal for a shoe, bracelet, or a collar. I stitched a couple of extras on scrap Aida to use as collar decals for my Gambit and Rogue – cats. I washed and ironed the emblem, then I used fusible interfacing to hold everything together and bind the edges. Then, I sewed a strip of elastic so that I could slide the symbol onto their collars. Finally, I might add a layer of iron-on vinyl, but I am going to let Gambit run around a few days with it the design as is and see what happens.The vinyl doesn’t always bond the way I want it to, and Rogue has pica so she just might eat the vinyl if given the chance.

Gambit and Rogue like to “play a game” where they take each others collars as trophies, and apparently Rogue lost the last battle. At the time of publication, I haven’t found hers, so you only get a picture of Gambit wearing his.

As for the original that I used for the demonstration, I put onto the bookmark, I am going to fill the space with more X-symbols in the various colors of the team throughout the years.

Click me for a larger version.

And now that you’ve finished your first design, you’ll want to do another. Try this “Batman” symbol.

Learn to Cross Stitch: Part 3 The First Stitch and Beyond


Looking for the previous posts? 1 and 2.

You’ve purchased your supplies and you’ve prepared your work. Now, it is time to actually stitch. The great thing about cross stitch is will begin to see what you are working on in a relatively short amount of time. This project can be completed in less than hour, so you’ll see progress very quickly.

X-Men Symbol pixelatedDownload or print the pixellated X-Men symbol. You will want to have it readily available. In most designs, if not all, the designer will mark the center of the design in some way. In my example, I have marked it with the arrows. If you follow the arrows, you will see that the center of the X is the actual center of the work. This is where we will want to start. However, we also want to make sure that where we start makes our life easiest. In this case, we should start one from the left of center. This way, we complete the entire line at one time.


As I said before, you want to avoid knots in embroidery if possible. Some stitchers swear by the “waste” or “away” knot, I do not, but I will show you how to do it in another post. When I sew my first stitch, I always pull my thread from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. As you are learning, flip your Aida over so that you can see the back. You will want to capture your loose thread between your stitches on the back. To do this, make sure you arrange the excess thread to lie flat and underneath your next stitch. If you continue to think about your stitches in squares, you are going to take your next stitch through the top right corner of this square. Flip your Aida back over and start another section of the cross. At the end of the row, you will have three red \\\ on the front and the back will have captured your excess thread and three |||. Then you go back to complete your crosses, the same way you did the first three stitches, but in reverse.

You’ve completed your first row of cross stitches!

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In this pattern, I would complete all of the work in red before switching to the yellow. To start a new row, I would move my needle to the next row up and work that direction. However, you may find it easier to work downward and around. The important thing is to keep to a direction that is comfortable to you. There are a few tips though:

  •    Ideally your new stitching line should begin adjacent to one of your previous stitches to avoid crossing too many threads and squares.
  • Keep the same direction going on your cross stitches. While, it isn’t always noticeable. Your work will look nicer if all of your stitches are in the same direction. In my example, my bottom stitch moves from left-to-right and the top stitch moves from right-to-left.
  • Every five-to-six stitches, you will need to let your needle and thread dangle so that the thread unwinds. When stitching, beginners have a tendency to turn their needle slightly as they sew. As you become a more experienced stitcher, you will learn to hold control your stitches so this does not happen.

Eventually, you will come to a point where you either run out of thread or need to change location. To do this simply run your needle under three-to-four stitches and snip your thread. I also snip the excess threads as I go. Then you are ready to begin at another location that makes sense to you.

Before you know it, you are ready to switch from your red floss to your yellow floss. Continuing to stitch exactly as you have been and following the chart, you will be done in no time.

This design took me about an hour. I used six 18 inch strands of red floss and two 18 inch strands of yellow floss.

Learn to Cross Stitch: Part 2 Preparation


Welcome back!

By now, you’ve gathered a 14 ct. Aida, your floss, tapestry needle, and scissors I hope. If not, check out Part 1 for tips on what you will need.

First, wash your hands. Wash them frequently when doing embroidery and do not eat while working.

The following steps can be prepared in the order you are most comfortable.

You will need to prepare your Aida for work. If your piece as hard crease marks, you’ll want to iron it. Next, you will want to make sure it won’t unravel while you work. If you have a sewing machine, using a zig-zag stitch around the Aida will solve this problem. You can apply “fray check” to the edges and let that dry before stitching. In a pinch, a thin layer of masking tape along the edge will do just fine. Keep in mind that masking tape is hard to get off when you finish your work though. Also, some Aidas can be purchased with the edges already secured.

Find the cfolded aidaenter of your Aida as well. To do this simply fold your canvas in half and then fold it in half again. The fold edge will reveal your center, put a pin through this hole and unfold the Aida. You’ve found the center.

In large embroidery projects, you will want to use a hoop or frame to hold your Aida while you are working, but for the small project I have planned, you will not need one. Hoops and frames will be covered later.

You’ll want to prepare your floss. Some embroidery gurus wash their floss first. I do not. First, I do not use a washing machine to launder my embroidery; I hand wash in baby detergent and cold water instead. I also do not dry embroidery in a dryer. Heat causes the shrinking of textiles. If you plan to machine wash your embroidery, you might consider washing it first with a mild detergent and water as hot as you can handle it.

floss preparedYou will need to secure and label your floss in some way. For beginning stitchers, and this project, you can secure your floss to a piece of cardboard and write the floss number nearby. Securing can be with a hold punch and looping your floss through the hole or wrapping it around a smaller piece of cardboard. You can also purchase a package of bobbins in the embroidery section of a store, if desired.

When stitching you will not use the entire skein of floss at once. Instead cut off a section that is around 18 inches long or shorter. Many beginning embroiderers cut their floss at a length that is equal to the distance between their wrist and elbow or shoulder. On me, the distance to the shoulder is about 17 inches. Next separate all six strands. When stitching you can use various numbers of strands for different thickness. I generally use two, but for a fuller look you might use three. One is almost always too few to be effective. Whereas in some larger work, three strands at a time can become cumbersome. With the small project we are doing two will work just fine.

threadedTo thread your needle, you will want to take both strands of floss and thread them through the needle. Do not tie any knots. Just fold your thread over about an inch. In needlework, we tend to avoid knots if possible.

Now you are ready for your first stitch.

Learn to Cross Stitch: Part 1 Supplies


Basic XStitch SuppliesCross stitch is fun and easy. Children 8-years-old, and sometimes younger, can learn. It can take time and patience, but anyone with the right tools can do it. To start, you’ll need:

Aida: Aida is the stitching medium (canvas) used in cross stitch. It comes in a variety of sizes. The size denotes the number of squares per inch. Beginning projects tend toward using a 14 count Aida. Expert level crafts may require 22 – 28 squares per inch. A 14-count Aida starts in price around $3 USD.

Tapestry needle: Tapestry needles come in a variety of sizes. I use Size 26 petite needles. However, for the 14-count aida, which is popular, a lot of stitchers recommend sizes 20 and 22 regular needles. It’s important to use a tapestry needle though because the tip is blunt, instead of sharp, to slide through the holes in the aida weave with ease. No matter which way you go, you can buy a pack of needles starting around $1.50.

Floss: Floss is the thread used in embroidery. Floss comes in bundles known as skeins that are divided into 6 strands each. Many companies make embroidery floss, but my preference is DMC. I have purchased it exclusively for several years now and have been very happy. It costs me between thirty-three to forty cents a skein.

Scissors: A pair of scissors to cut your floss; embroidery scissors are ideal, but any pair will do for a beginner. Embroidery scissors start in price around $3 a pair.

As you can see, you can get started for less than ten bucks. Expense comes from building the supplies that you will want to invest in after you get into the hobby.

If you are ready to learn, gather your supplies including red and yellow floss, and I will share with you a very simple chart to get you started. You will only need a bit of scrap 14 ct. Aida to get started – enough for a 15 x 15 grid. I will actually be using an Aida bookmark that I have on hand.