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.

Fabric Review: Wal-mart Cotton and Captain America by Eugene Textiles


I don’t know about anyone else, but I touch fabric when I am walking through a fabric store. I love the tactile sensations of various textiles against my fingertips. If you do this enough and sew with fabric you’ve been touching, you develop a good sense of how a fabric is going to handle life once it has been washed, dried, cut, and sewn before purchasing it.

So I say this as a person who has developed this sense, and at risk of sounding like a fabric snob: I do not like Wal-mart fabric.

I tell people who are getting into sewing to avoid Walmart fabric if they can. It just doesn’t feel right. There is something weak and cheap about it.


This is a great pattern. I just wish I could have found more of it.

However, I love my daughter, and she loves Captain America. She wanted Captain America curtains made of a specific fabric for her bedroom; one I had made her a pillow case and tote bag out of last year. Walmart was the only fabric place that still had it in my area, and finding it online was not happening. So I bought it. In the store, it seemed to have a similar body as the previous fabric. I compared it at home, this version was a bit lighter in thread count compared to the last, but for a Spring/Summer weight curtain I decided it will work out fine.

The cotton Captain America fabric, style 19161317 by Eugene Textiles washed well. I may have lost a little of the fabric through washing, but if I did it was less than a quarter-inch. It irons easily. However, you can still see through it when folded in half. The cost was $5.66 a yard.

generic walmart cotton

I purchased three coordinating colors so she could choose the one she liked the best. She chose red.

Against my better judgment, and slight laziness, I purchased coordinating cottons right there. At $2.44 a yard, I had low expectations. Those expectations have been met. Each color lost about at least half-inch through washing and drying. They are very thin and very scratchy to the touch. The dark purple is already pilling.

I would avoid this fabric in the future. However, it will be a nice cheap colored fabric to use in making toiles, so it was not wasted money. Also, with a teenager’s ever-changing tastes, the cost of the fabric is agreeable for what it is being used for.

Final thought: In general, you should always sew with the most expensive fabric of the type you need that you can afford. You’ll get better results and be happier.