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May 01, 2010

How to Make Split-Hourglass Curtains


 It's better than a dark green trash bag (which we had taped on this back window for the last 3 years).  It's better than nothing (which we had looked at for a year before that); and, it's even better than those ugly skinny metal mini blinds that get dirty and bent and bang against the door (which were on the door when we bought our home).  Today, I made some very pretty split-hourglass curtains for our back door and I wanted to share with you how to do this so you, too, can pull the crap off your door window and put up something pretty.

You will need:

Lightweight or sheer decorator / interior fabric.  I like gingham for my back door.
2 Sash rods.  Sash rods will sit close to the door and don't stick out like drapery rods.
Thumbtacks or hooks to attach tie-backs to door.
2 small plastic rings to stitch to tie-backs and place over hooks.
Calculator (unless you are good at head-math)

Sewing needs:

Sewing Machine
Thread and Bobbin thread to compliment your fabric.
Clear rulers (various sizes)
Rotary Cutter & Self-healing rotary mat
Iron & Ironing board
Hem ruler
Cloth pencil (wash out fabric marker is fine too)



1. First step is to get your measurements correct.  Begin by measuring and marking where you are going to place your rods making sure that your distances on each side are exact.  Mark with a pencil.


2. Install your hooks - ignoring those nasty marks from previous owners who did a lousy patch job.


This is my door.  It has a clean window too. Ignore my deck.  It needs work like everything else around here.


Anyone who has been reading my blog for any period of time knows that I have a wonderful hubby.  My big bear helps me with all of my projects and I help him too.  I've driven back hoes and Bobcats at 2am to plant 800 lb trees with him - just wanted you to know that it's a two-way street here.  We help each other. He happily helped me measure and mark where to put the hooks for the rods.  

3. Make sure that the placement of your rods will not interfere with your door lock or knob.



4. After you have the rods installed, you will need to have a pencil and paper handy to take some measurements, and you will need a string or tape to mark the angle of your panels and how far you want them to angle in the center.  I used string and tied it to the top and bottom rods and taped them to the center position of the rods leaving it a little bit loose.  Then I had my big bear pull it inward to form the angle I wanted.  From here I took these measurements:

A - Measure the width across the top or bottom of 1 panel, from the outer edge of the rod to the center of the rod.

B - Measure the center of the panel where the tie-back will hold the curtain in place.  This measurement is from the outer edge of the rod to the point where the angle of the curtain stops.

C - Measure from the lower edge of the upper rod to the center.  Then measure from the center to the upper edge of the lower rod.  Add these measurements together for the total measurement of "C."

D - Measure from the lower edge of the upper rod to the upper edge of the lower rod.

Be precise!!  Precision and exactness in your measurements are what make your sewing projects come out beautifully!


5. You will now want to cut your fabric for each curtain panel.  BUT, before you cut, press all of your fabric.

These instructions are for cutting 45" fabric:

Measure along the longest folded edge of your fabric (selvage to selvage folded makes it easier to measure).  

You will want each panel LENGTH to be equal to:

Measurement "C" (the length from top to bottom of your angled edge) plus
4 times the depth of the rod pocket, plus
4 times the depth of your ruffle, plus
1" for the turn-under on top and bottom

Each panel WIDTH should be equal to:

Measurement "A" multiplied by 2 1/2 times, plus
4 times 1" for the double-folded 1" hem on each side of the panel.


6. Take your hem ruler and measure out 1 inch.  Now, fold, pin, and press the 1" hem all the way across the wrong SIDE of the panel.  


7. Remove the pins from the pressed hem.  Fold the hem again another 1 inch, pin, and press to make a double-folded 1" hem on EACH SIDE of the panel.  Stitch close along inside folded edge.  You want to do the SIDES of the panel first because when you work on the top and bottom you want there to be an opening for the rod-pocket.


8. When you have both sides finished, you can start on the top and bottom of the panel.  First, fold the top over 1/2", pin, and press, using your hem ruler.  Remove the pins and fold again, this time, measure the depth of the rod-pocket (mine is 1 1/4") plus the depth of the ruffle (mine is 1 1/2").  The total measurement together for my top and bottom is 2 3/4".  Take your hem ruler and set it for your total measurement and fold, pin, and press across the top of the panel.


9. Stitch very close to the inside folded edge of the top of the panel.  When you are finished stitching, press the top hem.  Measure the distance from that first seam to the depth of the rod-pocket.  In my case, that is 1 1/4" from the first seam to the second seam.  This will give you the rod-pocket and the ruffle for the top of the panel.  Repeat steps 8 and 9 for the bottom of the panel.


10. All 4 sides of your panel should be finished and pressed.  Fold your panel in half, RIGHT sides together, so that the TOP and BOTTOM of the panel are together.  Press the fold.

11. This isn't as tricky as it looks.  Here's what you do - Multiply the Difference between measurement "A" and measurement "B" (A - B = Difference) by the amount of fullness you wanted for your curtain.  That is usually 2 1/2 times the width of your curtain. (Difference x 2 1/2 or 2.5). 

Take this measurement and measure along the fold of your panel beginning at the INNER EDGE of the panel towards the center.  Mark this measurement with a pin along the fold.

What you are doing is making a "dart."  This dart will make the outer edge of the panel "D" length of the panel and the angled edge fit the "C" length.  If you didn't sew the long dart through the center of the curtain to take up the slack along the outer edge, you'd end up with a baggy curtain and you don't want a baggy curtain.


You may have noticed that I have a piece of paper pinned to my panel marked "Inner Edge."  I did this so I wouldn't mess up on the dart.  Just a tip for making things easier and preventing mistakes.


It's a good idea to double-check your measurements and your fold too before you mark on your fabric.  I put my measurements in front of me so that I knew I was doing it right.  I also folded down the top edge of the panel and checked again that I had the RIGHT sides together.


12. Now, divide the difference between measurement "C" and measurement "D" in half (C - D = Difference) then (Difference divided by 2)  Take this measurement and with a fabric pencil or marker, mark along the fold from the OUTER edge of the panel to the pin.


13. Take your ruler and angle it from where you ended the first line (where you marked it with a pin in Step 11) to the inside edge of the hem.  DO NOT cross the hem on the INNER EDGE.  Use your pencil to mark this angled line then pin across your fold.


14. Stitch along the pencil line. Press.  Your panel is finished!


15. On to the tie-backs.  You can make your tie-backs as wide or as narrow as you like.  I cut a 3" strip from the left-over fabric.  Actually, I should have probably cut a 4" to 5" strip.  Live and learn.  Anyway, I cut 2 long strips, then I hung my finished panel on the rod on the door making sure that the INNER EDGE of the panel was in the center of the window because that is the longest side of the panel for the angle. ("C" side).

Take your strip of fabric for your tie-back and pull back your inside edge to the outer edge making sure that the panel goes from the outer edge of the rod to the center of the rod on the top and the bottom.  That way, when you pull in the curtain, you can determine how much of the strip you need plus 1" for the tie-back.



16. Fold along one short edge of your tie-back 1/2" and press.  Do not stitch it.  Now, fold your tie-back in half, right sides together and pin.  Stitch along the long edge about 1/8" - 1/4" inside of raw edge.  Turn your tie-back right-side out.  You can get a "turner" at your favorite fabric store, or all you have to do is pin a big safety pin to one short end and work it through the inside of the tie-back until it is turned right-side out. Press.

17. Tuck the short side of the tie-back with the raw edge inside the short side with the 1/2" fold and stitch. When you tuck in the raw edge, only tuck it in about 1/2" - 3/4" then stitch it together.

18. Hand-stitch a small plastic ring onto the center of the seam where the short edges came together.  This ring will hang over the hooks you place on your door.


19. Remove the curtains from the bottom panel and slide your tie-back onto the curtain.  Mark with a pencil where you need to put the hook to hang your tie-back.  The tie-back should cover the seam where you sewed the "dart" in the center of the panel.

There you go!  You now have a beautiful set of Split-Hourglass Curtains for your door!  I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  Let me know if you make these pretty curtains for your home!



Happy Holidays

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