Tie-Up Curtain Tutorial

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I had been looking for something to break up all the white. I mean, I love the brightness of my white kitchen – it’s what I’ve always wanted – but it just needed some contrast.

Enter my love of black and white buffalo check. Or is it gingham? I don’t know, but I love it and actually have a dress that is black and white gingham from Shabby Apple (got it a few years back and it’s no longer available – sorry!).

After seeing Miss Mustard Seed’s tutorial for tie-up curtains made from linen, I decided that’s what I wanted in my kitchen – only, in black and white gingham. While I did not use her design or pattern, she did inspire me to use linen to get that perfect drapey look with slightly raw edges!

One little problem, though: We have wood blinds in our kitchen – NEW wood blinds – and we love the versatility, ease, and privacy they provide. Also, given my perfectionistic tendencies, I didn’t think it would be the best idea to have to tie up and let down the curtains every day. I would forever be adjusting them to get them “just right.” And if my poor husband was to try to do it – well, I’m sure I would be obnoxiously “fixing” them! 😉

So…

I decided to make my own faux tie-up curtains, meaning they look like the real deal but will never move. I can pull the wood blinds all the way up and they are hidden by the curtains. Yay!

Now before you run away saying, “but I want REAL, functional tie-up curtains,” don’t worry – you can still follow this tutorial and make them functional. You’ll just need more fabric than I used.

And…I had one more issue…

Both in our bay window and over the sink there is pretty much no room for a curtain rod. Like, zero room, and if we were going to keep the blinds, I couldn’t use a tension rod inside the window frame.

Hmm.

Right or wrong, I came up with a solution: since I would be using a very lightweight fabric, I would use the decorative front piece of the blinds as my “curtain rod.” I would not try doing this with heavier fabric!

Tutorial

Let me begin by saying that this is not rocket science – I made this up as I went along, and it worked. I was able to finish these in one afternoon/evening, pausing for a few hours in the middle to make dinner and get the kids to bed. It does involve sewing, but please know I am pretty much the world’s worst seamstress (ask my mom!), and if I can do it so can you! You only need to be able to sew a relatively straight line.

I used this black and white gingham fabric from Amazon. (Did you know you can order fabric by the yard from Amazon?) It is gorgeous and drapey and everything I wanted!

(I love my Gingher dressmaker’s shears pictured above – if you do any amount of sewing or fabric crafts, do yourself a favor and buy some good sewing scissors! It makes all the difference in getting a clean cut!)

#1. Determine how much fabric you need:

Now, I’m totally not a math person, and I get easily confused when measuring, but somehow I managed this without trouble.

My fabric was 55 inches wide. Since my “rods” were 43 inches wide (less than the width of the fabric), and I didn’t need the fabric to reach all the way to the bottom of the window, I settled for 1 yard of fabric per window, plus an extra yard for making all the ties. I had 3 windows, so I ordered 4 yards of fabric.

Measure the width of your rod(s) as they will be when they are in their final position, not including any finials or decorations on the end. We’re just looking at the actual part on which the curtain will be hanging.

Decide if you want the fabric to reach all the way to the sill to be functional or if you want it to be a “faux” curtain, in which case you don’t need as much fabric and can save some money. Be sure to measure the diameter of your rod or whatever you are using to see how big the rod pocket will need to be. You will need enough fabric to wrap around the rod, plus some extra for seam allowance and wiggle room to get the rod through. Remember, you can always fit a smaller rod in a bigger pocket, but not the other way around!

#2. Gather Supplies

  • Fabric:
    • Desired curtain width + 2 inches for hemming = total fabric width needed
      Desired curtain length + 1 inch for bottom hem + ? inches for rod pocket = total length needed
      Extra fabric for ties
      • 1 yard was plenty for 6 faux-curtain ties. You will need a longer length for functional curtains – this will be double the length of your curtains, plus extra for tying a bow. You could use ribbon if you don’t want to buy this much extra fabric, or you could sew two strips together and put the seam behind the curtains to hide it.
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread to coordinate with your fabric (I used white)
  • Sewing Scissors (sharp sewing scissors really make a difference!)
  • Fabric Measuring Tape/Ruler
  • Straight Pins
  • Curtain Rod(s) (I’m not covering how to hang a curtain rod.)

#3 – Cut your fabric to the right size. See above for measuring details.

#4 – Pin the side hems of each piece. To make it easy on myself, I folded the fabric so that one line of squares was in half, which ended up being about 1/2″.

NOTE: Make sure you’re folding your hem over to the back side (the “wrong” side) of your fabric. You want the “right side” to be the front of your curtain!

#5 – Sew a straight line down each pinned side.

#6 – Pin the bottom hem on each piece, as you did for the sides, and sew a straight line across each bottom edge.

#7 – Measure and pin your rod pocket. Mine was extra wide, because it was going on the front decorative piece of the blinds (see above for explanation).

#8 – Sew a straight line across to make the rod pocket.

Now, as an aside, I will show you how I made this work with my blinds. If this doesn’t interest you, skip down to #9. 😉 Here is the decorative front piece of the blinds on which I hung the curtains:

See all those little clips? Yeah, I had to make sure I could still clip them to the blinds, so I snipped tiny holes in the back of my rod pocket like this:

Then I put the clips through the holes and secured them, like this:

Sorry that’s a horrid picture, but I was working with my phone camera at, like, 9pm trying to get this done without waking the kids.

Even if I ever wanted to hang these with a “real” rod, no one would ever see those little holes in the back, so it doesn’t ruin them by any means.

#9 – Thread your curtain(s) onto the rod(s) and hang.

(Side note – this is what 1 yard of fabric looks like in length on my very long window after hemming and rod pocket, but before tying up.)

#10 – Decide how wide you want your ties to be, and cut 2 strips per window. I went with one “square” wide which was about 1.5″. I cut them width-wise from the fabric, so that each strip was 55″ long.

NOTE: If you’re working with gingham like I was, or something similar, the different “rows” of color on your fabric will give you different looks. Allow me to show you. See how two strips below are white & gray and two are black & gray:

They’re all from the same piece of fabric, but alternating rows. I would not advise mixing them as ties on one curtain. Choose either two of the lighter or two of the darker. If you mix them, you end up with something like this:

Looks a little wonky, huh? Thought I’d share my mistake to spare you the trouble! 😉

#11 – Drape your ties over the curtain rod like this:

#12 – Bunch up your curtain on one side:

#13 – Tie with a bow.

#14 Repeat on the other side.

Done! 🙂

P.S. That bench isn’t there anymore – it’s painted and in a new location! Now I have a church pew in this window and can’t wait to work on it and show you soon! 🙂

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Oh, and thanks, Mom, for letting me borrow your sewing machine! 🙂

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