Grommet Top Curtains and Sheers

As move in date approaches, I needed to get my new curtains made for my living room. I did a grommet top with blackout lining and I'll tell you how...

I looked around the web and studied different methods of creating curtains. I also looked at store curtains but didn't find anything with a pattern that I liked, and so after a long time of mulling it over, I decided to make them myself.

It's not difficult to do, but when you get decor weight fabric and blackout lining together, it gets heavy. In a word: unwieldy.

I measured my window and added about 4 inches on each side for overlap. It's a large window, and with the fullness I wanted (1.5x), I needed 11 yards of fabric (extra yard for pattern matching).

I used 4 panels of fabric (there are 2 panels finished), each 90" long so after hems and the top grommet panel, I'd wind up at an 84" length.

Again, working with this much fabric is a lot more difficult, and I was fortunate enough to be at my parents' house which has a lot of room where I could lay it out on the floor and get things straight. Plus, added bonus of my mom being around as a helper!

For the main panels, I started by painstakingly matching the patterns for the seams. Since two 54" panels would be joined together at a vertical seam, I took my time and folded over the fabric (so I'd have two lengths) and matched up the pattern along the selvedge. Once I got everything matched up, I cut on the fold (to make two panels). Since they were already clipped together, I just ran a stitch along one side to join them. I did the same process for the second panel. I have to say, it was worth the effort because where the panels are joined together, it's almost impossible to tell that there's a seam because the pattern is matched up so well!

There's a seam in here, can you tell where it is?

Ok here's a little closer view where you can tell that it's two panels put together, but damn it's close:

Here I'll note that some purveyors of fabric are better at cutting your yardage than others. Of the vendors I've ordered from online, Sailrite definitely has the best cuts. Joann's second, and is the worst. It helps to have a carpenter's square (the L-shaped ruler) to really make sure you're square when cutting this much fabric. Again, since I'm at the parents' house, and my dad has all manner of tools, I found a square in his workshop and found it so useful that I picked one up for myself for when I move back to my house. up was the blackout lining, which is the devil's toilet paper. This stuff sucks. Needle holes are there forever, so it's not something you want to pin (unless you're pinning within the seam allowance, but I use Clover clips), and not something you want to have to rip seams out of.

Blackout fabric is heavy as hell and the wrong side is a little sticky, which wouldn't have been a problem, but my teflon non-stick presser foot is in storage with the rest of my belongings. My first run at joining the two blackout panels wound up being over an inch off by the time I got to the bottom because it's sticky and feeds unevenly. I set the bad set aside to pull out that seam later and on the second pair, I used some strips parchment paper under the presser foot which did the trick. I had nice even feed and it matched up perfectly when I got to the bottom edge. Success! Plus, when sewing over parchment paper, it perforates it and you can easily tear it off.

Now, I wanted my blackout lining to be less wide than the main fabric, so the main fabric would essentially wrap around the back by about 2" or so. To do this, instead of actually cutting the blackout, I just made a huge seam when I joined the panels together.

To join the blackout to the main fabric, I first clipped it right sides together along one of the sides of the main panel (on the vertical) and sewed it together. Then, I clipped the other side together and sewed that seam. I then laid it out (still right sides together) and started by matching up the center seams (remember, these are two panels joined together). I clipped it together along the bottom and made sure to get my little wrappy overhangs nice and even. I sewed the bottom seam and turned it right side out. In the photo below, you can kind of see how the main fabric wraps a couple inches around to the back (which is face up in the photo).

Next up was the header. I had 4" header tape and laid it across the top about 1/2" down from the top of the main fabric. I folded the main fabric over the header top to create a hem and sewed it down.

I stuffed the header tape under the blackout liner (which was shorter than my main fabric to reduce bulk) and then folded the whole thing over along the header tape, giving me a 4" header for the grommets and a total length of 84".

I topstitched the header at about 1/2" along where the main fabric folded over to the back. I also topstitched along the bottom seam to hold it nice and neat. I considered topstitching the sides but decided against it. Because I didn't topstitch the sides, I did do a whipstitch at the sides of the header to close it up.

Lastly, I measured out the placement for the grommets. Grommet math is not hard, once you find the formula. Take the width of your fabric minus how far in from the side (to the center) of your first grommet will be (times two, one for each side), then divide by the number of grommets you'll use minus one.

You need to use an even number of grommets, otherwise it won't hang right.

To demonstrate the formula, here's my math:

Width of panel: 105.5"

First grommet placement from side (to center): 3"

Number of grommets: 12

105.5" - (3 x 2) / (12 - 1) = 9.045 (I went with 9" because I can't be bothered with such miniscule fractions)

I started by placing a pin at the 3" mark from one side and decided the top of my grommet (outer edge) would be 1/2" from the top of the header. Then from that 3" mark, I placed a pin every 9" until I got to the end. At the end, since I didn't use the exact 9.045" measurement, it was slightly not 3" from the opposite end, but it's not that far off and it won't matter because the window is so large.

I pried apart one of the grommets and used the "male" end as my template (because for some reason these particular grommets didn't come with the handy cutting template), took a pencil and traced the inside at each placement. I cut the first hole with scissors and then decided that was too hard and so I used my rotary cutter for the rest, which resulted in cleaner cuts.

To set the grommets, I laid the "male" end face down under the fabric and placed the top end on the back side and just used the palm of my hand to snap them together. 

23 grommets later and I was done with both panels! 

Similar process for the sheers, minus the blackout fabric. I double hemmed the sides and bottom at about 1". I used 118" wide fabric, so they were wider than the main panels and did not need to be joined together to make a single panel. Now, something I didn't realize until I hung them on the double rod is that you do need to account for how the fabric "stacks" when it's pulled to the side. Grommet top curtains stack like an accordion, and if you place your grommets too far apart like I did, the stacking is too wide and you might wind up with your stacks hitting the wall (or on a double rod, the other rod). To remedy this, I thought about converting them to rod pocket, but I had already put grommets into a panel and that means there were holes and if I trimmed them down, they'd wind up being too short and I didn't want that. Instead, I placed an extra grommet in between each of the grommets to make the stack smaller. There's a hella lot of grommets, but at least it will hang better and play nice with the main panel.

I had enough of the main fabric left over to make two valances, so I'll get those made after I move in and post those as well!

Three more sleeps until I move back in...