Wednesday, 15 Jun 2011

Hemming the new curtains – a tutorial-ish sort of thing

Posted in Home at 11:09 am by betherino

I went on a bit of a curtain rampage – I was thoroughly sick of the ones we had in our living room and study. Why I was sick of them when I’d personally picked them out? Curtains in Singapore tend to be of the really obiang nature – overly ornate, overly fussy, shiny, gilt, scrolls and ugly flowers all over them. I hate hate hate. Luckily my bedroom curtains are utterly gorgeous – full-length, thick blue, white and maroon stripes of a heavy fabric that doesn’t let light in. In fact I’d gone back to the shop where my mother had found those curtains, but they didn’t have a single piece in a modern shade and pattern like the bedroom curtains. It was terribly frustrating. The ones I’d eventually purchased for the house were as simple as I could find, but the colors were dull and blah (beige and olive) and it finally got to me.

Old olive curtains

These were my old, olive, blah curtains. It actually has quite a nice leaf print on it but it turned out not to be very visible :/

I went scouting for curtains and after lots of looking, the best places to get more modern curtains seem to be Spotlight and Ikea. I even went to the expensive shops and all their curtain fabric is just so…old-fashioned yuck. Seriously, who wants velvet roses on shiny brocade? I could vomit. Why is it so hard to find nice solid stripes, or even polka dots, or a modern pattern in nice bold colors? Even at Spotlight, where there were nicer patterns, most of the curtains are pencil pleat, which is also old-fashioned (who has those kind of curtain rods anymore?) and not tab top or eyelet like I need. Most of them were also full-length curtains, which I didn’t want for the study and living room, and I wanted to spare myself the pain of hemming curtains. Also, they were pretty much out of my budget; I’m a stingy – oh all right, thrifty – girl who doesn’t like to be put out of pocket. Eventually I found a nice plain red linen tab top half-curtain that matched the color scheme in the study, and even better it was on sale! $12 for one curtain! Yay me.

The living curtains were a bit more of a challenge. I wanted a light color so that the living room would look airier and brighter, and I wanted a leaf print or a geometric print. Needless to say nothing fit my criteria (bah ugly patterns) so my only other option was Ikea.

Ikea has some gorgeous fabrics that can be made into curtains by their in-house tailor, and I was really keen on spending a bit more to make the perfect curtains for the living room. But hubba’s thrifty side exerted itself, it was late, I couldn’t quite find the perfect pattern, so in the end we decided to take the inexpensive option – these light Hedda Blad curtains.

Hedda Blad curtains

Although they’re long, Ikea gives a strip of fusible web tape, also known as iron-on fabric adhesive, to hem your curtains yourself. Now that I can do easily, because I don’t have a sewing machine at home (and the last time I used one was back in the 1990’s). Ikea does give instructions but I thought I’d put up a little tutorial of how I hemmed my Ikea curtains with the fusible web tape.

Curtains on the table

First I measured my current curtains – they were 180cm long, so I calculated that I would need to cut 70cm off my 250m long curtains. I laid them out on the dining table (you could use the floor) and folded the curtains at 70cm from the edge.

Measuring tape

I used a contractor’s tape measure instead of a tailor’s tape measure because the contractor’s measure is stiff and I needed to make sure the fabric was folded at 70cm evenly throughout the edge. It’s not as difficult to be accurate as it sounds. Just line up the edges and make sure they’re straight, and then smooth out the fabric and slide the stiff tape measure down the edge to make sure it’s even throughout.

Pinned fabric

I pinned the edges with needles (I didn’t have round-headed pins with me) to make sure they stayed, then I brought the whole thing over to the ironing board to iron the crease flat. Yes that ugly blue-silver shimmery fabric is my ironing board – I never got around to making or buying a pretty cover for it!

Ironing the crease flat

That’s me ironing the crease flat. Sorry about the thing in the top right hand corner, that’s my camera pouch. It was hard to take a photo with my left hand, holding the pouch to stop it from dangling, and iron with my right hand at the same time! I used the hottest setting (linen) on my iron to get a good flat crease.

Folding the second crease

After ironing, I folded the crease up another inch or so and ironed that flat as well. The Ikea instructions don’t ask you to do this, and want you to basically have a raw edge in your hem, but that’s just too ugly and I couldn’t let that happen. Once I’d ironed the two creases, I unfolded that second crease and cut off the extra fabric just inside the crease line. The second crease should be wide enough to hide your whole fusible web tape.

Fusible web tape

You can see clearly in this picture where the creases are and where the extra fabric was cut off. Then I just unrolled the fusible web tape, laid it in the crease, folded the fabric back over it, and ironed over the whole thing to seal it in. I didn’t bother to cut the tape to size. What I did was to iron slowly by segments, unrolling the tape as I went. At the end you don’t even need to cut off the tape. Just press the iron down firmly on the edge of the fabric and pull lightly on the end of the excess tape. It should melt clean off and the excess will come away in your hand, so that you have exactly as much tape as you need in the hem. Again I used the hottest setting – you should ensure the fabric is tightly sealed before going on to the next segment.


New curtains

Felt super happy with the clean hemming job and my new light day curtains!



  1. shyam said,

    Serene tried this ; apparently the tape thing does not last beyond a few months. Maybe it’s the humidity or smtg… If the fabric has some heft, might be a good time to hem it now. Tiny stitches are all you need. Or perhaps even jazz it up with an obvious running stitch in a bright coloured thread :)

  2. betherino said,

    it’s a v light fabric so it should be fine :)

  3. JD said,

    I love velvet roses on shiny brocade :'(
    My feelings are hurt

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