How to Make Sheer Curtain Panels

Yes!  A rainy saturday morning.  You know what that means?  You can do all those things that you wish you could do when it’s nice out but you don’t want to waste the day.

My head started spinning with the possibilities.  I have a million projects to do/finish!  And because I wanted to get SOMETHING done, I decided to go with what was easiest!

SHEER CURTAINS!  I started making the sheer curtains two weeks ago and I wanted to finish them so I could feel accomplished!

I have been looking for something to go with my dreary curtain panels for some time now, and I haven’t had much luck unless I wanted to pay an arm and a leg.  We initially bought the panels when we first got married and I moved in.  I wanted to avoid that fish bowl feeling we got without them, and these did the trick.  The fabric has a nice texture to it, and it’s simple enough to go with anything.

Here are the dreary curtains…

Needs some sprucing up, don't you think?

I have been searching for my entire life (it seems) for some beautiful fabric, or curtains and I finally found it!  It’s perfect because it has all the shades of color that I am looking for as we are planning on painting the kitchen chocolate-brown.  It’s eclectic, and has a nice sheen to it, totally my style!

Hancock Fabric Find

Before you go to the fabric store you’ll need to measure your window to determine how much fabric you’ll need.  Measure the length and width in inches, and be precise.  When measuring for the length make sure to measure from where the rod will hang to where you want the curtains to end.  Curtain panels typically have a gather when hanging on the window, as well as room to add a pocket for the rod and a hem.  You will need to account for the extra fabric needed for these things as well as for a seam allowance.  Find out about seam allowances here.

For the gather take the width measurement for your window and multiply it by 1 1/2 – 3.  The more width you add the fuller your curtain panels will be.  For the rod pocket you will need to know or at least have an idea of how thick the rod is, most skinny rods will require a pocket-size about 2 – 2 1/2 inches, thicker rods will need more room.  I like to leave plenty of room for the rod in the rod pocket, this makes gathering and sliding the curtains on the rod easier.  Measure the diameter of the rod and make your pocket at least 1 1/2 – 2 times wider plus an additional 1/2″ for the seam allowance.  If your fabric is thick or heavy you may want to leave even more room in the rod pocket.  For the hem you should determine how big you want it to be.  Bigger hems are more luxurious and tend to look better, smaller hems will work, but they don’t look as nice.  I made my hem 3″ which means I would need to add 6″ plus an additional 1/2″ for a seam allowance.

Here is an example of how to add all this up and come up with the fabric yardage needed for your window.

Window Size: 36″ wide by 84″ (from rod to floor)

Gather: 36″ multiplied 3 times = 108″

Length: 84″ + 2 1/2″ (pocket) + 1/2″ (pocket seam allowance) + 6″ (hem) + 1/2″ (hem seam allowance) = 93.5″ you could round this up to make room for error.

Fabric comes in different widths, most home decor fabric is at least 60″ wide.  In the example we need 108″ for the gather.  You would need to purchase enough to make 2 curtain panels to meet your goal of 108″.  Most fabric is sold by the yard, and for those not familiar a yard is 3 feet.  In the example you need 93.5″, which is a little more than 7 and 3/4 feet or 2.66 yards.  I would round-up to make room for error and get 2 3/4 yards.  If the fabric you chose is only 60″ wide you will need to double that and get 5 1/2 yards.

If you need help, just ask a store associate, as long as you have the basic measurements they should be able to help you.

For a panel of sheer curtains, I don’t need a pattern.  Honestly it’s just 2 side seams, a pocket for the rod, and a lovely large hem.  For me this is easy, for others you may want to find yourself a pattern.  If you decide to use a pattern, the instructions will tell you how much fabric to get as well as how to make them.  Your local fabric store will have these patterns in stock and the staff will probably be able to help you too.  You can find all kinds of home decor patterns for window treatments at these 3 places.




The fabric I chose has the wonderful advantage of having horizontal stripes.  The horizontal stripes makes hemming and keeping the fabric pattern level super easy!  This particular fabric was also 108″ wide, so I only needed one panel for my purposes.  The first step to take once you have purchased your fabric is to trim the selvage edge on both sides.  You can find out more about selvage edges here.

Me Trimming the Selvage Edge

You should also finish the raw edges of the of the fabric to keep it from unraveling or fraying.  I used a serger for mine.

Used to Finish Raw Edge

Next you will need to determine which side of the fabric is the ‘right side’ vs the ‘wrong side’.  The right side is the side you want to show, and obviously the wrong side is the side you don’t want to show.  In some cases, your fabric may not have a right and wrong side, like the fabric I chose.  If that’s the case, just choose a side that you will want to show and deem it your ‘right side’.

Side Seams – For my project, I chose to fold in the raw edge in 1/4″ wrong side facing wrong side, then again another 1/4″.   Iron the folds to form a crease for each fold, then sew the hem using a simple straight stitch.  This will hide the raw edge from view since it’s inside the seam. Repeat on the other side.

Fold the raw edge in, then fold again for a clean edge.

To sew the seam I used a blind hem foot, see below.  I used this to keep the stitch close to the edge of the fold, it makes for a neater seam that looks good on both sides.

Bind Hem Foot

Rod Pocket – Next I folded the top edge in 1/4″ (fold #1), then a second time 1/4″ and ironed to get a crease (fold #2).  Fold a third time to make the pocket for the rod you will be hanging the curtains on.  The pocket-size will be determined by how thick the rod is.  I have a skinny rod so I made the pocket-size about 2 1/2″ and ironed the edge.  See below for the series of folds

Once you complete and iron the three folds you can use a straight stitch to close the pocket.

Rod Pocket Straight Stitch

The Hem – Once you complete the rod pocket it’s time to hang your curtains up on the rod so you can measure for the hem.  In the picture below you’ll see the extra yardage on the floor, I have placed some pins where the fabric touches the floor.

This is where the hem touches the floor

Pins to mark where the hem touches floor

Once you get pins in where the fabric touches the floor you should determine how much of a hem you want.  My hem is 3″, usually a larger hem looks better on the bottom.  For a 3″ hem, measure 6 1/2″ from where the fabric touches the floor and trim the excess off.

Trim the excess fabric off after you determine the size of the hem.

Once you have trimmed the excess, take the curtain panel off the rod and prepare to iron the hem.  There will be another series of 3 folds, and ironing for the hem.  Fold #1, 1/4″ and iron, #2 1/4″ and iron, #3 fold is 3″ in to complete the series, then iron.  See below for visuals.

Fold #1

Fold #2

Fold #3

To complete your sheer panel, use a simple straight stitch and a blind hem foot to get close to the edge of the fold.  See video for a demonstration.

Once you finish the hem you are done!  Iron your curtain panel and hang.  Here is the hem!

Finished Hem

It’s a simple first time project and the results are usually extremely satisfying!  They look great and I only paid about $20 for the fabric!  If I bought plain white sheer panels at Target I would have paid a lot more because I’d need two panels, they wouldn’t have been the right length and I would not love them as much!

Great Look For Less!

A Close Up... Love The Two Textures!

Layla Approves!

Thanks for reading!  Post your curtain or home decor projects in the comments below, I’d love to see them!


2 thoughts on “How to Make Sheer Curtain Panels

    • Hi Nichole –

      I got it at Hancock Fabrics. I don’t remember the name, but they had it in their home decor collection last year. Thanks for reading my post!

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