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Designer Shower Curtain with Snap-on Grommets

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A shower curtain is an easy item to sew; it's just big! You can make one in just a few hours and give your bathroom a whole new look. We made this one from a couple of our favorite prints in Patty Young's Flora & Fauna collection. When you select fabrics, look for something that will blend nicely at the seams, such as the all-over pattern of the Humming Birds fabric we used. Or, if you're a bit more advanced, go for something you can pattern-match, a stripe for instance. You'll notice there are great little sewing techniques here that will apply to all kinds of projects, including several different seam and hem finishing options.

Put this cool curtain together with a quick window treatment and some decorative towels, and you'll have a whole new bathroom in an afternoon.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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The average size of a shower curtain for a standard tub/shower combination is 72" x 72". We decided to make ours 74" x 78" because we needed to account for additional height to accommodate our cool grommets at the top plus additional width for way the curtain gathers on the rod.

The overall size is totally adaptable to your particular type of shower opening; just follow our math story problem below to determine the size you need. When puzzling about your final size, it's important to think about the thickness of the curtain rod, and to remember to take into account the little bit of fabric above the grommets. You'll also want to consider the depth of the gathers to accommodate a shower curtain liner; you'll definitely want to use a standard clear shower curtain liner on the inside to keep your lovely new shower curtain dry.

  • 3½ yards top fabric: we used Patty Young's Flora & Fauna Humming Birds in Lime
  • 1½ yards bottom fabric: we used Patty Young's Flora & Fauna Dandelion in Lime
  • ½ yard fusible medium-weight interfacing
  • 2 packages of 1-9/16" drapery grommets to coordinate with fabric (you will only use 12 grommets total, but they come in packs of 8): we used Dritz®Home Drapery Grommets (they're snap-on!)
  • All purpose thread
  • Serger thread (optional)
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

Math time

We know we're using 44/45" fabric. We also know we want to use a ½" seam allowance. And we know we want our finished width to be 74" and the finished length to be 78". To determine how wide and how long to cut the top and bottom fabrics, we need to do some math (stop whining!). Since our fabric is not wide enough, we will need to piece the width. And because we're using two coordinating fabrics to make it more interesting, we'll also need to piece the height.

Lengths

We're using one fabric on top and another fabric on the bottom. We decided to make the bottom ¼ of the total finished length of 74" (that was a somewhat arbitrary design decision; you can mess with the percentage if you want). Determine the finished length of each fabric as follows:

Top fabric finished height: 74" x .75 = 55½"

Bottom fabric finished height: 74 x .25 = 18½"

To determine our cut lengths, we need to add hem allowances at either the top or bottom, and seam allowance between the two fabrics. We figure the cut lengths by starting with our finished length.

Top fabric: 55½" + 3" top hem + ½" seam allowance at the bottom = 59"

Bottom fabric: 18½" + 1" bottom hem + ½" seam allowance at the top = 20"

Widths

Now, we need to determine the cut widths of each section. There is one large width piece in the center (top and bottom), and two smaller width pieces on either side (top and bottom). Again, a bit arbitrary and approached from how best to use the available fabric without waste, but you can change the percentages and make even panels or more panels, or whatever you dream up.

For the center, we chose to use as much of the width of the fabric as possible. Since fabrics vary in width slightly, we decided to make our center 40" finished. Therefore, for the sides, the finished width has to be figured as follows:

78" - 40" (center) = 38" (divide by 2 for each side) = 19".

To determine the cut widths, again, we need to add a hem allowance at the sides and seam allowances in between the sections. We figure the cut widths by starting with the finished width.

Center piece: 40" + ½" seam allowance on one side + ½" seam allowance on the other side = 41"

Side pieces: 19" + ½" seam allowance + 1" side hem allowance = 20½" each piece

Did you fall asleep yet? Okay... we'll summarize

Top fabric (you will cut 3 pieces total):

For the center: 41" x 55½"

For the sides: 20½" x 55½" (cut two)

Bottom fabric (you will also cut 3 pieces total):

For the center: 41" x 19"

For the sides: 20½" x 19" (cut two)

  1. Cut all your top and bottom fabric sections.
    NOTE: Before you cut your fabric, pay attention to any directional prints. For example, both our Humming Birds and Dandelion prints have a definite direction. We were careful with cutting to make sure sure our little birds were flying right side up and our dandelions were growing up not down.
  2. Cut three 6" wide strips from the fusible interfacing. We'll use this to stabilize the very top of the shower curtain where the grommets will be installed.

Whew ... the hard math part is done; let's sew!

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Following manufacturer's directions, iron interfacing to the wrong side of the top raw edge of all three top fabric pieces (center and sides).
  2. You will need to use two pieces for the center piece because it is wider than most available interfacing, just butt the ends of the interfacing against each other and press as usual.
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Seam finishes

Before you begin to sew the side pieces to the center pieces, you need to think about how you plan to finish your seams.

We used a 4-thread standard overlock stitch on a serger to finish our seams.

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You could use a zig zag stitch along the raw edges.

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Or, you could use an overcast stitch.

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  1. Finish your seam allowance raw edges using one of the methods above.
    NOTE FOR SERGING: If you're using a serger, the 4-thread overlock will be your seam finish and sewn seam all-in-one. And, to avoid using pins near the blade of the serger, use a long basting stitch on your sewing machine to hold the seams together instead.

Assembling panels

  1. Pin the right top fabric side piece to the center top fabric piece, right sides together.
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  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the right side seam. Press seam toward the side (We will be nesting our top and bottom seams later, so keep track of which way you're pressing.)
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for left top side piece.
  4. Sew bottom three sections together, following the same steps as the top sections, but press the seams toward the center .
  5. Finish the bottom raw edge of the three-piece top section and the top raw edge of the three-piece bottom section using one of the methods described above. (If you got lost in all those tops and bottoms, just remember your next step is sewing the top piece to the bottom piece; those two raw edges should be finished.) Be sure to keep your pressed seam allowances going in their appropriate directions.
  6. Pin the top section to the bottom section, right sides together. Be sure to ‘nest' your seams so they will be lined up from the right side. This means the seam allowances of the two pieces are going in opposite directions, allowing the seam lines to match up perfectly.
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  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the top to bottom.

Hem finishes

Before you hem the sides, the top and the bottom, you need to decide how you will finish your hems.

Again, we used a 4-thread overlock stitch to finish the raw edge. Then, we sewed the hem in place with a standard straight stitch on our sewing machine. We sewed right down the middle of the serged edge to maintain an even hem.

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You could also use a traditional double-turn hem finish, by folding in ½", then ½" again and edgestitching along the fold.

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Or, you could use a cover stitch (using a cover stitch machine or a serger with cover stitch capability).

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  1. Select your finish of choice from above and finish the two side hems, using a 1" hem allowance. Press.
  2. Finish the bottom hem in the same manner as the sides. Press.

Grommets

  1. Finish top raw edge in the same manner as you've selected above.
  2. Fold and press top hem edge 3".
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  3. If you plan to use a double-fold hem finish, fold the raw edge under ¼" and then fold another 2¾".
    NOTE: Sometimes, when you make a long hem, such as at the top of our shower curtain, the fabric can shift slightly and you can see the raw edge of the hem sticking out. To avoid this, fold under the corners slightly before beginning to sew.
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  4. Lay the shower curtain on a flat surface so you can determine the position of each grommet. We spaced the first two grommets on either end 6" apart and the rest 6 ¾" apart.
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  5. Using the template that comes with the grommets, mark the position of grommets. We positioned our grommets so there was approximately ½" above the grommet to the top fold and ½" below to our stitching line.
    NOTE: It's best to mark the center of each circle first, and then trace the rest of the circle. We used an awl to poke a hole in the center of the template to make this marking easier.
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  6. Using a zig zag stitch, sew around the marked circles.
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  7. Cut out each grommet hole close to the zigzag stitching. Fold the sewn circle in half and make a ½" slit. Then, insert your scissors in the slit to cut around the inside of the circle.
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  8. With the wrong side facing up, insert snap grommets. Place the ‘raised center' side of the grommet in the circle.
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  9. Snap the ‘prong' side of the grommet on to complete.
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  10. Feed your grommet shower curtain onto your curtain rod and take a nice, hot shower! Don't forget you'll need a shower curtain liner and rings to place in between the pleats of the shower curtain.You'll slide them on at the same time alternating the curtain and the liner: grommet, liner and ring, grommet, liner and ring, grommet... you get the picture.

Hints and Tips

Jazz up your towels

Any leftover fabric can be used to sew decorative bands on towels to coordinate with your shower curtain.

Pinning long pieces of fabric

When working with long pieces of fabric, such as with a shower curtain or any other type of drapery, it can be challenging to pin everything evenly. It helps to pin at each end and in the middle to start. Keep subdividing the distance between the pins until you have the entire length pinned in place.

If you're brand new to sewing, check out these other helpful tutorials:

Contributors

Project Design and Instructional Outline: Jodi Kelly

Other machines suitable for this project include the Brother NX-450 and the Baby Lock Decorator's Choice. Other sergers suitable for this project include the Baby Lock Imagine and the Brother 3034D. Other cover stitch machines include the Brother 2340CV and Pfaff Coverlock 4852.

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Comments (21)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Kathy Ashdown - Oh dear -- as you can see by the date on the article (as well as our other Nature Brights Kitchen projects) this collection came out over two years ago, so I bet it is nearly impossible to find. Fabric is just like fashion; the collections come out a couple times a year and the fabric runs are limited. By googling, you are doing exactly what I'd do to try to find it. Every so often a manufacturer will re-release a collection and Patty Young did just re-release her Andalucia collection in new colors, but I haven't heard any rumors of Flora & Fauna coming back. So sorry, but I think you might be out of luck.
Kathy Ashdown said:
Kathy Ashdown's picture
I have looked EVERYWHERE for this fabric the green with the birds that is used in your shower curtain and I have not been able to find it. I want to make window curtains from it. Can you help me? I tried googling it and still had no success.
KJ Painter said:
KJ Painter's picture
This is just what I needed! Thank you for the excellent photos and alternative stiching ideas. I look forward to doing this now, rather than dreading it.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Nan Moore -- Yes, we have actually hung the double shower curtains... and goodness, of course, you don't want the liner on the outside. It seems I'm not doing too well trying to describe via comments. Maybe if we were closer, I could come over and help put it up smilies/cheesy.gif. I found it easiest to lay them both on the floor. I also measured to make sure the curtain and its liner never have to be completely flat... there is always a little gather, so there isn't any restriction. We used all the holes -- so option two as you described in your first comment should be your best bet. Also -- the Dritz grommets are super easy to insert; if you wanted to get really fancy - you could replace the tiny liner grommets with full size Dritz grommets and weave the two layers together to hang side by side. Hope that helps. Sorry to hear you're frustrated.
Nan Moore said:
Nan Moore's picture
Thanks for your replay, Liz. As you describe it, then, the first liner ring would hang on the inside of the shower curtain, the next liner ring would be attached so as to show on the outside of the shower curtain and would flip back over the top of the bar and scrunch the shower curtain fabric down as the liner hung down from it, then the next liner ring would be inside the shower curtain, then the next ring would by outside and would scrunch the fabric of the shower curtain down, and so forth.

Have you actually hung BOTH a shower curtain and a liner, as you describe, or have you hung only the shower curtain, with the liner being a sort of after thought that you suggest we add?

Nan
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Nan Moore -- here's what I would suggest: interlace the shower curtain grommets and the liner one for one until the very end - at the end, just tuck two liner rings between the last two curtain grommets. So start with a grommet and then hook a liner then grommet, then liner.... etc, and finally grommet, liner, liner, grommet. Happy showering.
Nan Moore said:
Nan Moore's picture
Great idea; I have all my materials and am ready to start. Thanks for the instructions. However, about that liner: If you use 12 grommets, with your shower curtaining snaking back and forth on the rod, you will be left with 6 interior spots for hanging the liner. Liners come with 12 holes for shower rings. Did you use only 6 rings and skip every other hole? Won't that make for a saggy liner that has a loose flap at one end? Or did you use rings in every hole and put them on this way: grommet, liner & ring, liner and ring, grommet, grommet, liner & ring, liner and ring, etc. This would leave the liner bunched up on the inside and the shower curtain unable to spread out entirely between each pair of rings + liner. We don't see a liner in the illustration, so it's not clear how you solved this problem.

Thanks! Nan
Liz Johnson, Editor, Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson, Editor, Sew4Home's picture
hi Alice P -- I addressed that in the very last line of the instructions:

Don't forget you'll need a shower curtain liner and rings to place in between the pleats of the shower curtain.You'll slide them on at the same time alternating the curtain and the liner: grommet, liner and ring, grommet, liner and ring, grommet... you get the picture.
christy said:
christy's picture
This is perfect. I've had the material and was aware of the Dritz grommets but wasn't sure if I could do it. Your tutorial and photos are just what I needed. Great website!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Megan S. -- thanks so much for your compliment. It is always gratifying to know we're helping people find their "sewing inspiration" smilies/cheesy.gif
Megan S. said:
Megan S.'s picture
You all write the best articles for projects! I'm so thankful you take the time to show us how to do the math even though it's 'boring'. Your pics are so helpful and I love your choices in projects! I'm always impressed. Keep up the great work!
Natalie said:
Natalie's picture
These are gorgeous! It is great to know about those grommets. Thanks for the great tutorial!
RAF said:
RAF's picture
Thank you very much. I will definitely be trying this real soon. Thank you for the idea.
alicia.thommas said:
alicia.thommas's picture
We used a quilting weight cotton. You could use a décor weight if you wanted. Either would require a shower curtain liner.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi kmb -- we do address this above - yes, you should use a liner.

"The overall size is totally adaptable to your particular type of shower opening; just follow our math story problem below to determine the size you need. When puzzling about your final size, it's important to think about the thickness of the curtain rod, and to remember to take into account the little bit of fabric above the grommets. You'll also want to consider the depth of the gathers to accommodate a shower curtain liner; you'll definitely want to use a standard clear shower curtain liner on the inside to keep your lovely new shower curtain dry."
kmb said:
kmb's picture
Beautiful. The shower curtain doesn't need a waterproof lining? Or would you just use a second vinyl curtain for the inside?

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