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.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 5200)
- Serger - Optional (we recommend the Janome 1200D Professional)
- Cover Stitch Machine - Optional (we recommend the JanomeCoverPro 1000CPX)
Fabric and Other Supplies
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
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.
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"
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)
- 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.
- 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
- Following manufacturer's directions, iron interfacing to the wrong side of the top raw edge of all three top fabric pieces (center and sides).
- 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.
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.
You could use a zig zag stitch along the raw edges.
Or, you could use an overcast stitch.
- 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.
- Pin the right top fabric side piece to the center top fabric piece, right sides together.
- 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.)
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 for left top side piece.
- Sew bottom three sections together, following the same steps as the top sections, but press the seams toward the center .
- 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.
- 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.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the top to bottom.
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.
You could also use a traditional double-turn hem finish, by folding in ½", then ½" again and edgestitching along the fold.
Or, you could use a cover stitch (using a cover stitch machine or a serger with cover stitch capability).
- Select your finish of choice from above and finish the two side hems, using a 1" hem allowance. Press.
- Finish the bottom hem in the same manner as the sides. Press.
- Finish top raw edge in the same manner as you've selected above.
- Fold and press top hem edge 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Using a zig zag stitch, sew around the marked circles.
- 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.
- With the wrong side facing up, insert snap grommets. Place the ‘raised center' side of the grommet in the circle.
- Snap the ‘prong' side of the grommet on to complete.
- 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:
- How To Use Snap-on Grommets
- Understanding Interfacings
- Checklist: Before You Cut Your Fabric
- Finishing Raw Seams: Part One - Sewing Machine Finishes
- How To Make a Simple Hem
- Introduction to Sergers
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.