Curtain panels are a perfect beginner project. They're fast, super simple, and you get a great sense of satisfaction when you hang them up and instantly transform your window from plain and boring to pretty and bright. Our Retro Fun curtains combine two great vintage fabrics from Barbara Jones' Simply Sweet collection plus the ultimate retro touch: red gingham bows. Gingham and polka dots and pretty flowers... it's such a happy combination, I feel like breaking into a few stanzas of Perry Como's 1951 classic Zing Zing Zoom Zoom . Who wants to sing along??
The supplies listed below are for TWO finished curtain panels measuring approximately 42" wide x 42" long each. These were created for a 36" x 36" window. The ribbon ties make the height somewhat adjustable. Please note that the window in the photo above is a bit taller and thinner, which is why the curtain rod appears "set down" from the top of the window. With flat curtain panels, they are flexible and pretty easy to adjust. However, if your window(s) are very different in size, check out our tutorial: How to Measure for Curtains.
BIG thanks to our new friend, Barbara Jones, the designer of the beautiful Simply Sweet fabric collection for Henry Glass & Company. She very generously provided all the fabric for our retro kitchen projects, and has it all in-stock and available for order on her site, QuiltSoup. We looked at a lot of fabrics for this series, but Barbara's designs are the ones that jumped right off the page as the perfect vintage kitchen combo. There are additional colorways and designs within the collection. Check it out.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome JNH 1860)
Fabric and Other Supplies
All Simply Sweet fabric is available at QuiltSoup
- Fabric top and bottom accent borders: 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric: we used Barbara Jones' Simply Sweet in #5120-82 Jumbo Pink Dot on Red for Henry Glass & Co. Fabric
- Fabric for main curtain panels: 2-1/8 yards of 44-45" wide fabric: we used Barbara Jones' Simply Sweet in #5116-8 Floral Diamonds for Henry Glass & Co Fabric
- Fabric for curtain panel lining: 2-1/8 yards of 44-45" wide solid fabric: we used a plain white cotton
- 9 yards of 1" ribbon for ties: we used red gingham
- All purpose thread to match both the main panel fabrics and the accent fabric
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Fabric pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
- Fray Check or similar for the ends of the ribbons
- From the accent fabric (Simple Sweet Jumbo Dot in our sample), cut four strips 8" x the width of the fabric.
- From the main panel fabric (Simply Sweet Floral Diamond in our sample), cut two panels 37" x the width of the fabric.
- From the lining fabric (white cotton in our sample), cut two panels 37" x the width of the fabric.
- Trim all these pieces to a matching 43" width.
- Cut the ribbon (red gingham in our sample) into eighten 18" lengths. Trim the ends at a diagonal. Each curtain panel uses eight ties, the two extra ribbons are to use as tie backs.
- Apply a line of Fray Check, or similar, to each end of each piece of ribbon, and allow to dry or iron dry with low heat. This will help prevent the ribbon from fraying and raveling.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Thread your machine with thread to match the curtain panels.
- Match up the two main fabric panels with the two lining fabric panels. Pin each set right sides together, aligning all the edges.
- Sew both sets together along both SIDES (but not the top and bottom), using a ½" seam allowance.
- Press all four seams open. Then, turn the curtain panels right side out and press the seams flat so they make a nice sharp edge.
- Fold one accent strip in half lengthwise. Press.
- Open the accent strip back up and lay it flat on your work surface right side facing up. You will be able to see the pressed crease down the middle.
- The crease marks the center line of your strip and the line on which you will place and stitch the ribbon ties.
- Collect eight ribbon lengths. Fold each length in half to find its center point. Place the center line of the ribbon on the center crease line of the accent strip. The ribbons will lay perpendicular to the fabric. Space the eight ribbons evenly along the strip with the first and last ribbons ½" in from each end. The ties will be approximately 5" apart. Pin in place.
- Re-thread your machine with thread to match the accent strip.
- Stitch straight across the entire piece of accent fabric, keeping your seam right along the center crease and attaching the ties as you sew. At each ribbon, stop with your needle in the down position and back stitch over the tie to secure, then proceed to the next ribbon, This gives each ribbon three lines of stitching, which will create a nice, strong tie.
- Fold the accent strip in half again, wrong sides together, along the crease line and press the ties up and away from the strip. You seam line will run along the very top of your fold.
- Open the accent strip up and match it to the top raw edge of the curtain panel, centering the accent strip so there is an extra ½" at each side. The right side of the accent strip should face the right side of the main panel fabric. Pin in place.
- Stitch across the top through all layers, using a ½" seam allowance. Start and stop at the finished edges of the panel.
- With the accent strip still opened flat, press the seam allowance away from the curtain panel towards the accent strip.
- Flip the project over, and press up the long raw edge of the accent strip ½".
- Fold the accent strip in half lengthwise, right sides together, and pin in place.
- Stitch across both short ends with a ½" seam allowance. This seam allowance should be flush with the finished edge of the curtain panel.
- Trim seam allowance to 1/4". Turn right sides out and press.
- On the lining side of the curtain panel, bring the pressed edge of the accent strip back up and over the exposed seam. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch around all four sides of the accent strip. This top stitching will be visible, so be very careful to keep your seam line straight and remember to pivot at each corner.
- Finish the lower edge of the curtain in the same way, using a second accent strip, but omitting the ribbons and the line of stitching that secures them.
- Make the second curtain panel to match the first.
- We found it easier to tie all the ribbon ties into matching bows first, and then slip the panels onto the curtain rod.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler
Other machines suitable for this project include the Pfaff 1122 and the Baby Lock Grace A-Line.