DIY Flat Panel Curtains

Flat Panel Curtains
Flat Panel Curtains

 Flat panel curtains are just pieces of fabric that are hemmed on all four edges and hung from decorative rods with clip on or sew-on rings. That’s as basic as you can get, yet this style of curtain can easily be adapted to create a variety of looks: unlined sheers or semi sheers that cover the window, lined or unlined side panels that reveal most or all of the glass, panels formally styled into uniform folds, or panels allowed to casually drape and slouch

Side framing (opposite)

Slouchy, casual curtain panels that puddle onto the floor are attached to wall hooks that echo the arch of the window frame. These curtains, drawn to the side with simple tiebacks, are stationary—the pleated shades provide the privacy and sun control.

Slim and trim (top)

Single widths of fabric, hemmed on all sides and hanging from crane rods, break up a window-wall covered with pleated shades. Such a simple treatment makes a big difference in the overall appearance of the room.

Simplicity (left)

Some windows need just a touch of fabric. These casual side panels, with their clean lines and neutral tone, conceal the window frame and enhance the padded cornice and pleated shade. So simple but so effective.

What you need to know

Flat panel curtains can be designed as simple, casual, sill-length panels; semiformal floor-length styles, perfect for a
contemporary interior; or spilling-ontothe-floor luxurious draperies. The look is strongly influenced by the
fullness of the curtains, which can be sleek and spartan at one-and-one-half times fullness, full and opulent at three times fullness, or anywhere in between. See the examples for fullness and ring spacing on page 13. Select firmly woven medium-weight fabric to create a simple tailored look, with an upper edge that can be styled into gentle rolling folds. Lightweight, slinky fabric will result in a relaxed, soft look, with an upper edge that dips gracefully between attachment points. Depending on the desired fullness, one full width of decorator fabric will cover an area 18″ to 32″ (46 to 81.5 cm) wide. If more width is desired, seam together full or half widths of fabric for each panel. You may prefer to line the curtain panels to add body and prevent the decorator fabric from fading. The panels can be hung from a decorative rod with clip on or sew-on curtain rings, which are available in many styles. Choose the hardware and mount the rod before you begin so you can accurately measure for the finished length. The rod is usually mounted above the window frame far enough that the top of the curtain covers the wood. Before you drill any holes, it is a good idea to mock up a small sample to determine the exact location of the curtain top in relation to the rod; the type of ring used also affects the measurement.


• Decorative curtain rod
• Tools and hardware for installation
• Decorator fabric
• Drapery lining for lined curtains
• Drapery weights for floor-length curtains
• Clip-on or sew-on rings

flat panel curtains

Different fabric fullnesses and same spacing between hooks

 For a flatter panel, one-and-one-half times fullness is used (left); this means the width of the curtain measures one-and-one-half times the length of the rod. For a fuller panel, use two times fullness (center) or two-and-one-half times fullness (right). In these photos, all rings are spaced 1512” (39.3 cm) apart.

Cutting directions

  • The cut length of the fabric is equal to the finished length of the curtain plus the lower hem allowance (see chart below) plus 3″ (7.5 cm) for the upper hem.
  • The cut width of the fabric is equal to the amount of space you want to cover multiplied by the desired fullness (see examples above). Divide this amount by the width of the fabric and round up or down to the nearest whole or half width to find the number of fabric widths you need. Use full or half widths of fabric for each curtain panel.
  • Multiply the cut length by the total number of widths needed to determine the amount of fabric to buy. Buy an extra pattern repeat per fabric width for matching patterns (page 123).
  • For lined curtains, cut the lining fabric 5″ (12.7 cm) shorter than the decorator fabric for floor length curtains; 3″ (7.5 cm) shorter than the decorator fabric for sill- or apron-length curtains; or the same length as the decorator fabric for curtains that puddle on the floor. The cut width of the lining is the same as the decorator fabric.
flat panel curtains

Different spacing between rings and same fabric fullness

 For a controlled look along the top of the curtain, use more rings and space them close together (left). For a softer look, use fewer rings with more space between them (center). For dramatic swoops in the fabric, use a minimum of rings, spaced even farther apart (right). All of these curtain panels have two times fullness.

Making unlined flat panel curtains

  1. Seam the fabric widths together, if necessary, for each curtain panel. If half widths are needed, add them at the sides of the panels. Finish the seams together, and press them toward the side of the panel.
  2. Press under the lower edge the full amount of the hem allowance. Then unfold the pressed edge and turn the cut edge back, aligning it to the pressed fold line. Press the outer fold. If you are making floor-length curtains with more than one
    fabric width, tack a drapery weight to the upper layer of fabric at the base of each seam, with the bottom of the weight near the inner fold.
  3. Refold the lower edge, forming a double-fold hem. Pin. Stitch, using a blind stitch for an invisible hem or a straight stitch for a visible hem.
  4. Press under 3″ (7.5 cm) on one side. Then unfold the pressed edge and turn the cut edge back, aligning it to the pressed fold line. Press the outer fold. If you are making floor-length curtains, insert a drapery weight between the layers of the lower hem and tack it in place. Refold the edge, forming a 112” (3.8 cm) double-fold side hem. Stitch, using a blind stitch. Repeat for each side of each curtain panel.
  5.  Press under a 1 in the upper edge. Stitch the upper hem. 12” (3.8 cm) double-fold hem
  6. Mark the placement for sew-on or clip-on rings along the top hem, placing the end marks 34” (2 cm) from the sides. Space the remaining marks evenly 6″ to 10″ (15 to 25.5 cm) apart Try different spacing patterns, using safety pins, to help you decide. See the examples on page 13. Attach a ring at each mark.
  7.  Slide the rings onto the drapery rod, and mount the rod on the brackets.

Making lined flat panel curtains

  1. Follow steps 1 to 3 for unlined flat panel cur- tains on page 14. Repeat for the lining, but
    make a 2″ (5 cm) double-fold hem in the lining.
  2. Place the curtain panel and lining panel wrong sides together, matching the raw edges at the
    sides and upper edge; pin. The lining panel will be 1″ (2.5 cm) shorter than the curtain panel. Complete the curtain as on page 14, steps 4 to 7, handling the decorator fabric and lining as one fabric.

Making puddled curtains

1 Follow step 1 on page 14 for both decorator fabric and lining. Place the lining and decorator
fabric wrong sides together, matching the raw edges. Complete steps 2 to 7, treating both fabrics as one.



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