Clever curtain hack: made to measure

Turn basic curtains into something a lot more special.

Words and photography: Sarah Heeringa

Hanging fresh curtains is a great way to brighten up a room. But what if you can’t find curtains the right length in a colour or in a pattern you like? Or what if you have already bought curtains but realise they are too short? Here’s a smart way to take ready-made curtains and make them longer. It’s also a cost-effective, creative way to make basic white curtains into something unique.

Basically, you create an extra rectangular-shaped section of curtain consisting of three pieces of fabric; the front feature fabric, plain backing fabric and a strip of fabric in a complementary colour.

You need

  • A set of plain curtains, including curtain hanging hooks · Feature fabric (A) · Plain backing fabric (B)
  • Contrasting fabric strip (C)
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing scissors
  • Iron
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle and cotton
  • Ladder
  • Paper and pencil

Calculate the dimensions of the fabric you need 

The instructions below are for one curtain:

Width: Measure the width of one of the ready-made curtains and write this number down. Decide how wide you want the side hems to be and write this number down. (A minimum side hem is 4cm, allowing 2cm of fabric to be folded over twice). Add these two numbers together to get the width. If your fabric is not wide enough you can sew several strips together to get the necessary width. 

Length (or drop): Starting at the top edge of the curtain hem, measure the distance to the floor. Double this number, and add an extra 6cm. Add these numbers together to get the length. 

This rectangle of fabric is what you need for each curtain. It will be made by sewing the feature fabric (A) and the plain backing fabric (B) together.  

A and B need to be the same width but B needs to have a shorter length than A so that it sits neatly at the back of the curtain. Divide the length by three – one third is the length measurement of the plain backing fabric (B). The remaining two-thirds is the length measurement of the feature fabric (A). 

C is (the same width as above) x 20cm.


  1.  Use the ladder and curtain hanging hooks to hang one of the ready-made curtains. Calculate dimensions of the fabric you need to extend them to the ground (see instructions, left.)
  2.  Put A to B together with the right sides facing in and pin along both long edges. Sew along both edges. (Use an overlock stich or plain stich and zigzag). 
  3.  Iron the seams flat. Turn the fabric with the right sides facing out. Lay the fabric down so that one seam runs along the top and the other seam runs along the middle or lower at the back. Iron flat.
  4.  Create a tidy side edge that matches your ready-made curtains. Do this by folding the side edges of the fabric inwards or by folding the fabric over, twice, by 2cm each time. Pin and sew flat by hand or with the sewing machine. 
  5.  Fold C in half along its long edge and iron flat. Create a tidy side edge by folding the sides of the fabric inwards and ironing it flat.
  6.  Lay the A and B piece down with A fabric facing up and the seam along the top. Lay C on top with the raw edges along the seam edge. Pin C to A and B along the top edge. Sew these three layers together.
  7.  Take the ready-made curtain down and unpick the hem. 
  8.  Iron each edge of the hem with the sides folded and pinned, as pictured, and the rest of the unpicked hem folded back into place. 
  9.  Lay the curtain right side down with the unpicked hem facing upwards. Lay the A, B and C piece on top, right side up, and placed so that the sewn edge of A, B and C sits just under the unpicked hem. Pin along the hem line. Sew carefully along this line, re-stitching the unpicked hem and attaching the new fabric panel as you go. 
  10.  Your extended curtain is now ready to hang.  
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