I’ll admit it.
Until this year, I’ve never really used ready-made drapery panels bought at a local retailer.
I usually bought fabric and sewed the panels from scratch.
But, I gotta tell ya,
last week I had an eye-opening experience.
A regular drapery epiphany of sorts……
in the isle…..
If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.
But, ready-made drapery panels have come a long way.
A. Very. Long. Way.
So much so,
that with a little shopping savvy and a quick fix at home,
some of these panels can look positively custom-made.
Well……..except for the fact that the longest panels stop at 84 inches.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but wonder.
If a panel is supposed to be hung high (to the ceiling) and wide (on the wall beyond the window frame) to make the window look bigger,
why do the lengths stop at 84 inches?
Ready-made panels with lengths up to 108 inches can be ordered from online catalog stores, but what about the prices? Compared to the prices in the retail stores, prepare for major sticker shock.
For my bay window, the six panels at one of these stores would run between $600 to $1200, plus shipping, tax, clips, rods, and installation. Anybody think I could get the whole thing done for under $2,000?
I don’t know, but just looking at the math scared me.
So, I shifted my attention back to the ahhhmazing ready-made panels from Target.
In the style I chose, one unlined panel, which is 54 inches wide and 84 inches long, costs $20 plus tax. This breaks down to just a little over $8.50 per yard. Frankly, I would be hard pressed to find a better price per yard. Plus, the top and sides are already finished.
The hem will need manipulating to extend the finished length to 108 inches.
But once the hem is adjusted …. AND barring any math errors……….I’m good to go.
And, so will you.
BEFORE GOING TO THE STORE……..
(1) Round up a measuring tape, calculator, pencil, and paper………or just store it all in your phone.
(2) Measure the window and wall area you wish to cover.
Then, take some photos.
Remember, ALL of the measurements count towards the amount of fabric length and width.
(3) Now, time to get your savvy shopping going. And, by savvy shopping, I mean label reading and number crunching like a true Type-A, drapery-designing diva.
TIPS FOR PANEL BUYING:
So, the longest available length in the store is 84 inches. In the area I planned to use these panels, I have 9-foot ceilings and wanted floor-to-ceiling panels. Huuuum. Then I will have to add some fabric…..somewhere. But, guess what? Remember this photo?
It’ll be ok. I promise.
(2) TOP OF THE ROD
How a panel hangs on a rod will greatly determine how the fabric drapes down the wall. I wanted the panel to gather on a 2 or 3-inch rod, but did not want grommets or a ruffle on top. This panel was perfect. Although the exact pocket size was not given on the label, I stepped out on faith. It looked big enough.
And, voila! When gathered on my homemade rod, it fits perfectly.
(3) FABRIC WIDTHS
Typically, the standard for gathering fabric on a rod is 2 to 2 and ½ widths of fabric over the area you wish to cover. In the photo below, two 54-inch wide panels flank a total window and wall width of 39 inches. I covered the window trim, but not the glass. I also extended the fabric into the corner of the bay (see the photo’s right side).
54 inches times 2 (I bought one panel for each side of the window) = 108 inches of fabric width.
108 inches divided by 39 inches (total window and wall width) = 2.77 widths of fabric
A little over, but no worries. This just means that the drape will be fuller and more lux. Consider, too, that I scrunched a 54-inch wide panel onto a 9-inch rod.
(4) FABRIC WEIGHT and LINING
For me, two things determined whether or not I would line these panels.
One, will the backs ever be seen from the outside? In this case, no. These panels will be stationary on the wall so the wrong side of the fabric will not be seen from the outside.
Two, is the fabric stiff enough to hold a pretty drape down the wall by itself? In this case, yes. This is a medium weight cotton/polyester blend gathered at 2.7 times the window area width. There is more than enough fabric to hold a nice drape.
So, in my humble opinion, there is no need to line these panels.
Remember when I said we’d circle back to the length a little later?
OK, so the panel for each side of the window is 84 inches long, but I need 108 inches of finished length floor to ceiling. This means I need to buy one extra panel, cut it to get the extra fabric, and add that fabric to each of the other two panels.
Yea. Sorry. But, no worries, it can be no-sew if you want.
TIPS FOR ADDING FABRIC TO THE PANELS
(1) Using a seam ripper, open up the hems on all three panels. It’s really easy, just pick up the thread and give it a yank.
(2) Press the wrinkles from all three panels. Then, let the panels cool and even dry if damp from the steam. Note: Before pressing, test a tiny spot in a corner to make sure that the fabric can be pressed without any damage. If it passes the test, iron away, but always on the wrong side.
Here’s how I did the math for my panels:
Have 87 and 5/8 inches = 87” (main panel) + 5/8” (for seam onto added panel)
Difference 21 inches = 108” – 87” (the 5/8” will go into the seam, not the total length)
Need to cut 25 and ¼ inches of added fabric = 21” (added length) + 5/8” (for seam onto main panel) + 3” (turn up the hem) + 5/8” (fold over the top of the hem).
Total 108 inch panel = 108 inch top to bottom + 3 and 5/8 inches turned-up hem (shown in the photo below).
If sewing, remember to press the seam open. Iron the seam as flat as possible.
If using fusible bond, please follow these steps carefully.
The picture below illustrates how fusible bond works. The “right” sides are “fused” together using the tape and the heat from the iron.
Then the fabric is flipped over to hide the seam. My concern in ironing on the tape this way is that the resulting seam may not lay flat. And, you cannot reiron bonding tape or it can lose its hold.
So here’s another option to consider.
Fold and press into place a 5/8-inch (or the width of the tape) strip. Then place the “right” sides together and iron in the bonding tape as shown in the picture below. This will work if ironing on the “right” side will not harm the fabric.
To protect the iron from getting any bonding tape on it AND to protect the drapery fabric, I use a scrap piece of very thin fabric between the two.
(7) ADD WEIGHTS before attaching the hem. Coins, galvanized washers, etc., anything that is flat, slightly heavy for the fabric, and won’t corrode. Weights can be added across the bottom of the hem wherever you like. I always place a weight at right and left sides of the panel. Then add some more across the middle of the hem if the fabric isn’t holding the drape very well.
(8) Attach the hem. Just like the addition of the fabric piece, the hem can either be hand sewn, machine sewn, or secured using iron-on fusible bonding tape.
After the hem is completed, the drape is ready to hang. Remember to fiddle with the fabric until the gathers are even and the folds drape down the wall the way that you like.
Sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really not so bad. I finished a complete panel in less than an hour.
Are you ready?
Remember, we are here to help each other.
Please ….. ask questions and leave comments. I’m here for you.
Until next time,