For the last few months, we’ve set aside our staple guns and dipped into our bag of tools and tricks to make everything from lampshades to slipcovers. This month on Upholstery Basics, we head back to the sewing machine to construct a simple shower curtain. For a clawfoot tub, finding a shower curtain that’s wide enough to encircle the perimeter can be a challenge, if not impossible. After months of searching, I finally found the perfect fabric at the right price (I needed 12 yards!) to conceal my soapy plastic liner. Check out how easy it was to brighten up this bathroom with just a sewing machine and a $10 grommet kit. —
Read the full how-to after the jump . . .
- painter’s tape
- washable fabric
- white or yellow chalk
- long straight edge
- hand plier stapler or t-pins
- sewing machine
- staple remover
- 12″ ruler
- grommet hole cutter, anvil and mandril
- cutting block (or thick piece of cardboard to put under the hole cutter)
Don’t forget to check out Upholstery Basics: Tool Time to learn more about the tools we’re using today.
Fabric by Kaffe Fasset for .
Feel free to give us a call or email us at if you’d like to purchase the fabric.
1. If you plan on washing your shower curtain, wash the fabric before you start construction so it preshrinks.
2. Determine the finished length and width of the curtain. Because I have a freestanding tub, my curtain goes all the way around the perimeter. I added 15% to the outside circumference of the tub so the fabric will gather slightly when closed and made the height extend from the top of the liner to 2″ above the floor.
3. I will sew a double hem on every side to conceal the raw edges of fabric. At the bottom, I add 8″ of fabric to account for a 4″ double hem. At the top and sides, I add 4″ (2″ double hem) and 3″ (1 1/2″ double hem), respectively.
4. One of the most challenging parts of drapery sewing is keeping long lengths perfectly measured. If you don’t have a large table, spread out your fabric on the floor. Start by marking parallel lines that are the same distance apart as the length of the shower curtain any additions for hemming on your work surface. I use painter’s tape, which can easily be removed without damaging my work surface. Square the bottom edge of the fabric and tape it to the table so it meets the bottom line.
7. Remove the clamps, straight edge and bottom edge from the table then cut along the chalked line. Repeat steps 4–7 to cut out the rest of the fabric. Since the width of my curtain is over 200″, I will seam five widths of fabric, side by side, to make the necessary width. If you plan on pattern matching the fabric across the seams, line up the pattern on the first panel with the pattern on the next piece of fabric before marking the top and bottom edges.
11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 to iron the double hem on the top and sides (in that order) but change the measurement of the fold over so the hem is the desired size. Then use t-pins to hold the hems in place as you sew.
15. Lock the threads by tying them off with a knot on the backside of the fabric. Repeat steps 12–15 to sew the other side. Sew across the top and bottom hems from side hem to side hem and tie off the threads on the backside of the fabric.
Making grommets requires a kit, which you can pick up from most hardware stores for as little as $10. The kit comes with an anvil, hole cutter and mandril (from left to right in the image below), which make a specific size grommet. You’ll also need the actual grommets that match the size of the kit, a hammer and a cutting block to put under the fabric as you cut the hole. Most kits come with a cutting block; however, a thick piece of cardboard or a cutting board works, too.
- If you don’t plan on washing your shower curtain, consider an outdoor or mildew-resistant fabric that’s well suited for damp environments. Also consider the weight of the fabric and how sturdy the rod is around your tub.
- Serge seams or cut out the fabric panels with pinking shears to prevent fraying or unraveling.
- Curtain length and hem dimensions are up to your discretion. If you’re working with a limited amount of fabric, reduce the hem dimensions to conserve fabric.