Easy, Lined Window Panels (And Lessons Learned)

This special order home decor fabric from JoAnn has been sitting in my living room for 3 weeks because I have been afraid to make the cut! We needed some simple panels for some windows that let in a lot of heat and cause an annoying glare. I finally got out the ladder and measured my windows, unrolled the fabric on my living room floor and made the cut!

There are four windows, two large and two small, and they are situated above larger windows that have plantation shutters. Since the windows are only 19" top-to-bottom, I was able to cut 4 yards of fabric lengthwise to get 8 yards to cut into 4 pieces, and was left with 8" to use for the top casing and hem (4" each). I allowed 3-1/2" extra on each side (a 1-1/2" fold, and 2" to wrap around where the rod sticks out from the wall).  >>I will be adding a diagram later in case you are a visual person like me!<<  Because the windows are so high and no one will see the panels close up and I don't plan on washing them, I didn't bother to fold the raw edge under.
First I folded the sides in 1-1/2" and sewed twice, along the fold and the raw edge.  To make a tube for the curtain rod, I just folded the top down 4" and sewed twice along the raw edge. For the hem I folded the bottom up 4" and sewed along the fold, along the raw edge, and along the sides to close the tube. Last I made a "boxed corner" to help the panel round the corner of the curtain rod and keep out the light from the sides (I'm making up a word because I don't know sewing jargon yet!).  I folded the edge under 2" and pinned, then sewed very close to the fold and got a nice sharp corner (see next two photos).

I made my first panel without lining, and then took my Mom's and Aunt's advice and got some lining material. Since the panels have a white background, I didn't want to use a black lining. I also didn't want to trek out of town for specialty fabric, so I decided on duck cloth from WalMart, which works great considering I want the panels smooth and flat and we don't plan on opening them.  After making the second panel (lined), I'm very pleased with the result. I just cut the lining to fit inside the 1-1/2" and 4" folds.  See the difference?


Hanging the two smaller panels and seeing it all come together was good motivation to keep working on the larger panels which had started to feel like a chore...  Actually I was nervous about working with the larger panels and all that heavy fabric!  I found that folding, and then unrolling the fabric as I sewed was pretty easy, and I would lift the weight of the fabric if needed, like this:

When I finished the first larger panel, it was about 10" too narrow for the window - ACK!  Where did I go wrong?  I finally realized that the larger windows weren't the same size, and I had measured the smaller of the two!  (You know what they say about ASSuming.)  Luckily the panel I had just finished fit the smaller window, but I was in quite a predicament.  I had already cut all four panels, so I needed to figure out how to add some width to the last panel... Ironically my Aunt and BFF both gave me the same advice when I started this project, measure three times and cut once!  Oops.

It was also at this time that I learned drapery rods come in varying depths as well as lengths!  I had purchased mostly 2" clearance rods, except for one 3", so my little boxed corners that I was so proud of didn't wrap all the way to the wall.  Luckily I just exchanged the rod and didn't have to get out the seam ripper.  This is the type of curtain rod I'm using, they're from WalMart too, and only cost $1 for the smaller rods and $3 for the larger ones. Here's how it turned out:

I will post pictures once all the panels are up.  I'm hoping that I've learned enough to finish the project without any disasters.  If you're new to sewing, then I hope you've learned from my mistakes!  After reading this tutorial, I'm excited to get started on some pleated curtains for my daughter's room.

>> Update:  these curtains are still a work in progress!  I'm going to experiment with drapery weights because the very wide panels need some smoothing out.

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