You bought an expensive set of high-quality curtains, only to discover that they are too long for your needs. What do you do now? Should you replace them with more fitting ones or just let the fabric puddle on the floor, as messy as that may look?
Luckily, there is another option. Instead of spending more money or settling for a look you don’t like, you can shorten your curtains to a suitable length. And the best part is that you don’t even need to trim them or use the sewing machine. Follow our simple hacks to alter your curtains without breaking a sweat!
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Wall-mounted tieback hooks like these are an excellent way to give your long curtains the lift they need. Instead of placing them beside the curtain panels, attach them to the wall just behind the drapes. That way, when you tie the curtains back, they will appear shorter, achieving that particular look you are going for.
To add some elegance and sophistication to your tiebacks, make sure to neatly blouse them. That will create puffiness in the upper part, giving your curtains a unique style.
When your curtains are too long for a tieback to be of much help, you may shorten them by creating a new hem. That can be done using a sewing kit, but there is a different, quicker way that involves folding, straight pins, and iron-on hem tape.
Here is how to make a no-sew hem in a few simple steps.
Step 1: Fold the Bottom of the Curtain
To achieve the desired length of your curtain, hang it and then fold the bottoms until they only brush the floor. Alternatively, you can measure the height between the floor and the curtain rod and mark it on the curtain, using it as a guide for folding. However, if you choose the hanging technique, you’ll avoid having to take measurements, which is certainly a plus.
If your curtain is too long, fold it over twice or three times until you manage to neatly tuck in all excess fabric. Trimming the material is also a good option for those who don’t mind cutting their drapes.
Step 2: Use Straight or Safety Pins
Once you fold the curtain to achieve the appropriate length, secure the fold using straight or safety pins. Slide them horizontally through the fabric, and don’t worry if you can see them on the curtains — you will take them out later anyway.
Step 3: Iron the Fold
Place the curtain onto the ironing board and heat the iron to the appropriate temperature indicated on the curtain label. Do that even if the curtain is hanging — just place the board directly under it.
Afterward, remove the pins and carefully run the iron over the fold. That way, you will create a crease, keeping the fold in place even without the pins. If you have more than one fold, make sure to iron both the top and bottom ones.
Step 4: Place and Secure the Iron-on Hem Tape
The iron-on hem tape is an excellent way to keep your fold in place. Put it on the inside of the fold, closer to the bottom crease. Make sure that none of the tape is showing on the outside, as it could melt during ironing and create a sticky mess.
Once the tape is in place, fold the fabric over it once again and begin ironing. Make sure to be careful not to ruin the curtain. Press the iron down onto the fabric for a few seconds, then lift it and move on to the next section. It’s important not to run the iron over the material, as it might crease and remain stuck to the adhesive in that position.
Step 5: Trim the Excess Material
This final step is optional, but it might be very helpful if you have plenty of excess fabric. Use a sharp pair of scissors to trim the material and go slowly to keep the line straight. If you don’t entirely succeed, don’t worry — this edge will be on the inside of the curtain and, therefore, out of sight.
Possibly the easiest way to shorten your curtains without trimming or sewing is by using curtain clips with hooks or rings. We recommend nine clips per panel, but the number ultimately depends on the look you are going for. The more clips you put, the more luxurious your drapes will be, so keep that in mind when deciding.
To shorten the curtain using the clips, measure the length your drapes need to be, then fold the top to achieve it. Ensure your fold is oriented towards the back, as that will make it invisible from the front.
Once you have your fold, it’s time to fasten it using curtain clips. Arrange them evenly, measuring the space carefully. If you’re using nine clips as recommended, you won’t need to measure at all.
Simply place one clip on each end of the curtain and one in the center. Then, the following two clips should go halfway between the center clip and the leftmost and rightmost clips. Finally, add the remaining four in between the ones already in place.
The last thing you need to do is slide the hooks or rings onto the rod. Once you’re done, all that’s left is to admire your new curtains that are now just the perfect length!
Many curtains come with a rod pocket that allows you to easily slide them onto the curtain rod. Even if your curtain doesn’t have a rod pocket, you can make one and hence shorten your drapes to the desired length.
First, you need to fold the top of the curtain twice, making sure that the fold is positioned towards the back. If your drapes already have a rod pocket, it’s enough to make just one additional fold. Also, the fold should be twice as wide as the curtain rod, allowing you to easily mount the curtain when you finish.
Once you’ve created the folds, pin the pocket with straight or safety pins. Remember to keep the sides open, though, as you’ll need to slide the rod through them.
From here, you can hang the curtain just as it is, complete with safety pins. That’s a good solution if you’re looking for a temporary fix. However, if you need something more permanent, complete steps 3 and 4, described in the “Create a New Hem” section. The iron-on hem tape will ensure your new rod pocket stays firmly in place.
Finally, it’s time to slide the curtain onto the curtain rod. The gap you find in the folds of the fabric is your rod pocket, so simply insert the curtain rod into it. Spread out the drapes, and there you have it!
If you’re looking for a long-term solution and have enough space on your wall, you can raise the rod instead of altering the curtains. This option will make your window look larger and simultaneously eliminate any unpleasant puddling of the excess fabric on the floor.
Raising the rod requires drilling new holes into the wall, as well as patching and repainting the old ones. In other words, it’s not something you can repeatedly do, so make sure you get the measurements right immediately. If your curtain is five inches too long, the curtain rod should be raised by five inches too.
If your curtains are only slightly longer than you want them to be, you might not have to modify them at all. A quick wash in the washing machine could be all it takes to shrink them to a desirable size.
In fact, some cotton curtains come with specific instructions on how to shrink them. Typically, you will succeed after a single try if you use a boil wash and dryer. Sometimes, it might take more than a single wash, but eventually, you will surely see the difference.
So, how come curtains shrink during washing so much that curtain manufacturers make them longer to account for this difference? Well, it’s because the threads are starched, stretched out, and dried during the manufacturing process. But once you wash them, they will naturally shrink, as they can’t retain that same tautness.
Of course, if your curtain is still too long despite the shrinkage, you’ll need to try one of the methods mentioned above. But don’t do anything before the first wash, as it might prove unnecessary.
With the right tools and know-how, shortening the curtains isn’t a particularly difficult task. We’ve given you a few tips, and now it’s up to you to choose the most suitable technique for your drapes. And if you approach the task carefully and methodically, the result is sure to be more than satisfying!