How to Make Stage Curtains

Written by michelle powell-smith
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Stage curtains add colour, style and function to theatres large and small. Typically, the curtains are hung on tracks to be opened and closed when appropriate. Choose rich colours that work in the space and heavy fabrics with a good drape. They can be a huge project for the home sewer. They only require simple, straight seams; however, you will be handing massive amounts of heavy fabric. If you enjoy a challenge, this project is sure to be rewarding when you watch the curtains open to reveal a grand production at your local theatre.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Fabric
  • Lining fabric if desired
  • Nylon webbing
  • Snap hooks
  • Heavy duty upholstery needles for your sewing machine
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinating thread
  • Iron and Ironing board
  • Pressing board for velvet if needed
  • Tape measure

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure the desired length for your theatre curtains. They should reach from the top hanging hardware to the stage or lower. . Allow for a 6 inch bottom hem and a 2 inch top hem. Decide how wide the stage curtains should be. Obviously, they will need to cover the full width of the stage, but additional fullness will make for prettier and richer looking stage curtains if desired. Pleating is the most common way to add this fullness, whether through box or knife pleats. Smaller theatres may opt for 50 per cent fullness, but 100 per cent fullness is ideal for formal theatre curtains. An average size for rental stage curtains is 22 feet wide by 25 feet high, and two panels of this size are required.

  2. 2

    Determine fabric quantities. You will need to seam multiple lengths of fabric together to create an adequate width for the stage curtains. Allow for the full width of the stage, multiplied by 1.5 for 50 per cent for additional fullness and by 2 for heavier pleating. You will also need to include 3 inches on each side for edge finishing.

  3. 3

    Take the time to note down work order and desired measurements. This will prevent any errors and allow you to use your time more productively. Plan out pleating at this point, whether you are using knife or box pleats. Be sure that you have plenty of thread on hand, and consider moving your sewing machines to a larger table if one is available. Make space for the fabric.

  4. 4

    Measure your stage curtain fabric when it arrives and before cutting. Once you determine that you do have the appropriate quantity of fabric, begin by cutting your fabric to the desired length. Use distinctive pins to denote nap if relevant. Press if it suits your fabric and is necessary, but you may wish to avoid ironing if working with velvet.

  5. 5

    Sew together panels of fabric to create the desired width for your stage curtains. Hem the bottom with a 6 inch hem and both sides with 2 inch hems. Using pins or a fabric marker as appropriate, mark your pleats. Press and pin the pleats into place, being sure to hide the joining seams in the pleating. Stitch your pleats into place

  6. 6

    Press a 2 inch hem into the top of the stage curtain. Stitch this hem into place. Reinforce by securely sewing coordinating nylon webbing along the full width of the curtain.

  7. 7

    Double check all seams for sturdiness. Attach any desired tiebacks and snap clips. Your stage curtains are now ready to hang, making for beautiful and luxurious theatre curtains.

Tips and warnings

  • If working with velvet, be sure to have appropriate pressing tools.
  • Allow plenty of time to order fabric!
  • Keep in mind that this is a big project. It may be both cumbersome and time consuming.

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