How to hem curtains without alterations

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have curtains that are too long but aren't a confident sewer, use iron-on hem tape for a simple fix that will take less than one hour to complete, depending how many curtain panels need hemming. Iron-on hem tape is made from polyester and typically comes in packages containing about 3 m (3 yards) and is available in different colours so you can choose one that most closely matches your curtain fabric. Once the adhesive is set, you'll have a professional-looking hem that is still machine-washable should you need to launder your curtains.

Measure how much the curtains need to be shortened. If the curtains need to be shortened more than 2.5 or 5 cm (1 or 2 inches), cut off excess material using pinking shears to help minimise fraying, leaving the length 2.5 cm (1 inch) longer than desired length. For example, if you need to shorten the curtains 17.5 cm (7 inches), cut off 15 cm (6 inches).

Fold the raw edge up to make the curtains the desired length and pin in place. Meanwhile, preheat the iron to the wool setting with steam.

Measure the pinned hemline and make sure you folded the material evenly. Once you've made any necessary adjustments, iron the pinned hem to form a crease. Remove pins.

Put the iron-on hem tape, adhesive side down, across the hemline where the raw edge meets the inside of the curtain.

Press the iron down over the iron-on hem tape, beginning at one edge, and hold for 10 seconds (do not iron back and forth) to melt the adhesive and create a bond. Repeat until you've pressed the entire hem. If any spots appear loose, press the iron and hold for another 10 seconds to secure. Let the curtains cool completely before rehanging.

Things You'll Need

  • Pinking shears
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight pins
  • Iron-on hem tape
  • Iron and ironing board
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About the Author

Tonya Goodspeed has written professionally since 2003 and specializes in articles on travel, weddings, invitations and home and garden topics. She also ghostwrites Web and blog content. She earned an English degree with a minor in French from the University of Virginia.