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How to shorten lined curtains

Updated April 17, 2017

Lined curtains provide light control and privacy while giving you a chance to add a decorative element to your rooms. However, they can be expensive due to construction techniques and the extra fabric involved. Whether you're moving and want to take your lined curtains with you or were given lined curtains that are too long, shortening curtains can be an easy way to furnish your new home. Shortening curtains is an economical way to save money and get just the look you want.

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  1. Hang the lined curtains from the hardware in the window where you intend them to hang. Measure the curtains and mark the desired new hem. Take the curtains down.

  2. Remove the existing hems from the curtains and the lining material with a seam ripper or sharp scissors, being careful to not cut the decorative fabric. Remove the side seam holding the lining and fabric together, removing enough of the seam to allow room to fold up the new hems. Press any folds created by removing the hem with a steam iron set to the appropriate setting for the fabric.

  3. Lay the curtain on a flat surface. Measure and mark with tailor's chalk the new hem across the width of the decorative fabric of the panel based on the measurement taken in Step 1.

  4. Cut the excess fabric from the panel and lining, leaving enough to create a double-fold hem in the fabric panel and a 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) double-fold hem in the lining fabric. Curtains that reach the sill typically have a 15 cm (6 inch) hem allowance, creating a 7.5 cm (3 inch) double-fold hem; drapes that reach the floor have a 20 cm (8 inch) hem allowance, creating a 10 cm (4 inch) hem. Linings typically have an 3.7 cm (1 1/2-inch) hem allowance.

  5. Sew a double-fold hem in the decorative fabric panel and the lining fabric by folding up the full hem allowance and pressing the fold in place. Unfold the hem, refold the raw edge of the fabric up to the fold, press the new fold and then fold again along the original fold line. Press the hems in place.

  6. Stitch the lining fabric to the side hem of the fabric panel, following the method the lining was originally attached, and press. Hang the curtains.

  7. Tip

    Make note of how the lining fabric is attached at the sides. You'll be reattaching the lining in the same manner when you've completed the hem. Double-folded hems conceal the raw edge of the curtain fabric and provide a substantial hem, which helps curtains hang gracefully. If the curtains did not have double-folded hems to begin with, you may not need to cut any fabric to create shorter curtains by making double-folded hems.

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Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Seam ripper
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Scissors
  • Steam iron
  • Pins
  • Needle and thread

About the Author

Helen Sterling

Located in south-central Wisconsin, Helen Sterling is a freelance writer who has been writing online since 2004. Sterling's background is in human resources where she has written and edited numerous policy and procedure manuals for both corporate and manufacturing companies. She publishes articles on crafts for various websites and enjoys making complex projects easy to understand. Sterling also owns a jewelry-design business.

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