Sunday, July 31, 2011

How to make a glamorous drapery panel

When I designed our new-build home in '08, I decided for both space and safety reasons that I would implement a drapery panel instead of a door for the closet in our master bedroom.

Since that notion can remind some of an earlier look they may have had in their college dorm room or first basement suite rental, it's often forgotten that it can be a truly gorgeous solution that also brings personality into the space.

It's also a great space saver -- a recent client of mine did not know how she was going to get nighttables on both sides of their bed in their very small master bedroom. It had an awkward closet with a door that opened right into the space for one of the nighttables, with no possibility of orienting the bed differently.

"Remove the door?!", she exclaimed at my suggestion. We were both happy that the door could be re-purposed to properly lock off their rental suite, but even if she couldn't have used it elsewhere, I would have stuck by my recommendation.  It looks great and they have plenty of room for the nighttable and space to move around it.

Drapes are also a great way to create closet / storage space where there otherwise was none!

OK - now how about that glamorous drapery panel?!  My Mom had given me a gorgeous piece of white french linen at least 15 yr's ago to make a skirt, which I never got around to, and I thought it would be the perfect starting point.

I initially thought I had just enough for the length I needed and it was only when I got down to seriously measuring to start sewing that I realized I was a couple of inches short.  Which was a blessing because it forced me to put a border on the bottom and now I wouldn't want it any other way.

As you can see, I ironed on rhinestone fleur de lis emblems randomly on the white linen to give it that glamour vibe.  (I chose the Fleur de Lis Paisley ones thru A Treasure Nest; I bought 24 and used 23). And I bridged the white linen and silver grey crushed velvet-looking poly with a silver satin ribbon. 

To make the panel:

- measure the area to determine the finished width and length you want (for pooling like mine above, add 1.5" to the finished length).  You want your finished width of fabric to equal a min. of 1.5x the width of the space (more if the fabric is flimsier) to get fullness in your drape.

- allow a min. of 2 - 3.5" at the top for a simple finish re: inserting the rod; decide ahead of time how big of a hem you want and include in your overall requirements; and a min. of 3" total to the width for finishing the sides
*TIPS: choose fabric as wide as possible to reduce the amount of vertical seams; press all finishing edges accurately in place before sewing.

- I only had the one piece of linen and I knew finding an exact match would be mission impossible, so I needed to use as little fabric as possible when I finished the sides. I wasn't particular about how the drape would look on the inside, so instead of creating a seam, I simply sewed the fabric I bought for lining on top of the backside of the panel.  See pictures above and below.

- I chose to finish the top simply, to save time and I also had no room for excess fabric above the rod.  Folding the fabric over to create a tunnel for the rod insertion is easiest; I created the tunnel by sewing on a 'hem band' on the back of the drape to make it sturdier.

- make the main part of the panel first and then hang it on the rod (I ironed on the rhinestone emblems before I started sewing once I knew the finished width/length of just the linen piece; the lining should be done next).

Pin your border fabric onto the drape so you can see how it will look before you cut and sew; you may want it bigger or smaller than you initially thought (buy for bigger so you have the flexibility).  You can also take this time to accurately pin the hem line of the panel / border fabric.

- depending on the fabric you chose for your border, you may need to interface it before sewing it on. I ironed on a thin interfacing to the crushed velvet-looking poly I chose because it would have been too flimsy otherwise.

- I used hem tape to secure the hemline in place - not only is this a time-saver, but an invisible hem is most suitable to a crushed velvet-look.  A sewn 6" or 12" hem can look great with heavier cottons and twills.

I love my new glamorous drapery panel and it all came together for under $100.  I don't like the way cheap doors look, so I can say this solution not only looks great, it's cheaper than a door.

My new glamorous drapery panel sumptuously supports our master bedroom that I recently re-decorated (above). Could a glamorous drapery panel(s) support a feel you have going on in your space?

It's Your Space, Your Place, Your Life -- if you want a great-looking space that's right for you and embibes the feel you'll love living in, contact Liz to help make it happen!


Elizabeth Roberts

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