Today we’re talking about how to make curtains with grommets.
I always love how much DIY curtains can totally transform a room. Maybe it’s because I love big scale prints but rarely would sew a big scale print as a garment. Whatever the case, sewing your own curtains is a big time chance to add some serious color and personality in a room.
Also, curtains are not that dang hard. If you can sew a rectangle, you can sew your own curtains. Of all the curtains I’ve made, grommet curtains are my top. That little bit of hardware always classes things up and the grommets make opening and closing the curtains much easier than other types of curtains.
In this post you’ll learn how to make lined grommet curtains. We’ll talk about where to find grommets and the setting tools, the essential interfacing you’ll need, then we’ll get sewing.
So grab a big ole mallet, and let’s get into learning how to make curtains with grommets.
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Should you buy metal or plastic grommets for curtains?
With curtain grommets, you have two choices of materials: plastic grommets or metal grommets.
I personally prefer the look of metal grommets, though the plastic ones are a little easier to find. The advantage of plastic grommets too is that they won’t require any extra tools.
But having to buy a setter is not the worst thing, especially if you prefer the look of metal grommets.
For curtain grommets, be sure to buy a big grommet size like a #12 (1 9/16″ inner diameter) or #15 (2″ inner diameter) grommets. Both of these sizes are going to look the best and also have the look of grommet curtains you can buy.
How to measure for curtains
You need to know 2 dimensions when you sew curtains: width and length.
Width: Get yourself a tape measure and measure the width of the window where your curtains are going to go. Multiply this number x 1.5. If you like your curtains to look a little more gathered, multiply your window’s width x2.
For my purposes:
width = window width x 1.5.
So for a 36″ wide window, you’ll need fabric that is 54″ wide. Lucky for you that’s the width of almost all home decor fabric! And if it’s a little wider, don’t sweat it. Super easy.
Length: Now take your tape measure and measure a few inches above your window, straight down to the floor. Add 6″ to this number to account for hems.
Curtain Length = above the window to the floor + 6″
In my house, I’ve found that 2.5 yards per curtain panel is just about perfect.
What kind of fabric should I use for curtains?
Ah, good question. You’ve got a lot of choices here.
Home decor canvas prints like those from Premier Prints are a good choice. I’ve spent many many hours looking for good curtain prints, and Premier Prints has a pretty spectacular selection at a good price.
Other choices for curtain fabrics: heavier cottons like cotton sateen or twill. Linen and linen blends like this 85/15 linen/cotton wavy print also look lovely. Denim works for grommet curtains too, though try to choose a lighter weight denim or skip lining the curtain.
Kona cotton also works really well. My “before” picture here is with a curtain I made eons ago from a Kona cotton I block printed. This fabric has lived its life as a curtain, but the fabric is in stellar shape even after over 10 years.
For lining, go for muslin or a cotton voile.
Notice all the fabrics I’m recommending are all natural fibers. These will overall look nicer and ultimately feel better. Also, when you sew with natural fiber fabrics for DIY curtains, it’ll be a much easier experience. There’s a lot of fabric wrangling that happens when you make curtains because it’s a whole lotta fabric. Do you really want to sew with a fabric that’s doesn’t want to hem or is going to go all squiffy on you? Hard pass!
Supplies for sewing grommets with curtains
How to sew curtains with grommets
Prepping your fabric
Prepping everything is going to be the longest step here. The sewing is quick, but you’ll have to be patient on this step.
After you’ve washed your fabric, you’ll need to square the top edge. I should say the the top edge will be one of the short sides of your jumbo rectangle here.
You can do this with a ruler and a gridded mat like I show in this step of How to Sew Curtains the Easiest Way.
Alternatively, you can make a small cut near the top and pull. On most woven fabrics, you should be able to tear a straight line right across the top.
Either method will ensure that your fabric is going to hang straight.
Prep the lining fabric
Next, square off the top edge of the cotton voile.
You’ll want to cut the voile a little shorter than the curtain fabric. For me, I cut mine 6″ shorter to allow for the hem.
From here, iron all of the outer fabric and the lining.
Press the sides
After this, fold the selvage of the outer fabric towards the wrong side and press. The printing on most home dec prints ends about 1 to 1 1/2″ from the finished edge of the selvage. This is the perfect amount to make a double-turned hem.
Go ahead and press a double turned hem on both long sides of the outer fabric.
Cut down the width of the lining
If your voile is wider than your outer fabric (mine was), you’ll want to do this next.
Place your voile on the wrong side of the pressed curtain panel, matching up the edges. Add a couple pins to hold things down.
Slide one long end of the voile so that it’s even with the first pressed line of one side of the hem. Add a couple pins through all the layers on the side you’ve overlapped the fabrics.
Slide the other edge of the voile under the second pressed edge, then make a small vertical slit in the voile only that’s even with the first pressed line of the other pressed hem.
Pull on the voile to tear a straight line down the length of the fabric.
Now we’re ready to sew our lined grommet curtains!
Adding buckram [Don’t skip this step]
Next we need to add buckram to the top of the outer fabric.
What’s buckram you ask?
Buckram is a stiff nonwoven header tape that will beef up the outer fabric, protecting it from tearing as grommets are added. Buckram will also support the weight of the grommets themselves and also make the curtain make nice little vertical curtain folds.
To prep your curtain fabric for the buckram, first draw a line 1/2″ from the top on the wrong side of your fabric. If you’re using iron-on buckram, simply place the buckram right below this line glue side down and fuse in place with your iron.
I’m using sew-in buckram, so I simply used a little glue stick to hold the buckram in place for the next couple steps.
Sew the top of the curtain
Next, put the voile and the outer fabric right sides together.
Sew the top edge with a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Press the seam towards the lining, then flip the lining towards the inside of the curtain. You won’t be able to see the buckram anymore.
Sew the sides
Next, lay your curtain out in a big flat area. The biggest table you have probably won’t cut it, so sorry, but this is a working on the floor situation probably. I did promise fabric wrangling and this is definitely that.
Slide the long edges of the voile under the pressed hems. Smooth everything out really well, then pin both sides so that the voile is secure under the outer hems.
From here, stitch down the hems on the long edges through all layers. Sew from the top of the curtain to about 1″ from the bottom of the lining on both sides of the curtain.
Stitch the top of the curtain 1/8″ away from the edge. Also stitch horizontally across the curtain near the bottom of the buckram. If you’d like, draw a horizontal line with a marker then stitch right on that line for sweet results.
Marking the grommets
Cut several strips of paper from the manila envelope 3″ wide. Tape the pieces together until they’re long enough to fit across the top of the curtain.
Draw a line horizontally down the center. Make 2 vertical lines 3″ from each end.
Then you’re going to need to divide the rest of the space evenly for the number of grommets in your curtain. I’m working with 10 grommets, so I made vertical marks every 5 3/8″.
If you bought a grommet set with 8 grommets, space your grommets 6 5/8″ apart. For a set of grommets with 12 grommets, space the grommets a little less than 4 3/8″ apart.
At every intersection, use a compass to draw a circle with a 1.5″ diameter. You can skip this step if you’re going to be using an Olfa rotary cutter. If you’re not, go ahead and cut out these circles.
To transfer the marks to the curtain, first flip the curtain to the wrong side. Lay the template on the top edge. Trace the circles right on the fabric with a fabric marker or push a fine tipped marker through the center of the circle at each point.
Use scissors to cut out the circles through all layers of the curtain or use your Olfa rotary cutter to cut out a circle on the smallest setting.
Time to set the grommets!
Setting the grommets
There’s 2 parts to the grommet. The outer grommet, and the inner ring.
For metal grommets, place the outer grommet face down on top of the base of the setter.
Next pop the grommet’s back through the fabric so that the back of the grommet pokes through to the wrong side of the fabric. Lay the grommet’s ring teeth side down over this, then pop the male part of the grommet setter through the back of the grommet.
Working on a padded surface, use a mallet to set the grommet. When you’ve whacked it properly, neither part of the grommet will move inside the hole you’ve made.
Continue this way for all of the grommets.
If you’re using plastic grommets, fit the grommet front to the right side and pop the second side around it on the back. Super simple.
Check the curtain length
Before you finish the curtain, hang it up on your curtain rod.
Bring the bottom of the fabric up to meet the bottom of the lining. Overlap and pinch the lining and fabric together by 1/2″. Check the length.
I like curtains to just be touching the floor, though you might like them a tiny bit longer or shorter than that.
If your curtain is too long, make a small horizontal cut at the bottom of the outer fabric and rip straight across the bottom for a nice clean cut edge. Double check the length again before finishing everything up in the next step.
Finishing the hem
Now that the top of the curtain is all finished, turn the whole thing inside out through the lining.
Match up the right side of the curtain with the bottom of the hem. Sew straight across the bottom with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Leave the sides of the outer fabric unsewn.
Turn everything right side out again through one of the bottom sides. Press the seam between the lining and the outer fabric.
To finish everything off, bring the pressed edges of the outer fabric together. Tuck the lining fabric inside the sides.
Make a small clip in the inside layer of the curtain fabric to but not through the seam line right at the point where the lining meets the curtain’s side.
Tuck everything in and sew through the unsewn edges from top to bottom. Press your whole curtain to finish everything off.
Voila! Now you know how to make curtains with grommets! Hang them up and enjoy their simple luxury.
More easy sewing projects with a home decor twist to try:
How to sew a statement silk pillow
Upcycle your vintage scarves into cozy pillows
How to sew curtains the easiest way
Sew yourself a simple unlined curtain
Make a quilt in about an hour
Cheat your way to sewing the easiest quilt ever.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.