5 Steps to Making Your Own Silk Drapes
Searching for just the right style of silk drapes can be difficult due to unavailability or cost. In these cases it may be cheaper and more feasible to make silk drapes yourself.
Step 1 – Choose Your Fabric
Choosing the right silk for a drape can be difficult. The weight can’t be too thin and delicate, because it won’t go through a normal sewing machine without slipping, bunching, or even ripping. Conversely, the silk can’t be too heavy because this could result in breaking the needle on your sewing machine. The thread can also snap in trying to accommodate the heavy silk. For these reasons, pick a medium-weight silk.
In addition, busy prints and weaves in fabric can hide potential mistakes. If you’re making bedroom curtains, you may be able to get away with using a solid color silk, but if it’s going to be in an obvious place, such as sliding door curtains, you may want to stick with a busy pattern so that you can hide mistakes. (Only keep this in mind if this is your first time making silk drapes.)
Once you’ve picked and purchased your silk, buy your notions—or the things needed to sew your drapes other than the fabric. Make sure you have all of them before you leave the store.
Step 2 - Measure and Cut
Decide what length you want your drapes to be. The amount listed in the things you need for this project is for 6-foot drapes, meaning 6 feet from where they hang to the hem. This is a good general size but what length you choose to cut your panels will change based on your own decorating taste.
Your silk is meant to make two panels. So fold your silk in half lengthwise, making the fabric 2 1/2 yards in length. Mark your fold with your chalk fabric marker, and cut the fold with your pinking shears. These are zig-zag bladed scissors that will help delay (or sometimes prevent) fraying of a woven fabric. Cut all the way across so that you have 2 2 1/2 yard pieces of silk. If you wish to have shorter panels, you can certainly cut them to about 4 inches longer than the panels you want to make.
Step 3 – Lay Facing
While some heavy fabrics don’t need facing, silk should always have it, as it protects the fabric from being torn or worn from the inside out. So, cut your facing into strips about 2 inches wide. Use these strips on the top of the fabric, laying the glue part down against the wrong side of the silk in horizontal, end-to-end rows. Put another row of strips just below the top row, spacing it about 1/8 of an inch apart. Iron these facing pieces to bond them to the silk. Repeat this process down the sides and at the bottom of each piece of fabric, with two rows of facing, in the same manner.
Step 4 – Sew Seams
Lay your first panel out in front of you, wrong side up. You should see the facings in front of you, in a rectangle framing the entire panel. Fold the left side down first, matching the facing material up as perfectly as possible. Once you do this, you can start pinning your way down the seam, holding it together with pins, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Don’t worry about pinning the rest, try to work with one side at a time.
Now, iron the fold again, but focus on the silk. You should use a medium to medium-low heat, depending on the weight of your silk. The goal is to make a crease at the fold, to make sewing easier.
Stitch a basting stitch all the way across, making sure to backstitch at the beginning of the fabric, and at the end of the fabric. Move slow so you don’t break your sewing needle on any pins, and also so you can control the bunching of the silk.
After baste stitching, pull out the pins and finish your seams. Use a tight straight stitch first, keep the tension tight and sew straight across the very top of the panel at the fold. You want to sew right on top of the very edge of the facing location.
Next sew across with another straight stitch at the bottom of the facings, making a sort of facing tunnel or tube. Finish this end of the panel by using a loop finishing stitch 1/8 inch below the bottom straight stitch, at the very edge of the silk. This will finish the seam and stop fraying. It’s best that you do the bottom hem in the same way first before you sew the sides.
Step 5 – Finish Panels
When sewing down each panel, the corners can become problematic; sew the sides first, then take care of the top. Not only does this reinforce the openings of your panels, but it also gives it a nice, clean seam. When you sew all the way down the side and back, you’ll notice that you covered up some of the top seams. This is okay. Fold the top down and sew across just like you did your sides, and follow the same practice with the bottom. Your corners should be sewn and tucked in nicely.