Behind the scenes of my curtainmaker’s workroom: More than meets the eye

A large part of my work is about choosing fabrics and trimming. And, of course, sewing. A lot of sewing. But in order to make sure your new window treatments complement your home décor and reflect your lifestyle perfectly, much more work is needed. So, let’s have a look behind the scenes of my curtainmaker’s workroom in Fife!

1. Measuring

If you have sewn your own curtains and blinds before, you know how it goes. Once you have chosen a fabric, it is time to measure. Knowing the exact amount of fabric you need is key for a good fit.

And this is often the first hurdle. The correct area to measure depends on how you want your curtains and blinds to be fitted – outside or inside the recess? Do you want them to be floor or sill length? It gets extra tricky if there is a radiator below the window or if you have unusually shaped windows. And a traditional bay window, so common in Scottish homes, is quite a challenge to measure right. 

Pro Tip: If you’re getting new carpets at the same time as new window treatments, make sure you measure your windows after getting the carpets fitted. This can make a huge difference for floor length curtains or blinds. 

Additionally, the amount and cut of fabric you order needs to take into account the design of the fabric, especially if the curtains are for two or more windows in the same room. For example, when opting for a patterned fabric it needs to be cut correctly, taking the pattern repeat into account. 

And last but not least, you need correct measures for your curtain poles or tracks and headrails, especially if they’re custom-made. Getting the measurements wrong can be a costly mistake. 

2. Quality control

The next step is ordering your fabrics, trimmings and rails, tracks or poles. Once delivered, it’s important to check everything for flaws. That can be a chipped curtain pole or colour differences in the fabric because the cuts are not from the same batch. Or worse, the supplier may have sent the wrong colour or fabric.

You also need to check the measurements to make sure everything will fit once you’re ready to install everything. If you find issues after you’ve cut the fabric or installed the pole, it’s usually too late to get replacements. 

This process is not just happening behind the scenes of my curtainmaker’s workroom, it’s second nature to every curtainmaker. (And also the reason why we always keep good relationships with our suppliers!) While mistakes happen, you want to make sure that re-ordering materials or arranging replacements are hassle-free and don’t delay your project. 

A supplier with good customer service is also helpful in case of any issues after you’ve installed your window treatments. Even with a supplier guarantee on your side, it can be time-consuming to get a hold of people or deal with a lengthy complaints process. 

3. Fitting

Once your curtains or blinds are ready to go, it’s time to get everything installed and fitted properly. Between us, my curtain fitter and I have over 40 years of experience in hanging and dressing window treatments. Experience that comes in very handy at this stage.

Whether you have a new build or traditional property, Scottish homes can be quite challenging when it comes to installing curtain poles or tracks. It often comes down to the wall above the window – how much space is there? And what state is it in?

If you have heavy curtains or blinds to hang, you might need to reinforce the wall with a wooden batten before you can install the poles. You also want to check for sockets or pipes around the window to make sure you’re not drilling into things you shouldn’t. 

And when drilling, always take care to avoid cracks in the plaster, especially if your property has traditional lathe and plaster walls.

4. Dressing

Once the curtains and blinds are up, it’s time to make sure everything is dressed properly. I usually hang and sometimes tie up finished curtains in my curtainmaker’s workroom first. This makes sure the pleats and folds set nicely and that the fabric has a “memory” of how it’s supposed to fall.

Pro Tip: To ensure your new curtains look fresh and to get rid of any creases, you can lightly steam your hand-sewn window treatments once they’re hung.

At this stage, it’s all about making sure that your curtains and blinds are hanging properly. For example, your curtains should line up with the poles or tracks and any pelmets or trimmings you have in place. 

This part of the process might take a while to get right. But the extra care and attention are absolutely worth it when your window treatments fit in perfectly with the rest of your décor.

So, as you can tell there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of my curtainmaker’s workroom in Fife. Do you have any questions? Check out my FAQ, find out more about my process and fees or get in touch for an initial consultation!