How to shorten ready made curtains

How to shorten curtains

How to shorten curtains to fit your window

This time, rather than Gemma’s jeans it was the curtains that needed sorting. We’d had a lighter and longer pair up before these ones and we’d now suffered a couple of Summers of early mornings once the sun was shining at ungodly hours. So this time as spring approached we decided enough was enough….(when I say we, that is Gemma)…and brought some new ones. It was then that Gemma kindly requested that I take them up a little.

The beauty is they match the grey of the lampshade which I have recently made. Again don’t for a second think I was party to this decision ;o)

Ready made curtains are great value for money, but the challenge is getting them to fit the window. If you take Ikea for example most of their curtains are 3 meters long but how many 3 meter high windows do you have in your house? We certainly don’t have many…

With these simple instructions I’ll guide you through the process of shortening a pair of ready made curtains to save you a small fortune in getting curtains made to measure, or in our case giving you a better nights sleep as they’ll fit the window, letting less light in.

So I begin by hooking up the curtains to the rail and checking the drop to the windowsill so that I get just the right length, taking a note of this measurement I remove the curtains and take them to the cutting table.

I lay the curtains down and lightly mark the length where I want the drop to finish.

From this point I then work out how much of a hem I would like to have. Ideally curtains aren’t pressed at the very bottom of the hem, they are left to hang and find their own natural length, however with a little more weight this will help them to settle and hang a little better.

So with this in mind I make sure there is a good few inches of hem to play with, I mark along the width of them and cut them clean across.

From here, I do a very light press on the first raw edge up about an inch. I then fold up again until such point as I reach my desired full curtain length. I then pin this securely in place.

Now for the key bit. I really like the function that a lot of newer machines have and that is the blind hem stitch. It’s fantastic, it really is. In essence it gives about 4 stitches on the desired, folded under section, followed by a single pinprick stitch through to the right side every half inch or so.

It takes a bit of practice to get this working right, but I assure you, once mastered you’ll never look back. I would suggest that you take a few minutes and an off-cut of fabric and have a couple of trial runs first.

Once done on the real thing it leaves me with a pair of curtains that are the perfect length, with a very occasional super fine stitch through to the right side, which is almost invisible.

By the way, as our window is set into the eaves I was aiming for them to just rest on the windowsill, rather than hang clear of it. That way we have almost a black out in the room. Handy for those lazy weekend mornings….if the kids allow us that is!

Now I have plenty of material left over I can feel some matching cushions coming on…shhhh don’t tell Gemma 😉

Matt ChappleMatt x

The stitcher. A magnet for foolery & prankster at heart. Loves being creative, whether with some wood and a saw or with a needle and thread. Attempts to disguise his past time activities as manly pursuits, but is actually pretty handy at sewing!


  1. Scarlet 3 years ago

    Would be nice to tell what kind of stitching to use for us with a bit older machines, mine only has the setting of width of cross stitch or whatever it’s called.
    I might be getting a new machine if my sewing picks up, but as of now, this is what I have, a memento from the family.

  2. Fiona 4 years ago

    I discovered that Ikea curtains like to shrink so It’s worth cutting them slightly longer to anticipate this.

    • Author
      Matt 4 years ago

      Ahaa thanks for that tip Fiona. In that case the extra half inch or so I left should keep them just right….if not I’ve got plenty left over :)

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