You may have seen it before or you may have heard home designers refer to it as the "highwaters of drapery"--curtains that are too short. Curtains should fall to the floor, otherwise, it makes the room feel smaller, the ceiling seem lower, and the decor may look just a bit off. But what if your curtains are too short? Is there a way to make them longer? We've searched the web to bring you the answer.
There are a few different ways to add length to your curtains. The most obvious solution is to add fabric to the bottom of your panels, but that's not the only way. While sewing more fabric to your curtains would work, not all of us are seamstresses. Take a look at these 3 no-sew solutions:
- Use curtain rod rings
- Lower the curtain hem
- Use an adhesive to add fabric
Because we've outlined easy, step-by-step directions for each method below, we promise you'll be surprised by your own DIY skills to make your curains longer. Continue reading to learn what materials you need, how to use them, and why curtain length matters.
3 Ways To Make Curtains Longer
Curtain Rod Rings
The only tool or material you need for this method of lengthening curtains is a package of curtain rings. Curtain rings have a small clip that attaches to your curtains' top edge. Then, all you need to do is slide the curtain rod through these rings and you have instantly added a few inches to your curtains.
Lower The Curtain Hem
Look at the bottom of your curtain panels and you'll notice that the fabric has been folded back and stitched to the reverse side of the curtain for an even-looking hem. Undo this hem to get another few inches added to your curtain panels.
While this is a no-sew method to add length to your curtains, it does require a very easy-to-find, inexpensive sewing tool called a seam ripper.
Follow these simple steps to accomplish this method:
Slide the seam ripper's sharp, pointed top under one of the thread stitches and gently pull to remove the stitch.
Continue in this manner, removing every few stitches--you don't have to cut each one. Once you reach the end of the curtain, give it a little pull until it is no longer folded and attached to the curtain. Pull out and discard any loose thread pieces.
To eliminate the crease where the original hem was, use your iron and spray water on the crease. Keep ironing until the crease disappears.
Use An Adhesive To Add Fabric
While you will be attaching a separate piece of fabric to each curtain panel, there is no sewing involved here! You will use a fusible web-like ribbon that bonds 2 layers of fabric together just with the use of a steam iron.
Tools and materials you'll need:
- Your curtains
- The fabric of your choice that is cut to the length you are adding to your curtains and equal to the width of your panel plus 1/2-inch on the sides and bottom (to create the side and bottom hems)
- Damp washcloth or rag
- Fusible ribbon, such as Stich Witchery
Before getting started, review these helpful tips for this project:
- Some DIYers find it helpful to purchase an extra panel of their drapery, cutting and using it as the lengthening piece.
- Find a fabric color and blend that complements your curtains. It can be a print, floral, or just a solid color to offset your original drapery.
- Explore the ribbon, trim, and lace department at your nearest fabric store or search for them online. You can easily add one of these elements to your curtains, making them a unique, one-of-a-kind design.
Follow these 7 steps to accomplish the Stitch Witchery method:
The fabric you will be adding to your curtains will be a rectangle with raw edges. One edge at a time, fold the side and bottom raw edges over 1/2-inch and press with your iron to reinforce the fold. The top edge of your fabric will remain a raw edge until step 5.
Cut a strip of Stich Witchery to the same length of each of your 3 folded edges.
Again, one side at a time, slip the strip of Stich Witchery under the folded edge, ensuring the web-like ribbon is completely covered by the top fold of the fabric.
Follow the manufacturer's directions on the packaging for Stich Witchery. To use the product, you'll simply cover your folded edges with a damp cloth and press your iron with steam over it for several seconds. It's important not to slide the iron back and forth, but simply press, hold, and lift up the iron. Repeat this action over all three edges.
Now the fabric you are adding should match the width of your original curtain's hem. With right sides together, place your fabric piece on top of the curtain panel, matching the bottom edge of the curtain to the raw top edge of the fabric.
As in the previous steps, cut a strip of Stich Witchery equal to the width of the panel and slip it between your curtain's bottom edge and the fabric's raw edge. Press with the iron as described above.
For this last step, lay out the entire curtain panel, unfolding the newly added piece of fabric. Iron over the seam connecting the curtain and new fabric. Your curtains are now longer and ready to hang!
You might be asking yourself "how long should my curtains be?" It's a good question because curtains do a lot more than cover a window for privacy. The appropriate length of curtains influences the feel of your room, creating a more spacious place and adding warmth and texture.
But if the curtains' hems are even just a few inches from the floor, the tone and style you're hoping for can fall flat. The rule of thumb when it comes to curtain hems is that they should graze the floor.
Is it okay if curtains don't touch the floor?
Many home designers advise against curtains being more than 1/2 inch above the floor. Any shorter than that creates a visual impediment and interrupts the drapey flow curtains provide. While the space between the hem of the curtains and the floor seems insignificant, it actually disrupts the proportion of the room.
How long is too long for curtains?
If curtains should be, at most, 1/2 inch off the floor, or better yet, touching the floor, is it possible to have too-long curtains? For starters, think about the traditional look of curtains falling long enough that they pool or spill over onto the floor. This style is often used in formal settings, creating an opulent look that can be quite beautiful.
However, too much fabric falling onto the floor will contradict the very look you want. The general consensus about the pooling effect is that curtains can be up to 2 1/2 inches longer from where they touch the floor. Anything more than that will overwhelm the window, and quite possibly the entire room.
Can you use long curtains on short windows?
Interior designers agree that long curtains are so versatile that they can be used on short windows, too. In fact, doing so is a great way to make your window your focal point. However, keep in mind both proportion and setting. If you have a smallish, short window, too much drapery can make the room look awkward.
And likewise, consider the room of your short windows; if it's a high-traffic area like your kitchen, long curtains may get in the way. And worse, gather all the debris from the floor.
A final note on using long curtains on any kind of window: remember that your drapery shouldn't touch or cover any radiators or heating elements, as it could be a potential fire hazard.
How far should a curtain rod extend past the window?
This is a great question, especially since the placement of the rod greatly affects the final look and style you want for your curtains. In our research, we discovered that there is a significant range for how far a curtain rod should extend; generally, designers recommend the distance between the window trim and the end of the rod to be between 3-10 inches.
So while it's up to you to decide an extension distance based on this range, the best rule of thumb is to try a few placements and choose what looks and feels right to you. Keep proportion in mind as a small window's curtain rod probably shouldn't extend 10 inches from the window, and conversely, a large window probably requires more than a 3-inch extension.
Are curtains outdated?
Curtains have been an important functional and decorative element in homes for hundreds of years. It is safe to say that curtains are not on the downtrend and hardly outdated. While designer blinds and various kinds of shades have come into the home decor market, they haven't eliminated the use for draperies.
What perhaps can be outdated are certain fabric blends (think 100% polyester) or fabric print designs (we can all recognize a 1970's design when we see it!). And, it is fair to say that curtains hung at an awkward length can look outdated, too.
When choosing drapery for your windows, you'll want to ensure they hang long enough to touch the floor. But if you discovered that the curtains you purchased or the drapery that came with the purchase of your home are too short, just remember that there are easy solutions right here.