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How to make 100% organic curtains using washed calico in 10 easy steps

How to make 100% organic curtains using washed calico

One of the most interesting and cost effective ways of making curtains that are natural and totally organic is to make your curtains from 100% cotton or calico. This is a process that I have been using for years in many homes and it is a totally unique way of dressing your windows.


You will create a beautiful natural look on your windows that provides protection from the sun and will keep your home warm during the winter months. Washed Calico forms a traditional curtain look and will provide a truly natural approach to making curtains for your new or existing window coverings

10 Easy steps to making an organic natural curtain

1. Measure the width of your window and the height of your window, the following are some examples of what meterage you will require, a 2000mm x 2100mm window will require 10 metres of fabric, a 2400mm x 2100mm window will require 12.5m of fabric. – For working out the exact amount using the following link – How to make curtains – includes SECRET fabric Formula

If you have calculated that you will require 10 metres of material you will need to add an extra 15% to this figure to allow for shrinkage during the washing and drying process.

If you want to using the calico as lining also for the curtain, double the amount required

2. At this stage we are now going to prepare the calico for washing, the first stage of the process is to leave the calico in one piece, it will work best if you go to your local laundramat and use one of their large washing machines, most laundramats will handle up to 20 metres in one load. Wash the calico on a normal cycle with water only, this should take around 20 minutes. Once this cycle has finish remove the material and lay it out flat as it will be quite tangled. Put it back into the washing machine and repeat on another cycle.

3. Once you have finished this cycle it is very important that the material is tumble dried in a commercial dryer, firstly dry the material for approximately 20 minutes, remove from the dryer and untangle, now put the material back into the dryer for around 40 minutes, this should be long enough to ensure that it is completely dry. This process forms the crush in the material that makes it look so natural on the window.

4. I am going to use the following example of how to make a curtain for a window that is 2000mm wide x 2100mm in height or drop. A very easy way of calculating how much material you require is the following formulae. Take the width of the window add 400mm, this is for the overlap in the middle and returns on the side. This equates to 2400mm, now double this figure, a common question that I am asked at this point is why do you double that figure, it is purely because we want to allow double fullness of material on this window, this is the normal allowance that most consultants will use, if for example you wanted the curtain to look fuller you may multiply the 2400mm by 2.5 fullness. So at this point we have a figure of 4800mm (this is double the 2400mm), now we divide this figure by the width of the calico material which in my case is 1200mm wide, this leaves us with a figure of 4, this is how many lengths of material we require to cover the window. This is often referred to widths. So we now know that we need 4 widths of material, when cutting the height of each length , ensure that you allow and extra 300mm onto each piece, this allows for you double hemm at the bottom and the turn at the top.

5. Now we are going to start making the curtain, firstly join 2 lengths of your material together , this will form 1 curtain and the other 2 lengths will form the other curtain, so you will end up with 2 curtains each made up of the 2 lengths or widths.

6. Now we must sew a side seam on each of the curtains that we have joined together, generally this is a 50mm double side seam, so turn in 50mm first and then another 50mm and this forms a nice double seam that will keep the curtain draping true.

7. Now again we will complete the hemm on the bottom of the curtain, this is double 100mm hemm which puts weight into the base of the curtain which ensures that the curtain falls straight and naturally. Some workrooms will even use special weights in these hemms to force the material to drape straighter.

8. We will now complete the top section of the curtain using a gathering tape, turn the material down 100mm at the top , position your gathering tape or pencil pleat tape 10mm down from the top of the turn. This will allow the tape to form a nice 10mm frill which is used to soften the effect. One very important thing to remember when using gathering tape is to ensure that you have tied one end off before sewing otherwise when you go to gather the curtain in to the correct size , the strings will pull thru.

9. Now gather the curtain into the correct size which in theory will be half the size of you window, keeping in mind to allow an extra 200mm on width for the overlap and returns on the side.

10. You are now ready to hang your 100% natural organic curtain on your track or rod, the beauty about this washed calico is that when it is hung it show a definite crush in the material, this forms an inherent part of the feature of the curtain. Calico curtains have been used for many years as an alternative to using polyster or man made yarns.

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