If you love needlework and haberdashery, then you probably love ribbon trim too. I find myself spending hours standing at the wall of ribbons, trimmings, pom pom tapes, and tassels in the fabric stores.
One day, while gazing at my collection of ribbons, I suddenly had the inspiration to make a custom-made curtain design from a ready-made curtain I had at home. I had a narrow window with a sheer curtain that I loved but found somewhat boring.
This is when I decided to use ribbons to decorate and redesign the sheer curtain into something special and unique. I decided to customize my curtains with ribbon trim.
Customizing curtains is a fun way to express yourself and be creative in how the decorative trim will be used. To start, carefully lay out the curtain on a flat surface, making sure not to fold the curtain anywhere. Decide whether the curtain and ribbon will be sewn or glued.
The easiest way to customize your curtain with ribbons and trim is to glue these onto the curtain. Fortunately, there are many different fabric glues available to do just this. If fabric glue isn’t your idea of fun, you can always use an iron-on adhesive to fix the trim in place on the curtain.
When applying the fabric glue, it is important to have your curtain flat and a clear plastic sheet underneath the curtain to catch any glue transfer. Use small dabs of glue to attach the ribbon trim, spreading these dabs thinly with your finger or a plastic pallet knife. With this method, less glue is really more.
Once the glue has been spread, fix the ribbon in place, pressing it down firmly. On the edges of the curtain, you may use a washing line peg to hold the ends of the ribbon in place. Always remember to seal the end of the ribbon with a lighter before gluing it in place.
To make a neat end, fold the end of the ribbon around the side seam of the curtain. Make sure the ribbon is cut long enough to reach the width of the side seam with about half an inch to spare. Now fold the extra half-inch of ribbon in, setting it in place with a pin before gluing it down. This will create the illusion that you have sewn the ribbon instead of glued it.
If you aren’t scared of a little work, then sewing your ribbon trim to your store-bought curtain will provide a much more professional and long-lasting result. Should you not know how, you can easily learn how to sew ribbon trim to a curtain.
Measuring is essential for a professional finish. While you can perhaps reposition a section of ribbon trim if you notice it is out of place when gluing, this is not as easily possible with sewing ribbons. Therefore, measure carefully, using clothespins to position and secure the ribbon before you start sewing.
As with the above section on gluing the ends, fold the excess ribbon trim in, creating a neat finish if the curtain is viewed from outside.
There are many different ribbon trims available from silk ribbon to pom pom trim and even combination ribbons that combine satin ribbons with feathers or beads and everything else you can imagine.
The secret to successful curtain customization is the layout and design of the ribbons on the curtains. There are many different patterns you can follow, depending on your selection of ribbons:
If you have a wide lace ribbon trim, you can layer this to create a dense fringe and add weight to an airy curtain. Sew or glue lace ribbon trim at the bottom hem of curtains to lengthen a window treatment that’s too short for your window. Alternatively, add a lace ribbon at the top to draw the eye upward for short windows.
Create width by adding lace ribbons to the outer leading edge of curtains. This technique works well on curtains that are used to provide privacy but need to let light in.
A colorful solution is to add rows of different colored silk ribbons to a plain fabric curtain. Different ribbons and trim can be used to create a simple striped pattern, overlapped for a broad colorful band, or interwoven before sewing to create a unique patterned detail. There really are no limits to what you can do with plain silk ribbons.
Yet another way to use silk ribbons is to create a fold-back system to raise your curtains like mini roman blinds. For more on this, check out this video.
Adding pom pom trim is yet another great way to customize your curtains. Combining ribbons and pom poms can create a really pleasing finish. You can choose whether you want to sew the pom pom trim or glue it in place.
Whichever method you choose, be sure the curtains you are working with are suitable for heat (if you are using an iron-on fixative) and aren’t high in synthetic fibers as these may respond negatively to the chemicals in glue (if you are gluing on).
While you may be tempted to use any and all trimmings that you have found, be sure to consider these points before you start gluing or sewing your existing curtains:
Curtains will eventually require washing. If you use a trim that is delicate and may come apart when washed, it can mean that your DIY project will disintegrate after the first wash.
However, you can opt for alternative solutions to add that stunning ribbon you found with owl feathers sewn to it. Instead of gluing it in place, you can attach half a velcro strip to the curtain and the other half to the trim, allowing you to remove the delicate trim before washing the curtain.
If you have children and pets, be sure to consider whether a particular trim will be appropriate. Lace ribbon trim may begin looking sad if you have cats that like to bat at your curtain borders. However, using pom poms or satin ribbon trim can work much more effectively.
Trimming can become quite costly, especially if you are dealing with a large-scale curtain. Yet, you can still enjoy a creative flair by choosing a smaller area to add trim to. Attaching trim to the leading edge may be more affordable than going for the bottom and top hems. You can also opt to make a ribbon tie-back instead of sewing ribbons to the actual curtain.
Have fun with your ribbon trim project. There really are no rules, but keep in mind that while a particular ribbon may be absolutely stunning, it does need to be practical too.
A final tip I’ll leave you with is to remember that some trim needs to be shrunk before you attach it to your curtain. Check whether ribbons are preshrunk before you start sewing or gluing as you don’t want to end up with a washed curtain that is puckered and pulled with shrinking trim.