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curtain cutting & assembly

carolynfla | Posted in General Discussion on

I desire to make a pinch-pleat curtain and need much room to cut and assemble (fold, arrange, press, etc.). My dellima is that I do not have a table large enough to do all these tasks.

Does anyone have a suggestion? I’m not opposed to using the floor, but the floor space that is large enough to incorporate the finished curtain is carpeted. YIKES.

Has anyone had this problem before? What, if any, traps should I be aware of?

Thank you very much.



  1. Ceeayche | | #1

    In my dinkie little condo, I discovered the kitchen island was perfect once I removed all the appliances.  Added some towels between the tile and the fabric to press the headers. 

    In my first home, the previous owner was an architectural illustrator and he had mounted a door horizontally on the basement wall.  It folded down to counter length.  It was absolutely one of my most favorite things about that house!  I made a pad for it and it was a great surface for ironing too.

    In my current home, the hardwood floors work fine to cut the curtains out (hard on the back, but with curtains you won't be down there long).

    I recently "invested" about $50US in an unfinished door that is 30X80.  I plan to put on top of two $30US cubie-cabinets and use that for my large projects.

    1. carolynfla | | #2

      CHL: Thanks... the door folding down to a table (a Murphy table  vs Murphy bed?) is a grand idea.

      Well... I guess the floor it is, 'cuz I have a dinky condo too. I just thought it was "just me" that needed to work off the floor. Yes, it's hard on the back, but when in a pinch for space...

      Thank you for your help, Carolyn

      1. Ceeayche | | #5

        Yes Carolyn, it was pretty sweet!  On the underside, he attached cork, and he attached it to the wall with a piano hinge and framed it with moulding.  So it looked like a large framed bulletin board when it was latched to the wall.  And my yummy cutting board when we let it down.

        The floors work fine though.  Cutting curtains is a snap, so your back doesn't take too much punishment.

        I've done the pleats across the guest room bed, with a large sheet of cardboard underneath (opened out one of the wardrobe boxes from the move).

  2. KharminJ | | #3

    Happy Curtains to you, Carolyn!

    I do a lot of pattern cutting on the carpet, too. One thing to watch out for is that you don't catch the carpet when you're pinning or cutting. I've also discovered that wearing hard-shell kneepads helps a lot to avoid sore back AND knees! You also don't shift the fabric around nearly as much, if you need to be "on it", instead of "next to it". Kharmin

  3. judyhouston | | #4

    If you go to Lowes or Home Depot you can get a sheet of insulation that is 4' by 8' for about $10.00 it comes 1/2" thick and 3/4" thick I think. I have two side by side and covered with flannel for my design wall but have another that is 'naked' that I use on the floor or on a table top as a cutting surface.  You can even stick pins straight in it.

    If the size is too big for you can (and I did) cut 2 ' off one narrow end and then take that 2'x4' piece and cut 1' off the narrow end of it. You end upt with a 4'x6', a 2'x4' and a 1'x2'. They all come in handy for various purposes--I use the small one in my lap sometimes.

    Another trick, might have seen it in Threads, is to use one of those levels with a laser beam to shoot a straight line onto your fabric.

  4. meg | | #6

    Is there a quilt shop/fabric shop in your area? Might you be able to arrange with the owner/manager to use their cutting tables during off hours or during non-busy times? Or is there a manufacturer with large tables you might use?

    I remember going to the Anichini warehouse for a sale several years ago; they make high-end duvets, pillows, fancy bed linens. Their cutting tables were about 8' x 16' and I nearly drooled on them. I wondered if they rented out their cutting tables for large jobs such as your drapery project.

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #7

      Good thought Meg!  If your local fabric shop also teaches classes, or has a classroom, they might also let you have use of the space, or rent the space for a short time as well.  No harm in asking.  Also check your local community hall or recreation center!  During the week, they often do not have functions going on, but there are large tables that you can make use of there.  Our local community center has a small function room with a large table they use for business meetings.  It would be a perfect large project worksurface.  I know I would have no problem getting in to use that If I needed to use it.   Cathy

  5. gailete | | #8

    When I was making long curtains, we laid the fabric down on a wood floor with 2 cutting mats underneath so we could measure correctly. What hubby (who was down on the floor) and I didn't realize is that the measurements on cutting mats go in two different directions depending on which side you are working with. So our matching ends on both side to the same number meant we cut all 4 curtains on a diagonal! Huge DUH moment AND a trip to go buy more fabric. Just mentioning it in case anyone tries to use two cutting mats at once.

    And then there is the don't forget to match repeats and plaids. Ask me why I know that?! Those curtains were a lot of work, but very nice once I finally got them done.


    1. carolynfla | | #9

      THANK YOU! Gail, I'll definitely keep this in mind... to be careful to cut the fabric on the grain.

      Over the years I've made several cutting mistakes. I've been careful to cut plaids on the grain, but soon discovered they were upside down... and had to purchase more fabric for just one pattern piece.

      When you are deeply absorbed into a project, many easy mistakes can and will happen. It's human, it's life.

      Thank you, CAROLYN

      1. gailete | | #10

        >>When you are deeply absorbed into a project, many easy mistakes can and will happen<<

        Oh that sounds so much better than saying you made a dumb mistake. I like that "deeply absorbed into a project"!


  6. terijo | | #11

    I'm pretty sure that nearly everyone has had this problem before, so I'm sure there are many great suggestions out there.  I am presently blessed with a pool table in my basement!  Oh yes, its perfect!  However, many, many draperies and duvets have begun as carpet picnics and weren't as difficult as it might seem.  Move everything out of the way and get going!  I would lay down sheets to cover the carpet, reaching and smoothing, then fabric over the top.  A yard stick is really helpful with the smoothing part.  When everything is as smooth as you can get it, slide a piece of card board between the carpet and sheet.  Move the cardboard carefully along as you pin, mark or cut.  With a little patience, this can work even better than fighting the weight of fabric hanging of the the best of cutting tables!  If all else fails, score huge points at home and buy a pool table!

    1. gailete | | #13

      Once you have titanium knees, the floor option doesn't work as well. After seeing David Coffin's Shirtmaking book, and the drawing of his ironing set up, I found that not only is it great for ironing but helps when cutting out big chunks of fabric if I have the ironing board right next to my cutting table. It adds some much needed space. Alhtough when you are dealing with 20 yards of heavy cotton fabric a wood floor is the best option most of us might have.

      I would think too that if you have an in with a school, church group that has a room full of folding tables that you and a friend could push together, it would be great for cutting out those big items. Obviously you have to clean up after yourself.


    2. carolynfla | | #14

      Thank you, and I didn't think of the yard stick to help with smoothing out the fabric... I would have struggled with my hands, and thus crunched my knees in the process.


  7. Susan -homedecsewing | | #12

    I use an accordian fold to manage huge amounts of fabric. But you will need someone on the other end of the fabric to fold along with you as you keep the fabric taught.Soft fold in about 24" increments

    Edited 1/12/2009 8:21 pm ET by Susan -homedecsewing

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