Techniques to Shorten Sheer Curtains

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Sheers are window coverings that often hang behind traditional style curtains. Sheers can provide a little privacy while still allowing light to enter the room. One of the problems people have with sheer window treatments is that they can be too long and need to be shortened. Sheer fabrics can be difficult to work with, even if you are simply hemming them.

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Trimming Sheer Curtains

If your sheers are much longer than necessary, cut off some of the length. Hemming sheers with a lot of excess fabric is bulky and doesn't look attractive.

To trim your sheers, hang them up at the window to get the desired length. While the sheers are hanging, trim the excess fabric, leaving an extra inch for turning under. Alternately, hang them, mark the desired length with straight pins or chalk, and remove the curtains. Cut off the excess while working on a flat surface.

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Hemming the Bottom

Depending on the type of fabric your sheer window coverings are made of, you may be able to use a sewing machine to hem them. Once you trim off the excess fabric, remove the sheers from the rod. Turn the fabric under 1/2 inch and again another 1/2 inch to hide the raw edges. Use plenty of pins to hold the fabric in place, especially if the sheer fabric is slippery.

Use a longer stitch than normal, but not as long as a gathering stitch, to hem your sheers by machine. If the fabric your sheers are made from has a lot of holes, such as lace, you may have to hem the curtains by hand. Trim the excess fabric, turn under the edges, and use a needle and thread that matches the curtains to sew a hem.

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Serging the Bottom

Serging is another way to hem your sheers. Using a serging stitch on a sewing machine leaves a satin stitch at the bottom of the fabric, without the excess fabric that you get when you turn the fabric under. If you own a serger sewing machine, this will trim the fabric and do the stitching at the same time. If you do not own a serger, trim off the excess fabric and set your sewing machine to stitch a satin stitch (check with your owner's manual) along the bottom edge of the fabric.

Using Hem Tape

Hem tape is another option when sewing a hem to shorten sheer curtains. Trim the sheer to about ½ inch longer than your desired finished length. Attach the hem tape to the front of the sheer and turn it to the back, creating a neat hem on the front of the sheer. You might need to use an iron to attach the hem tape. The hem tape works well on sheer fabric that is slippery or is difficult to work with.

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Repositioning the Curtain Rod

The general recommendation is to install your curtain rods 4 to 6 inches above your windows. However, you have some flexibility in how high you hang them. With higher ceilings, you can hang them up to 8 inches or so above the window frame. A higher placement makes the window look taller and gives the illusion of shorter curtains, since the bottom of the sheer curtain hits higher on the wall.

To use this method, remove the curtain rod from the wall and patch the holes for the brackets. Then, have someone hold the curtain rod with the sheer curtains on it at different heights. This lets you see where the sheers will hit and how the overall design looks with a higher curtain rod. Install the curtain rod at the desired height.

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