Don’t let your shower curtain – the main fabric in your bathroom – be boring! Try some of these creative ideas for pumping up it’s style!
You know, surprisingly enough, as simple as a shower curtain might seem, I have a lot to say about sewing a shower curtain. Yes, they are basically a flat panel with side hems, a hem on the bottom and some means of attaching it to rings or a rod.
When you buy a shower curtain, more often than not, the panel is one full panel of fabric without piecing or seams. However, when you make a shower curtain for yourself, especially if it is going on a tub, you will need to piece the fabric to get a large enough panel.
So let’s start with that. Bath tubs are usually about 60” long. A store bought shower curtain is usually about 72” square so it will usually lay fairly flat when it’s pulled across the tub. Since you are making yours, you can make it so the shower curtain is fuller and wavier when the curtain is pulled.
To do that you either double your fabric, doing two full widths or at least add a half of a width. Since most decorator fabrics are about 54” wide, you can understand that one panel won’t quite cover a 60” tub. So unless you are doing something with the other half of the second width of fabric, like making a window topper or adding fabric trim to your towels, I’d just make the shower curtain two widths wide.
But, it’s not as simple as sewing two widths together, you need to cut one of the widths in half and then add one half to one side of the full width and the other half to the other side. This keeps you from having one seam smack down the center of your shower curtain.
Speaking of seams, when you are joining seams on a project that won’t be lined you want the seams to look nice and there are a couple ways to do that. Here’s an example of a flat felled seam which goes like this. Once you sew your seam, cut one of the seam allowances down close to the stitching. Fold the other selvage in half and then fold it over the stitch line and pin it in place. Then, sew it down, covering all the raw edges.
You could sew a French seam where you put the two wrong sides of the fabric together and sew the seam. Cut the seam allowances down to 1/8” and press the seam allowance to one side.
Then, fold the fabric so the right sides are together and stitch another ¼” seam, closing in the seam allowances and creating a clean seam.
You can simply pink the seam allowances for speed or even zigzag stitch the seam allowances edges…just do whatever method you prefer.
All shower curtains, and draperies for that matter, have side hems. To make a side hem, you first fold over the fabric edge 3” and iron in the fold. Then, turn the edge into itself to create a 1 ½” double fold. Then you can either straight stitch it or use the blind hem stitch on your sewing machine.
The side hems go in first when you are making a drapery or shower curtain. Then, you turn to the hem which is a 4” double fold, so you first iron over 8”, then turn the 4” inside, iron and stitch.
In many of the books I use as reference for sewing, the header or top of the drape or shower curtain comes last. I usually prefer to do the header after my side hems and then save the hem for last in case things have shifted a bit while making the header and I need to make my hem a little narrower than the 4” double fold. I guess that’s cheating a bit, but it works for me.
So, you know how to piece widths together, you can sew a side hem and a bottom hem, now we need to consider different header treatments. The most recent shower curtain I made is a traditional shower stall curtain, so it is narrower than a bathtub shower curtain and one full width of fabric was plenty. At the top, I added grommets, which is a really fun project.
Most shower curtain grommets are 1” in diameter. For them to fit nicely into a header, the header has to be about a 2 1/2” double fold. Then, the first grommet is placed in the center of the header and 2” in from the edge. And, that 2” is measured from the edge to the center of the grommet. Of course you would mark the first and last grommet and then space the rest of them out evenly.
Where you have placed your marks, you cut a small “x” and insert the stem of the grommet from the front of the fabric to the back. Add the grommet ring and put the metal grommet plunger into the stem. Now here comes the fun part – hit the plunger with the hammer to bend the stem down and permanently attach your grommet! Then, just keep adding grommets until you have 12 installed.
Now, if you want to try something else, how about skipping the whole grommet step and simply mount a drapery rod to the ceiling in your bathroom and use ring clips to hold up the shower curtain. This worked very well for me in my son’s bathroom.
Here was our issue. We added glass shower doors to promote keeping the water in the tub, but for me it was too many hard surfaces in one room, so I wanted to add a shower curtain. However, I really had to mount it high to hide the glass doors completely so I had to mount a drapery rod to the ceiling and use ring clips. This created one other issue.
When you mount a store bought shower curtain to the ceiling, it is so short, it barely covers the tub. So as you can see, I cut off the top of the shower curtain where the button holes were for the shower rings. Then I added a narrow stripe about two inches wide and then a whole strip of fabric above that to get the length I needed. In the end, I think it made the shower curtain even more interesting, so it was a good thing!
OK, so that’s a grommet header, a header with ring clips, and you can even made a header that ties onto the rod. I made one of those for a bathroom at my mother’s house. She too has glass doors, and because the ties don’t slide very well on the rod, she leaves the curtain open all the time, but the softness really adds a lot to the comfort of the bathroom.
If you like the idea of ties, just make a regular header and create the ties by cutting strips of cloth 28” long by 2” wide. Press under the short ends, then press the strip in half lengthwise and then press the long ends in to the middle and stitch the ties closed.
Pick up a sewing book or two for interesting ideas on how to do other types of headers or even how to create a layered shower curtain!
See what I mean? I have a lot to say about shower curtains. And if you need all the step by step instructions, just check out our full article on How to Make a Shower Curtain in the sewing section of the website.