This Simple Curtain Panel Can Be No-Sew

Ribbon Tied Country Curtain

A simple flat panel of fabric can become any style you like with how you embellish it – it can even be a no-sew project! 

OK, here’s my plan, we start teaching our “better halves” the joy of sewing, and while they’re busy stitching up beautiful swags and jabots for our homes, we’re sitting in the comfy chair watching TV!  Sound like a plan?  Well, I tried it with Matt and I won’t say the results were poor, they were just different than I expected.  After much deliberation with the sewing machine, he got an idea of his own. “iron on adhesive tape!”!  And, he was right!  You can make quite a few simple window designs without using the sewing machine.  For instance, a lovely gathered fabric panel tied up with two gross grain ribbons is a perfect solution for a country window.  And here’s how to put one together both with, and without, a sewing machine.

Materials List:

  • Fabric of your choice
  • Thread to Match or Iron On Adhesive
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine or Iron and Ironing Board
  • Continental Curtain Rod
  • Measuring Tape
  • Ribbon or Ties of your choice


1. First, install a continental curtain rod in the location you wish to place the panel.  Then, measure the width of the rod plus the returns on both sides.

2. For a lightly gathered window shade, without any seams, you may be able to use one 54” width of a decorator fabric.  Some fabric even comes up to 60” wide!  If you really want some fullness, you may want to double the measurement of the rod for the width of your panel.  This then may require cutting two panels of fabric, splitting one in half lengthwise, and either sewing or using iron on adhesive to connect the cut pieces to either side of your full center panel.

3. To determine the length of the curtain, you need to make a design decision.  Will this curtain ever be lowered to give full window privacy? Then, the panel has to be long enough to cover the glass.  Or, if you want to keep the panel about a third of the way down the window, you may only need to add about 12” to allow for swagging.  Of course, when you are figuring your dimensions, don’t forget to add for seams, the hem and the rod pocket.

4. Now, with sewing machine… or in Matt’s case, iron in hand, sew or iron in the side seams.  Next, fashion a rod pocket, in this case without a ruffle at the top, or the ribbons won’t go neatly over the rod.  Also, although rod pockets sound easy enough, if they’re too tight, the rod won’t go in, if they’re too loose, you can’t gather the fabric effectively.  I have found that the best dimension for a 2 ½” continental rod pocket is 2 7/8” from seam line to seam line.  This might be a little trickier for those using iron on adhesive.  Last, add a hem, and install the panel on the rod.

5. To hold the panel up, you can use a variety of things, you could make contrasting fabric ribbons, you could use wide gross grain ribbon like we did, or be creative and use roping or belts or embroidered ribbons.  Select something that supports the theme of your room.

In fact, although this one is definitely country styled, it doesn’t have to be. By attaching a heavy fringe to a lined panel of heavier decorator fabric, you can create a very formal, traditional treatment.  One ribbon right in the middle, and cinched up tight to the rod creates a very simple to do swag!  Believe me, if you play around with this simple panel construction, what you add or how you drape it can yield dozens of different results!

And I should assure you that all kidding aside, iron on adhesive is a marvelous way to create seam and hems and it allows people without sewing knowledge to create wonderful decorative projects for their homes.  I have a supply of it on hand at all times.  And, if you’re like me, you’d rather be at the sewing machine being creative, than in the “comfy” chair… any day!



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