The totally wrong way to hem curtains

by | Jan 2, 2013 | My House, Sewing, Tutorials | 85 comments


I took the tree down a couple of days ago and it left me staring at my unhemmed curtains that I finished about two years ago.  I came to the realization that I am never going to hem these curtains.  There is always something more fun to do than pinning, measuring, ironing and sewing straight lines.  They don’t look bad without a hem, but I have to fluff them a lot to position them right and they puddle on the floor in an unattractive way, so the curtains don’t hang as well.


As I was looking at them I realized that they have not frayed at all.  The fabric is indoor/outdoor canvas that hasn’t been washed, so it has a nice stiffness to it.  Well, I grabbed a pair of scissors and just cut them off.



I felt a little bit like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation when he chopped off the wobbly newel post with a chain saw.  “The curtains needed to be hemmed, so I hemmed them.”  (Hacked them off with scissors.)  “Problem solved.”  I knew it was the totally wrong way to hem curtains, but they look so much better!  I went ahead and did it to the living and dining room curtains, too, and they look so much better!



I kept hearing the voice of The Nester in my head.  “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”  Well, any proper seamstress who turns over these curtains and sees my lazy shortcut to a real hem might pass out, but I’m at peace with it.

Well, I’ve had a lot of fun with my boys over the break building Legos & forts, spinning Bey Blades and playing games…





…but I’m ready to get back to my routine.   Anyone else?

The winner of the $100 True Value Gift Card is…

Nanette Hill from Attracting Different.


  1. Sissie

    I’m glad to know that i’m not the only one who leaves my curtains unhemmed! I’ve been known to use the same hemming method. Works for me too!!


  2. Gillianne

    Hemming with shears is continuing the process you used to decide that Luckett’s wasn’t pulling its weight in your life anymore–weighing what’s important and making choices accordingly, don’t you think? (I couldn’t hack off fabric, but that’s my failing. Might drag an ironing board to the curtains and try to use iron-on tape without taking ’em down.)

    • Jennifer

      This is exactly what I did when I finally realized that I was never going to take all 6 panels down to hem them ( and then probably be frustrated when they ended up crooked or different lengths!) I just dragged the ironing board along the window as I went and it didn’t take long at all and looks SO much better! Go for it!

      • Lisa H

        Oh my gosh – thank you both for giving me “permission” to do this to my Family Room curtains! When I first put them up I “decided” they looked great puddling on the floor – very in-style! Well they never look nice. Either someone reaches behind one to plug in their laptop or a dog decides to hide a bone in their. I am too lazy to take all 6 down and hem them. And I am not brazen enough to cut them. So i will iron and tape them! Yay! and Thanks!

  3. Sarah

    Hahah. Although I usually like the puddle-y look, perhaps only because all of my curtains are also unhemmed, yours look great now. Also, who looks at curtain hems in any case? Whatever works, right?

  4. Mary @ Ms Redo

    Great job! I’ve got two pair that need hemming, you’ve inspired me to get on it today. Mary

  5. Irene G.

    Hate to bring this up… but isn’t that the room you are putting in new hard wood flooring….

  6. Pam Z

    Hi Marian. I’m still hoping you will tell us what wallpaper you used in your office. It is exactly what I am hoping to use one day. Thanks!

  7. Sherry Smyth

    I love that you just went ahead and did what felt right with those curtains! Now THAT has inspired me. I can’t sew — maybe I could if I really put my mind to it but I didn’t like it in Home Ec and I haven’t liked it any of the times I’ve decided to try again…which means it’s not my thing. But there are things I would love to make…and I’ve realized that in those instances I’ll have to pay to have that done. But just taking scissors and giving a whack? Wow!! 🙂 I have an old window I’ve hung on my wall and you can see the wire we used to hold it up firmly. I had a swag on there over the holidays but now that it’s down I was thinking I’d put up a fake curtain and just grab some material and nail it up. I thought — well that’s kind of cheating — but if Miss Mustard Seed can chop off curtains without hemming, I can do what I want with that window! Thanks!!

  8. Dana

    Too funny, just the other day I tripped over the puddled curtains in my master bedroom! They weren’t puddled until I recently decided to hang them with curtain rings rather than on the rod itself. This led to an extra 3 inches of puddling, which is fine for heavier, fancier curtains but not for these wispy linen ones!

    Yours look amazing, but I’m pretty sure mine would fray! Oh well, time for me to break out the ladder and raise the hardware lest I trip again and break my neck!

    – Dana

  9. Carrie

    Hope you had a relaxing holiday! I just noticed that your family room walls are blue, would you mind sharing the color and also where you got your fabric for your curtains. I am trying to brighten up our family room and I like your colors! Thanks!

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      It’s Glass Slipper by Benjamin Moore and it’s a gorgeous color. The curtain fabric is from, but I’ve also seen it at JoAnn and Hobby Lobby.

  10. Anne

    Congratulations to the winner!!!
    Yes I am really enjoying my time with my family.But it is cold and we are not going out anywhere just staying home.Which is fine just being together but………I am itching to get back to work.Back to projects and things.I have lots of ideas spinning in my head and it’s driving me a little crazy that I can’t start anything yet! And yes all the Christmas is still up.I will be taking that down this weekend.
    I love your solution to the curtains LOL! I don’t sew yet because I don’t have a machine.Hoping to get one soon.Just don’t have a clue as to what to look for.So many to chose from!
    Sweet photo of your son! Watching home movies over break and looking back at my daughter when she was little.The time goes way too fast!

    • Barbara

      I recommend buying a Janome Magnolia. It is the one I bought for myself and love because it’s fairly simple to use, not super computerized since I would never use the features of one that fancy It serves my sewing and crafting needs perfectly and wasn’t too expensive. I had a Kenmore for 40 years and always hated the method for putting in the bobbin!

  11. Cherie

    Lol! You are my kinda lady! I get head shakes from my husband often b/c I shortcut things sometimes. But they look fabulous, so he shouldn’t complain. I also LOVE the fabric!!! And using indoor/outdoor, well foot, I am going to have to try that too! I see now that you and I are going to get into a lot of trouble together. I look forward to it! Take care! Cherie’

  12. Dawn Beaver

    Love your ”get er done” attitude, but I did have a slight feeling of panic when I saw what you were doing with the scissors…aaagh! However, I have some sheers behind my newly made draperies that need to be ”unhemmed” and I don’t think anyone will ever notice 🙂

  13. antiquechase

    best way to hem curtains I have ever seen!

  14. Debbie

    the curtains look great! funny they looked good before! LOL

  15. Nancy

    I have never liked puddled curtains. I’m alway thinking of the creepy crawlies that may be nesting in them. Puddled are so out of style now anyway so I love what you did!

  16. Cara

    My thought, if people have issues with the way I hem something then they are more than welcome to do it a seamstress way. 🙂 that usually changes the toon… Hee, hee

  17. Beth Morrow

    Do you remember Christopher Lowell, on HGTV’s C.L. YOU CAN DO IT show? Well, he helped me launch my passion for decorating into a part-time career and Christopher never hemmed anything! Today I still have white drapes hanging in my formal area that are on lathing strips and they don’t have a stitch in them any where…I am an instant gratification kinda gal:)
    Your drapes are beautiful!
    Think I’ll get the camera out and take a walk around my house…thanks for the idea!

  18. julie

    You are one BRAVE woman! But they look great…and seriously, who EVER looks at the hems of curtains? (of course I will now, lol) I am too much a perfectionist, it is like a curse. Perhaps this is one reason why I have so much that is “undone” in my house. Gotta work on my “just get it done” attitude!

  19. Molly

    At least you have curtains up!!!! We have lived in our house 21 years and I have not put up curtains yet in my living room

  20. Deborah Fry

    I wondered if you had those days where brandishing scissors felt just right 🙂 I need to cut a bunch too xoxo

  21. Sandra at Thistle Co

    Congrats to the winner and as to the curtains…if you’re happy, what does it matter if someone else isn’t?

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      That’s right. There’s something empowering about chopping off your curtains with a pair of sheers!

  22. Kris

    This made me laugh. I think the thought of doing a project “perfectly” holds me back and I end up not even starting. I’m pretty sure you just opened the door for me to go for it and wing it! Thank you!!!!

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      You sound just like my husband. He’s very black and white/all or nothing. I just go for it! We balance each other nicely.

  23. Jill Flory

    🙂 I would totally have done that too – and I call myself a seamstress! Don’t tell ‘kay?!
    I’m with you on ready to get back at it. I just wish my girls would do all their school work on their own so I could totally concentrate on what I want to do. Yes I’m selfish, sigh. I’m not winning any homeschooler of the year awards I’m sure of that!

  24. Jackie

    That’s my way too!

  25. Eileen

    Go, Marian!! I love your quick decision making skills. And the curtains look great. That puddled look can be a mess if they aren’t perfect…whatever that is.

  26. Trish- The Purple Painted Lady

    This is my kind of tutorial and right at my skill level! Thanks for being REAL and honest!!!!

    : ) Happy New Year!!!!!

  27. Dee

    Hemming curtains is a horrid job – I just use iron on hemming tape on just about everything – trouser hems, curtains, stubborn back pockets on clothes that serve no purpose other than to stick up ….

    We love Jenga too – it is such a fun game.

    Dee at the Carlton

  28. Jessica @ Dear Emmeline

    if you did want to finish off the edge easily you could get some foldover bias tape or even ribbon and hot glue it right on! Looks perfectly fine how it is though so that could just be a way to fix them if they start to fray for some reason.

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      Yeah, that’s a great option if fraying were an issue. Good idea!

  29. Kathryn

    Ha! I just took down my tree and was staring at my unheeded and uneven curtains… your right – who has time for boring stuff like hemming? I may just have to break out the scissors! I noticed a few people commented on your paint colour – it’s a lovely blue – I have some blue spode dishes (Blue Camilla) that I’d like to be the inspiration for my kitchen eventually… would love to know the paint color you chose.

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      It’s a lovely color by Benjamin Moore called Glass Slipper.

  30. Mary Stewart

    Wow…you cut them off. Guess I’ll have to down grade your title from Super Woman to Wonder Woman.. Love your new way of thinking!

  31. Denise T

    Wow! What a great idea to hem this way! I really like this method . LOL!

  32. Rubylicious Bespoke

    I love, love that fabric! And it looks great as it is so why spend the time hemming? Love the way you think.

  33. peglydem

    Hey Marian,
    I am so glad you made a decision that will give you and your family a better quality of life. Get ready becaue you will have to make many more of them as time goes on. The first BIG NO is the hardest though!!!
    On another note I am the professional drapery maker that cringed when I saw your post today. LOL [Of course I have a professional blind hemming machine too]
    When making drapes or curtains the bottom hem is the first thing you do after you cut them out, so I have never had this dilemna of unhemmed drapery.
    You are a breath of fresh air!!

  34. Donna @ My Sweet Things

    Love it! I just did the same thing last week in my dining room. I kept looking at them puddled on the floor and grabbed the scissors and cut across the bottom. Done and I’m happy with it!

  35. Jessica@DesignersSweetSpot

    Actually, I have an easier method. Just make a small cut 1-2 inches long, then RIP the curtains all the across fabric. Woven materials work well for ripping, and you will have a perfectly “thread straight” line. Cutting can be so uneven, and printed fabrics can be deceiving. No one will ever notice they are un-hemmed, I would post pone hemming until you need to take them down for dry cleaning or washing. Why do it more than once?

  36. Audrey Zumwalt

    Hi Marian, well, that’s one way to “get er done” quick. Looks good and who is to know they are not hemmed.

    Happy New Year.
    Audrey Z.
    Timeless Treasures

  37. The Turquoise Home

    I’m the worst at hanging unhemmed curtains and leaving them forever. I finally hemmed my dining room curtains right before Christmas. Next the living room curtains. Hopefully they’ll get done before next Christmas!! 🙂

  38. Lisa

    Ladies! An iron and some fusible webbing from JoAnn’s and your curtains are hemmed in seconds!!! Cut, fold and iron! Lasts forever….designer secret revealed! Lol

  39. Cindy

    I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with no hem in my curtains! I never hemmed them because I was too afraid it would come out all crooked. Mine are linen and fraying a bit…they’ve only been hanging there for about 4 years ! haha! I think I will cut mine and pull the ironing board over and use the no-sew iron on tape to hem them! You inspired me to get this done! Thanks!

  40. ellen

    I’m with Nancy and whomever else said they don’t like puddled curtains. What’s that about? I’ve never understood that trend. And it takes even longer to vacuum.

    Great job!

  41. kelly arent-copper roof interiors llc

    Yep….all of the above will take care of the hem quick and easy!!! AND Yep…..sooo ready to get back into a routine. As much as I have cherished the time with the kiddos and the hubby being home I am ready to get back to MY regular day. Can not wait to get a piece of furniture in my kitchen and ready to paint and work on some long overdue 2013
    projects! Happy 2013 everyone!

  42. Allison H.

    I am so ready to get back to my schedule as well!! By.the way, I just bought my first miss mustard seed products! I’m so thrilled to support you!
    I got the boxwood paint, bonding agent, and crackle medium. So hacking excited I can’t stand it!!!
    Happy New Year!

  43. sue@housepretty

    Heck, if you think that’s bad, I left a set of curtains pinned up, waiting to be hemmed, at our cottage, for two full years! Finally, one day I stuck myself with one of the straight pins, and those suckes came down and were brought back to the house and finally got hemmed! So, I can relate! Hope the start to your 2013 is going great!

  44. Maris

    Love how you keep it real!!!
    Looking forward to getting back into my routine too. Hope 2013’s off to a great start for you!

  45. jamie

    I think they’re perfect! And I don’t know what I did before beyblades… that’s the only “game” I could play all day with my son 🙂

  46. Donna

    Being petite … well, SHORT …. I now hem everything by using Wrights iron-on seam tape. Steam and fold at the same time. VOILA!

  47. Liz

    If you use curtain rings and clips, you won’t have to hem your curtains, I just folded mine over at the top. No hemming and no cutting and they look great. When I was growing up, everything had to be just so…so.. I love the new do what ever feels right look.

  48. shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    I love the “no rules” decorating attitude…if it works and looks good, then it is just perfect!!!
    Love the drapes and they look fantastic!!

  49. jennylynn

    They look great! I got curtains in my bedroom that need a trim….they puddle in a bad way.
    We go back to work and school tomorrow. So glad to be getting back into my routine.

  50. Dee

    I’m in love w/Stitch Witchery (aka iron-a-hem). I don’t recommend, however, using your dining room table in lieu of an ironing board. At any rate, they look great and if anyone is close enough to your floor to know the difference well, as Sarah would say – they get a cookie! ~ Dee

  51. Pendra

    I think I went about hemming my curtains in the WRONG way… I moved the hardware up so I didn’t have to hem!!! hehehe! I guess we do what we have to do! Thanks for sharing, it made my day!

    • Cheri

      That’s a great thing to do Pendra- it’s always advised to hang the rod as high as possible- to elongate the windows!
      You did good- there is more than one way to “skin a cat”! Ewww- I know- not good!


  52. Jennifer @ Celebrating Everyday Life

    This sounds EXACTLY like something I would do! Hey, whatever gets the job done totally works for me! So glad I’m not alone 🙂

  53. Claudine

    Playing with your boys instead of sewing???
    The SMARTEST thing you have ever done!!!!
    And the curtains look PERFECT!!!
    We won’t tell your neighbours, lol!

    • Mimi

      YAY to playing w/ your boys instead of sewing!!! But a little patience would have been MY choice — either procrastinate the whole job until the kids go back to school (or bed) OR iron a hem & measure/cut off just enough to hem later & then finish w/ stitch witchery or thread & needle later. Depended on how much time you had to invest.
      Playing with the kiddos is ALWAYS the right choice — they don’t stay little for long & you’ll have lots of free time when they leave home (or just go back to school after break)

  54. Amy

    You might try running a little fray check along the bottom of the curtains. The website says it hold up to washing and dry cleaning.

  55. Goedele

    My curtains have been like that since we moved in here. I don’t mind to fluff them to position, but my husband hates it. He thinks it’s totally ridiculous, haha. So everytime he opens or closes the curtains I rush to the window to take over and fluff everything to position. It’s a terrible routine :-). So I think I’m going to hem them very soon. Unfortunatley it’s linen so I’ll have to do it the right way.

  56. Susan McMullen

    That is so me! I hem my scrub pants for work with tape-in fact, I am so at peace with it, I just wash them with the tape on- that way I don’t have to remeasure the hem every time! What tape comes up, simply gets taped back over… and I’ve never had someone tell me I can’t work or take care of them because my hem is crooked! 🙂

    I would totally just wack off my curtains!! Go girl!

  57. Julie @ Lilacs & Longhorns

    Ha! I love it! I often want to do that to sewing projects because I feel the same way about sewing a hem…I just haven’t had the courage to do it. 🙂
    I picked up a swatch of this same fabric the other day at Hobby Lobby and was thinking of using it in my dining room…your pictures make me think I might need to go for it. Maybe I’ll even use the same method for hemming! lol

  58. Nancy Carr

    I couldn’t believe you did this. You of all people. And, I love it. You give those of us who are not as talented, creative, etc. as you the permission to be less than perfect. Thank you so much. I needed this. You helped us who are the less skilled people.

  59. Audrey Jones

    Love it! I’d do the same and not tell anyone.
    By the way,
    You’ve been an inspiration to me since I moved in August to my Mom’s NJ farm house with husband and daughter that graduated from college. We have 4 kids and we sold our big house in NJ and are now renting a farm house from my mom. All of my “STUFF” I love, is in storage and I’m adapting to the farmish lifestyle.
    I am a decorative painter specializing in high end finishes but they are not so popular out here in the country. I started searching for vintage finds, barn windows and such and started and etsy shop. FREshREstorations.
    Again, you have inspired me!
    Thank you.

  60. katiekl

    OK, I don’t love it. Seems like I’m the only one! Just wondering what will happen when you wash/dryclean the curtains?

    That said, I do like the length so much better. And what is most important is that you love it!

  61. Runt

    I have curtains that I need to hem too. Unfortunately I don’t think I can just cut mine and call it a day. I wish! I’ll get around to it eventually…. =]

  62. Deborah

    I so appreciate that you wrote about this – the temptation when one is presenting something is to cover up the imperfection (either of the project or the finish-work). That hem IS something I would do, but I’m not sure I would be “at peace” with it. If someone comes into my home and admires something I’ve done, I tend to show them how it isn’t perfect – haha. Thank you for the openness – and I think your curtains are lovely! =)

  63. Gerri

    That’s what I love about your blog….. your honesty. It’s okay if something isn’t perfect. Just start.

    It’s funny that you mentioned Bey Blades. I hadn’t heard of them before this Christmas. We got our 6 y.o. son a couple and he loves battling with them. Inexpensive, no batteries and hours of fun. My kinda toy 🙂 Happy New Year.

  64. Rebecca Moss Brovont

    Call me the curtain nazi or old fashioned or just plain old, all of which apply, but I think that “a job worth doing is worth doing well” …. at least as well as you are able. I have watched your videos on slip covering, I know you can do better than a raw edge on the bottom of your curtains.

    And now for the technical aspects of a hem…. A double turned hem adds weight to a drape and makes it hang better, besides, what else are you going to do with the fabric you just cut off? Over time the cut edge will ravel, not launder well and heaven forbid if you have any shrinkage as there is no good (or quick) remedy for high water drapes with no hem to let down. You will end up replacing those drapes and the time spent to make new ones is a lot more than the time to hem the current ones. That brings to mind another old adage, “a stitch in time saves nine”.

    P.S. T pins are great for holding slipcover pieces in place until the seams get pinned, much better than a knee.

  65. Susan Irene

    Sorry Marion, you hit a nerve. As a costume designer and scene designer and teacher, I delight in teaching my theater students who are so afraid of sewing how fun and easy it really is. Also, it makes me crazy to see curtains on a set that are not done right. The hem at the bottom helps them to hang correctly because of the weight. If you don’t want to take the time to sew them, there are other options such as fusing which will allow you to later clean your drapes. I just hope that all who have not had a good introduction to sewing won’t give up. I love most of your suggestions, this one just hit home with me.
    agreeing to disagree,
    Susan Irene

  66. walker

    I love this fabric! Can you tell me it’s name?

    • Kellie

      I found it =)
      It’s called: Mill Creek Fabric Felton Terrace River Outdoor

  67. Cheri

    Yes, I just about fainted when I read this! But honestly, being the Curtain Lady, I have some unhemmed fabric on my living room windows- and I MAKE DRAPES FOR PEOPLE!!! No one else would allow this- if I took it to them unhemmed- but I have been able to live with it- as a temporary measure- for at least 8 yrs. now!!! lol!!! Actually it is two lengths of fabric and not even lined so far!!! oh well- worse things have happened I guess?

    No honestly, I enjoyed the post!


  68. Kellie

    I too would love to know where you got the fabric. It’s exactly what I’m looking for in my front room. Hemmed correctly or not – they still look great =)

  69. Emma

    This is so funny…I’ve got eight curtain panels hanging that I sewed…a year and a half ago? I forget why, but I was in a desperate hurry to finish, thus: four have blind bottom hems and four do not!

    I’ve been tripping on them far too long (I serged the raw edges so they woudn’t fray, and left extra length for eventual hemming) and was thinking about finishing them – in situ! – with Stitch Witchery (iron on adhesive tape) when I read your post.

    The fabric of your curtains is gorgeous…I feel compelled to offer a small tip: Apply Stop Fray or Fray Check to the bottoms. Otherwise they are eventually going to fray, and since they’re the perfect length right now there’s no margin for error! 😉

    Put a blob of product on a piece of tin foil, and draw the bottoms through horizontally ever-so-slightly (if you apply it too deep you’ll see a darker “stain” coming up from the bottom). Goal is an even application no further than 1/16″ “up” towards the top of the curtain.

    Thanks for reminding me that perfect isn’t necessarily…necessary!

  70. linda longenecker

    I am schocked, absolutely shocked………….Color me crazy but hemming with iron on is better………

  71. Renni

    Haha I love it. There must be a lot of us out there! I have these beautiful curtains that I have had up for four years – everything but the hem. I thought they looked good puddled on the floor…um I just didn’t want to hem them.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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