How To Spring Clean Your Curtains

How To Spring Clean Your Curtains-5

As the sun is finally streaming in through our windows, the trees are sprouting blossom and the evenings are lighter for longer, lots of us will be beginning the yearly process of Spring cleaning.

For me there’s nothing more cathartic than a good clean up, sort out and re-organisation of my home ready for the Spring and Summer months.

One part of Spring cleaning which is often overlooked however is curtains!

They’re open in the daytime, in the low light in the evening and closed at night, so we often don’t notice the state of our curtains, or when they might be in need of some TLC.

If you look closely – especially in the Spring sunlight, you’ll notice your curtains may be dusty and dirty – especially if you have pets at home. If this is the case, let me give you some advice for cleaning them safely, without damaging them or needing to pay a huge dry cleaning bill. 


Firstly, it is a good idea to vacuum your curtains once a month if possible. When vacuuming your curtains place a soft muslin cloth or pop sock over the end of the vacuum cleaner nozzle. Try to ensure you get into all the folds and pleats in the headings and remember to vacuum the back as well, especially if you have pets as they often brush against the backs of curtains when climbing across window sills. 

Give the curtains a good shake and then dress them back into their folds; this will prevent staining/marks, dust and pet hair build up, and will help to keep the fabric fresh and in good condition. 

At least once per year (Spring time is as good a time as any!) take the curtains down and brush them with a soft brush. You should then hang them outside for a few hours if possible. Some fresh air and a little sunshine will air out and breath new life into your window treatment. 

While the curtains are being aired, it’s a good time to give the track a thorough clean. Using a damp cloth clean the whole track, and then use a small spray of silicon to ensure your track will continue to run smoothly for another year. Metal curtain poles will just need a light dusting as most of them have a lacquered finish. Finally, wooden curtain poles can be cleaned with a little wooden spray polish and clean cloth. 

Now it is time to re-hang your curtains. Dress the curtains into their folds and leave drawn back for 24 hours if possible. This will ensure they settle back into their desired position. 

If you keep up monthly vacuuming followed by a yearly brush and airing, you should keep your curtains looking fabulous for many years. 


Here at Denton Drapes we do not recommend that you send your curtains to a dry cleaners. However, if you do decide to send them for a heavy-duty clean, there are some precautions you can take to protect your curtains. 

Professional ‘dry cleaning’ services actually immerse fabric into a drum of cleaning fluid, and so the process is rarely ‘dry’ –  any immersion into liquid like this can be problematic with fabrics and could change their appearance and/or dimensions.

With this in mind, it is recommended that you tack round the edges and hems of your interlined curtains before you send them to be cleaned. This will help to stop the interlining moving/shrinking out of the turnings. It may seem bothersome, but far less so than having to repair damage or replace whole window dressings! 

If your curtains have pin hooks these should be removed prior to cleaning, however, if you have hand sewn hooks in your curtains,  which obviously cannot be removed, then you should fold down the heading and tack it securely with the hooks on the inside. If you have a tape heading, let out the cords, ensuring there is a firm knot at the end, so that they cannot disappear.

We recommend that you measure your curtains before you take them down and ensure that you write the measurements onto the order form at the cleaning specialists: this will ensure you can prove any shrinkage should the worst happen, and will mean the dry cleaner can check against your measurements. 

When you get the curtains back from the cleaners you should re-hang them, draw them closed and keep them closed for 12 hours with some ventilation, this should ensure all remaining solvent evaporates quickly.

Finally, draw them open and dress into folds, tie back with cord/plastic/tie backs and leave to set in folds. 


If a spillage or accident should happen (such as red wine) then it really is vital that you clean the stain immediately to prevent the stain spreading and/or setting. If the lining is not stained then you should undo the sides and pin them up out of the way while you deal with the body of the stain using your preferred stain removal technique. 


– Lipstick can often be removed with a baby wipe or make up remover pad.

– Small blood stains can be removed with saliva. Treat the stain as soon as possible by depositing a little saliva onto a clean cotton cloth and dap at the stain gently.

Good luck with your Spring cleaning and long may your beautiful handmade interlined curtains last!

Penny & The Denton Drapes Team

How to Sew a Brass Ring onto the Rod Pocket of a Roman Blind Using a Sewing Machine…

I posted some photos on my social media channels last week showing how at Denton Drapes we sew our brass rings on with a sewing machine to the rod pockets of our Roman blinds.

There was quite a bit of interest on the posts and so in response we filmed this short video showing excatly how we do it.
Here it is and I hope that some of you find it useful!

For those who would prefer written instructions – here they are too:

How to sew a brass ring onto the rod pocket of a Roman blind, using your sewing machine…

  1. Using a domestic machine (ours is a Memory Craft 3500 Janome) firstly you need to drop the feed dogs. Take away the extension table from the free arm, and find the feed dogs button (usually on the back of your machine) move the button from left to right to drop the feed dogs. Some machines don’t have this button and you’ll need to purchase a plate to cover the feed dogs manually instead.
  2. Put the extension table back onto the free arm.
  3. Set your machine to a zig-zag stitch (on our machine this is number 11). The needle should be to the left.
  4. Put the needle down into the work to the left, about 1/4 inch away from the fold, and then pop the ring in underneath the foot.
  5. Drop the presser foot.
  6. On our machine when we do a zigzag stitch it does 6 locking stitches at the start, so do your 6 locking stitches (there may be a button to press) and then start your zigzag stitches.
  7. When you’ve finished your zigzag stitches, ensure your needle is on the left hand side. Press your locking stitch button again to do 6 more locking stitches.
  8. Take the presser foot up, take the work out, cut the threads and then tie them off for extra strength and then trim off the excess thread.
Ian Mankin Ticking Stripe - Roman Blind, with brass rings sewn on using a machine.

Ian Mankin Ticking Stripe – Roman Blind, with brass rings sewn on using a machine.

Happy sewing lovely people!



Joining A Tricky Fabric

Close-up of the selvedge

Joining some fabrics can be tricky especially when the join is right on the edge and the selvedge is tiny and uneven. This Harlequin fabric Memi 7548 is a beautiful embroidered piece but as you can see in this close-up of the face side the selvedge is really small and irregular.

The uneven selvedge seen from the other side

In this picture from the wrong side you can see the many tiny strands of uneven ends that make the join bumpy.

The fabric join is very evident and uneven

As you can see, when you try to join this type of fabric on the edge you end up with an irregular and unprofessional looking join.

Joining the selvedges leaves an uneven join

This is caused by the tiny strands of yarn that are uneven on the selvedge . You can see clearly in this picture where the machine has ridden on either sides of the strands making it impossible to achieve an even flat join.

We move into the fabric

Our answer to this problem is to come into the width and the pattern.

Matching the fabric

Here you see we are matching the pattern with pins ready for hand stitching.

Using a ladder stitch

There are times when no matter how experienced you are with a sewing machine the join will not be perfect. In this case we use a very small ladder stitch  by hand to ensure a perfect match which is required because we are making a roman blind so the seams are very visible. An example of how to do ladder stitch can be seen on the DD YouTube channel………here.

Matching the other side

This picture shows using the same process of coming into the width on the other side of the blind.

The finished seam on the right side

The finished seam shown for the right side.

The matched seam

A close up of the matched seam.

The new joins

This pictures shows clearly how we have come into the widths to achieve the joins. The seams would be lightly pressed and then the seam allowance trimmed down so we can complete the blind as normal.

Nearly ready

An almost completed blind hung and waiting to have stab stitched inserted.

Top Tip for Triple Pleats

Here is a tip I learned from a very experienced curtain maker in another workroom which we have adopted at Denton Drapes. It helps you to form triple pleats quickly and accurately.    


Begin by sewing the pleat in the normal way having calculated the pleats and spaces required. (I’m using a coloured thread here simply to show you the technique)           


The stitching line should go to the end of the buckram. In this case we used six inch buckram.      


But then sew in a second line a “small” third in. This means one third of the distance minus five mm. You may need to trial and error this to get the perfect position.                


Finish this second stitching line one cm short of both top and bottom.     


Then if you pinch the pleat at the bottom of this line it is really easy to make the triple shape   


All you have do is to press down to the middle and then add first one side and then the other to create the full triple pleat.




Sew it into place and the job is done.      

Top Tip for Tiebacks

Tiebacks waiting to be handsewn

A job that recently went through the Denton Drapes workroom included roman blinds with blackout lining,  slot headed curtains also with blackout and a set of tiebacks. We always use matching lining on our tiebacks so they needed to be blackout as well. It looks much better that way but the trouble with blackout lining are those horrible little pin holes that are inevitable when using pins on blackout. They always seem to end up looking like a tiny grubby dirty mark.  

Close up of the Tieback front

 One of my girls came up with the brilliant idea of using paper clips instead of pins to keep the layers together on the lower edge of the tieback. A quick trip to the stationery cupboard and away we went.    

Tieback with blackout lining

 We found that we needed to use quite a few but it held the layers together really well while we handsewed along each bottom edge. The end result is a much cleaner neater looking handsewn tieback. I really believe that it is attention to detail like this that makes your products more professional. 

Close up of tieback with clips

 Here you can see one of the finished windows from this job. The fabric is from the Amilie Weaves range by Harlequin. Tiebacks are just a small part of the whole but always make a curtain look good. When working with dormer rods I usually make double sided cutains. However blackout lining was important here as it was our clients disabled sons bedroom so we used one that matches the stripe in the fabric and dressed the curtain so the front edge is showing when they are open. 

The tiebacks in place on the finished window

Eye catching fabric.

This fabric is Chantilly Onyx from the Villa Nova Orsay range. I have had this fabric in one of my Villa Nova sample books for at least a year and have never looked twice at it.  However one of my trade clients recently commissioned some triple pleat curtains in the fabric and as soon as we saw it, all of the girls commented on how stunning it looked as it came off the roll while we were checking it for flaws and length. 

Villa Nova Chantilly Onyx.

I thought it would make a good post to show how different fabrics can look when seen in a whole length compared to a small sample in a book. It can be difficult enough to imagine how a fabric will look  when made up. When dealing with a dramatic scale floral motif like this it takes artistic vision to picture the final result. 

Close up of sewing in the triple pleats.

I have taken a few photos of the make up process as the curtains were created. The picture above shows how we stitch our pleats  in from the top to the bottom of the buckram. We find it easier and quicker to work in that direction although I know others who prefer to work the other way.  We put the needle down inside the fabric half an inch from the edge and reverse backwards to the top of the curtain, making sure to hold the two layers of fabric tight so that it doesn’t move and the top line stays level. 

Close up of folding in the triple pleats.

After a row of single pleats have been sewn in, the curtain is then taken to the table and the triple pleats are folded into place. We  do this by pinching the centre of the pleat and pushing down towards the stitching line. The central edge is brought towards one outer edge and pinched together and then the other edge is brought across creating the triple pleat effect. 

Metal Clips holding the pleats in place.

We have a selection of metal clips in the workroom that we use to hold the pleats in place once the triple pleat is made.  I like to use these plastic Snopake clips that my husband picked up at Staples  stationery store. They are less fierce than traditional metal bulldog clips which can mark delicate fabrics. The clips stay in place until the stab stitches and oversew at the top are complete. 

Finished triple pleats

We always hang the curtain up to dress and bandage before delivery to the customer. For bandages I cut strips of lining about 2″ wide from left over scraps and tie them with a simple bow knot. The knot must be tight enough to hold them firmly in place but not so tight that they leave a mark.

Curtain dressed and bandaged before delivery.

 Dressing the curtain is a quick process using the pins in the hem technique shown last month. The curtain is usually left bandaged for several days to let the folds set and then the curtains are put into polythene tubing ready for delivery to the customer. The bandages are not removed until  the curtains are hung.

Finished curtain after dressing.

This last picture shows the completed curtain after all the folds have set. The morale of the story is that a fabric always looks completely different when made up compared to how it looks in the sample book.

Today’s Top Tip!

Dressing any handmade headed curtain can be a nightmare if there is not a definite pattern to follow down the curtain that you can form the folds to. I had a light bulb moment one day that makes dressing a curtain very quick and easy.

Once we have put the head of the curtain in with buckrum and handsewn the lining secure. We  then mark the pleats and spaces in with pins.

The next stage is to fold the hem of the curtain back on itself towards the top. Right side to right side.

The curtain head on the table with the hem folded up on top of it.

 Find the middle of your pleat and put a pin into the hem at exactly the same postion.

The pleat and space labelled.

You can see in this picture which is the pleat and which is the space. I have clearly marked the centre of the pleat but on the hem line.

Once you have sewn  your pleats into place and hung the curtain for dressing it is then really easy. Line up the middle of your pleat with the pin in the hem line to create perfectly lined up folds.  Then bandage as normal.  It’s a real time saver.