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upholstery basics: grommet-top shower curtain

For the last few months, we’ve set aside our staple guns and dipped into our bag of tools and tricks to make everything from lampshades to slipcovers. This month on Upholstery Basics, we head back to the sewing machine to construct a simple shower curtain. For a clawfoot tub, finding a shower curtain that’s wide enough to encircle the perimeter can be a challenge, if not impossible. After months of searching, I finally found the perfect fabric at the right price (I needed 12 yards!) to conceal my soapy plastic liner. Check out how easy it was to brighten up this bathroom with just a sewing machine and a $10 grommet kit. — Amanda

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .

Materials

  • painter’s tape
  • washable fabric
  • square
  • white or yellow chalk
  • scissors
  • long straight edge
  • clamps
  • hand plier stapler or t-pins
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • staple remover
  • 12″ ruler
  • iron
  • grommet hole cutter, anvil and mandril
  • cutting block (or thick piece of cardboard to put under the hole cutter)
  • hammer

 

Don’t forget to check out Upholstery Basics: Tool Time to learn more about the tools we’re using today.

Resources

Photography by Mel Cole
Fabric by Kaffe Fasset for Westminster Fabrics.

Feel free to give us a call or email us at Spruce if you’d like to purchase the fabric.

Instructions

1. If you plan on washing your shower curtain, wash the fabric before you start construction so it preshrinks.

2. Determine the finished length and width of the curtain. Because I have a freestanding tub, my curtain goes all the way around the perimeter. I added 15% to the outside circumference of the tub so the fabric will gather slightly when closed and made the height extend from the top of the liner to 2″ above the floor.

3. I will sew a double hem on every side to conceal the raw edges of fabric. At the bottom, I add 8″ of fabric to account for a 4″ double hem. At the top and sides, I add 4″ (2″ double hem) and 3″ (1 1/2″ double hem), respectively.

4. One of the most challenging parts of drapery sewing is keeping long lengths perfectly measured. If you don’t have a large table, spread out your fabric on the floor. Start by marking parallel lines that are the same distance apart as the length of the shower curtain plus any additions for hemming on your work surface. I use painter’s tape, which can easily be removed without damaging my work surface. Square the bottom edge of the fabric and tape it to the table so it meets the bottom line.

5. Smooth the fabric toward the other side of the work surface. Align a straight edge with the marks for the top edge of the curtain and clamp it to the table (over the fabric) to hold it in place.

6. Draw a line across the fabric to mark the top edge.

7. Remove the clamps, straight edge and bottom edge from the table then cut along the chalked line. Repeat steps 4–7 to cut out the rest of the fabric. Since the width of my curtain is over 200″, I will seam five widths of fabric, side by side, to make the necessary width. If you plan on pattern matching the fabric across the seams, line up the pattern on the first panel with the pattern on the next piece of fabric before marking the top and bottom edges.

8. Pin or hand staple the fabric panels side by side and sew them together. Be careful to keep the direction of the fabric correctly oriented from panel to panel.

9. Remove the staples or pins and iron the bottom hem. Fold and iron the first 4″.

10. Then fold the fabric over again and iron another 4″ for a double hem.

11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 to iron the double hem on the top and sides (in that order) but change the measurement of the fold over so the hem is the desired size. Then use t-pins to hold the hems in place as you sew.

12. Begin sewing at a corner. Sew the bottom/top of the side hem closed.

13. When you reach the inside corner, pivot the sewing machine and sew along the inside edge of the side hem.

14. When you reach the end of the inside edge, pivot the sewing machine again and sew to the corner of the curtain.

15. Lock the threads by tying them off with a knot on the backside of the fabric. Repeat steps 12–15 to sew the other side. Sew across the top and bottom hems from side hem to side hem and tie off the threads on the backside of the fabric.

Pixie thought it was time for a break!

Making grommets requires a kit, which you can pick up from most hardware stores for as little as $10. The kit comes with an anvil, hole cutter and mandril (from left to right in the image below), which make a specific size grommet. You’ll also need the actual grommets that match the size of the kit, a hammer and a cutting block to put under the fabric as you cut the hole. Most kits come with a cutting block; however, a thick piece of cardboard or a cutting board works, too.

16. Measure and mark the placement of the grommets with chalk.

17. Place the cutting block under the fabric and the hole cutter on the mark on top of the fabric. Hammer the end of the hole cutter until it cuts through all layers of the fabric.

18. Place the front of the grommet on the anvil with the protruding part up.

19. Place the hole in the fabric over the grommet with the good side of the fabric face down.

20. Place the backside of the grommet on top of the fabric.

21. Insert the mandril in the hole of the anvil and hammer its end to mold the front and back of the grommet together.

22. The protruding part of the grommet curls down and over the backside to lock the two pieces together. Repeat steps 17–21 to attach all other grommets.

Shower Curtain Tips

  • If you don’t plan on washing your shower curtain, consider an outdoor or mildew-resistant fabric that’s well suited for damp environments. Also consider the weight of the fabric and how sturdy the rod is around your tub.
  • Serge seams or cut out the fabric panels with pinking shears to prevent fraying or unraveling.
  • Curtain length and hem dimensions are up to your discretion. If you’re working with a limited amount of fabric, reduce the hem dimensions to conserve fabric.

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27 Comments

Coral's Inspirations

The colors of that fabric are so vibrant and the flowers are so pretty, makes me want to a new shower curtain.

Emmy

Unbelievably gorgeous fabric. What wonderful colors in that bathroom, especially paired with the Anthropologie towels. Great work!

Melissa S.

Hey this is helpful! I have never done grommets before, and I was thinking of using them to make a sturdy apron. These photos are just what I needed.

donna

I have an old clawfoot tub w the original fixtures and had intended to sew a curtain when we moved in but wasn’t sure how. And I couldn’t seem to find any for sale anywhere (the one I did find was $200!). So five years later we have two vinyl liners (of which I cut off the bottoms) and we keep closed with, um, binder clips (don’t laugh!!!). I’m going to try sewing my own but I need to make sure the fabric isn’t too heavy or I worry the whole fixture might fall down. It is screwed into the ceiling by only two screws.

donna

Btw, did you find a liner that goes all the way around too? If so, who sells them?

LVN

I sewed a shower curtain a couple years back and instead of using grommets, I just made button holes. So far the button holes have held up fine – this might be a good option for someone who does not want to purchase the grommet kit. Button holes are very simple on most sewing machines. I also put interfacing in the top hem to make it a little sturdier. Great project and love the fabric!

Amanda Brown

Donna,
You can get the liner at Vintage Tub and Bath or Signature Hardware. Both places are really great sources for faucets and clawfoot accessories, too!

Jocelyn,
My fingernail polish is the Gelish brand of shellac polish called All About Me. : )

Thanks for the compliments, all! I love this fabric too, and it retails for $11 per yard!

Allie

Where did you get your brass shower hoop??? I’ve been looking everywhere for some!

Laura

I’m a huge fan–HUGE–and check this site at least once a day. However, this seems like a silly project. Why not just buy two shower curtains and sew them together?

Amanda Brown

Kelsey and Sarah, the fabric is listed towards the top of the post under “Resources”.

Allie, here’s a link to my specific shower enclosure. A few comments above, I gave links to two other websites I’ve ordered plumbing fixtures from. After countless hours searching, these had the best prices, and I’ve been very pleased with the quality.

Fox and Beau, the cream bath mat and orange towels are from Anthropologie. Good eye!

Christine

This is amazing!! Beautiful fabric too! I have a clawfoot tub and do the same thing as Donna! I am checking out those links posted asap. Last time I checked for supplies for my tub was 6 years ago when I moved into my house and was on the broke side. Besides the cheapie shower conversion kit I got online somewhere, my poor bathroom could use an upgrade. Thanks for the great tutorial! Although I don’t sew and won’t attempt this project on my own, gives me hope there might be some custom action available on etsy in the future.

Allison D

What a beautiful curtain! Such a statement piece for your lovely bathroom! We have a clawfoot tub too, and I was wondering where you purchased those shower caddies that hold your soaps/shampoos? I would love to find something that we could mount to the central shower pipe too! Thanks for sharing!!

Gillianne

A useful tutorial (and big-impact fabric!). Re: grommets, hardware stores carry the kits for significantly less than craft stores.

Sarah Jane

I love grommets! Beautiful shower curtain and great nail polish :). Thanks for the tutorial!

katie

I am just starting off on doing home DIY but I think with a little help from a friend I may be able to pull this one off!

Thelma

Beautiful on all fronts! I have the same type of shower and have had a hard time finding holders for the shampoo and soap. Please tell me, where did you get yours? Thanks you.

Amanda Brown

Allison D and Thelma,
Check out the links in my comments above for sources for the shower caddies. Signature Hardware and Vintage Tub & Bath have all types of goodies for clawfoot tubs!

SewGiddy

Beautiful job! I’ll be trying this since, being a novice to sewing, I have not yet tried to make curtains! It’s on my list of fun new projects to do! Thanks for posting!!

Tammie

such a beautiful tutorial and post.
do you know is this the same sort of grommet tool kit for leather? or maybe i would need something more heavy duty? since you have leather tutorials I thought you might know.
I want to learn how to use grommets and add snaps to leather.

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