How to make curtains with borders

In my opinion making curtains with borders is of the most effective ways of adding design elements to your draperies.

Whether bought ready-made or constructed from plain or patterned fabric, inset borders can give your drapery interest and character.

Braids and other narrow trims can also be used, either singly or doubled up.

Using fabric for curtains with borders

First cut your border fabric into the required lengths. To get the best results try to select trim fabric which is of similar quality to that of your drapes. It doesn't need to be exactly the same, but don't select fabric which is:

  • Too thick (it might prevent the drape from hanging naturally).
  • Too thin (the border might pucker, or the border turnings might show through).
inset borderAn inset border on the inside edge and along the bottom of a drape. The white dotted lines show where the edges have been turned under.

If you're using vertical trim, cut the fabric down the length of the width. If you're using a bottom trim, cut the fabric across the width. For drapes having more than one width, join the bottom trim so the seams match the main fabric.

Make the width of the fabric trim about ¾" (2.0cms) wider than the final border width. Fold ⅜" (1.0cms) under each side and press flat. Some drapery makers prefer to use larger turnings, even to the extent of the turnings meeting in the middle of the border. Use whatever amount you're happy with.

Seaming the miter

If you're having two inset borders which meet in a corner, the best way is to machine the miter, making sure the borders are at exact right angles to each other. Pin them in position first, and if you're not confident of machine seaming them correctly first time, slip tack them together by hand, and then machine seam them together.

Hand sew or machine sew?

When making your curtains with borders you'll generally get a better finish by hand sewing the borders in place onto the drape panel. By using a slip stitch you can attach the fabric using stitches which are practically invisible.

Pin the borders carefully in position, using as many pins as necessary so the borders can't move. Check the edges are perfectly vertical or horizontal by using a rule or any straight edge.

Should you attach the border(s) before or after you've made up the drape? This is entirely up to you. Some makers prefer to attach the borders after the drape is made up so they can see the finished result and make sure the fabrics are positioned correctly.

Obviously, if you select to machine sew your borders in place, you'll need to do it before you make up the drape.

Ready made borders and braids

There's a huge range of borders and braids you can buy. These can be sewn in position in the same way as fabric borders.

joining bordersJoining patterned borders

If you're having your border or braid on two sides which meet and you need to have a mitered join, be careful with this. If the border has a pattern, it can be difficult to make the miter look good. You'll need to play around with the pattern. Often the best solution is to have the join in a part of the border where there is little or no pattern.

The pattern illustrated here can pose problems when it comes to the miter. A doesn't look very good, with one motif almost running into the other. B spaces things out more, but still isn't ideal. You'll often find that you have to compromise, and use whatever you think is best.

When making your curtains with borders, thicker borders are often best joined on the miter by using a hand stitch.

How far in should you inset the borders?

A safe guide is to set the border in about 2" (5cms) from the edge. But play around with different positions until you're satisfied with the result. Lay the trimmings on the drape and pin them in position, then stand back to evaluate how they look.


Curtains with borders are a valuable asset when it comes to improving the looks of your drapes. Just be careful you don't overdo it, and end up with borders everywhere in your home!

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