Learn how to hand sew your drapery

To get the best possible results with your drapery projects you'll need to learn how to hand sew.

It may be something you're already able to do, in which case this section will just refresh your memory! If you've never done any hand sewing before, it really is easy. Put in a bit of practice on some pieces of fabric, and you'll be well away.

Quality stitching is one of the hallmarks of professional drapery


Slip stitches - the workhorse stitch

slip stitch on corner mitre

Slip stitches used on a corner miter

You use slip stitches for mitered corners, for joining lining to the drape fabric and for attaching the hem to the interlining (if it's being used).

It's such a useful stitch that I'd recommend you practice it until the result is a neat and tidy stitch without the thread pulling or stretching the fabric.

When used for a mitered corner, first secure the thread. Then make a short stitch into one of the folds, followed by another short stitch into the other fold directly opposite. Pull the thread to keep the two folds together. When you do this correctly the two folds should meet without any puckering of the fabric, and the stitches should be almost invisible.

Share your ideas!

Have you any tips on hand stitching? Got any problems, or a favorite technique? Share your ideas and questions here.

For using this stitch with lining or interlining you can make the slip stitches about ¾" (2.0cms) long.

This is one of those stitches which may need a lot of practice. But when you master it, you can produce seams which are absolutely straight with no thread showing.


lining with slip stitch

Slip stitch used to attach lining

This is a variation on the previous slip stitch, in that the thread is taken diagonally across underneath the fabric and lining.

Again, when the stitches are done correctly and the thread pulled gently the result should show little sign of the stitches. They will be noticeable when attaching lining, but only just.

Which type of stitch you use in a given situation isn't as important as the quality of the stitches. Some curtain makers prefer this diagonal style for sewing linings, some prefer to use the first version, while others use the hemming stitch. Learning how to hand sew includes knowing when to use one stitch instead of another. Sometimes that means using a stitch you're most comfortable with.

Hemming stitches

hemming stitch

Hemming stitches

These are used when you're just using lining and not interlining. It's a useful stitch in this situation because the stitches which can be seen on the front of the drapes are very small. When you select the correct color thread and execute these stitches well, the stitch marks are hardly noticeable.

You can also use this stitch for joining lining to the fabric.

Once the thread is secured, take a ¾" (2.0cms) stitch through the fold of the hem. Then make a small stitch directly above this, followed by a another long stitch through the fold.

Herringbone stitch (also known as Catchstitch)

herringbone or catchstitch

Herringbone stitch

This stitch is used for securing the fabric and interlining when it is folded over on the sides of the drapes. It also comes in useful for the hem when using interlining with a thick fabric. When fabric is quite thick it's sometimes better to only have one fold for the hem. Using a herringbone stitch secures the hem and keeps the edge tidy.

As shown in the illustration, you work from left to right. The needle always points to the left, and the thread is kept on the right hand side of the stitches.

How to hand sew interlocking stitches

interlock stitch

Interlocking stitches

These are used to tie interlining to fabric, and lining to fabric or interlining. They are not tight stitches. The idea is to loosely tie the different fabrics to one another, while leaving some slack so there is movement between them.

By tying the fabrics together in this way, when drapes are moved, the fabric, lining and interlining will move together. If you don't tie them in this way, there's a danger that your interlining and lining will 'bunch up' and not lie flat against the main fabric.

Use a continuous length of thread for this stitch, even when your drapes are long. It's best to work from the hem to the top of the drapes. When stitching to the fabric, just catch the fabric threads enough to anchor the thread, but not so much that the stitches are visible from the front.


If you already know how to hand sew, this section will be easy for you. If it's new to you, take your time and practice these stitches. It won't take you long to master them, and then you'll be able to make great looking drapes!

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