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Curtain advice

(20 Posts)
BeaTrootfull Wed 13-Nov-13 00:14:23

We are trying to decide on curtains for a large bay window (5 m pole, 170 cm drop to sill.) We're getting a curtain pole with passing rings, but the fitting is complicated by the fact that the windowsill sticks out so long curtains can't drape properly. We're therefore planning on sill-length curtains. (I have some doubts about this but hoping it will look ok?!)

The latest dilemma is how to get reasonably priced curtains! I've found some £10/metre fabric we like (similar to Sanderson clocks) but I don't have a sewing machine nor time nor skill I don't think to make them myself. A quote from the company providing the fabric comes in at £580 inc fabric and lining.

Alternatives, using a different fabric, are
1) get a few pairs of ready mades and ask a curtain maker to put them together + customise drop (or I could probably manage that with my mother's help...) Probably £300ish for curtains plus the customisation cost.
2) go for John Lewis custom made but we have to give the track size as 448 cm (their max.) We don't want heaps of extra drape so could this work? I figure they will be working on 1.5-2x the width of fabric so we should have some room to spare? This would be £340.

Any thoughts or advice? Trapped by indecision!

struggling100 Wed 13-Nov-13 09:29:16

Wow, you have a lovely big window there!

A couple of ideas:

1. There are some very talented seamstresses on ebay, who will make up curtains for a fraction of the cost. I was quoted about £900 for a pair of curtains in Laura Ashley. I asked a seamstress and was quoted £450 - that includes the cost of fabric. They will also be able to make things to the kind of width you need, and will be able to advise you about weight. (You are going to need to fix that curtain pole in with massive screws if you want weighty curtains!).

2. Ikea do a sewing machine for £45. I was skeptical, but I had a look online and it comes highly recommended by a lot of sewing tutors online. I am considering getting one to make curtains myself (and I say this as a sewing machine virgin, apart from some laudable efforts by a textiles teacher at school, who almost had a nervous breakdown over my cackhanded attempts and who ended up suggesting that cooking might be more my line!) I found this video online which makes it look reasonably straightforward:

H2OWoe Wed 13-Nov-13 10:09:33

Bea, we are in the same window situation (but I am accepting of £££ bill) I wanted a 5.3m pole and went to John Lewis for custom made.

The chap wasn't very interested/helpful which is unusual for them and kept trying to talk me into using a shorter pole. He didn't say there was a 448cm max though! That would not work for us at all. I am really hoping you've been given the wrong info - were you told this by a person or is this on the website? Alarmed!

In the end when talking to JL staff, I lost confidence in my own measurements and have booked them to come out and do a measure and quote. They are coming out on 22/11 so I will question them closely and report back if you wish.

£300 to £400 seems very good value though, for such a big window.

One of the cheaper ways to do this is probably to buy ready made (I've had good value from Terry's fabrics online but they were fairly lightweight lined curtains). You could buy a longer length and shorten them with the cheapie sewing machine as mentioned upthread. That is much less daunting than making from scratch. Or you could pay someone to shorten them?

Ebay is really really worth considering as well, as mentioned upthread.

Sparkleandshine Wed 13-Nov-13 10:13:16

...i just sold some laura ashley curtains this size on ebay for £53.... keep looking!

7to25 Wed 13-Nov-13 12:09:39

Hi Bea,
To go back to basics, I do not like sill length curtains with that length of pole unless you are going for a specific cottagey look.
This could be overcome by using longer brackets for the pole or having dress curtains and blinds.
I know nothing of the John Lewis system but I think they are taught by a formula and if that doesn't fit, they don't have the experience to come up with other solutions.
I would look around for a cheaper local curtainmaker. Not a designer shop but maybe an alteration shop that does curtains. You can order the fabric yourself online and look for the best price.

Mandy21 Wed 13-Nov-13 14:17:10

We have a similar sized window and have had sill length curtains for the past 3.5 years (left by previous owner) – I have to say I absolutely hated them - I think short curtains look really, really dated. Even if you have lovely fabric, I think they'll still look old fashioned. Ours were a horrible 1980s patterned fabric which didn't help though. If the only thing stopping you having floor length curtains is the sill, is there a way of attaching the curtain poles so that the curtains hang out a little bit (and therefore skim the window sill)? If you can't do that, I'd go with blinds and dress curtains.

We are just decorating our lounge and I have bought 2 pairs of ready made curtains from John Lewis in the sale (each pair is extra wide width, floor length) and I'm going to stitch them together. Actually my local John Lewis only had one pair, but their customer services tracked down another pair for me at their Outlet store (think its Oxford somewhere) and they sent them to me. Its cost about £100 for both pairs (and postage) and they're lovely smile.

If you prefer to have curtains made, have a look at Terry's fabrics (reasonably priced curtains) and also Ebay – I've used a fabric seller called pandora's upholstery (or something like that) a couple of times – where they have roll ends of Prestigious / Villa Nova / Designer's Guild fabrics for a fraction of the price you'd normally pay (but I'm guessing you'll need quite a few metres). I bought some Prestigious fabric for 2 blinds in my dining room, think its a 5m roll end and it was £7. If you can find a local seamstress, you'll get blinds / curtains made up for much less than the estimates you've had from JL.

BeaTrootfull Wed 13-Nov-13 20:27:53

Thank you all for the advice. Have been out at work so just checking back in. I'll try and post some pics to my profile to demonstrate the problem.

Interesting to hear votes against sill length curtains. I am worried that it won't look good -- partly why I don't want to spend much money on it I think! The second picture on this page made me feel slightly better, as although it's quite old fashioned it looks somehow neat and tidy and not too inelegant. But I do think maybe it's because it's a blander fabric that it is inoffensive, and our windowsill is higher so proportionally it might be less nice. We have a sofa in the bay and often things around it. At the moment we do have long curtains left by the previous owner but they are a nuisance and also cover the radiator at the back (or just drape round it.)

We did think about longer brackets or batten + longer brackets but were worried about the increased weight on the wall.

I have trawled ebay in the past but got frustrated as many curtains were described vaguely (e.g. not stating whether fabric or pole width was given) and I couldn't seem to find the right ones. Probably worth another trawl though...

I have had a few local curtain maker quotes -- first one came in with a quote for pelmets (there's an existing wooden plank which a track is on which means the curtains can hang) but that would have been £1300 overall and we don't want pelmets. Probably £300 just for labour on the curtains themselves, then around 20 metres of fabric (+/-3, depending on length, repeat and so on) plus lining.

Encouraging that the costs so far don't seem astronomical anyway. The Natural Curtain company have a sale, so for around £120 I could get two pairs that would do which wouldn't be too painful if it looks rubbish!

BeaTrootfull Wed 13-Nov-13 20:31:29

H2OWoe The 448 cm limit is on the ready made curtains via the website. I haven't phoned to check if it's absolute and don't know if it also relates to poles so it might not. We're using the Celtic Dreams Ironwork company after some looking around ( I think) and recommendations from the Bu88er me bay window thread on here. That will be just over £200 I think. We have an upstairs window of the same size and because of the way poles/tracks will need to fit there, I'm wondering about a Paul Simon fineline track for there when we get round to it. Which may be some time at our current rate!

Lagoonablue Wed 13-Nov-13 20:37:16

Tall windows need long curtains, wide windows need sill length imo. So victorian and Edwardian windows look good with following length but 30s semis for instance look better with shorter ones.

BeaTrootfull Wed 13-Nov-13 21:29:24

Well, we are in a 30s semi so that's interesting to hear, Lagoona. Have just managed to upload some photos to my profile though they are a bit dark. One photo shows the estate agent pics. We've removed the pelmets and are currently living with the rest but it does look messy.

squidgymum Wed 13-Nov-13 21:55:17

Just wanted to add we are in a 1920's house with big bay windows where the sill sticks out. We had sill length curtains made by a local curtain shop, for £400. I agree that a wide window, and especially one where the sill sticks out needs a shorter curtain. I think it looks fine.

Mandy21 Wed 13-Nov-13 22:07:06

Ooh interesting to have a difference of opinion. We are in a 1930s house too. Its all down to personal preference isn't it?

Teeb Wed 13-Nov-13 22:26:29

Your profile isn't public so can't see your pictures op

lostblonde86 Wed 13-Nov-13 22:34:44

We have a similar size bay window, and when moved a. Pupils of months ago we were on a tight budget, however found some lovely lined curtains in b&m for £40

DIddled Wed 13-Nov-13 22:40:11

I have a wide curved bay with a sticky out windowsill. I have floor length curtains on a bendy metal track that sits out on struts screwed to the wall- so the curtain does not 'kick out' it just drops to floor.

Wasn't even that £££. I can try and photograph if you want? I personally don't like sill length curtains- they look skimpy to me.

DIddled Wed 13-Nov-13 22:53:47

Just googled it - fine tracks and the bits that stick out are called face fix brackets. I bought from Terry's fabrics which is local to us but also online. I had curtains made there too, lovely and non too expensive. The tracks have been up for several years with no problems.

BeaTrootfull Thu 14-Nov-13 07:48:11

Just made profile public, sorry about that.

DIddled -- I am worried that it will be hard to make a track really secure if it is sticking out, as it would need to come out about 25 cm. Have a feeling floor length curtains would pull down too heavily (not to mention the toddlers...) Good to hear though about the reasonably priced options and looks like Terry's is definitely worth a look.

Lagoonablue Thu 14-Nov-13 09:02:03

I meant to say flowing lengths rather than following lengths.

Hope you get sorted OP. Our radiator is on the same window as the window so any long curtains would cover it. So short ones for me all the way.

fresh Thu 14-Nov-13 10:27:58

Have you decided against roman blinds and dress curtains?

You could use readymades as the dress curtains. Roman blinds are relatively easy to make (and cheaper than curtains to get done if you don't want to diy). They also use much much less fabric.

That said, I do think this arrangement looks better with a pelmet to pull it all together, but a straight-based pelmet can look smart and contemporary. It would also hide the track, which would only need to be at the sides to hold the dress curtains. Saving ££ on a pole.

Just a thought, although I know lots of people don't like the idea.

youretoastmildred Thu 14-Nov-13 10:38:24

If you get ready made curtains and shorten them yourself to sill-length you don't need a sewing machine. You can hem them nicely by hand. You may not even need to cut them because a deep hem - perhaps double - will be nice and heavy which will make the curtains hang well.

We got curtains to fit a big window from a place online where they make them in China, but then I hemmed them myself in situ. Wherever your curtains come from, they will need to be hemmed in situ imo, to fit right, so you either need a local contractor who will do this for you, or just do it yourself

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