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Curtains and drapes are a necessary expense, and expense is the word for them. They can really eat into your decorating budget. If you would like to cut the expense but not the looks why not consider making your own?

They are not difficult even for beginning sewers; you can get a customized look for very little expense. Decide what look you like. Do you want lace and ruffles, or something a little more formal? Do you want a valance, or would you prefer a simple straight-line look? Do you want your drapes to fill a window only, or do you want to create a wall of curtains? It is your window; you will have to live with the look you create so let your imagination soar.

Now that you know what kind of look you want, measure your window, or the area that you want to cover with your curtains and drapes. Start looking at magazines and catalogs for drape styles that you like. It is easy to cut the pictures out, and combine various features to come up with the finished look you like. Don't worry about color, or pattern at this point, you will be taking care of it later.

Window-shopping is fun, so go, enjoy, look at various ready-made drapes; you are not worried about colors, but rather styles. Look at the construction of the styles you like. Are they gathered, are they pleated, what about lining? All of these features will help you make your own custom made drapes. If you want take notes, they will be of assistance later.

What kind of material do you want? Do you want heavy lined drapes or lighter sheers with a light curtain over them? This is when color and pattern is decided. You will need between two and two and a half times the width of your window if you are going to gather or pleat your drapes. Allow for a large hem top and bottom; 3 inches at the top and 2 inches at the bottom is not unreasonable. Don't stick with traditional drapery material, you can also look at sheets and tablecloths. If possible you should get small swatches to take home and check against your walls, furniture, and in your lighting.

When it comes time to assemble your drapes, you have two choices: you can use a fusible interfacing, and save time on the sewing, or you can use a sew-in interfacing. Either one will look good if you take your time to do it carefully. If you are going to put in pleats then you will need to measure the distance apart, and mark with chalk or pins so they come out even. This is the stage where attention to minor details will make the difference between a professional look and an amateurish look. Take your time and enjoy yourself.

The top hem will need to be stiffened with interfacing for a nice crisp look. Measure, and mark, then measure again, it is always better to measure twice and cut once. Assemble your drapes, make sure to keep all patterns going in the same direction, and keep hems even. If you need to seam your material to fit across the window make sure seams are straight, and vertical.

Don't finish the bottom hem until you have hung your drapes and measured. You may find that you will need to weight the bottom of the drapes to help them hang smoothly. Your hardware store has washers that usually work quite well, just a couple of stitches to hold the washers in place, line the washers up with the pleats at the top.

Stand back and admire your finished work, you did it, you have one of a kind drapes, and they are perfect for you. Now your biggest problem is going to be what do you tell your friends when they want to know where you got the new drapes.