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How to hang pencil pleat curtains

pencil pleat curtains made to measure

A simple guide on how to hang your pencil pleat curtains – and how to make a great job of it! If you’ve taken time to choose a beautiful fabric to enhance your home, and (hopefully!) chosen to have your curtains made by our expert makers, then you’ll want to hang your curtains properly to make them, and your room, look amazing.

rating beginner

Time needed: 30 minutes.

  1. First, have a look at the header tape

    Before you start to hang your pencil pleat curtains, take a look at the header tape. There are rows of strings on the header tape which are used to gather up the pleats. Our makers will sew these off at one end, which will be the leading edge, where the curtains meet. Your curtains might be different, so if the strings are not sewn in, tie them off at one end and try to have that as the edge where the curtains meet.

  2. Measure up!

    Measure your curtain pole or track and divide the number by two. This is roughly how wide each curtain needs to be; add a little bit extra so that your curtains are a little bit wider than they need to be so that they will close comfortably.

  3. Gather up

    Pull the unknotted strings to gather the curtains until they are just a bit wider than half the track; this is how you give the pencil pleat curtains their nice even gathers. Make sure you pull all the strings evenly so that the header tape gathers up evenly, then tie off the long end to keep your curtains gathered. Don’t cut the cord, just in case you want to move or adjust your curtains; you can bundle up the strings, pop them in a bag, or use a cord tidy if you like.

  4. Now do some maths…

    Count up how many curtain rings or gliders you have on your pole or track. This is the total number of hooks you need. Now divide that number in half. This is the total number of hooks you need on each curtain

  5. Then add your hooks

    Space out your hooks on the header tape before you start to put them in; a nice even spread will make your pencil pleat curtains hang evenly. You’ll see that the tape has several rows of pockets for the hooks; you need to make sure that you use the same row all the way along and on both curtains. For curtains on a pole you can use the top row of pockets, but for a track it’s better to use a lower one so that the top of the curtain hides the track. You’ll need a hook at the outside edge, and one a tiny way in from the inside edge for the best finish. Make sure you put the hooks into pockets.

  6. Ready to hang

    Now you are ready to hang your curtains. Before you start, consider how heavy your curtains are; for large or heavy curtains, it can be really helpful to have an assistant for this bit, to take the weight of the curtains while you hang them. As you already have the right number of hooks atached to your header tape, simply hook each one into a ring or glider, working from the outside edge and making sure that the hook at the outside edge goes into the fixed ring or end glider to keep your curtains in place.

  7. You’re done!

    Pencil pleat curtains are a classic look that suit almost every room. Hanging them properly is the finishing touch to set off your investment in your home.

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How to install a batten for a Roman Blind

This how-to will guide you through how to install a roman blind batten. If you’ve had your roman blinds made by our talented makers, then you’ll be keen to have them up at the windows as soon as possible, but taking a little time to get them hanging straight and firmly fixed is going to keep them looking good for a long time. Remember, if we have made your blinds, we also have a handyperson who is experienced in installing all types of blinds and curtains, so if you’re interested in this service just ask us for a quote.

skill level - confident

Time needed: 30 minutes.

You will need:
Wooden batten approx 1″ square, cut to length.
Metal screw eyes, you need 1 for each line of cord on your blind
Sticky backed hook Velcro
A wood saw
Screws long enough to go through the wood and fix into your window

  1. Decide how to fix your batten

    Deciding on how you are going to fix the roman blind batten will depend on the type of window frame – wood, metal or UPVC – and whether you are happy to fix the blind directly to this. If you cannot fix directly to the window frame (e.g. if you are renting the property or you simply don’t want to mark the frame) you may be able to fix a bracket to the ceiling and attach your batten here. Once you have decided on the fixing position, cut your batten to size.

  2. Prepare your batten

    With your batten is cut to size, lay it across the top of your blind, in line with its final position; this will allow you to see where the cords need to be attached. Make a mark on the batten in line with each cord – this is where you need to place the eyelets. Now drill small pilot holes on the marks ready for the eyelets. Use a 3mm drill bit suitable for wood, and don’t drill too deep – they are just there to start off the screw so that it doesn’t split the wood. Attach the Velcro at this point as well; remove the sticky back from the Velcro and place this along one side of the roman blind batten.

  3. Positioning the blind

    This step is easier with two people
    To make sure you’re fixing the blind in the right place, Attach your blind to the batten by the velcro, fully extend the blind and hold it in front of the window. Make sure it is central to the window and at the correct height (generally the bottom of the blind should hang just above the window sill) it is much easier if one person holds the blind in place while the other stands back to check it is in the correct position!
    Once you are happy, mark the window frame or ceiling to show where the roman blind batten should be fixed.
    If you are using ceiling brackets, then ensure that in this step you are able to line these up with the holes you are about to make.

  4. Drill the batten

    Mark the roman blind batten where the holes need to go. You should mark about 1 inch (2.5cm) in from each end and then evenly space the remaining holes about 12inches (30cm) apart. Make sure your marks are in the centre of the batten. Using a small drill bit, drill each hole all the way through the batten.

  5. Transfer the marks for drilling

    This step is easier with two people
    Now hold your batten back up to the window frame so that it lines up with the marks you made in step 3. if you are fixing directly into the window frame, transfer the position of the holes you have drilled into the batten onto the frame; this can be done by putting the drill back through the hole to mark the frame on the other side. You may find this easier to have someone hold the batten while you make the marks. Now remove the batten and drill a shallow pilot hole into the frame.

  6. Final step!

    You are now ready to fix to the window. Hold the roman blind batten in place and screw through into your pilot holes at your fixing points. Your batten should now be secure and ready to hang your blind. For more information on how to do that, check out our how-to.

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How to apply roller blind backing

We sell roller blind backing by the metre, so that you can achieve a professional-looking finish at home with the fabric of your choice by just following these simple steps.

If you have a roller blind which needs replacing but your fixings are still perfectly ok, or you want a roller blind to match other window dressings in your room such as curtains, making your own blind will give you more choice, but for your blind to work smoothly you’ll need a specially treated roller blind fabric.

Ready- stiffened fabrics are available but this limits your choice. You could opt for a spray-on stiffener, but these can be messy and tricky to get right. The best solution we’ve found in our workroom is an iron-on roller blind backing. Using this backing you can use most fabrics as roller blind fabric, so long as it can take a hot iron and is not too thick to roll up once it is stiffened. Here’s our top tips to get it right!

If you need help measuring your window and then see our guide on how to measure for a Roman blind.

You will need:

  • Show Fabric (the fabric for the front of your blind)
  • Roller blind backing fabric
  • Steam iron
  • Large clean surface to iron on. You may like to protect the surface with a folded duvet cover or towel)
  • Tailor’s chalk (you can use a pen/pencil instead)
  • Tape measure
  • Set square (or something to ensure corners are right angles)

Time needed: 1 hour.

  1. Before you start:

    Make sure you have enough space to work, and that you have gathered everything you need. When choosing your show fabric, look at fabrics suitable for curtains; they’re heavier than dressmaking fabrics, but lighter and easier to work with than upholstery fabrics. You can use the Find My Fabric search tool on our webshop to guide you; cotton or poly cotton blends work really well, but always check the manufacturer’s care instructions before ironing, or test a piece of the fabric with a medium-hot iron.

  2. Calculating the amount of fabric

    Both the the show fabric and the backing are calculated in the same way. The width of each piece should be a minimum of 2cm (1″) wider than the finished size of your blind. So if your blind is 100cm wide when finished, you need at least 102cm. More overhang than this is fine, don’t cut it back, leave it to trim later. For the length, add 30cm (12″) more to your finished drop, to allow for turning at the bottom and top. Patterned show fabrics may need extra material to get the perfect pattern placement, or if you are doing multiple blinds, pattern matching.

  3. measuring and marking up

    Place your roller blind backing right side (smooth side) down onto a clean, flat surface. Measure out the required size of your blind plus the additional measurements (width +2cm and length +30cm). Draw this onto the wrong (shiny) side of the backing. Use the set square to make sure the corners are at 90 degrees or it won’t roll up smoothly and will look wonky! Once you are happy with the marking out, cut out the backing.

  4. Prepare your show fabric

    You should press your show fabric now to remove any creases or wrinkles before the next step. Take time to examine the pattern, if relevant. This is especially important with a large or bold pattern.

  5. Deciding on pattern placement

    Pattern placement is important for a balanced looking roller blind and a professional finish. If you have a large print consider centering a prominent feature such as a flower or bird. You should check where your pattern will be at the top and bottom of your blind. Remember to allow for turnings at the top (usually 20cm) and at the bottom, (usually 10cm), but this can vary depending on the type of cassette you are using, so check the manufacturer’s recommendations. Mark around the edge of where you would like your blind to sit on the pattern with a few pins.

  6. Postion your backing on the show fabric

    Put your show fabric right side down and position the piece of backing, you cut earlier, onto the fabric lining it up with the pins. You can now mark around it with chalk and remove the pins once you are happy its positioned correctly. If your fabric is plain, then position the backing directly onto the show fabric in the same way, and mark with chalk.

  7. prepare for ironing

    Set up the area you are going to be ironing on. If you are using your kitchen table, protect the surface with a large towel or blanket, make sure it is smooth and flat. Check that your show fabric is right side down, and that you have the wrong sides are together, so the bobbly glue side of the backing is against the back of the fabric.
    With your fabric and roller blind backing lined up and your table is protected, you now can begin ironing! Set your iron to a medium to high temperature.

  8. Iron on the backing

    Begin ironing from the centre of the blind backing, working outwards in circles of increasing size and continuing this process all the way to the outer edges of the backing. You will need to press and hold the iron down firmly and apply steam, being careful not to move too quickly and cause wrinkles. To ensure that all of the backing has stuck down properly, look at the fabric from a low angle in good light; this will show up any bubbles that may still be there. If this is the case then use the iron to push these bubbles out to the edge of the fabric so that the air can be released. Check around the edges and ensue that they are firmly sealed together; you’ll find that having the extra 1cm either side helps to ensure a good seal right to the very edge.

  9. Cut to finished size

    Cut the bonded show fabric and roller blind backing down to the correct size of your finished blind. Trim off 1cm each side leaving the extra 30cm (12″) you allowed on the length. This will be used for the turning on the bottom and for attaching the bind to the cassette. Follow the instructions for your cassette when attaching the stiffened blind fabric to it.

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How to hang a Roman Blind

Here’s some simple instructions on how to fit the cords and hang a roman blind using the traditional batten and cord system – if you are using a cassette it will be different. You should already have a batten fixed above your window, with the Velcro and eyelets attached; if you need some help on how to do this see our guide on how to fix a batten for a Roman blind. This guide will also help you to replace worn parts in an existing blind.

rating beginner

Time needed: 30 minutes.

  1. Threading the cords

    Lay the roman blind face down on a clean table or surface. Thread the cords though the eyelets from the top of the blind to the bottom and secure them by threading through the safety device. You now need to decide on which side you would like the pull cord, as this will affect the direction the cords are threaded in the next step.

  2. Fixing the blind to the batten

    Secure the blind onto the batten by pressing the Velcro strips together. Threading the cords is easiest if you are able to stand in front of the window but behind your blind, if you can reach the eyelets on the batten from here.

  3. Attach the cords to the batten

    Thread the cords through the corresponding eyelets on the batten. Either work left to right (cord will hang on the left) or right to left (cord will hang on the right). Thread all of the loose ends through your wooden acorn to keep them together and tie a loose knot to stop them slipping back through. Do not cut off the excess at this point.

  4. Adjusting the cord length

    In order to ensure you have the correct length of cord, pull your roman blind up and down a few times to make sure it runs level. To determine where to cut, you should let the blind hang all the way down so that the acorn will be at its highest point. You should have a short distance between the last eyelet on the batten and the acorn. Tie a small knot here to keep the cords together and then cut off the excess, the knot should be hidden inside the acorn when it is pulled down over it.

  5. Adjustment

    If you find that your blind has moved slightly after your adjustments and is no longer level, you can fix this easily by pulling one or more of the cords through the safety devices on the bottom of the blind, adjusting where it hangs longer or shorter.

  6. Fixing the cleat

    The cleat should be secured next to the blind cord at least 1.5m above the floor, this, along with the blind safety devices is to reduce the risk of strangulation in small children. The cleat requires two screws to be screwed through it and into the wall (or other fixing point) in order to secure it.
    Safety note: When the Roman Blind is pulled up the cord must be fully wrapped around the cleat, so that there is no excess hanging down for small children to be able to reach.

  7. Your blind is ready to use!

    Remember, you can also use this guide to replace the parts on a roman blind when they become broken or worn, keeping your blinds in perfect condition for years to come. At Livingstones we believe we should all able to repair our things, so we sell roman blind cord by the metre.

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How to use fuse-a-web

fuse-a-web on the roll

Fuse-a-web is a great way to fix fabric to fabric in applique and crafting. The fine mesh-like material easily bonds two fabric pieces together when heated under a hot iron. It works in much the same way as the hemming web tape we sell, but the fuse-a-web has the advantage of being 45cm/18″ wide, making it more suitable for your craft and applique projects.

rating beginner

You will need:

  • Scissors
  • A hot iron
  • An ironable surface the right size for your project

Fuse-a-web is backed with paper which acts as a protection for the webbing. This gets removed when one side is ironed onto the fabric. Make sure you use a dry iron for the first side and then iron over a damp cloth for the second side, as described below!

  1. First test your fabric

    Before you begin, make sure the iron is set to the right temperature for your fabric, and test-iron an area that will not be seen.

  2. Mark out your project

    Mark out the fuse-a-web on the paper side; roughly draw on the size and shape of the fabric that you want to be bonded.

  3. Get ironing!

    Place your fabric right-side down on an ironable surface. Place the fuse-a-web over the fabric facing down, so that the paper side is facing up and is visible. Iron over the fuse-a-web with a dry iron on a gentle heat suitable for the fabric you are using.

  4. Trim off

    Carefully check that the fuse-a-web has bonded to the fabric then trim the edges of the fuse-a-web to the shape of your project piece. Carefully peel off the paper backing leaving the fuse-a-web bonded to the fabric

  5. Bond the other side

    Place the second side of your project fabric right side down on the ironing surface, then place the fabric with the fuse-a-web attached on top, with the fuse-a-web in the centre like the filling in a fabric sandwich. Cover with a damp cloth and gently iron. Don’t allow the iron to be in one place for more than 10 seconds. Once your project is fully bonded, allow to cool fully before you work on it further.

  6. What can I use it for?

    We’ve used fuse-a-web for all sorts of craft projects, including bags, applique pieces, bunting, and all manner of stash-busting craft projects. The only limit is your imagination!

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How to…use hemming Tape

Hemming Tape

hemming tape 2

Hemming Tape is an iron-on tape that is used on a garment when you need a mend a hem, but you don’t want to sew it. Hemming tape is perfect for non-sewers, great for a quick fix for taking up chidren’s school trousers, or if you suddenly notice a drooping hem when you’re in a rush. Make sure you have some handy!

Hemming tape will last and wash well, but it can also be useful for garments that only need to be used for a short period of time, like dressing up costumes or fancy dress. You can also use it for bonding fabric on small craft projects – it’s so useful!

skill level beginner

You will need:

  • A packet of our heavy-duty hemming web
  • A pair of scissors
  • a hot iron

Time needed: 10 minutes.

This hemming tape works by ironing first with a dry iron and then ironing over a damp cloth. It’s important you do this the right way round, or the tape might not work or may stick to your iron.

  1. Get yourself organised

    Find a heat-proof surface to iron on. If you don’t have an ironing board, a folded towel on a table is fine. Set the iron to the correct temperature for your fabric; be careful of artificial fibres; if you’re unsure, it’s best to test the iron on a hidden area before you begin to use the hemming tape.

  2. how much tape?

    Place the garment to be hemmed on the ironing surface and work out where your hem is going to be. Offer the hemming tape against the area to be hemmed and cut roughly to size – a little bigger is better than a bit too short.

  3. Iron it on

    Note that at this stage we’re just ironing the hemming tape onto one surface, so you don’t need to sandwich it between layers of fabric. With the hem unfolded, and working on the inside of the garment, position the tape on the reverse of your garment with the web side onto the fabric and the paper facing up. Iron with a dry heat.

  4. Finish that hem

    Finally, peel off the paper from the tape, leaving a thin layer of hemming tape firmly bonded to your fabric, then fold up the hem so it completely covers the tape. Cover with a damp cloth and iron bit by bit over the hem keeping the heat on one area of no more than 10 seconds.

How to use:
Make sure the iron is set to the correct temperature for your chosen fabric, test the fabric first if you are unsure. Place the web side on the reverse of the item with the paper facing up, iron with a dry heat