I am thrilled to announce that I've now ironed the last of the Ritva curtains! I know, it's the little things that really thrill us, don't they? I thought it might be useful for someone to get a little peek into what all is involved in getting IKEA curtains from package to window. Admittedly, the directions (?) which IKEA provides were simpler, but I also think they would've resulted in a less-finished look. They recommended cutting off the excess fabric and leaving the edge raw (i.e. totally prone to fraying in the wash). Here's what I did to get our length just right and still keep a more tailored hem using the iron-on adhesive IKEA provides.
Before I measured out the panels on the windows, I washed them in hot water and dried them on our dryer's "permanent press" setting. I actually wanted the curtains to shrink a little. Much better to have them do all of their shrinking now, before I hem them, than to get them just the right length only to find them too short after their first washing!
After washing and drying the panels, I ironed each one with a hot steam iron and mist from a water bottle. For your benefit, I timed myself. Don't say I didn't warn you about the nerd factor. I thought, though, that it could be very helpful to know ahead of time that these babies take a while to get ready for hanging. It's always good to be IKEA informed :) So, for those who wish to know, each Ritva panel took about 20 minutes to steam iron after washing and drying. Or, to save you all the difficult math, 40 minutes per pair.
When I was ready to hang the ironed but still un-hemmed panels, Sam installed the Target curtain rods ($13 a pop - can't beat that with a stick... or with a pricier curtain rod). This is how we placed them - a full 12" past the window edge on each side, and nearly to the ceiling above. I stumbled upon this trick when installing curtains around the sliding doors in our previous house a few years ago. I had wanted to make sure the curtains didn't get caught in the door. Low and behold - the window looked twice as big as before, which meant it had twice as much impact in the room. After that, I started hanging all of our curtains "high and wide". Throughout this past year, I've read lots of others do the same thing. I felt very validated (and encouraged!) when Joni posted this - it's a window treatment must read and I was so glad to see that I haven't been too far off :) Check it out.
Once we had the panels in the rods, I pulled them out sideways one at a time to cover the window. Then, smoothing them down a bit (similarly to how they would be hanging - not too tightly), I placed straight pins in the fabric to mark where it met the floor. Like in the photos above and below. I wanted the curtains to just brush the floor - no space between them and the carpet, but also not puddling. Some people like their curtains with a slight "break" - like men's tailoring. That does look great, too, but I wanted the curtains off of the floor for practical reasons. Also, the Ritva curtains have a natural, loose pleating that hangs more uniformly if not resting on the floor at all. Plus, I just want to be like Erika. :) Or at least have some of her camera lenses.
I placed the pins on the side that you see when the curtain is hanging on the rod. We'll call this the "right side". For those who don't sew, keep that in mind. The side that shows in the room when the curtains are hanging is the right side. Not right as in "right" and "left", but right as in "right" and "wrong". Did you realize sewing was such a world of absolutes? ;)
On the ironing board, I laid the panel out with the "wrong" side facing me and the "right" side down on the ironing board. All I could see was the little bit of pin that came through the back of the fabric as I was pinning them. While the panel was still on the ironing board, I folded the bottom edge up, using the pins as my guide for where to fold. I folded all along the bottom where the pins were.
Then, I made sure the sides of the fold matched up. You can see in the photo above that I had to move the fold ever so slightly to make sure the sides were even. That's why the pin isn't exactly on the fold. I made sure the sides matched up and I had a nice, even fold before I pressed the fold with an iron. After I felt good about the fold placement and the edges, I pressed the entire fold with a hot steam iron.
Next, I placed the Ritva iron-on adhesive just underneath the edge of the fabric (now folded up and about 4" above my fold - this hem depth will vary depending on the height of your ceilings). I cut the length I needed and reserved two small pieces for the edges. Doing this made my longest strip a little shorter than I actually needed. I had extra adhesive because I didn't need to hem several of my panels, but without the extra I would just center the longest strip and use the 2 small pieces to secure the edges. I did not cut any of the fabric. This is important. I have no idea why IKEA would recommend cutting off the finished bottom edge at all. If you cut off the serged end (where all the zig-zaggy stitching is) your curtains will definitely fray in the wash.
I made sure none of the adhesive strip was showing above the fabric. I did not want to get that stuff on my iron! Stick-y. I steam ironed all along the width of the panel, being careful to keep my original fold placement and my edges even.
After securing the top of my fold with the adhesive, I placed the small pieces inside the fold on the edges (above). IKEA skips this step entirely. The consequence is that you'll have a little pocket of sorts showing on the side edges of your curtain panels. I didn't want a little pocket, so I chose to reserve some of the adhesive and finish the edges by ironing them together. This step is also why I needed to pre-press my hem before I added the adhesive. Otherwise, I could easily get to one end and have the edges all wonky and uneven.
I still might have had a little trouble at the very end ;) In this case, my edges were not exactly matched up, so I made a tiny fold in the "wrong" side of the fabric (which won't show when hanging, remember?) and ironed the adhesive in so that the fold remained and the edges were even again.
All finished! No edge pockets, no wonky edges, and no raw cut-line that would've been there had I followed the package directions!
For only $29.99 per pair, I suppose a little work is to be expected. The curtains were totally worth all of this in the end, though. They made such a difference! You all were so sweet to say kind things about them :) Thanks for the encouragement!