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If there’s one thing I heard more often than anything else when I worked in our stores it was “mine don’t look like that” - no sniggering please I’m obviously talking about ready made curtains. You see when you see ready made curtains on display in our stores they have been hung by our amazing display team who know all of the tricks of the trade to make them look fantastic. If you read on I can fill you in on the steps to take to make your ready made curtains look amazing.
I know this might seem like a lot of steps but none of them are complicated and you’ll thank yourself later when you’re admiring your perfectly hung curtains.
If unlike me you're not naturally a person who loves a good preen or have too much other stuff to do to be ironing curtains then inquire in store about our expert fitting service.
Let’s face it; there have been some horror stories over the years of children being caught in the cords from blinds. Now I’m not here to scaremonger but rather to reassure as modern blinds have all sorts of new safety features.
In 2014 a new European Standard was set, and all of our blinds made after that date were made to conform to that standard. So what does this mean? You can read the full ins and outs of the “European EN 13120” here but basically it talks about looped cords and what should be done to make them safe.
Most blinds be they roller; venetian; or vertical will have some sort of looped cord to control them, this closed loop is really the source of danger. This has been the danger that the standard has set out to eliminate. If you're not familiar with blind types and would like to know more before reading on check out our Beginners Guide to Window Blinds.
The first and foremost solution is to make all cords a minimum height of 1.5m (60”) from the ground. This is why when you give your blind measurements you now have to give the measurement from the top of the blind to the ground, even if the window is well off the ground - we need to know the full length so we can make the cord the appropriate length. This measurement is required for every home, not just those with children and if your blind is going to be in an awkward place, like over a sink where the cord cannot be easily reached, let us know and we can fit an alternative safety feature. If you’re not sure if your cord can easily be 1.5m from the ground then that is definitely a job for our fitter to check.
The change in cord length was perhaps the most obvious solution to a problem, little hands can hardly reach 5ft off the ground? But as we all know children can get themselves pretty much wherever they want if they want to! So the second solution is to have the cord under tension, this basically means that the cord is held taut with a cleat at the bottom. Not having the cord hanging loose means the little ones can’t get themselves tangled in them too easily even if they do manage to climb up to investigate.
The other feature which when suitable is on all of our blinds is an “Easy Break Mechanism”. This means that your cord is not one continuous piece but rather joined together with a small mechanism that will pop off if pressure is applied. The 2 ends can simply be popped back together if this happens. In cases like an awkward window like a dormer or if a person has mobility issues and can’t easily reach 1.5 m off the ground we can even make blinds with a “Double Break Mechanism” which is essentially 2 points where the chain can break, so the bottom of the chain basically drops off if any pressure is applied to it. Again, this can be easily re-attached.
If you want to eliminate the issue altogether if purchasing rollerblinds you can opt for a spring mechanism, which simply pulls up and down with a toggle in the centre.
I’m not going to lie to you, roman blinds were a major issue when this standard came in, as they’re basically made of all cords, talk about a hazard!! For those of you who aren’t familiar, a roman blind is attached to a track and pulls up and down with a series of cords running up and down the back of the blind.
The solution to this was to make each point where the cord attached to the rails at the back an easy break mechanism. This can be a pain at times - where if you, or someone in your home pulls the blind a bit too vigorously, they pop off. Now I’m not looking at anyone specifically here but either pull the blind yourself or teach that person who shall remain nameless how to re-attach the cords. This is of course an easy enough job and if you purchase a blind with us and you’re fitting it yourself, our expert staff can talk you through all this.
You probably can’t have your blind altered at this point if they’re more than 5 years old but my simple suggestion to you is to buy a cleat. Keep the cord under tension so the little ones in your life can’t get wrapped up in them. If you’re handy you could go in store and buy an easy break chain connector and cut the chain to the appropriate height yourself. You can only do this if the full length of the chain is longer than the blind after you cut it, if the chain is shorter you won't be able to pull the blind up and down fully.
Of course if your blinds are more than 5 years old and you’re worried that they’re not so safe maybe it’s time to treat yourself to some new ones!
If you would like to talk to someone further about our child safety features please talk to our experts in store who will be happy to help.
This week we have teamed up with the lovely Catherine from Dainty Dress Diaries, who has created a video over on Youtube, and written a blog post all about how you can create an envelope cushion. We are sharing the post here on our platform as we think it is something that any crafty person can do, no matter how experienced you are in sewing! If you are a fan of the Dainty Dress Diaries like we are here in Hickeys Fabrics- why not check out her Blog or Youtube Channel?
Today I have teamed up with the guys over at Hickeys to show you how to make an easy envelope cushion. Making an envelope cushion was my very first project when I was learning to sew. I did some evening sewing classes at my local school and I remember the excitement when my teacher Mary showed us how to make a cushion! I was a complete beginner and could barely thread my machine at the time so it really motivated me and inspired me to sew more when I completed my first project. Hands up who has a sewing machine collecting dust? From chatting to some of you ladies on Instagram I know you guys have sewing machines collecting dust, why not take them out of storage, dust them off, thread then up and have a go at making today's project.
The first thing you will need to get is some nice fabric. I love picking fabrics and have a soft spot for florals. I used fabric today that would match my pink chair in my bedroom. I want to change up the cushions on this chair to give it a freshen up. That is the fun thing about sewing, if you want to change up your decor then get a metre or two of fabric and get crafty, you can save yourself money and get to have pieces in your home that others don't have. I am using fabric from Hickeys, I normally head to my local Hickeys in Blanchardstown for fabric but you can also shop online if you are not near a store. If you are a beginner then I recommend starting off with the cotton or poly cotton fabrics. These have very little stretch and are easy to work with when starting off. There is a wide range of fabrics available in store and online. When I was first learning to sew my favourite thing was heading into Hickeys to pick fabric for my next project. If you are like me and love your florals then you will be pleased to know that they have loads of stunning printed fabrics in stock at the moment.
When it comes to thread, I highly recommend using good quality thread and avoid the threads that come in sets. Keep the cheaper quality threads for hand sewing. When I was learning to sew, I had trouble with poor quality threads bunching up in my sewing machine and leaving me with poor stitches. Nowadays, I always use Guttermann threads in my machine and these are great quality. Home Focus at Hickeys stock the Guttermann threads in store and online so you can easily pick up a contrasting thread for your fabric.
I find it easier to make myself a template. In today's post, I made a 16x16 inch cushion and I also made a 18x18 inch cushion. If you make yourself a template then you can easily take it out whenever you want to make some cushions. It also makes it easier when you are making a few cushions at one time.
Using my tape measure and some paper I measured out a template. You will have a front and a back template for this project. For the front of the cushion, you will need to make a 16x16 inch template. However you need to allow for a 1 inch seam allowance so you will need to measure out 17x17 inches on your paper. For the back template, you will need to measure out 17x14 inches.
If you want to make a bigger or smaller cushion then just adjust your measurements. So, for example, my 18x18 in cushion I cut a 19x19 inch pattern. So, whatever the size of cushion you want to make, just adjust it and make sure to allow for your 1 inch seam allowance.
Iron your fabric before cutting it, having crease free fabric will make it easier to cut out your template. Pin your template to your fabric. You will cut one piece for your front and then two pieces for the back. Your back has two pieces as they overlap giving the envelope shape to your cushion. Always take your time cutting out your fabric, cutting fabric is just as important as sewing your piece. You want to cut the fabric as straight as you can to make it easier for when you are sewing.
Using your fabric scissors cut out the three pieces of fabric that you will need to make your cushion. I highly recommend getting good fabric scissors as they will last years and you can get them sharpened too. The one I am using is the Fiskars Universal Purpose scissors. When cutting a lot of fabric your hand can get tired and sore, these scissors are easier to hold and gives good grip making it easier on your hand. Never, ever use your good fabric scissors to cut paper. You will ruin the blade of your scissors so always keep your fabric scissors for fabric only. When I started sewing I used cheaper tools and I ended up having to replace them over time, my best advice it to spend on good tools as they will stand the test of time and be more valuable to you in the long term.
You are now going to sew a 1 inch hem onto your two back pieces. These two pieces need a hem so the fabric won't fray on you. Using your iron, fold over half an inch and press. You can use your measuring tape as a guide. Once you have ironed your half inch you are then going to fold it over again and press. Depending on the fabric you may need to secure it with some pins. Using your sewing machine you will then sew a straight stitch down the hem of your fabric. Start with a reverse stitch to secure your stitch and stop it coming loose. I have put together a Youtube video which I will link below if you want to have a look at how I did this.
You are now going to sew all three of your pieces together and form your cushion. The most important thing here is to make sure you face the right sides of your fabric face together. I place my front piece down on the patterned side of the fabric facing me. I then lay a back piece of fabric to the front making sure the two patterned sides are facing each other. I then add the third piece and I pin the fabric together. I use a lot of pins to make sure the fabric stays in place when I am sewing, Place your pins facing outwards as this means you can sew on them.
Once your cushion is pinned together you can now sew it on your machine. Make sure to leave your 1 inch seam allowance. You can use the guide on the plate of your sewing machine as a guide. Make sure to start and end with a reverse stitch to stop your thread from unravelling. Sew all around the cushions. Once finished you can remove all of your pins. To make sure the corner goes into a nice neat point you can snip the corner of your cushion before you turn it right inside out.
My favourite part of the project is turning it from inside out to right side out, I get the crafters buzz when I see the project coming together. Once you turn your fabric over you can give it an iron to flatten the seams and finish it off. You can then add your cushion pad and have fun admiring and styling your new cushion.
I assume I'm not the only one who wrestled with their Granny's roller blinds as a child. I swear that woman loved to ask me to pull the spring roller blind halfway up only to watch it fly up out of my hands and roll all the way up only to giggle at me wrestling it back down to the height she requested. Well let me tell you blinds have come a long way baby!
Not only the designs, fabrics and choices have gotten seriously cool over the years but the mechanisms have become darn right user friendly. The choices you'll be faced with are almost endless but we can divide them into a few basic categories while you're deciding which ones will suit you best.
Roller blinds are what would have been known as Holland blinds, they're the most basic type of blind, being a piece of stiffened fabric rolled around a roller which you then pull up and down by either a chain at the side (chain mechanism) or a pull in the centre (spring mechanism). There is an amazing range of choice of colours and prints available, which makes them a good choice when you want a splash of colour in a kitchen or the likes. There is also a really good range of blackout colour available which makes them an ideal choice for bedrooms. They also start at a very reasonable price so are a good budget friendly option. Then if you want to get fancy with it, not only can you pick a more expensive fabric but you can add cool finishes like metal bottom bars or pelmets to jazz them up.
Within the roller blind category we have the relatively new Silhouette blinds. These are basically a continuous length of fabric rolling around a mechanism top and bottom. The fabric is divided into equal panels of opaque and sheer fabric, allowing you to adjust the amount of light into the room, line all the opaque ones up and you let the least amount of light in, then get rolling to allow the light to diffuse into the room. They're generally more expensive than regular roller blinds but allow you a lot of control and diffuse the light beautifully into the room.
Vertical binds are made of stiffened strips of fabric that hang from a rail, almost like a curtain rail and can be pulled open across entirely or tilted to block some of the light without being closed fully. They are an extremely practical style of blind as they can be made to fit huge windows and even bay windows. So many of our customers have moved into homes with amazing floor to ceiling - wall to wall windows and then wondered how they're going to get anything to fit them. In this case vertical blinds are your best option, particularly if you're on a budget as they're quite reasonable.
Venetian blinds are blinds made of slats running across that can be either opened fully or tilted to diffuse light into the room. Venetians are a good choice for most rooms in the home; left down and tilted they are great for privacy so can be used as an alternative to the old net curtains. They are also a good choice for french doors as they can be supplied with hold down brackets for the bottom, meaning that you can tilt the blinds easily and open and close the doors without the blinds moving around too much. Most styles of venetian blinds will come in a few widths of slats 25mm (1"), 35mm (11/2") and 50mm (2"). It's good to note that the wider slats will let in more light, both when opened and closed. It's also important to realise that although they might be made of wood or the likes, the fact that they are slatted blinds means that they will not act as a blackout blind, even when closed. They are available in wood, aluminium and the new kid on the block faux wood. Let's talk a little about what each means:
Probably the most popular of all, they provide a very soft, natural look and generally have a nice colour range. They cannot be washed so it's important to keep them dusted regularly; break out the ole feather duster once a week.
These basically have all the benefits of the wood but being made of a composite material they can be fully submerged in water, allowing them to be properly cleaned. When they first came on the scene they were much more expensive that the regular wood venetians but have come down to a similar price range.
As the name suggests they are venetian blinds that are made from aluminium. This means that they come in a huge variety of colours and can be wiped with a damp cloth to keep them clean. The downside is that the aluminium is noisy when being pulled and they don't have the warmth of a wood blind but they work really well in a kitchen or bathroom where you want a statement splash of colour.
Roman blinds are probably the most elegant and even "curtain like" of all the blinds available. They are made from a lined piece of fabric, that velcro onto a track and pleat up into beautiful, simple folds. The best thing about roman blinds is that they are completely custom in the sense that you choose your fabric and your lining, they also give a nice finished look to your window. Let's be honest about it, in living rooms or bedrooms most people will use a roller blind or venetian blind and then put a curtain over it to dress and finish the window. This is not the case with roman blinds as they already have a very soft, finished look. They can also be hung inside or outside the window recess, making them very practical for awkward spaces, for example a bedroom window in which the wardrobes are too close to the window to accommodate a full curtain or a dormer window.
That covers the basic styles of blinds available. There are other styles of course like pleated or duette blinds, which you may just really love, though in my experience if you're looking at these styles it's because you have an awkward window, like in a conservatory or such. Our expert fitters can help in these situations and advise on what might be most suitable.
If you're feeling inspired, then get to your nearest Home Focus /Hickeys store to have a look at our extensive range of blinds. We do offer a full measuring service but in my experience if you have some basic measurements (recess size) on your first visit it really helps to narrow things down as not all blinds will suit all size windows. Each type of blind has their place in the home and hopefully this blog will have helped you decide which is most suitable for you.
The very first step is to measure for your curtains. Once armed with this info you can decide what size you need. Not all ready made curtains come in all sizes but you will generally find one to suit. However if your windows are particularly large or a special type, like a bay or apex window then our Custom Made option might be the one for you.
Ready made curtains are sold in pairs, with the size on the pack being the measurement of one curtain lying flat. If I can stress one thing above everything else when buying ready made curtains is to buy the right size - don't be skimpy, the more fabric you have the better your curtains will look!
This might surprise you but to have your curtains looking as nice as possible you generally want twice the amount of fabric as the width of your pole/rail; even more if choosing pencil pleat; this will allow the curtains to gather nicely.
If you're in between sizes I would say to always go up a size. Let's say your pole is 81" (210cm), logically you might assume that buying a pair of 66" (167cm) wide ready made curtains is the size you want - 66" + 66" = 132" of fabric which is plenty, right? Well no! - as an amazing woman I used to work with would say "If you want them to look like a sheet on your window go ahead". When you see our curtains hanging beautifully instore you're looking at curtains that are nearly 2 1/2 times the width of the pole, what we refer to as "fullness". To put this in perspective we would put a 66" (167cm) curtain on a 54" (137cm) pole. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, if you're unsure what size you should be getting you can talk to one of our expert staff in your local store.
It's just a matter of choosing which one is the closest to what you need. The easiest way to do this is to take a metal measuring tape up to your window and see where the drops listed below will come to, if you're between drops you will have to choose the larger one and either have it altered or if you can, raise the pole higher to suit. The drop listed on all ready made curtain packs is approximate - so 90" may be 89" or 91". This is particularly apparent in eyelet curtains as different brands may take the length from different points; some may take the drop from the very top of the curtain; some may take it from the ring itself. There's no standard unfortunately so you won't know until you're ready to hang them. In an ideal world you will hang your pole/rail only when fitting your ready made curtains so you can hang it to suit the drop you have purchased.
Pencil pleat curtains, like the ones pictured above are made with a tape on the top, which you pull to size to create the pleats. They are then hung with hooks from a ring or glider. Eyelet curtains are a simpler style, that has metal rings in the top of the curtains that simply slide over your pole. If you have a pole fitted; you will be free to choose either heading so the world is your oyster as they say, if you have a rail fitted; you will be limited to pencil pleat curtains. It's important for your sanity to note that the eyelets will be made in a colour that best suits the curtain, so a very gold curtain may have an antique brass eyelet, most will have a kind of dull pewter finish. If you already have a pole up, please don't drive yourself crazy trying to match the colour of the metal eyelet to the metal of your pole, the eyelet is picked to match the fabric best and I assure you, you won't even notice the difference when they're hanging. It's generally better to hang eyelet curtains on a metal pole as they will run smoothly and won't get scuffed/scratched the way a wooden pole might.
All of our ready made curtains come fully lined. This is a standard light/mid weight lining but there are a range of thermal/blackout curtains available also. The standard lining is simply to make the curtains drape better and to protect the fabric from the sun, it also gives all of your curtains a nice uniform look from the outside as across all brands it is generally an ivory colour. Blackout curtains are ideal for bedrooms as they will block the light coming through the curtains, they are also fantastic for keeping rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Be careful when buying, some curtains are labelled "blockout", these are more of a thermal weight, which will block a good portion of the light but are not fully blackout, they will also keep rooms cool in summer and warm in winter. In any case in either "blackout" or "blockout" curtains, you will notice that it's generally not a separate lining but a coating on the back of the fabric that does the job.
As ready made curtains are an off the shelf product you may not always get exactly what you want. You may prefer blackout or eyelet heading but the fabric you like most is only available in pencil pleat heading. My advice is to choose the fabric you like first and work from there. Ready made blackout linings can always be added if you need that extra hour in bed. When it comes to pencil pleat - I know you think you prefer eyelets but I assure you once you buy the right size and hang them properly, pencil pleats look really well. If you really really do prefer eyelets talk to our staff in your nearest store as we can alter that heading for you!
Now that you're armed with the information, you can browse our gorgeous range of ready made curtains and pick the right curtains to suit you.
Measuring for curtains is a little bit chicken and the egg; should you have your pole up first? Should you measure the bare window? I’m here to tell you that either is fine as long as you understand what you’re doing.
In an ideal world, when measuring for curtains you’ll be starting with a blank canvas; a window with no pole/rail up but sometimes it’s already there and you need to figure out what size to buy. I say in an ideal world because you can always hang a pole to suit your curtains but if the curtains only come in a 229cm drop and you have already hung your pole 235cm off the ground you’re fairly snookered. I’ll explain what to do in each case shortly but first let me give you a few tips to live by when measuring for your curtains
My first and most important tip when measuring for curtains is to use a metal measuring tape. I’ve worked in Home Focus/ Hickeys stores for years and have seen all sorts of crazy things; pieces of string, bits of wool, plastic bags and that infamous incident when a woman told me her window was one and a half times the length of her arm!! Let me tell you people, these thing stretch or are weird and will leave you with an inaccurate measurement.
The second suggestion I have when measuring for curtains is to use what you know; if you’re comfortable with inches, use inches. The poles and ready made curtains will all have their sizes listed in inches and centimetres and if you’re really struggling our staff will help you convert.
Measure the width of your window across, from plaster to plaster, and from top to bottom. Then add on 6” (15cm) above the window and 6 - 10” (15-25cm) either side of the window to allow for the pole/rail size. This is to allow the curtains to clear the window when open, maximising the light into your room. Usually, the bigger the window, the wider you have the pole.
If you have a pole up, measure the width of the pole, not including the finials (ends), measure the drop from just under the pole to where you want the curtains to fall.
If you have a rail up measure the width of the rail, including any overlaps or returns, measure the drop from the top of the rail to where you want the curtains to fall.
If you’re thinking of getting Custom Made curtains, then stop here and visit your local store armed with this information.
So now that we’ve figured out what size our pole/rail is likely to be we need to figure out what size curtains to buy. Without going into too much detail, you want your curtains to be approximately twice the width of your pole/rail, this is basically so they will be nicely gathered and look their best.
Use the handy little chart below to figure out what width you need:
Now that you know the width, the drop is a more straightforward prospect, you’re either hanging your curtains to just below the windowsill, to the radiator or to the floor. I have listed the standard sizes on the chart below, so it’s just a matter of picking which one is closest to your desired drop.
Let’s do a real life example of measuring for curtains:
Take this window in our training room here:
I have measured the width across = 43” (109cm)
The drop to the bottom = 34.5” (88cm)
So adding 6” (15cm) each side we estimate that our pole should be 55” (139cm) wide and adding 6” (15cm) above we get 40.5” (103cm).
So going by the charts above our curtains should be 66” x 54” (167cm x 137cm) and there you have it!!
Now you know what size you need shop our gorgeous range of Ready Made Curtains.
Why would anyone buy custom made curtains you might wonder? What’s even the difference between having a pair of curtains made and buying a pair off the shelf? Why are they more expensive?
Having worked in a Hickeys shop for more years than I care to let on I am fully equipped to answer these questions! Or at least I hope I am. In my opinion there’s 3 real reasons why anyone would go to the bother of getting Custom Made Curtains:
1: The size issue – Sometimes you might just have an odd sized window and cannot buy standard readymade curtains in your size. This is probably the reason most people buy custom made in the first place as not only can you have curtains made to the exact dimensions you need but if you’re really struggling, you can book an appointment to have a fitter do the measurements for you!
Curtains can also be made to suit odd shaped windows not just outsized ones, making custom made the only real choice for apex, dormer or sash windows.
2: Quality _ Although readymades have improved drastically over the years there’s still nothing like the quality of Custom Made Curtains! The fabric! The finish! Readymades are mass produced in a factory. Your custom made curtains are made for YOU with care and attention by a single maker from start to finish. Basically once you go custom you’ll never go back.
3: Choice – And I do mean choice, custom really means custom. This is really where custom made comes into it’s own, choosing your fabric is only the start, and that’s no easy choice when there’s so many gorgeous ones out there. You can even add some quirky cool trim like the one above, make your curtains as unique as you!
Staff instore will be happy to give you fabric samples so you can look at them in setting and really make sure you’re making the right decision
You will get to choose what your curtains will look like at the top, the heading you pick will also depend on what type of rail/pole you have
You can choose curtain linings for any number of reasons, both practical and impractical. Curtains can be very functional for blocking light or keeping the heat in, or maybe you just want them to look really plush. Here’s the options:
Your curtains will be machine sewn, custom made (a mix of machine and hand sewn) or entirely hand stitched. Which one of these options you go for will usually depend on the type of fabric and lining you choose. Though hand stitched will give the neatest finish, with there being little to no visible stitching on your curtains.
Hopefully that answers some questions you might have about going custom. I personally feel that custom is an antidote to the “fast fashion” we’re all subjected to these days. It’s about choosing something you love and will love for years to come because you know they’ll look as good in 10 years as they did the day you hung them.
If you’re interested in going custom or want to get an idea of cost get in touch with one of our expert staff in your nearest store.
Buying and fitting a curtain pole can be confusing at the best of times. Thankfully, with the help of this handy guide, you'll be able to fit your new curtain pole and hang your curtains with ease.
What you'll need:
Ready to get started? Shop our range of curtain poles and find something that suits you!