Before tackling this project, learn the basics of installing grommets here: How to Install Grommets
By Ande Waggener
Do you like to make your own curtains? If you do, you’re probably comfortable with sewing curtains. But how about adding grommets? Do you know how to put grommets in curtains? When you want to choose the right curtains for your home, grommet curtains are a stylish option to consider. So how cool would it be if you could make your own grommet curtains?
If you like DIY window treatment projects, you can add grommets to curtains you sew yourself, or you can add grommets to ready-made curtains. All you need to learn is how to put in grommets along the top of curtains. So let’s do this. Here’s how to properly space grommets when making curtains.
Stage 1: Gather Your Materials
To place grommets along the top of your curtains, here's what you’ll need:
1. The curtains you have sewn or bought
Keep in mind that if you’re sewing curtains for this project, you might need to use an interfacing fabric if your curtain fabric is very light. Grommets set in light fabrics can end up tearing the fabric. What is interfacing fabric? It’s a medium-weight or heavy fabric that acts as a liner to provide a structural base for your grommets. It can either be just a strip laid over the main fabric or it can be sandwiched between two layers of the main fabric. If your curtain fabric is of medium- to heavy-weight, you don’t need interfacing. If you’ve purchased ready-made curtains that are lightweight, you might need to add a strip of interfacing onto the back of the top of the curtains. The interfacing fabric should be at least an inch wider than the width of your grommets so that when you place the grommets, you’ll have at least a half-inch of fabric extending from above and below the grommets.
2. A marker to mark where you want to place your grommets
3. A hole cutter and/or a utility knife
4. A rubber mallet
5. A sturdy work surface like a solid wood cutting board (or preferably a work table if you have one)
6. A tape measure
7. A hem gauge
8. A grommet kit that includes the grommet setting tools and the grommets themselves
Stage 2: Figure out Grommet Spacing
There’s no undoing a grommet once you install it in fabric, so you’re going to want to get your spacing right the first time. A good rule of thumb for spacing curtain grommets is you want about 4⅕ to 4¾ inches between grommets that are up to 2 inches in diameter. This spacing is measured from the middle of the grommet posts. If you’re using larger grommets, you’ll need more spacing. Determining the best spacing is a matter of personal preference. To see what you like, use large binder clips to mark your potential grommet spots on the tops of your curtains. You can then run a thin rod like a chopstick or spoon handle through the clips and “hang” the fabric to simulate them hanging on curtain rods.
Do you like the way it drapes and gathers? If so, you’re good to go. Just remember that you always want to use an even number of grommets for your curtains to hang evenly.
To get your horizontal spacing right on your curtains, follow these steps:
1. Take the width of your curtain panel (the finished width) and subtract 4 inches. You’re doing this because the best positioning of the first and last grommet is two inches from the middle of the grommet to the edge of the curtain.
2. Now you need to determine how many grommets you need between the first and last grommet. To do this, divide the number you got in the last step by the spacing you’d like to have between grommets. So, for example, if you have 42 inches between the first and last grommet, and you want 4¾ inches between grommets, you divide 42 by 4¾ (4.75 on your calculator).
3. Whatever number you get, you’ll now round up or down to the nearest even number so you can have an even number of grommets. In the above example, you’d get 8.84, so you’d round down to 8. This is the number of grommets you’ll space between the first and the last grommet.
4. Now divide the width between the first and last grommet by the number of grommets you got from the last step. In our example, you have 42 inches of space on which to evenly space grommets, and you want to put nine grommets in this space. So we’ll divide 42 by 8 for a result of 5.25, or 5¼ inches. This figure will be the actual spacing between your grommets. Just remember that you have 10 total grommets in this example — two on each end and the eight grommets in between.
The vertical spacing of grommets is easier. Just decide how far from the top of your curtains you want your grommets to be. That’s your vertical spacing.
Stage 3: Position Grommets
Now that you’ve done your calculations, you need to mark the spots along your curtains where you’re going to place your grommets. To do this, follow these steps:
1. Lay out your curtain and interfacing (if you’re using it) on a flat surface.
2. Lay a tape measure along next to the top of the curtain.
3. Position the first grommet two inches from the edge (measuring from the center of the grommet). Use the grommet post (or male end of the grommet) to do this.
4. Now measure from the center of that grommet whatever spacing number you got from your above calculations. (In our example, you’d measure 5¼ inches from the first grommet to the next spot for a grommet.)
5. Position a grommet.
6. Using a hem gauge to guide you, position the grommet vertically.
7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 for every grommet. If you have limited space, you can do these steps for a few grommets. Then go on to Stages 4 and 5 below before returning to Stage 3 to repeat the above process for your next set of grommets.
Stage 4: Mark and Trace Grommet Posts
Now that you have your grommets set up, you can mark the fabric.
1. Put your marker through the center of the grommet post and make a mark. Do this for each grommet post.
2. To make your grommet marks perfectly clear, go back to each grommet. Be sure your post is centered over the mark you made.
3. Trace the hole inside the grommet post. Do this for every grommet you have set up.
Stage 5: Cut the Grommet Holes
Remove the grommets to reveal your marked circles. If you’re working with a grommet kit that has a hole cutter tool, you can now use that cutter tool to cut your holes. Just position one end of the hole cutter over the holes you’ve marked and use the mallet to pound on the other end.
If you don’t have a hole cutter, use the utility knife to carefully cut an X in the middle of the marked hole. Be very precise. If you get a grommet hole too big, the grommet won’t seat properly. If it’s too small, the fabric will bunch up around it.
Stage 6: Install Grommets
Now it’s time to use your grommet kit. Follow these steps:
1. Push the grommet posts through the holes you cut, going in through the front of the curtain so the post is in the back of the curtain.
2. Place the anvil under the front of the grommet post. (Your curtain should still be lying right side down on a solid surface.)
3. On the back side of your curtain, lay the grommet washer (or female part) over the grommet post, rounded side up.
4. Position the grommet setter (or punch) over the grommet hole.
5. Pound the grommet into place with a mallet.
6. Repeat these steps for each grommet.
Now you know how to make grommet curtains for a sliding glass door or other windows or for room dividers. Plus, you know how to install grommets in any project you may undertake. Now, finish your grommet curtains, hang them, then sit down, pat yourself on the back, and admire your work.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Ande Waggener