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Spruce up your home as we show you how to make your own curtains 

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This step-by-step guide from John Lewis shows how to make lined pencil pleat curtains.

It covers everything from working out how much fabric you need to how far apart to place the hooks in your finished curtains.  

What you’ll need 

Curtain fabric, lining fabric, matching thread for the face fabric and the lining (for patterned fabrics choose the dominating colour), pencil pleat heading tape, sewing machine, scissors, tape measure, ruler, and pins  

Measuring and estimating fabric quantities 

1. Measure the width of your curtain track or pole and multiply this by the required fullness. For pencil pleat heading, multiply this by 2 – 2 ½ times depending how full you would like your curtains to be.

2. Divide the answer by the width of the curtain fabric, this will be the same for the lining.

3. Measure the overall finished drop that you would like for the curtains and add on the hem and heading measurements (add 16cm for the hem and 5cm for the heading).

4. To calculate the amount of fabric required, multiply the overall figure by the number of widths and this will give you the total amount of curtain fabric and lining you require.

For example:  

– If the curtain track length is 206cm x 2.5 for the pencil pleat heading = 515cm 

– Then divide the width of the curtain fabric which is 137cm by the curtain track length which we have already worked out is 515cm = 3.75 widths (round down to 3 for double fullness or up to 4 for extra fullness)

– Then measure the overall drop required 134cm + 16cm for the hem + 5cm for the heading = 155cm this is the cut length. Then multiply by my 3 widths = 465cm. Round that up 5 metres of fabric and 5 metres of lining)

– Then work out how much heading tape is needed by multiplying the width of the curtain fabric, 137cm, by the widths needed, 3, = 411cm. To be on the safe side, and to allow for turnings (to hide the heading tape), round this up to 5 metres of pencil pleat heading tape.

Making lined curtains 

1. Cut the fabric to the required cut lengths and cut the required number of drops and repeat this with the lining. If there is a half width per curtain this width will need to be split into two up the length of the cut. This can be done by folding the length selvedge – the finished edge – to selvedge and then cutting along the fold. It is a good idea to mark the fabric with a small arrow in both the top left and right corners of each cut, chalk can be good for this as it can be easily removed when you are finished. This is useful for indicating the face side of the fabric and the direction of the fabric.

2. Join the fabric together with a flat seam. Use approximately a 2cm seam allowance.

3. Repeat this process with the lining fabric.

4. Measure the overall width of the curtain fabric and the lining in each curtain. The lining fabric will be slightly wider than the curtain fabric, you will need to cut this down so it’s approx. 16cm narrower than the curtain fabric. This will allow the curtain fabric to turn back onto the finished curtain down both the leading (inside) and trailing (outside) edge.

5. On the lining fabric, fold and press a double 5cm hem (turn fabric over twice) along the bottom edge and using a sewing machine run a flat running stitch with a matching thread to the lining colour. Repeat on both curtain linings and put aside.

6. On the curtain fabric now fold and lightly press a double 8cm hem(turn the fabric twice) along the bottom edge of both curtains and hold in place with pins. This can be sewn several ways depending on how confident you are. It can be hand sewn using a herringbone stitch, sewn using a machined hemming stitch or machine it through with a flat running stitch. The choice is yours. Make sure you use matching thread to the face fabric colour.

7. Lay the curtain fabric right side up on a flat surface. Now lay the lining fabric on top, right side down, setting the bottom of the lining hem 4cm up from the bottom of the curtain fabric hem. Aline the selvedges or raw edges together and pin in place along one side. Machine stitch with a flat running stitch down this side starting at the edge of the lining and sew from the hem towards the heading. Repeat this process down the other side of the curtain. It will appear that the face fabric is wider than the lining and this is correct. Repeat with the other curtain.

8. Turn the curtains right side out and then fold/roll the sides of the curtains to show 4cm of curtain fabric on the reverse of the curtains down each side. It is a good idea to pin down the sides to hold this in place while you complete the next stages.

9. Neaten off the bottom corners by folding the curtain fabric under itself creating a diagonal line from the corner of the curtain fabric to the corner of the lining. This can either be invisibly slip stitched to hold it in place or held with a single large tacking stitch created by threading double tread through a needle, bring the ends together and tie in a knot so you have four thicknesses of thread to sew with. Sew a single stitch over the fold attaching it to the double hem but not going through to the face side of the curtain. Go over this a couple of times to hold the fold in place. Do this close to where the lining hem is. Repeat this on all four bottom corners of the curtains.

10. With your curtains lying flat, with the lining fabric on top fold over the curtain fabric and lining to the required drop, Pin this into place and repeat this on both curtains.

11. Now trim back the excess lining so you have a single 5cm fold along the top edge. Take the heading tape and place this along the top edge about 0.5cm from the top with approximately 10cm excess tape at each side of the curtain. Pin this in place.

12. Fold the excess tape under itself enclosing the fabric fold between the two layers of tape and hold in place with a pin. Repeat this on all four corners.

13. You are now ready to sew the heading tape into place. First, machine along the top edge on the tape side as close to the edge of the tape as possible. Now remove all the pins and sew along the bottom edge of the tape.

14. On the leading edge of each curtain pull out the strings and knot them together with a double knot. Machine sew the open end of the tape on the leading edge and repeat this on the trailing edge but don’t sew down the open edge as this forms a pocket for you to tuck the strings in once you have gathered the curtains up.

15. Repeat this process on the second curtain remembering that the leading and trailing edges will be opposite handed.

16. Gather each curtain up to half the length of your track or pole plus approximately 10 per cent to allow for the curtains to meet in the centre without springing back open. Tie off the strings, wrap them up neatly and tuck them into the open pocket at the end of the tape.

17. Insert the curtain hooks into the tape at approximately 10cm intervals. If they are to be hung from a pole then use the top pocket and if they are on a track and you wish to mask the track, place the hooks in the bottom pocket.

18. Now your curtains are ready to hang

 

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Disenchanted? Surely not, as Enniskerry gets a magical Disney makeover

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The village of Enniskerry in Co Wicklow was en fete on Sunday afternoon with locals, tourists and film crew all mingling among flower-festooned buildings and pubs serving food in the open air.

The normally flowery-but-sedate village seemed to lose all sense of sedateness and go all-out-twee, as plastic garlands of wisteria flowers almost smothered real-life wisteria-clad houses facing the town’s iconic clock tower.

The clock tower itself, built by the 6th Viscount Powerscourt to commemorate the centenary of the 1743 creation of the first viscount, is already an ornate affair, built on a shamrock-shaped base. But for Disney which is filming Disenchanted, it was not enough. The clock tower was clothed in artificial shrubbery, more purple wisteria, bunting and its flower beds brimming with multi-coloured, plastic, daisies.

The entire looked across the square at a grand imperial building where, last week, no grand imperial building was located. Visitors posed for photographs in front of its granite-looking steps, just a blue line around the roof giving the game away.

Yellow roses were trailed through the iron railings of homes on the streets approaching the clock tower, while The Reluctant Dragon Tavern, a Tudor-looking structure, leaned perilously into the – suddenly cobbled – roadway. A small sign to one side announced: “Enniskerry Inn, business as usual”.

Ever more garlands

Indeed, with tables set out on the road in the sunshine and visitors eating and drinking as workers added ever more garlands seemingly to any structure that stood still, it was hard to know what was real and what had changed.

The local chemist was there, renamed The Village Cauldron, Potions, Notions and Lotions. Next door was Prince Ali’s Magic Carpet Shoppe, while across the road was Beauty and the Book. A house had been renamed “Ratatoothie”, and declared it was a dentist’s practice.

People work during the week on transforming Enniskerry village in Co Wicklow into part of the Disenchanted film set, where Disney are filming. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People work during the week on transforming Enniskerry village in Co Wicklow into part of the Disenchanted film set, where Disney are filming. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

All afternoon, visitors and locals alike trailed through the centre of the village, cameras aloft or staring from cars as gardaí from the Roads Policing Unit tried to keep things moving.

Disney did not respond to requests for commentary on what was happening over several days. A local retailer said she could not say anything because “Disney have told us not to”.

“I can say Enniskerry will be closed next week from Monday, but I can’t say anything more than that – I don’t know anything more then that anyway,” she said. Two further businesses in the village declined the opportunity to comment.

Disenchanted is a sequel to the Disney movie Enchanted, featuring Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey as princess Giselle and divorce lawyer Robert Phillip. It follows on from Enchanted, which ended with the baddies destroyed, Giselle (Adams) married to Robert, and running a fashion business. But what happens then is seemingly the tightly guarded secret.

The village will be closed from June 14th to 18th, from 7am to 10pm, with other dates in July, and even “night shoots” towards the end of next month.

At another location, Erskine Avenue, in Greystones, a modest Arts and Crafts Edwardian home has also been given the Disney treatment, complete with turrets and masses of blossoms, and of course onlookers and a closed road. A local told The Irish Times “it was fun at first, but now I’m browned off”.

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Madison International Realty invests in London Salesforce Tower (GB)

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Madison International Realty has acquired a minority stake in the Salesforce Tower, London EC2, through a Jersey Property Unit Trust (JPUT), joining other investors including Heron International.

 

The 230-metre tower, completed in 2011 at 110 Bishopsgate, is an island site in the City of London and provides 441,000ft² of office space over 37 floors. The property is over 93% let to a range of tenants, the largest of which is Salesforce. The Salesforce Tower also has an outstanding food and beverage offering with Duck and Waffle and Sushi Samba at the very top and the Drift on the ground floor. The building has a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating for design.

 

The asset’s central location in the core of the City of London means it benefits from excellent transport connectivity, with Liverpool Street and Bank within a short walking distance. Similarly, there are a large number of new world-class food, drink and entertainment options nearby including the new Pan Pacific hotel adjacent at Heron Plaza and Eataly in Broadgate. In January 2021, an ING-led syndicate of lenders completed a €465.2m (£400m), five-year refinancing of the Tower.

 

Alex Lukesch, Managing Director at Madison International Realty commented on the investment: “This acquisition has allowed us to secure a stake in a prominent London office building, which we believe delivers space that meets the demands of modern occupiers looking for world-class offices in one of the world’s leading financial centres. The investment reflects our conviction in the ongoing resilience of the office sector and the role we believe it will play post-pandemic. We have observed that demand for quality, well-located space remains robust, while companies are increasingly looking for properties that also have strong ESG credentials to help meet their own sustainability targets. In Heron, we believe we have an experienced and highly regarded partner and we look forward to working with them on this venture.”

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Britain’s blossoming love for Japanese design in the home

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The design has a red lid and a narrow neck which widens to form a base of sturdy hips. When poured, the contents flow in a singular, uninterrupted stream.

The Kikkoman bottle hasn’t changed since it was designed in 1961 by Kenji Ekuan for the world’s largest soy sauce producer.

Simplicity has made it ubiquitous. And crucially, it works — think of wrestling with glass Heinz ketchup bottles or constantly wiping lids on plastic iterations. Likely, Kikkoman’s bottle is the reason we’re so familiar with soy sauce.

Serene: A contemporary Japanese-style sitting room. The country's influence can be seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes

Serene: A contemporary Japanese-style sitting room. The country’s influence can be seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes

In the introduction to her book Japanese Design Since 1945 (£35, Thames & Hudson), Naomi Pollock writes: ‘In Japan, good design is everywhere. But most of all, it’s in the home.’

The trend for Japanese-inspired, UK-based brands, such as Wagamama, Superdry and Yo! Sushi, is well worn, but the country’s influence is likely seen most clearly in the clean, elegant and functional everyday products we use in our homes.

Inspired idea 

The Japanese approach to design is summed up well by a single product – Muji’s right angle sock (from £3.50, muji.eu). 

As the foot is perpendicular to the leg, the sock should follow the shape of the body: design centres on the user rather than the designer.

The word ‘Muji’ translates as ‘without brand’ and the company invites (often renowned) designers to create reasonably priced products anonymously. 

Design guru Naoto Fukasawa is an adviser to Muji, and his wall-mounted CD player for the company (£149) is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Naoto Fukasawa's butterfly-inspired Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair (£2,869, chaplins.co.uk)

Naoto Fukasawa’s butterfly-inspired Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair (£2,869, chaplins.co.uk)

In the UK, Chaplins stocks a large selection of products from Japan, including some from the designer.

‘The idea is to create designs that appear to have been sculpted by the elements,’ says Ludovic Aublanc, creative director at Chaplins. ‘It’s the kind of minimalism that brims with emotion, that makes you grateful and happy to come home.’

The company stocks Fukasawa’s butterfly-inspired Papilio range – chairs and sofas sporting headset ‘wings’ to protect the user’s head (Grande Papilio Swivel Lounge Chair, £2,869, chaplins.co.uk).

Simple seating

Japanese designers have described the chair as the centre of design and an extension of the human form. It follows that these things should be easy on both the body and the eye.

Habitat’s Mori charcoal two-seater sofa (£716, habitat.co.uk) certainly fits the bill. It is compact, unfussy and elegant with its plush curved armrests and contrasting thin, wooden legs.

Simple unfinished woodwork is a key part of design in Japan, like the solid oak dining chairs from Oak Furnitureland (£140, oakfurnitureland.com) which would pair well with the Japanese oak Castor Table by Karimoku New Standard (£1,169, nest.co.uk).

Clutter free

Last year, decluttering guru Marie Kondo took the world by storm with her hit Netflix show. The programme has been talked of plenty, but we’re perhaps unaware of how key these principles are to Japanese design.

A large part of the focus on user-friendly products comes down to space. As ever, it’s important for Muji, with its storage bed (from £299) which has spacious drawers to banish clutter. Loaf has the Woody storage bed (from £995, loaf.com).

Simple boxy shelving units such as the Ikea Kallax range (from £15, ikea.com) are practical, but can also be used for displaying plants, books and records.

Or, for a modern twist, try the John Lewis Dice shelving unit bookcase (£450, johnlewis.com). The company also stocks Japanese brand Like-it’s clear storage products (from £8).

Crockery that rocks 

Japanese pottery has long been a feature of our homes, and a collection by John Lewis is a nod to this. Inspired by woodblock prints, the range includes glassware, plates, mugs and even Christmas decorations. 

It’s all delicate, bright patterns and the infuser mugs by Tokyo Design Studio (from £25) are a highlight.

But elegant motifs are only part of the story. The earthy charcoals, whites and beiges of Hasami Porcelain (hasami-porcelain.com) are a calming, elegant addition to any kitchen.

Hasami teapots start from £65 and mugs from £22 (la-gent.com) – also pick up a copy of Okakura Kakuzo’s The Book Of Tea, written in 1906, an insight into the Japanese ritual of tea-making. Elsewhere, an Oriental Hobnail tea set costs from £22.98 (wayfair.co.uk).

For eating, Denby Pottery has Japanese-inspired bowls from £58 for four in grey and white (denbypottery.com).

Finally, being able to serve Japan’s other favourite drink – the highball – is a must. Try LSA’s Mia Highball glasses (£27 for four, lsa-international.com) or, for something cheaper, a set of six Duralex Prisme highballs is £11.99 at rinkit.com.

Then grab a bottle of Akashi whisky (£28.50, waitrosecellar.com), add ice, stir clockwise 13 times, add soda water, stir again and appreciate another example of elegance and simplicity in Japanese design.

What your home really needs is… a Christmas throw

At this time of year, people fall into two groups: those who believe more is more, with bright lights and decorations aplenty; and others who keep things simple, with a few holly sprigs and a carefully adorned tree.

Yuletide luxury: You could use this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw, £99.50, all year round

Yuletide luxury: You could use this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw, £99.50, all year round

But whether you’re a maximalist or a minimalist, your home will need a Christmas throw because someone in your festive bubble is bound to complain about being cold.

If glitter is your thing, you’ll like the fleece star throw from Marks & Spencer (£25, marksand spencer.com). 

Or snuggle up under Dunelm’s red cable-knit design with a fleecey inside (£60, dunelm.com).

For something more fun, Redbubble has one that reads: ‘This is my Hallmark Christmas movie watching blanket’ (£34.73, redbubble.com).

Going low-key? How about a white and grey reindeer pattern with red pompoms (£40, barkerand stonehouse.com)? 

Or this Alpaca Fair Isle Throw , £99.50, notonthe highstreet.com), which you could use all year round.

Anne Ashworth 

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