Cheats to Add Length to Panels

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!  I realize many of you are in holiday mode for a few more days, but I wanted to go ahead and share this information with you.  You can pin this post to one of your Pinterest boards and refer to it later when you need it.

Cheats to Add Length With Minimal Yardage @

This how-to is the solution needed for these two drapery panel issues:

  1. Panels that are too short.  Whether you bought them or made them, this technique can work for you.
  2. You have too little fabric to make new panels the desired length.  This technique will give you the most length possible from of your fabric piece.

Maximum Length Cheats

I’m not Elizabeth Montgomery from Bewitched.  My nose doesn’t twitch for magic.  But, sometimes I wish I could work magic – don’t you?  What I’m sharing with you today is almost…almost like magic.  Shhh…I don’t want to be known as a magician…or witchy…or anything like that, so this magic trick can be our little secret.  OK?

You may recognize these panels from my French Pleat Drapery Panels post I published in November.  When my friend approached me about making these panels, she didn’t know if she’d bought enough fabric.  Well, guess what?  She didn’t have enough fabric for a rod placement where we wanted it.  If I made these panels the traditional way, they would have only been long enough to hang at the top edge of the window casing.

But…she had purchased a separate piece that was about 2-1/2 yards for pillows.  It was time to pull an old trick out of my bag.  Oops…I guess I shouldn’t have said that word – trick.  Change that to technique.

With the extra fabric piece, I cut 8″ strips to sew at the top and bottom edges of the panels.  This allows the hem and header fabric to actually be separate pieces of fabric so the front piece could extend that extra amount.  Voila – 16″ bonus!

Adding Fabric to Panel

If you are extending purchased panels, simply and carefully clip the hem threads and open it to access the folds of fabric.  Press the hem lines and sew your added fabric  to the edge.  No exact match is necessary, but come as close as possible if you don’t have more of the front fabric.

The trick secret is to carefully press the seam so that it is exactly at the edge.

Pressing at Seam

After you press the seam edge, tuck under the 8″ addition about half way, forming a double 4″ hem.  Sew the hem by hand or with your machine – a hem stitch is nice if your machine will do that.

Hem Complete

There…that wasn’t hard at all!  From the front side, no one will ever know your secret trick technique.

For the top of your panel (the header), sew the 8″ addition in the same way you did the hemmed end.  The next step is to add some buckram or pleater tape to the added piece for making the pleats.

NOTE:  If you want to add length to the header of purchased panels, you’ll need to pull out any pleats or details at the top edge.  I don’t recommend you do that unless you’re truly ready to tackle the pressing necessary to get rid of old press lines and seam lines.  You may never get those lines out!  My advice here is to be happy with the 8″ you added along the bottom edge, and re-hang your panels about 8″ higher on the wall.  They’ll look better than before and with only a small time investment.

If your purchased panels are flat across the top edge, you shouldn’t have a problem adding the extension.  Just open that area as you did with the hem and sew the extension to it.

Buckram Inside Fold

Since a seam won’t show on the added portion, I sewed the 4″ buckram into the flap.  Here I have it pressed and pinned where I’ll stitch it.  You don’t want the buckram butting right against the seam.  You need a little gap there for movement when you fold the flap over the back side of the panel.

Pinning for Seam

The added flap will hold nicely against your panel when you sew your pleat seams.  For those instructions, visit Pinch-Pleat Drapery Panels – a Tutorial.

Header Flap Complete

As with the bottom edge, your header seam will be along the top edge where it isn’t visible.  This fabric is identical on the reverse side, so I’m sorry if you can’t see the folded portion in the picture.

I hope this cheat technique will give you new options for your window treatments.  The colder months of the year are perfect for indoor projects. 🙂

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I’m sharing this post with the following link parties.  Click the title to join the fun, y’all!

What to do Weekends

Metamorphosis Monday

Make it Pretty Monday


  1. Sheryll & Critters. says

    Another great tutorial. If they desperately need more length on the purchased ones with pleats at the top and using clip rings, they can cheat by making a fake valance or trim over the existing pleats or just add enough fabric to the bottom.

  2. says

    Happy New Year Kim! I haven’t made pinch pleated draperies in a long time. I think I might like to try again this year. I am thinking that I would like to re-upholster my living room couch and make new draperies for both the living room and dining room. Your tips will come in handy.

    • Kim Hood says

      Thank you, Candy. Your plans sound exciting! I’ve found that once I get started, I think, “Why did I wait so long? This is easier than I expected – and fun!” I hope your project turns out that way. Happy New Year to you, too! 🙂