Update Your Curtains With Great Trim

It’s happened. Someone decided to give you some stunning but-not-really-your-taste curtains, or perhaps you even bought some curtains that looked great in the shop (but not at home). Now you’re stuck with panels of quality curtains that you don’t want to throw out, but that make you want to throw a tantrum. What now? By adding some exquisite curtain trim to your existing curtains, you can breathe a second life into them and make them work no matter the space you’re in. Here’s how!

How to Update Your Curtains With Trim

Following this careful step-by-step process, you can create a pleasing visual appeal in any room in your house, no matter what curtains you have. 

Step One: Assess Your Curtains

Ok, so for better or worse, you have these curtains. The first thing is to assess whether these curtains (if they were given to you) are worth saving. Older curtains can be really good at hiding defects and flaws. 

While trim is a great solution, it’s not always a cheap one. So make sure you don’t waste money on curtains that are one step away from being threadbare. Check on the quality of the curtains in your home:

  • When held up to the light, do you see even light filtering through? If so, keep them. Or do you see patches where the fabric is stressed and disintegrating? If so, toss it. 
  • Spreading the curtains open on a large surface such as a bed or the floor, do you see pilling of the fabric or scuff marks where the curtain has been damaged? If so, time to donate it to a more needy home. 
  • Check seams and hems. Is the stitching still of good quality? If the stitching is coming loose and doesn’t look like an easy fix, these curtains may also be on their way out. 

Having determined the condition of the curtains, consider what you would need to change on the curtains for them to work in your room. Perhaps the length is too short, or do you need them to tie in with the rest of your color scheme? 

Step Two: Determine Your Budget

Not all of us have a wish-list budget, and counting pennies can be important when it comes to trim. Decide the parameters of your budget. Next, measure the distance of the area you want to apply trim to. 

Be sure to add an additional two inches to each panel of curtaining to allow for extra give. If the curtain trim is pre-shrunk, great. If not, then you need to opt for a few yards extra to counterset the shrinkage that will happen when you pre-wash your new trim.

Next, take your budget, divide it by the number of yards you require. This is your final budget per yard of trim. If your budget doesn’t allow for a reasonable yardage price, then consider if you can opt for different trim options. 

While you may love a long plush fringe, this may be more costly than you can afford. How about sewing on a simplistic tape and adding a few single tassels to help lengthen your curtain? 

With plain curtains, you may be able to save some costs by creating tie-backs in a complementary fabric and adding some plush trim to these. Since the distance is shorter, you will not have to buy so many yards and can increase your budget per yard.

Step Three: Shop Per Color

Time to go shopping! This is the best part, but keep an eye on your budget. There’s no point in choosing something gorgeously exotic that you know won’t fit in your budget. Instead, use the filters feature of your online quality fabric and trimmings dealer to limit the price per yard and color range. 

Decide what trim you need by considering the colors of your room and curtains. What colors will tie things together?  

Step Four: Order Appropriately

When ordering trim online, be sure you order enough as adding trim to your curtains only to realize you are short on your measurement will be a disaster. Keep in mind that trim, if not pre-shrunk, will shrink when you pre-wash it. This will mean you need to order more of the trim you choose. Adding in a few yards, in case, is always a good idea. 

Step Five: Attaching Your Chosen Trim

Now that your trim has arrived, has been pre-shrunk, and you’ve measured it and pinned it in place, you can decide how you want to attach the trim to your curtains. There are two options: sewing and gluing. 


When sewing your fabric and trim together, be sure to follow the sewing guide given in our article on How to Correctly Sew on Different Kinds of Trim. Use the appropriate stitch size, choose a suitable thread, and pre-pleat corners to make your life easier. 

Pros of Sewing

  • Sewing lasts longer
  • Curtains with sewn-on trim is easily washable
  • A professional finish is achieved when correctly measuring and working straight while sewing
  • No problems with matching glue to the trim and curtain materials (some glues are corrosive)

Cons of Sewing

  • Sewing is time-consuming
  • When working in a limited space, sewing trim can become complicated
  • Some trims require an industrial sewing machine to correctly sew to fabric
  • If your sewing skills aren’t up to scratch, sewn trims can look messy


Gluing on trim is something of a new idea. Certainly, your grandmother would never have approved of it. However, the quality of fabric glues has improved over the last decade, and there are reliable glues available that are also fully washable. Choose a glue such as Aleene’s Tacky Glues to attach trim for quick results. 

Pros of Gluing 

  • Gluing is fast
  • Any kind of trim can be successfully glued on
  • No expensive equipment needed as gluing requires the glue and some patience only
  • No need to match cotton thread to the trim as the glue becomes translucent 
  • With gluing, different trims can be combined for more creative results in a fraction of the time that sewing takes

Cons of Gluing

  • With a lack of experience, gluing on trim can end up being messy
  • Heavier trims may eventually separate from the glue backing
  • With large-scale curtains, the cost of the glue can be substantial, and sewing is still cheaper
  • If washed incorrectly or if the curtain is exposed to severe sun, the glue may melt or flake off
  • Trim can begin to sag when glue perishes

The Final Step

Adding trim to your curtains can really make them come together with the rest of your home’s decor scheme. There are endless options available, and for the adventurous decorator, there are a million more possibilities. Rescue those drab curtains you inherited and make them fab with the right trim added in the correct way to ensure great longevity and service. 

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