Diploma in Curtain Making and Soft Furnishings

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Professional curtain making has become increasingly popular over the past few years, consequently the National Design Academy offers students the chance to build upon their existing design skills whilst improving their knowledge of the subject, and of course, develop their passion for all things related to the world of soft furnishings.

About the course

The Diploma in Skills for Curtain Making and Soft Furnishings is the ideal course for students who wish to tackle individual projects or alternatively those choosing to add a professional accolade to aid their career in the curtain making and soft furnishings industry.

The core elements covered in this course range from measuring & design of window treatments to construction techniques, right through to business advice for starting your own company. This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge, qualification and confidence that they require to start up their own practice, or alternatively, offer them a pathway to further study.

Who should do this course?

  • Would you like to make your own soft furnishings for your home?
  • Have you already made curtains successfully for your own home and for family and friends?
  • Do they often suggest that you start your own business?
  • Would you like to start your own business but you need a professional qualification?
  • Would your existing business benefit from more professional techniques and know how?
  • Would you like to use this course as an entry onto the Foundation Degree (FdA) in Interior Design?

...then this is the course for you!



All students have different circumstances. The average home study time is 10-12 hours per week allowing you to complete your course in approximately 10 months. Those students who have more time will complete their course more quickly. Most students complete their course comfortably within 6-12 months. Funding criteria states that funded or subsidised students have a maximum of 12 months to complete the course. Non-funded students have 24 months in which to complete. 

Please Note: If you opt for Home Study you will not be required to attend the Academy at any point throughtout the course.


If you prefer to study in a classroom based environment then the in - studio course could be for you, you will be required to attend the Academy in Nottingham for 2 weeks. Most students complete the course within 3 months. Due to funding criteria, funded or subsidised students are allowed 12 months to complete their course. Non-funded students are expected to complete within 24 months. 

Week 1
In Studio (see dates below)
Weeks 2, 3, 4 & 5
At home
Week 6
In Studio (see dates below)

See dates below - please check the dates for the 2nd Studio week carefully as these may not be exactly 6 weeks after the 1st Studio week due to other Workshops and timetables. 

Week 1 Week 2
12 - 16 September 2016 31 October - 4th November 2016

Please Note:Please ensure you are able to attend the two weeks as above as these are fixed dates and are not changeable, if for any reason you are unable to attend the second week, you would then be required to switch to Online Study. 

Employability & progression

Further education

On successful completion of the Diploma in Skills for Curtain Making & Soft Furnishings, many students opt to further develop their academic knowledge of the design market. Different academic progression options include enrolling on an alternative diploma level course such as the Diploma in Interior Design or the Diploma in Garden Design, thus widening their depth of knowledge in the design world. Alternatively, many students choose to complete a short conversion course of 2 additional modules after the diploma, which allows them a pathway on to the FdA Interior Design or BA (Hons) Interior Design courses.


Once you have completed the Level 3 Diploma in Professional Curtain Making & Soft Furnishings, you are guaranteed a route to our Foundation Degree (FdA) in Interior Design, or other Foundation Degree** validated and awarded by our partner, Staffordshire University.

This is delivered online by our Virtual Learning Studio (VLS) where you can access the course which contains thousands of links to interior design information, meet new friends and keep in touch through the Student Forum. You'll also receive regular updates on the latest trends and exhibitions.

Alternatively, you can become a freelance Interior Design Consultant or work in a related industry such as kitchen design, soft furnishings or design retailer.

** Soft Furnishings students may need to study 2 additional online units covering the extra drawing skills required for the Foundation Degree (FdA). Please contact us for more details or ask your Tutor during your course.

Course content

Show course modules

In this unit you will recognise the use of elements, including texture, pattern, form and function, in the selection of fabrics for soft furnishings. Experimenting with ideas, techniques and materials to develop an individual approach to the collection, recording and communication of information. Understanding current market trends and preferences within design applications creating soft furnishing colour schemes for a range of contexts, including historical. Recognising the technology employed within colour theory and describe the colour spectrum and understand the psychological associations of colour.

Designing a window treatment is a combination of creativity, practicality and accuracy. Windows are central to the ambience of an interior and ‘frame the view’ to the outside world, letting in sunshine in the spring and summer as well as creating cosiness on a cold autumn or winters evening. As a result of this complexity, it may be useful to build up a checklist of considerations before embarking upon the design process itself.

Mitres are used on corners as a way of distributing fabric evenly and hiding raw edges. Usually, true mitres are used on the bottom corners of curtains and false mitres are used on top corners (for example, when tucking fabric under heading tape) or on the top and bottom corners of valances. A variety of hand stitching techniques, complimenting your sewing machine techniques, are invaluable for the creation of quality curtains and soft furnishings. This unit develops the skills of pattern matching, enabling you to correctly position patterned fabrics appropriately for curtain making. You will learn specific stitching skills to ensure that the fabric is correctly positioned. This requires considerable accuracy using machine stitching to secure the match. These advanced techniques will enable you to be more productive in a commercial environment.

By the end of this unit you will be able to recognise the fire retardant characteristics of a range of fabrics and know how to select suitable fabrics. You will be able to construct an interlined pencil pleat sample curtain and a lined pencil pleat sample curtain with a contrast leading edge. You will learn how to insert interlining, construct a contrast leading edge, attach lining and heading tape and construct a hem. You will also learn how to hand finish the relevant sections of curtains.

By the end of this unit you will be able to construct a curtain valance sample to a finished width/drop specification using buckram. You will calculate, measure and construct the pleats for a range of hand sewn headings. You will secure the lining and insert the buckram, produce a machine finish to the relevant sections of the valance sample and produce a hand finish to the relevant sections of the valance sample. You will also learn how to position and attach Velcro, as well as how to attach a contrast trim to a valance.

Bringing a finished scheme together is not just about finding the right furniture to suit the space. The finishing details are just as important. Choosing the right accessories, whether the smallest detail or largest focal point can have a significant impact upon how a room creates a comfortable atmosphere. Whether by using just a simple piece of art or a combination of elaborately decorated items, it is possible to create an emphasis or focal point within a room that previously never existed.

Blinds are very versatile and can be made from the minimum amount of fabric. They can be contained within the limits of the window frame or placed outside the recess to ‘dress’ the window. Blinds are a practical form of window treatment, usually placed inside the window reveal, often used in conjunction with curtains or dress curtains. Just as interior decorators love the effect of elegant drapes, so designers and architects prefer the simplicity of blinds or screens which allow plenty of light to enter the room.

Pelmets and valances give a decorative and formal finish to the tops of curtains and at the same time hide the curtain heading and track from view. They can be used to create a dramatic effect and alter the proportions of a window. The pelmet or valance, for example, can be fixed higher than usual to make the window appear taller or extended at the sides to make it appear wider. Although they are often made from the same fabric as the curtains, they need not match.

Swags and tails are the ultimate way to dress a window, creating a grand treatment that is suitable for formal rooms. They look sophisticated when made up in rich fabrics and trimmed with fringe. However, untrimmed swags and tails look much simpler and can be used in less formal settings even kitchens and bathrooms.

Generally speaking, the wider the window the more swags there are in the design. Where there are windows of dissimilar widths in the same room a narrow window could have a one-swag design and a wide window could have a three-swag design.

Within this unit an understanding of the importance of structuring a business will begin to be developed. Whether working within the creative industries or starting your own soft furnishings workroom, the importance of understanding good business practice cannot be overstated. It is possible to be very creative making soft furnishings but this, on its own, does not mean that your business will be successful. There are a great many skills associated with running a business.

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