How To Make No-Sew Curtains (And Make A Window Look Way Bigger)

We’re back with our homemade nursery curtain panel how-to. Remember when we revealed our punchy patterned find during last week’s shopping post? Well here’s how we took it from one big bolt of rolled up fabric by P Kaufmann…

… to three gorgeous floor-length curtains (two for the window and one for the doorless closet). And probably best of all: there’s no sewing machine required. In fact, here’s my short and sweet list of supplies: tape measure, scissors, iron on hem tape, and an iron of course. Plus we even added a few kid-safe features so stay tuned for those details…

But before we get into all the dirty curtain-makin’ details, we should mention that we hope our baby sleeps well. So in the interest of aiding our little one in that area, we decided that we also needed to grab some sort of 100% light-blocking blinds or shades. So we trolled the aisles of Home Depot and found some chic white faux-wood blinds. We loved them because they felt almost like substantial wood shutters when they were lowered (a lot more solid than those thin plastic or metal venetian blinds) and they definitely would block any and all light when in use (and could easily be pulled up and out of the way to let light stream in during the day).

But here’s the bummer. Of course they didn’t come in the exact measurements of our quirky old house’s window (39 1/4″ wide in case you’re wondering). Sadness. But we soon learned that Home Depot could actually cut them down to custom fit our window perfectly- and the cutting service is F-R-E-E. That turned our frown upside down. So we give the guy in the orange apron our window’s odd width and he had our custom-cut clean-lined faux wood blinds waiting for us about five minutes later. The blinds weren’t super cheap at $37, but they look convincingly like much pricier white wood blinds and we know the darkness that they’ll provide will be priceless when we’re dying for one more minute of sleep.

Of course we also liked that they didn’t have those dangerous loopy pull cords (they were labeled as having “kid safe cords” that are actually separated instead of connected so they’re less of a strangulation hazard- no loop to get caught in). And of course we plan to keep them wound around one of those cord wrangling pieces of metal at the top right corner of the window far out of baby’s reach anyway, but we love the added loop-free design.

And since we love a before picture, here’s the window prior to our little curtain and blind fest:

John had the blinds up in about twenty minutes, but they definitely left a lot to be desired in the length department. They were actually a bit heavy to raise and lower, all due to the fact that they were at least two feet too long for our window, so there were a bunch of slats that just clumped together at the bottom of the blinds when they were in the “lowered” position. Luckily in the installation instructions they actually detailed how to shorten them to customize their length to fit any window. Nice.

So John just followed the included directions and popped out these little plastic pieces on the bottom and could easily remove as many slats as he’d like and trim the excess string. Then he just popped the bottom pieces back on and we had an even more customized nursery blind that was a lot less cumbersome to raise and lower without all those extra slats at the bottom. Then, like a finely tuned relay team, John tagged me and said “your turn” and I began working on the curtains.

First I measured the approximate height that I wanted the curtains to be (just shy of 8′ for an almost floor to ceiling look) and added an inch and a half on the top and bottom to accommodate the hem. It was actually a nice clean measurement in the end because I determined that cutting two eight foot long sections of fabric would do the trick perfectly (since I wanted them a bit shy of 8′ but with the added hem measurement it brought them right back up to 8′ exactly). Hurrah for no quarter of an inch calculations!

The other super convenient thing about measuring out my fabric was that we already happened to have our new 5 x 8′ rug on the floor… so to cut my 8′ long fabric sections, I simply rolled the bolt from one end of the rug to the other and cut a straight line using the edge of the rug as my guide. It doesn’t get much easier than that. And for the width I just left each panel as wise as the bolt allowed (so I didn’t need to trim those edges at all).

Then it was time for my trusty Heat N’ Bond iron on hem tape (I always grab the “ultra hold” variety). You may have seen us using it in this crib skirt tutorial from a while back and we’ve also used it to hem all the white Ikea curtains that we have hanging in the rest of the house. In short: I’m a hem tape black belt (the irony is that John does all the clothes-ironing in the house). Anyway it’s great stuff for leaving a polished and clean-looking edge (a lot more reliable then me with a sewing machine!) and it’s even washable and super cheap (we grab ours for a few bucks a roll at Michael’s). So I whipped out the ironing board, fired up the iron, laid out my big eight foot long fabric panel and had my scissors and hem tape on hand.

All it took was an easy-iron hem on each of the four sides of my fabric (for step by step hem tape instructions, just check out this post). Then I had a nice finished panel (without any rod loops or tabs) that I could clip up using my cheap-o oil-rubbed bronze curtain rings and rod from Target. Just look at how seamless and perfect that edge is! Much more even and less bunchy than anything I could sew…

Then I tagged John to get to work hanging the curtain rod with heavy duty anchors (so it’ll never come toppling down, even if over 100lbs of force is used) while I created a third curtain panel for the closet (this one only needed to be seven feet long). I also made a little rod pocket at the top of this panel (I just positioned hem tape about 4 inches below the edge of the fabric and ironed the fabric to that line of hem tape created a nice loop of fabric). Meanwhile John was already executing my let’s-cheat-our-off-centered-window-so-it-looks-more-balanced plan.

This angle gives you a better idea of what we were dealing with. See how the window is shifted a bit too much to the left? Well it’s nothing a curtain rod and some billowy floor length curtains can’t totally solve. I asked John to hang the left curtain rod support hook only about four inches wider than the trim on the left side of the window but requested that he hang the right curtain rod support hook about fifteen inches wider than the trim on the right side of the window.

This way, once we hung each of the curtain panels, we could cheat them both over to the right (blocking a bit of the window on the left side, but adding a ton of balance and polish to the room):

And we also mentioned in our shopping post that we snagged our simple oil-rubbed bronze curtain rod along with two packs of curtain rings on clearance at Target for less than $12 total. We love the height and the elegance that the shot of dark color brings to the wall, and love that it echoes everything from the mocha finish on the floor to a few of the darker wood accents that we’ll be bringing in to keep things from getting too sugary sweet and matchy-matchy.

Plus the clip-on curtain rings are actually something of a safety feature. Remember how we mentioned that someone could hang on those curtains without the rod coming down thanks to the use of some heavy duty anchors? Well we also realized that using clip-on curtain rings would allow for just the fabric panels to pull down if anyone got too rowdy and tried to swing from them (while the rings and the rod would most definitely stay put). We even tested them out by tugging on them a bit, and although it took pretty much all of my pregnant adult weight, sure enough the fabric was released from the rings and fluttered lightly to the floor while the rod and the rings stayed nice and securely in place on the wall.

And as someone who has never used curtain ring clips before I just have to sing their praises. Not only are they nice little secret safety features, they also create such perfect little “waves” in the panels which result in such an amazingly high end look (and best of all, there’s no rod-pocket required, so you can hang any panel of fabric without worrying about extra sewing or loop-making).

Oh and we can’t forget our tiny little blue closet (thanks to John’s cute idea to bring the aqua color from the ceiling into the mini enclave for fun). Doesn’t the curtain panel add some nice pattern and sweetness to a closet that was formerly pretty bleak looking?

Maybe we should refresh your memory with a before pic:

It’s looking better already, right? And of course we still have to add bins, baskets, and more hanging rods (along with some sort of storage piece on the floor of the closet).

As for how we swagged our curtain panel so it’s mostly out of the way, we just hung it on a $3 tension rod (one that screws into both sides of the molding for more reinforcement than those that rely only on tension). Then we added a regular old Ikea coat hook that we already had on the left side of the closet’s interior trim. Next I made a little strip of fabric (using my trusty hem tape to finish the edges) and used that to create a loop around the curtain panel. Note: it’s safety pinned in the back so it can easily be removed and readjusted.

Then it was as simple as slipping my loop of fabric onto the hook on the side of the closet to hold the curtain off to the side.

So that’s the story of how we made our off-centered window look more balanced, blocked out all the light for less sleepless nights (fingers crossed) and added a fun pop of pattern to both sides of the nursery in the form of breezy floor-length curtains (which make the ceilings feel about a foot higher). Plus we only spent about $35 a panel (with almost an entire yard of fabric leftover!). Oh and it always makes us smile at our fabric luck when we recall that it’s actually indoor/outdoor fabric, so it’s a lot more stain and fade resistant than the average bear (although still completely washable). Which is a good thing when it comes to sticky fingers and goey faces…

But what about you guys? Have you made your own curtains before? Do you have a closet with a panel of fabric on a tension rod in lieu of a door? Spill the sewing (or hem tape) beans.

Update: This P Kaufmann fabric seems to be discontinued now, but here’s an affiliate link to another fun oversized floral print on amazon for anyone looking for something similar. 

Psst- Wanna see our nursery progress from the very beginning? Here’s our painting post, our big shopping spree, and our crib hunting rundown.

Comments

  1. says

    Just wanted to thank you for all your fun posts… I love reading your excitement waiting for the baby! And how fun is decorating a nursery?

    Ps… those curtains? How cute & fresh!

  2. says

    Looks great, guys! Question… and you might know better than me, but I vaguely remember reading somewhere that faux wood blinds release non-eco friendly, (maybe toxic?) gases when the sun warms them. Sorry for my bad memory… now I’m going to have to google. Ha!

    • says

      Hey Jen,

      Good point! We actually read that they can offgas for a few months after you buy them when the sun shines on them as well. Luckily since we purchased them about four months in advance of baby P’s arrival we think they’ll be a-ok by the time she’s here (and have been airing out the house and cracking windows regularly just to keep the air nice and clean for me too). We even have two plants just sitting on the floor of the nursery since they’re proven to reduce toxins in the air. I’m a crazy person when it comes to that stuff so I’m sure everyone who visits wonders why those plants are sitting on the floor but it’s all in the name of pure air! Haha.

      xo,
      s

  3. Tana says

    I love the fabric you chose! The other fabric reminded me too much of bed sheets.

    I am so glad you went with safe cords for your blinds; I cringe when I see long looped curtain cords in houses with young children. When I was about 3 or 4, I nearly hung myself on a curtain cord. I was standing up on the sofa looking out of the window, and absentmindedly playing with the cord. I started winding it around my neck like a necklace, then forgot that it was there and jumped down off the sofa. My mom tells me I would have died if she hadn’t been right there in the same room.

    By the way, we’re neighbors! (sort of). I grew up in your neighborhood, in fact my parents still live there, right around the corner from you guys. I go down your street every Sunday to get to my parents house for dinner.

    • says

      Wow that’s crazy Tana! So glad you’re ok. And it’s so funny that you’re in our neighborhood every Sunday to meet up with your parents. It’s such a small world!

      xo,
      s

  4. Joanne says

    What timing! I scored 2 window scarves for $12 TOTAL, and I’ve just been dreading getting out the machine. I’ll just get myself some hem tape – and use it on the new jeans too!

  5. D says

    The curtains look great! Love the chandelier and paint color with the pattern of the panels!

    Will you baby proof the closet since there isn’t a door. A baby on the loose will go straight for it!

    • says

      Hey D,

      Yup- we’re definitely planning to babyproof everything- just not until our beanette is a bit more mobile. We still have a few months until she’s here and then half a year after that before she’s on the go, but stay tuned for all the child-proofing details coming later this year!

      xo,
      s

  6. CarMaj says

    Love the curtains and really love the chandy – everything looks so wonderfully girly too!! Great job (as always!!)

  7. Lisa says

    For the faux wood blinds from Home Depot – are they 1″ slats or 2″? We’ve been trying to figure out window treatments for our baby girl’s nursery as well (due May 3) but I know that 2″ blinds won’t fit in our windows. These might be a great option!

    • says

      They’re 2″ slats, but I have to say that ours don’t perfectly line up with our interior window trim since they’re set a smidge more forward and it still looks polished and lovely once you add curtains on either side to flank them (which protrude even more from the wall thanks to the way a rod is hung so it’s all good). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  8. says

    I love faux wood blinds! We had them — in white — all throughout the 1st floor of our house . . . until our cats ruined them. You’re so lucky you chose to have a dog and not cats. First the x-mas tree, then the blinds, what’s next?

    Anyway — what a sweet fabric choice. Good for a baby’s room, but will also be somewhat ageless (I’d love that in my bedroom!). Smart choice so you don’t have to scrap it all when she gets a bit older. But you two are always changing things up — so you’ll likely want to get creative :)

    Anyway, can’t wait to read your babyproofing tips. I just found out that three more friends of mine are preggers. Definitely something in the water . . .

  9. says

    I love the Heat n Bond tape. I’ve used it to make roman shades and hem curtains, as well as pant hems. It’s truly a life saver for those of us like me that don’t sew. I love the colors of your nursery. Can’t wait to see the final result!

  10. Amy Jaynes says

    Don’t you love those blinds? We bought our fixer-upper in 2008 as first time home buyers.. and one thing we didn’t notice until we moved in: there were no window coverings in any of the rooms! So we made the trip to Home Depot and bought them for our whole house– it made such a difference!

  11. Kathi says

    It’s so neat watching your little one’s future nursery come together. I really love the colour combo, although when I first read the colour choices, I wasn’t too sure. And the new curtains really pop, but somehow in a mellow way, if that’s at all possible. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

    I was wondering how you made the calculations on the placement of the curtain fixtures to “even up” your window. We have the same sort of thing going in our bedroom, and I’ve been looking for a way to make it look more centered. If you could explain how you made them, it would be much appreciated, as it’s the one thing in my room that drives me totally batty!

    • says

      Hey Kathi,

      It’s beyond easy! Just take your curtain rod and put it on the floor in front of your window and extend it so it’s about 10″ longer on each side than the window frame. Then (while it’s still on the floor) shift it over so it’s no longer centered under the window, but is now centered on that wall. You’ll see that one side will call for more of an overhang while the other side calls for less. It’s just an approximation so there’s no need to whip out a ruler or a calculator or anything, but by looking at the floor you’ll be able to see where it would look centered on that wall and then you can hang it in that placement on the wall above the window. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s