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

    My daughters room is full of curtains. She has light mint green paint on the wall with pink bubble gum curtains layered on top of light-blocker shades. Her closet has white gauze curtains on a shower tension rod. We haven’t been able to afford closet doors yet for any of our rooms so we’ve been going with the cheap curtain theme since fabric is so inexpensive at the Garment District in Los Angeles.

  2. Stacy says

    Love it! The nursery is looking so good! As a boy mom, I’m not a big fan of girl nurseries that look like a bottle of Pepto Bismol exploded in them…yours is going to be so pretty and feminine without being sickly sweet.

    And this curtain project has me so excited! I can’t even sew on a button, but I would love to make my own curtains. A (probably stupid) question – how did you figure out where to attach the clips so the “waves” would be even? Did you measure or just eyeball it?

    • says

      Hey Stacy,

      It’s actually a good question because as a first time curtain-clipper I wondered this myself. What I ended up doing was counting out the ring clips that I had to determine that I could use seven per panel (since there were 14 in the pack). Then I just eyed things to space them all out evenly (probably about every 5 or 6 inches or so I added a clip). The waves looked great without any further adjusting! Hope it helps.

      xo,
      s

  3. Carmen says

    Sherry,
    I was just curious how well the iron on tape withholds if put through a wash machine?
    Love the nursury so far!
    Carmen

    • says

      Hey Carmen,

      It holds up just as well as thread would- it’s really a permanent bond as long as you adhere it strongly from the get-go and follow the washing instructions (no high heat in the dryer for example). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  4. says

    I love those drapery clips! I inherited some great panels when we changed out a room setting in my design center but they were tab top–not my fave. I was able to pin the “tabs” down and use clips to hang them for a simple black rod.

    I was not aware of how wonderful this iron on tape is. I need to invest in some.

  5. says

    I love your curtains, but even more, I LOVE that you used iron tape! I too was not blessed with the amazing talent of using a sewing machine, but have been able to get by pretty well with iron tape. I used to feel bad about it, but if it’s ok for Sherry, it’s so OK for me!!! My latest project included turning an amazingly beautiful shower curtain from Target into a mock roman shade using iron tape and safety pins!

  6. August Rhodes says

    I love the curtains they turned out amazing. I’ve used the heat n’bond before, but I find it tends to pull apart and doesn’t always go through the wash well. Am I doing something wrong? My fun curtain adventure begain with finding black out curtains for our master bedroom. Well I should have washed them first, but didn’t think of it so after I had them hung up for a while I washed them and of course they shrunk. So I found a super cute long table cloth from Target (which was the right length I needed) and just cut panels to fit on the bottom of the curtains. Heat n’bonded the heck out of them, but now i’m afraid to wash them because the bond might not hold. Wouldn’t be so bad if there wasn’t dog hair always on them.

    • says

      Hey August,

      It could be one of two things:

      1. You didn’t have a strong bond to begin with, which could be attributed to a not-hot-enough-iron (you really want them to be secure and strong from the get-go)

      2. You didn’t take the washing care instructions for the hem-tape into account (for example, they definitely say they can’t be dried on high-heat which could compromise the hold)

      Hope it helps! Oh and it sounds like your tablecloth panel fix was just perfect!

      xo,
      s

  7. says

    Even though I like to sew, I might try the no-sew option for my next full-length curtain project, yours look great. I made curtains with Marimekko fabric a few weeks ago, and it was hard to keep the seams from having a few wobbles when the fabric was that long. Nice job!

    I used quilt binding on the edges of my curtains to maximize the fabric width. If only you could do *that* with hem tape! :)

    http://buckcanuck.blogspot.com/2010/02/refusing-to-give-inch.html

  8. Amanda says

    I just love your curtain choice, fabric and hanging choice! I have been searching for a pattern in pre-made curtains for some time because I was so overwhelmed with the thought of making my own and now I am definitely on that bandwagon! Can’t wait to search out some fabric around my neck of the woods. Thanks for the insight!

  9. says

    Who knew that Home Depot could “customize” blinds? I love it! I also appreciate that you two always keep it real about the costs of your projects. It seems that you are on a budget just like the rest of us! Oh, and I love your use of iron-on hem tape. I love that stuff!

  10. Susan Kelly says

    I desperately need you to tell me where you found a curtain rod that can be attached with screws but does not curve out. I have searched the world OVER for one…. although now I’m wondering if all the rods marked “tension” might have included screw mounts without me knowing it…

    • says

      Home Depot! It’s white and thin and metal and was in the “tension rod” area (in fact it even said “tension rod” on the label) but when you looked inside the clear packaging it had little brackets that screwed into either side of the closet trim. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  11. jbhat says

    Fabulous tutorial. I too want to try this at home. Our little one’s curtains are quite lame and don’t do anything for her otherwise very sweet room. Hooray–now I have a shopping mission this weekend.

  12. Joy says

    I love love love the room. Such happy colors. She is a very lucky baby to have such a pretty room and such sweet parents.

  13. Jennifer says

    Hi, I’ve never done any sort of “fabric project”. Fabric stores intimidate me. I would, however, like to attempt some curtains in our bedroom following your lead on this project :) I know that you have 2 panels at 8′ long a piece, but how wide do you recommend each panel be? is it specific to the window width? Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Jennifer,

      Just for my convenience I didn’t trim the fabric at all width-wise and it worked out great. Each panel is about 55″ wide since that’s how it came right off the bolt from the store. That width should work perfectly for any sized window. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  14. Aimee says

    AWESOME! I recognize that first picture…isn’t that next door to Williams and Sherril? LOVE that place. They designed my master bedroom duvet/pillows/window treatment. I also bought some fabric from the discount place to recover an old telephone chair/table combo. Congrats! The nursery is looking awesome!!

  15. Ann says

    Lowe’s has the same blinds with the same service options. I replaced some expensive wood blinds with ones from Lowe’s and you can’t tell the difference except close up. And if they don’t last as long I can replace them many times, still for less money.

    • says

      Thanks for the tip Ann! We’re equal opportunity home improvement store lovers so we’re glad to hear Lowe’s offers the same service and products!

      xo,
      s