Making No Sew Ikat Curtains For A Kids Room

Some people who went for a pattern like this on the daybed might go for something neutral and simple for the windows (like breezy white curtains). Others might pluck one of the colors from the blanket and go for that (bold red cotton panels, taupey-gray velvet ones, etc). We might have been tempted to go with something more neutral and safe if the room wasn’t meant for our color loving kiddo (so the bedding could “be the star”) but since it’s Clara’s new space, and we love kid zones with a few layered patterns and colors, we decided to just go to our favorite local fabric outlet (U-Fab here in Richmond) and see what grabbed us. And by us I mean Clara. It’s her room, after all…

Like a moth to a flame, this happened:

She had some fun playing with a few crazier options (a bright orange one with large coral on it, a dark purple plaid, etc) but this one was definitely something she pointed at a few times – and we thought it actually could work – especially since it has navy and white in it, which are two of the colors we’ve mentioned wanting to add to balance all the pink & red.

In short: Clara’s clearly a decorating genius. Just kidding. The truth is that there are probably a ton of fabric options that could layer nicely into a kids room when it comes to curtains (as long as they’re not too “alpha” they’d fall in line behind the bedding and a bright rug without totally disappearing). But we did like that there was a very very very subtle chevron-ish pattern going on (the blurry linear edges actually reminded us a lot of her daybed blanket). And the price wasn’t too scary…

… especially with a store-wide 20% off sale that was being offered on top of that discounted price. So in the end we got just a smidge over ten yards to make four extra long panels for the room, which each broke down to around $25 per panel after the sale.

When we got home and tucked Clara in for a nap, I rolled out my bounty and started cutting my four panels from the roll (because let’s be honest she’d yank this every which way while I was trying to measure and cut if I tried to do this while she was awake).

The simplest way for me to measure for panels is just to see how long I want the finished curtain panels to be (ex: 89″ high) and then add two extra inches to the length of each panel to account for the hems on each end that I’ll add. So each of the four panels that I cut was 91″ long and then was hemmed to a finished size of 89″, which might not sound that long but I love hanging my curtains on a rod with rod clips, so those tend to add a little length too. That way the rod can be mounted just a few inches below the ceiling like I like it (we left some extra room for crown molding which we’ll be adding in here down the line). Oh and I use the full width of the bolt for the curtain’s width, which means less cutting, and they’re as thick and full as possible that way.

I’m a fan of using one panel as a template for the others. So once I measured out and cut the first panel, I just placed it on top of the fabric under it and made three more of them in exactly the same size for a grand total of four soon-to-be curtains.

Then I used my trusty hem-tape method, detailed here and here. For over half a decade I’ve used the heavy duty Heat N Bond stuff, and it has not only held up amazingly but it can even be washed, so I’m definitely a fan. I’ve also sewed curtains and actually think the hem-tape ones look crisper and straighter since keeping my stitching straight isn’t as easy as following hem tape with an iron for a nice straight hem. Like so:

Oh and it always helps to wash your fabric first (before cutting and hemming it) so it’s all pre-shrunk!

As for the curtain rods and ring clips, we actually had them already (remember we had hung them back here?), we just removed them to paint the room so we could re-hang them at the height of our freshly made curtains. So here’s John’s tricky little tape move for hanging the rods (he folds some painters tape under the hole he’s making so it sticks out like a ledge and catches the drill-crumbs).

For the detail loving folks, we used these plastic anchors (we like to make sure our rods are held in with more than just a few screws in case a kid hangs on the curtains – which we’ve found results in just the fabric slipping out of the ring-clip’s “mouth” instead of the whole rod banging down on them).

Bada bing, bada boom. Clara done good with her curtain choice, we think. They sort of look black and white in these pics, but they’re really navy in person, and we plan to bring more navy into the room in a bunch of other ways (picture some navy picture frames on the wall, a navy pillow or two on the daybed, maybe even a navy light fixture or ottoman in the middle of the rug). That will “link” the curtains to the rug and the daybed a bit more, so they won’t look as random. Should be fun to inch towards a more finished look. You know how impatient I am…

While the room keeps slowly evolving, I’m soaking up the little things. Like the fact that the curtains almost touch the floor but don’t (it keeps them cleaner and helps them hang in a fuller, loopier way). Oh and here’s one more hanging tip: clip the rod rings to the rod and to the fabric and have someone hold them up at different heights until you like the way they hang and then mark the wall and hang them at that height. That way they won’t be dorky short or too long. It definitely beats trying to guess the length of the curtains while hanging a bare rod (if the actual curtains are on the rod they can help you pin down the perfect height).

Oh man, it still feels pretty empty in here (and that old fan practically pokes John in the eye every time we’re in there) but we can actually picture more things being layered in now. Like our kids table and maybe an ottoman to break up all the pink in the rug plus a ton of playful art to add balance. Here’s the ol’ to do list:

  • paint the room (more on that here)
  • cut down our old den side table to make a play table (more on that here)
  • bring in a dresser (we’d love to find something secondhand) (more on that here)
  • make/hange some curtains
  • add a rug (more on that here)
  • hang art on the walls along with a few other 3D objects that we have in mind (how’s that for cryptic?)
  • install a new light fixture
  • refinish or paint Clara’s new dresser (which we got here)
  • paint the chairs a bright happy color to go with Clara’s play table
  • turn the junked up closet into an actual clothes closet/reading nook
  • add crown molding (along with tackling the other un-crown-molding-ed bedrooms on this side of the house)
  • add accessories like more pillows, storage bins for toys, etc

Sounds like a good time to me. I know, I’m crazy. Kids rooms are so much fun though! What have you guys been up to? Anyone else making curtains or letting their kids help with fabric or paint choices? Do you use the hook-the-curtains-to-the-rod-and-then-hang-the-rod trick too? It took us a few years to figure that out, but it seems to be a lot more exact that trying to measure curtain length and account for the height of the ring hook and the rod itself (we used to be off by an inch or two after all that calculating and then we’d have to re-hang them again to fix our mistake). Oh well, live and learn!

Psst- The latest roundup of Clara Conversations are up on Young House Life, and let’s just say there are a few gems – at least according to us, her obsessed parents.


  1. Meghan, UK says

    These completely won me over – they’re so gorgeous next to the rug, blanket and cushions! Having seen you use the heat n’ bond so many times I’m now rather tempted to attempt making my own curtains for our little one (due July!) Thanks for the continued inspiration you guys :) x

  2. Sarah says

    I like the idea of using clips to attached the fabric, rather than threading the fabric onto the curtain rods… Much better for a child! I remember swinging on my bedroom curtains when I was about Clara’s age… and pulling the entire curtain and curtain rod down..

  3. says

    Wow y’all! I’m not sure I would’ve paired those curtains with the rest of the room, but you’re so right – they work beautifully together! Great choice, Clara :).

  4. Kathy says

    hey guys, quick question for you (or anyone else who might know) – while I love the idea of far & away curtains, I have electric baseboard heat which sticks out from the wall… so curtains can be a fire hazard. I hate how short curtains look, but are there are other options besides blinds or roman shades?

  5. Mary says

    Have you ever used the Heat N Bond on sheer fabrics? I’ve a fabric picked that I want to do for my mother-in-law but would like to avoid sewing so it doesn’t pull.

    • Ally says

      I have, and it’s difficult because the iron sort of pulls on the fabric against the tape and it’s all so thin. Sort of hard to describe. I found it was best to just press the iron on one spot and hold it, then lift straight up and move to the next spot. Took forever, but it worked.

    • Jen says

      I used Ikea’s hem tape on sheer panels once and it wasn’t great. You could clearly see the solid line of tape at the bottom of each panel because the fabric was too sheer to hide them. I’ve never used Heat N Bond, though, so maybe it’s more sheer (Ikea’s hem tape was sort of gauzy, but still solid enough to show).

  6. says

    Well done! Clara has excellent taste! I love that she’s going bold, she’s not playin around!

    Our house is only 850 sq. feet so Lily’s room is itty bitty. We’re working on building her bed up so she can play under it. I wish I could have it done to submit to creating with the stars, it would be awesome to pair up with you!


  7. says

    Looks great. A nice neutral pattern for Clara.

    I started using the hem tape method last year when my mother was out of the state and had *sob* taken her sewing machine with her. I too love the crisp way that curtains hang.

    Clara must be the most excited girl on the block to see her big girl room coming together.


  8. Julie says

    Hi guys
    Hoping to get the name/ model of the curtain rods you used. Where did you get them?
    Also , did not have luck finding the post which mentions the red color used to paint the xmas deers. Please, please…. Can You send me and email with both these infos?
    Thanks a lot

    • says

      They’re from Target. We love them and they’re so affordable (ring hooks are from there too, they’re all in the oil-rubbed bronze finish if that helps you find them).


  9. Sarah E. says

    I totally wasn’t sure of it just seeing the fabric (just couldn’t picture it with the rest of the room) but I LOVE what it adds! It looks amazing!

    I have a question if you get a chance. We have 2 windows in one room (a living area) that are next to each other but with 24-25 inches of wall in between. Would you suggest one long curtain rod and 3 panels or 2 separate rods and 4 panels? I can’t tell if the space is too big to do 3. And I do like to widen the look of my windows so I don’t know if the panels (with 4) would be too close or if it would just help “shorten” the wall space between. Any thoughts for me?

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