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.


    • says

      We’ve washed it a few times (we’re not washing them every month or anything, maybe once every 6 months to a year?) and it all still looks great and has a secure hold. Of course you have to follow their washing instructions (save the hem tape to consult the back label for washings). Hope it helps!


    • says

      It’s just an old twin mattress (not organic, but since it’s so old we don’t think it’s off-gasing much – and we’ll add an organic mattress pad). Hope it helps!


  1. says

    Hi, guys. I know you are in the middle of things, so it just might not make sense yet. ;) But I am super curious about the placement of Clara’s bed. Each time you show pictures, it just looks awkward. Maybe that’s just because it’s pictures and not in person? I think the closet is on the left, but why the space on the right? Some furniture or storage planned for there? It seems like you have some tricky window placement to deal with in that room. (I have that problem with my boys’ room.) Anyways. I’m sure you have all the time in the world,;) but if there is any chance to see a floor plan, that might help us to see the vision.

    • says

      We just centered it on that back wall (there’s a dresser centered on the wall across from it, so in person there’s nice balance that way). Once the room fills in I’m sure it’ll make more sense for ya! We definitely have a plan for making that off-centered window look a lot less wonky down the line :)


  2. Andie Trice says

    LOVE! The room is really coming together most awesomely (is that even a word?!).

    We’re in the process of putting together our nursery for our first little one. Definitley fun, definitley alot of work. SO many details to consider. Our babe’s room will be the first and only fully planned out room in our house, hoping it’ll be inspiration to move on to the next when the nursery is complete.

    Thanks for the constant motivation!

  3. Stephanie says

    I keep noticing the corner of your living room rug is curling up. I once heard that you can weigh it down by attaching a linoleum tile to the underside of the rug to train the corner to lay flat. I’ve never done it, but it may be worth a try.

  4. Kerri says

    And I love the new dresser. We too are looking for something like that in which we can paint a gray tone to go with a white bed frame. I can’t wait to see what you do it it! I love her new room!

  5. Courtney Edmondson says

    Where did you move the small art table to? Is it going back by the window? I think that the crayon art I made her will look great next to those curtains ;)

    • says

      Those are coming back, the table and chairs just need some work (the table is all scratched up and needs to be painted, we plan to paint the chairs, etc) so they’re in the sunroom awaiting the next step!


  6. says

    Can’t wait to see the finished room.. I can’t believe how well that fabric works with everything else. I never would have seen that like you can! We’re still in nursery stage for our baby, but her room is VERY lacking in curtains. and oh boy this post is making me antsy to remedy that pronto!

  7. Lauren O. says

    These look really great! Quick question for you, do you still use the tape if you need to use double width of fabric (if you wanted the panels to close)? Thanks!

    • says

      Hmm, I’ve never tried that. Has anyone tried to connect two panels to make a double width panel with hem tape? The width of upholstery bolts are usually wide enough for it to close without us doubling up (ex: all the curtains in this room can be drawn to close and block the window completely). Hope it helps!


  8. Sara VT says

    Clara is a natural! It would be awesome if you had a Burger Drum Shade in Navy from your collection! I could totally see Clara thinking that was cool! Keep up the great inspiration!

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