No-sew curtains // Tutorial

Last week, we repainted the walls of our (dark green) master bedroom and (light green) bathroom, choosing to lighten things up with Benjamin Moore’s “Revere Pewter.” If you’ve been living under an interior decorating rock, that’s a light grey/beige (“greige”) that is thought to be the perfect neutral — at the moment, at least.

We love the new colour, but it was suddenly BRIGHT in our room without the old brown curtains and deep, dark green walls.

Yikes! So dark!

Light was pouring in through the cracks in the blinds, and we needed new curtains if we ever wanted to get a decent night’s sleep again.

Our old curtain rods were short, and were installed directly above the edges of the window trim. We donated them immediately, since I wanted to buy longer rods so we could trick our eyes into making the windows appear larger.

I figured new curtain rods might be expensive, since I don’t think I’ve ever bought one before. So I was pleased to get three of them for less than $30 at a big-box store. They’re basic, slender, café-style rods, and not too impressive. But they’re going to be hidden under something special (psssst — read next week’s column!) so I don’t mind.

We installed them each nine inches out from the edges of the window trim, and about two inches above the window trim. I wanted to be able to push the curtains all the way off the windows, so we wouldn’t block any light during the day.

Making curtains is something that I’ve done for years, and I get a bit more “grown-up” about it each time. In our first apartment on Olivet Street in Halifax, overlooking the Walmart parking lot, I sewed simple pocket curtains and hung them on a string of metal wire between two pushpins. I’m not sure if I did it to be thrifty, or because I didn’t think we were allowed to install curtain rods, but it’s hilarious to think about now.

I eventually graduated to sewing pocket curtains for real curtain rods, and this latest attempt has been my best yet.

Let’s pretend you are a person who doesn’t sew, at all, OK? You don’t need to sew to make your own curtains. Isn’t that exciting? (Well, I’m excited for you, anyway.)

Essentially, a curtain panel is just a rectangle of fabric that’s wider than half of your window (so you get some nice bunchiness) and slightly longer. That’s it! You get two rectangles of fabric, and you’ve got two curtain panels.

So measure the height and width of your window, walk into any fabric store, pick out any fabric you like, tell the person at the cutting table your dimensions, and they’ll tell you exactly how many metres to buy in order to make curtains.

I chose a thick canvas material with a red and taupe pattern for the bedroom …

… and a colourful floral (“Wildflower” by Bryant Industries) for the bathroom.

They were both from the home decor fabric section, which is pricier because you’re getting weightier fabric, but you can easily make curtains from the regular, thinner fabrics.

Then — and this is the exciting part — you can buy a package of iron-on hem tape, lay a strip of it along the edge of the fabric, fold the edge of the fabric over the tape, iron, and — poof! You’ve got a hemmed edge.

Repeat around the other three sides, and then if a dinner guest accidentally wipes their hands on your curtains, you can toss them in the washer and not worry about the edges fraying.

Now, with a pocket curtain, you have to sew a little pocket for the curtain rod. It can still be done with hem tape, but it’s not as quick.

But the trouble with pocket curtains is that they don’t always “bunch together” nicely, they just slide along the rod any way they please. So I bought packages of curtain clips (less than $5 per package of 14) and they are pretty much life-changing.

Once your curtain-shape rectangles are hemmed around the edges — either with iron-on hem tape or a sewing machine — you just clip these little gadgets along the top of your fabric, and slid them onto the rod. They make a really satisfying clacking sound as you open and close them.

Our windows finally have curtains, and it feels wonderful, but we aren’t finished yet. Next week, we’re building and upholstering pelmet boxes for the bedroom, and frosting the glass of the bathroom window.

If you need me, I’ll be sliding my new curtains open and closed to hear the clacking sound.

So what do you think?

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