Monday, November 1, 2010

Drop Cloth Curtains

Up until recently, I've never been a "curtains" kind of person.  I've always perferred a clean-lined window treatment; nothing more, nothing less.
When we built this house, I chose simple wood blinds with a nice grain to them, and called it a day.
Lately, though, I've been jonesing for layers and texture. 
This is one end of our living room (sorry for the semi-dark picture):

(Please disregard Mr.V's dome and The Redhead insisting on an appearance.
Well, you don't have to disregard The Redhead. She's cute. :) )

* And YES, I know the piece on the wall is hung a little high.  But it was done on purpose because (for now, anyway) we're keeping it on the wall when we get new furniture for the living room.  And I've been told in no uncertain terms from Mr.V. that the new furniture WILL have a higher back, because apparently holding up his own melon when he sits for the past 5 years has really taken its toll on him.  So I gave it a few inches to avoid having to hang that again because it was a pain.  Ahem.  Carry on.

I found these linen panels at Pottery Barn and REALLY loved them.  Like, carried them around the store for 40 minutes with me, loved them.  
I loved the slightly rough texture.  I loved how they hung almost effortlessly in the store.  I loved how the color was just a hair lighter than my wall color, so they would give me texture but not be a POW! pop of color.  I loved how they weren't heavy and would still let in light.

I did NOT love that they were $79.  Per panel.  I just couldn't do it.
All right, who am I kidding?  I just couldn't face my husband after spending $160 on two strips of fabric.  So, I chickened out and vowed to figure out how to make them on my own.  

The winning solution?  Canvas painter's drop cloths.
I bought 2, 6x9 drop cloths at Home Depot for $9.97 each.  Now that is my kind of budget!
I was amazed at how close in color the drop cloths were to the PB curtains.  The canvas was a little heavier, and a little more rugged, but that was fine with me and totally my style.  

Next I needed curtain rods.  Now, I challenged myself on the budget train here, too - I mean, I couldn't put up $10 curtain panels but spend $50 on the rods, could I?  Nope.  So I really had to search, but I was super happy to find these babies by accident at Hobby Lobby.

They were the perfect shape and size, and although I was wanting a rich bronze, it was nothing that a couple coats of paint couldn't cure.  The reason I was so willing to compromise?  See that little yellow sticker toward the bottom of the picture?
Go ahead and look at that clearance price.  I'll wait. 

BOO. YAH. (x2)
Like I said, they were brushed nickel, rather than the oil-rubbed bronze I wanted, but when has that ever stopped me?
For $4.32, they could have been purple for all I cared.
I was so excited and had such an itchy trigger finger I gave 'em their first coat of paint that very night.  DIYer's Christmas!

So, I painted the rods.  Then I washed the panels twice on the hottest wash (that's typically the setting you would use for whites, if you don't have a way to manually control the temp. on your washer).  The first wash I used a tiny bit of detergent, the second wash I didn't use anything at all.  The washing was a necessary step because the drop cloths were very stiff right out of the package and would have been tough to work with.
Another happy discovery - finished edges!!!  Since I don't have a sewing machine, I was a little worried about how I would trim the panels to hide rough edges.  Well, no worries there now!  Hooray!

Once the paint on the rods had dried and cured, Mr.V. hung them on the wall for me (What?!  I couldn't hang them myself!  Someone has to stand back and say things like "a little to the left, no, right!  No, left!"  I am custom-made for that job. :) )

Once the rods were hung, I went to work on the panels.  First I pressed each of them (Yes, Mom, I ironed!)
I measured where I wanted them to hang, and folded that extra over the back (of the top).  It was only about an inch, which worked out nicely so I didn't have a whole mess of fabric hanging down the back.  If you're making shorter curtains, I would trim that excess off.
So next  I pressed that fold to get a nice crease.  Then I took this trim with plastic o's on it (found at Hobby Lobby in their drapery aisle for $0.99 a yard.

I used 2 yards per window) and placed it 1/2 over the folded fabric, and 1/2 over the panel itself, then used ultra-hold Heat & Bond to hold everything together.

(I hope that makes sense?  If it doesn't, shoot me an email or let me know in the comments and I can explain further.

I gave things a final once over with the steam iron, and then it was time to hang!

I used simple ring clips that I had hidden away in my stash for a project eons ago that never got off the ground.  However, you can find 12-packs of these rings at most fabric stores for around $8 a package (and even less if you find a good coupon, like at JoAnn's or HL!)
So, the final look:


I love the depth the panels give to the room, and by hanging the rods higher, it elongates everything and makes the room feel larger!  Plus, it helps balance out my high-hung votive holder.

All in all, not too bad for about $30.

Post Update:  Here's a more recent picture of what the curtains look like in that room:

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  1. A+ for budgeting and another A+ for good looks. You did a great job!! I'm so proud of you--and I don't even know you!! :)

  2. Great job! I'm getting ready to make some myself but I'm going to dye them blue first to put them in my son's room. I'll post how that goes on my blog.

  3. Looks great! Like you, I have always just done "classic" windows - blinds only - LOL. I decided to splurge this house, let's not discuss how much I spent :) I really need to learn how to sew! :)

    Jennifer (

  4. That is awesome! I would love for you to come link up at my Strut Your Stuff Linky Party!

  5. I am so glad I ran across your blog! I have a baywindow that just has the wood blinds and I have been trying my hardest to find SOMETHING to hang but I didn't want to spend a fortune if I didnt' like it. I will definitely be making these this weekend (or next) Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. I'm happy to have stumbled upon your blog too! I sew and I'm totally gun shy about committing to a curtain - bizarre, I know. Thanks for the thrifty solutions. Love your idea with the drop cloths. Brilliant!

  7. AMAZING JOB! I'm contemplating making a drop cloth bed skirt. Thanks for the washing advice for drop cloths. I hate stiff fabric!

    XO, Mallory @ Classy Cluter

  8. Love drop cloths for pillow covers, slip covers, bed skirts, and drapes now! Great job!

  9. Oh, I just love this! So simple and classic looking. I'm thinking about replacing my vertical blinds on my sliding glass door with these. I can't wait to try it! Thanks for sharing your tutorial! :)

  10. I'm coming late to the drop cloth curtain party, but these are beautiful. I am going to make some. . . and maybe stencil them, too. We'll see. Thanks for the great post!

  11. Did you clip the rings on the rod to the rings on the tape?

    1. Yep, that's exactly what I did! That way the clips were "hidden" behind the panel a bit, further giving the impression they were actual drapes, not just drop cloths I tossed up on the wall (even though that's just what I did, haha) :)