100% No Sew, Crazy Cheap Curtain DIY

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Little by little I am turning this house that I think is OK into a house that I love. I’ve recently lost the “will this negatively affect my resale value?” attitude and replaced that with “who cares if it makes me happy attitude?” Lots of changes are ensuing.

My bedroom is one room that has been majorly lacking in the update department. After all, there are plenty of rooms that company gather in. Shouldn’t those rooms be the best/first appointed? I’ve changed that attitude, too – because I’m worth it!

Now, just because I’m worth it now doesn’t mean I’m suddenly made of money! Which has meant that I’ve been looking for a cheap solution to my unsightly boudoir windows. There are few restrictions I put on the project.

  1. There can be NO light coming into my room. I can’t sleep unless it is dark, dark, dark.
  2. They need to be as close as possible in color to the bedroom walls, a pretty yellowy butter cream.
  3. Spend no more than $20 per window.
  4. Need to replace curtains and blinds. Still with a $20 a window budget. Crap.

First thing that happened was I found these awesome, awesome paper blinds at Wal-Mart. It’s a total hassle the way you have to hand gather them and clip them up, but honestly I’d buy them again. You install them by using scissors to cut them to size (they are paper after all) and using a peel and stick strip to adhere them to the window casing. I went ahead and shot them with some staples just to ensure that they don’t scare the bejesus out of me in the middle of the night when the sticky gives way.

I purchased the black out version and boy do they black some business out! Oh, and they cost $4.67 apiece which leaves me with $15.33 per window left in the budget.

So last week I get a call from my Momma. “It would be neat for the blog if you made curtains out of canvas drop cloths.” Yes, I think it would! So I went to Wal-Mart where I found the best deal on canvas drop cloths and started making a 100% no sew curtain tutorial. Without further ado, here it is…

You will need:

  • Canvas drop cloths
  • Scissors
  • Hot iron (set to steam)
  • Fabric glue & paper clips – OR- Stitch Witchery and a wet rag
  • Flat paint, brush or roller, paint tray
  • Fray check

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First up, drop cloths. I purchased mine at Wal-Mart in the hardware section. Mine were just shy of $10 for the 6×9 size. I’m really happy with the quality and would definitely recommend them.

Now, I don’t care for bulky curtains and want them to look sleek and smooth. My Momma tells me that I always  make them way too skinny. If you prefer fuller curtains, you can use one per panel or check out the other size options available.

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This isn’t the order that I went in but it is going to work better than what I did. Paint your drop cloths as the very first step if you are going to do it. If you want the raw canvas look you can totally skip this step!

To start I used push pins and attached the tarps to the fence in my back yard. You’ll want to do this someplace that you don’t mind paint seeping through the cloth. I wasn’t exactly thinking on this one and I’ve got some pretty artsy looking rectangular shapes on my fence, now.

Take your paint and add it to your paint tray. Not much, just a bit. Now grab the hose or a pitcher of water and add to your paint tray. Give it a really good stir. You want this stuff to be watery NOT thick. When you stir and find that it is pretty sloshy, go ahead and start painting your tarps.

Be warned that because of all of the water, when using rollers this stuff is going to spray all over the place. The work will be much faster, but keep it in mind.

You could also use fabric medium but you’re going to need A LOT of it. It wasn’t in my budget and water worked out super duper!

Allow to dry fully (I painted mine early evning and they were perfectly dry by morning). Throw into your washing machine and follow by machine drying. You may have to divide the panels into multiple loads. Your fabric will be stiff and almost brittle feeling prior to washing but afterward will be softer than they were original and out of the package!

* I did have reservations about putting this in my washer. Half of me worried that I was about to ruin it and the other half figured it would be okay. It worked out just fine for me and I have no reason to assume that it won’t work out well for you, but I’m not buying you a new washing machine in the event that it doesn’t. Please use your own best judgement!!!

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Take your tarps and cut them down to size if necessary. If you didn’t cut anything you can skip down to the pic with the marker, yard stick and scissors.

If you’re still with me, we’re going to hem the sides of every panel. This time I’m going to show you how to use fabric glue to make quick and effective seams.

Fold over your fabric about 1/4 inch and using a very hot and steamy iron press down. Continue for the full length of the fabric.

Take and fold the fabric over again this time closer to 1/2 inch and use your iron to press down.

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Take your scissors and go along cutting any stray strings that might poking out.

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Squeeze a thin line of glue along the folded seam. You don’t need a ton so try not to overdo it.

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Now fold over and take your paper-clip and clip the hem together. Don’t push them all the way on or you’ll have to bend and ruin your clips to remove them. Place them about  halfway on like in the pic above. Continue clipping every 4-6 inches.

Place somewhere flat and undisturbed (a bed is a great place) to dry and continue for your remaining panels.

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Now we’re going to hem up the bottom of the curtains. You can measure the length with a measuring tape, or follow my no own method that has always worked for me…

Hang your curtains and allow the fabric to pool up on the floor. Either use straight pins to fold up where you want the hem to be or simply cut about 3/4 inch closer to the floor than you want the hem to be.

Repeat the steps we used to hem the sides.

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Now we’re going to make pockets for your curtain rod. These will give your curtains a nice pleated shape when they’re hanging that I really dig.

Using the excess fabric from the bottoms of your panels, cut a long rectangular shape that is about 4 inches tall. Take that strip and cut into similarly sized rectangles. I used five pockets per panel that I cut 2×4 inches. The size and number of pockets will directly affect the way your drapes hang. I have 5 nice, big pleats because of the placement.

Lay the pockets out across the top of your curtain spacing apart as evenly as you can.

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See that almost invisible meshy looking tape? That’s Stitch Witchery.

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I’m going to use the Stitch Witchery on this part to demonstrate its use. Unwrap the roll and cut off 2 inches, or the width of your pocket. You’ll need two of these pieces of the witchery per pocket.

Place underneath the pocket, making sure that you are on the backside of the curtain. You will have your drape, the witchery tape, then the pocket.

Take a wet rag and place on top of the pocket over where the stitchery is located. Put your hot iron on top of your rag and allow to sit. I always count to 12. It’s an OCD thing that happens to work out well but do it your way. (tip: there are other hem tapes on the market that do not require the use of steam but I have not used those to recommend or not)

Remove the iron and the rag taking care because the rag will become very, very hot. Check to see that the tape is holding and proceed with your other pockets if it has.

If you’re going to be using a lot of this method, I’d highly recommend bringing in a shallow bowl or container with an inch or so of water in it. It will save you from running to the nearest sink to wet over and over. I thought of this on my very last panel – nice!

(tip – Scoot your finished drape up on your ironing area and place your next one directly underneath. Use the one above as a guide for placing your pockets. This will make all of your curtains hang the same!)

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After you have finished up use Fray Chek or another anti-fray product on any raw edges. This will keep the fabric from fraying and prevents the need for you to sew them over.

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You can have solid curtains, after you’ve washed and dried them can stencil a fun pattern on them using fabric paint. I prefer a sleek and simple look, but this project can be amended to any style of any home. What started as some cheap super store drop cloths wound up really cool (and I’ve been told really expensive looking) no sew fabric curtains!

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Comments

  1. Denise says

    Awesome tutorial. I love the way you work and think – very well written tutorial.

    Hey, how come sometimes we can't leave comments on your posts?

  2. Allison Murray says

    Hey, Denise. Thanks so much! I'm not sure why some posts can't have comments. I'll have to check that out. I love getting comments! Glad to see you here as always :)

  3. Tabitha says

    Fantastic post! My mother-in-law is on the hunt for some cheap curtains, and this might be just the thing! One question, though – when you say "flat paint", I'm not sure exactly what you're using. Is it leftover interior paint? Is it oil or water based? Thank you!

  4. Denise says

    Thanks Allison. I wanted to tell you how much I loved the Varsity Style DIY post but it says "Comments Off"-so I couldn't tell you (but now I just did)LOL!!!

    Keep doing what your'e doing!

  5. Allison Murray says

    Sorry for the confusion, Tabitha! I used my leftover water based flat wall paint from when I painted my room. :)

  6. cheap curtains says

    Those curtains look really stylish and I love the texture of the fabric! Thanks for such a great description of how you did all of it and I can hardly believe you got such a great window treatment for so little money. Well done.

  7. Jenny says

    I soo need to do this for McMaster bedroom. Do you think I could use satin paint? That is what we used to paint our room and what I have left.

  8. Allison Murray says

    I don't see why satin would cause a problem but it may be a good idea to do a little test patch first. If it doesn't work out maybe you could buy a cheapie quart of flat in the same color?

  9. Lynn says

    Love this. Need to make curtains and this will definitely be my choice. Have you thought about dying the drop cloth rather than painting. I wonder if it will hold the dye.

  10. Allison Murray says

    Lynn, I did think of dying but my grandmother has suggested that they might somehow coat the canvas to resist liquids. I guess it wouldn't hurt to try and paint if it doesn't work out. Let me know if you do try the dye!

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