When we moved a few months ago, I knew immediately that we’d need blackout curtains upstairs. There are a lot of windows that face west and it gets HOT up there! The problem was that I didn’t want to pay a ton of money to buy fancy curtains for those upstairs rooms because they are really just play areas for my kids. (Not that play areas aren’t important, but they just aren’t heavily used by adults and the kids don’t care too much about the curtains!) I also wanted something that wouldn’t be too difficult to make because there are a LOT of windows to cover. My solution? To make blackout curtains from inexpensive, pre-made window panels. My method has kept the task fairly simple while still making blackout curtains that are VERY effective at keeping the light and heat out.
I haven’t been doing a ton of sewing lately (not by choice), but the sewing I have done has all been on these curtains. And I’m finally ready to share and show you how you can make these blackout curtains too! These are really very simple and let me tell you, they have made a HUGE difference in how hot it gets upstairs. Hallelujah!
Remember how I didn’t want to spend a ton of money? Well, I got these curtain panels at Ikea. For $9.99, you get two LARGE curtain panels. Cha-ching! However, the curtains are very sheer. Enter this blackout fabric. I got it on sale for about $3.50 a yard. And, lucky me, the blackout fabric is the perfect size for these fabric panels! That meant minimal cutting. Hooray!
These instructions apply, of course, to these particular curtains with that particular blackout fabric. You can, however, adjust it according to your needs, using your own curtain panels that you find or you can even make these with plain-old fabric and blackout lining. You just need to make sure your materials meets a couple requirements: 1) Whatever fabric you end up using, make sure that it is wider and longer than what you want your finished curtain to be. You need to make sure you have room for seam allowances on the sides and enough fabric to fold the top down and create a casing on top and hem the bottom. I made sure my fabric was about 10 inches longer than what I wanted my finished curtain to be. It was probably a bit excessive, but I wanted to totally sure I had enough fabric! Better too much than too little. 2) Your curtain fabric needs to be wider (ideally 4 inches but you can make do with a little less) than your blackout lining. If your blackout lining is too wide, just cut it down. More about that in a minute.
Okay here we go:
Iron your fabric panel and lay it out on the floor, right side up.
Now you need to figure out how much blackout fabric you need and then cut it accordingly. I knew I was going to be trimming a lot off the bottom, so the blackout fabric didn’t need to go all the way down to the bottom of the curtain panel. Once your blackout fabric is cut, lay it on top of the curtain panel, with the right side down. So now right sides are together.
Here’s the deal with making blackout curtains: as I mentioned before, the curtain fabric should be wider than your blackout fabric. It might not make sense at first, but just take my word for it. Ideally, the curtain fabric should be about 4 inches wider than the blackout fabric. My curtain panels were only about 3 inches wider, but it was close enough for me. I didn’t want to have to start cutting the width of the blackout panels, so I just left it. I wouldn’t want any less than three inches width difference, though.
Center your blackout panel on the curtain panel width-wise so that there are equal amounts of curtain fabric on either side (in my case there were about 1.5 inches of curtain fabric on either side of the blackout panel). I’m also pretty sure Ikea’s curtains weren’t exactly straight on the sides so my blackout lining didn’t sit quite evenly in the middle, but I did the best I could.
Now, line the sides of your blackout fabric and your curtain fabric up and pin it.
It will look like you see above.
So these two panels aren’t equal width, right? Just line the edges up and the extra curtain fabric will be bunched up in the middle. Don’t worry, it will all make sense in a bit!
Then sew both sides up. I had about a 5/8 seam allowance, which put my seam just inside the original curtain panel’s side-hem, so when I flipped it right-side out, that original stitching was totally hidden. No seam-ripping for me!
Once you’ve sewn the sides, you need to iron those seams open.
The blackout fabric doesn’t tolerate the iron at all. It kept peeling off if I put the iron on it directly, so I opened up the seam, placed a thin rag on top, and ironed over that.
Now, turn your curtain right-side out! Your blackout panel should be centered on the back of your curtain fabric (again, as much as possible) and there will be a little curtain fabric showing on the back side as well. This is how you make it so you can see the blackout lining from the front of the curtain. Now, it would be really good if you ironed the sides of your curtain. I didn’t. I’ll iron seams open, but I have to draw the line somewhere!
Okay, so when I sewed the sides of the curtain, the ends of the original curtain’s casing were tucked-in, like so. I wanted to make a new casing, but I wanted to make it super-simple for myself. You want to make it simple too? Good, here’s what you do:
Fold the top of the curtain over and pin it like so. How much you fold it over is up to you—it depends on how big you want your casing to be and if you want any fabric on top of your casing to make a little ruffle.
So you fold it down to your liking (I also folded it over enough so that the blackout fabric was caught up in the fold—that way I ensured that the blackout fabric went all the way to the very top of the curtain) and then decide how big you want your casing to be and how much fabric you want on top of the casing. You are then going to sew two lines over that newly-folded piece to create your casing. You can see on the picture where I sewed. If you don’t really want a ruffle along the top, move those lines closer to the top. Just make sure you have room enough for your curtain rod to go through!
That’s how my little ruffle looked with where I made the casing.
Once you’ve sewn your casing in, you’re sooo close to being done! Now all you need to do is hem your curtain! Let me show you the quick and dirty way I did it.
Hang your curtains up and figure out how long you want them to be. I wanted mine to about reach the floor, but not drag on the floor.
Mark about where you want the fabric to be. Since I wanted mine close to (but not on the floor), I held my fabric against the wall and marked it in the corner where the wall meets the floor. I used a fabric marker but really, you can use any marker if you know you’re cutting it off.
Then make your hem by turning the raw edges up once, folding them over once more, and then pinning and sewing it however you like it!
Once your hem is finished, guess what? You’re done!
I can’t convey how well these curtains keep the heat and light out (due to my camera’s shutter needing to stay open to get this picture), but they do a great job. I’ll be honest, our air conditioner still runs a lot, but it is definitely cooler in this room. My son’s room also faces west and I haven’t gotten around to making the curtains for his room yet (poor guy). There is definitely a noticeable difference between the temperature in his room versus the temperature in the play room with the curtains in it. (Don’t worry, we still keep the A/C in his room on enough so that he’s comfortable).
I actually still have one more panel to make for this room (argh!) but the one panel covers the two smaller windows pretty well so I’m going to tackle my son’s room before I finish that last panel for this room. Also, if you look at the panel in the corner, you can see I didn’t leave a ruffle on that one. I think I might actually prefer that look better and so I might end up re-doing the tops of the other panels to look like that one.
We installed those hooks on the sides of the windows so the curtains can let some light in when we choose! By the way, I got the curtain rods at Ikea as well. They are very utilitarian-looking, so I think I’m going to get some decorative bulbs to put on the ends.
So there you have it! That is my inexpensive and efficient way of making LOTS of window panels. Seriously, four in that room and four in my son’s room. Not to mention that I want to make curtains for downstairs as well! I plan on trying out different curtain-making methods in my son’s room as well downstairs and I will show you those as well when I am finished. Wish me luck. Someday I hope to sew something besides curtains again!
This post was shared at a link-up party over at Make It and Love It. Be sure to check out all the other amazing projects that have been shared!