There are huge environmental and economic benefits to covering your windows with curtains. You conserve energy when you insulate even energy-efficient windows with another layer or two, and if your windows are older, the energy conservation is even more extreme. With that energy conservation comes concrete savings on your energy bills. It’s a win-win situation!
Unfortunately, some store-bought curtains reduce your overall positive environmental impact. Perhaps they’re made entirely of polyester. Maybe that blackout lining is essentially just a layer of plastic. Perhaps the fabric has been chemically treated to be stain- or water-resistant. Possibly your curtains have been coated in flame retardants that will, yes, keep them from blazing in a house fire but will also merrily off-gas into your bedroom for the first month.
If you’re at all handy, basic curtains are dead simple to DIY. If you’re a little handier than your basic sew-in-a-straight-line skill set, you can DIY a whole suite of awesome curtain options. Most importantly, you can customize your DIY curtains not just to your window size and personal look, but also to eliminate those negatives of store-bought curtains while still keeping the benefits. You can use natural fibers instead of polyester. You can choose a blackout liner that isn’t plastic. Like the idea of flame retardant curtains? There are natural fibers that are naturally fire resistant!
Below, check out my list of my favorite DIY curtain and drape tutorials. There, you’ll find curtains of all styles, from light and breezy café curtains to lined drapes. You’ll find tutorials that use everything from upcycled sheets to organic natural fabrics. And when you find a project that you like, don’t be afraid to remix it and personalize it to suit your tastes. Because the best thing about DIY is making something you love that meets your needs perfectly!
Curtains from Sheets, Tablecloths, and Drop Cloths
- blackout drapes from sheets. Here’s a super easy tutorial for backing a pair of sheets with a fabric lining to create DIY blackout drapes.
- tablecloth curtains. Covering a smaller window? You can make the same kind of curtains as in the tutorial above with tablecloths instead of sheets. For the most eco-friendly project, sew these curtains instead of using the iron-on adhesive called for in the tutorial.
- dyed drop cloths. You can find cotton canvas drop cloths in most hardware stores. These drop cloths are a terrific eco-friendly choice! They tend to be less bleached and treated than most other cotton fabrics (because, you know, what would be the point? It’s just a drop cloth!), and they take dye like champs.
- French door curtains. Here’s what I mean about a DIY solution being much more customizable than store-bought curtains! Hint: when the tutorial calls for “pre-made curtain panels,” use your sewing skills to DIY those, too.
- no-sew fabric and wood valence. Substitute woodworking skills for the usual sewing skills required for this project! To make your valence more eco-friendly, use cotton batting rather than the polyester batting called for in the tutorial.
Curtains from Fitted Sheets, Beads, and Linen
- balloon curtains. This is a fun and easy way to add decorative curtains to a kitchen or hallway window. All you need is part of a fitted sheet!
- beaded curtains. Okay, beads won’t add any insulation to your window… but they’re fun! Use a beaded curtain to embellish a window that doesn’t need a curtain, or add the beads to the bottom of a curtain.
- Roman shade. Did you know that you can sew one of these from scratch?!? You can!
- café curtains. The linen called for in this tutorial is a great choice. It’s a light, airy natural fabric that is generally regarded as more sustainable than cotton.
- farmhouse window treatment. I like the fact that you can use a wide variety of fabrics for this tutorial. There are so many fun fabrics at the thrift store!
Curtains from Pillowcases, Fabric Scraps, and Bamboo
- roller shade repaired with fabric. Let’s say that you’re stuck with the awful vinyl roller shade, tattered and ragged, that came with your space. If you can sew four straight lines, then you can repair that roller shade with fabric! Any fabric of similar weight to the vinyl works, although I highly recommend a vintage embroidered pillowcase that you bought for a quarter at a church rummage sale.
- fabric-covered shade. Here’s another way to make that ugly vinyl roller shade disappear. Cover it completely with a light fabric, and you’ll never have to look at vinyl again!
- burlap roller shade. This tutorial involves attaching burlap to a roller shade mechanism. Burlap is too loosely-woven to make a good blackout material, but it works great if you’re just looking to keep your neighbors from peeping in your window.
- resized bamboo blinds. Bamboo is an eco-friendly, sustainable material, and bamboo blinds are a terrific upgrade from vinyl. Here’s a way to cut down standard-sized bamboo blinds to fit any smaller window. This is a great option for a secondhand find!
- fabric scrap curtain. This is a great way to add some color and fun to an existing set of blinds or shades. Even if you can’t replace your current window treatment, you can still make it a LOT cuter!
Do you have a favorite DIY window treatment makeover to share? Tell me about it in the Comments below!