If you have bare windows, we have plenty of quick, easy, and affordable solutions to get you covered.
Give plain curtains a cheery boost by attaching rows of colorful pom-pom trim. Measure and mark parallel lines 6 inches apart across each panel using a fabric-marking pencil and measuring tape. To prevent puckering, glue 1-inch pom-pom trim to half of each drawn line at a time, allowing it to dry before gluing the other half. (We used Fabri-Tac, a permanent fabric glue.) To achieve a fuller effect, add additional strands of trim. (We used three strands -- two light and one dark -- for each row.)
Made into generous panels, affordable burlap has the look of linen at a fraction of the cost. Most burlap comes 50 to 60 inches wide, perfect for a panel. Just cut it to length (you'll need about 3 yards per panel) and hem the sides with iron-on seam tape. The luxe textures of brush fringe and satin ribbon take humble burlap up a notch. To trim a curtain panel as shown here, lay the curtain panels out flat, wrong side up. Glue ribbon to the inside edge of the panel so about half an inch of ribbon peeks out, gathering the ribbon as you glue to make a slight ruffle. Then, glue the flat part of fringe material to the ribbon so the fringe extends about an inch beyond the ribbon. Trims usually can't be machine-washed, so it's best to spot-clean trimmed curtains.
Vinyl roller shades are cheap, but not so pretty. Here's how to transform a not-so-great roller shade into something fabulous on a dime.
An orgami-inspired folding technique turns plain window sheers into a one-of-a-kind creation. To create the curtain, purchase two sheer window panels. Cut the first into equal-size squares. Lay the other panel on the floor. On the squares, pin opposite corners in the center of the square. Then lay the pinned pieces on the full panel in a pattern of your liking, overlapping the corners slightly. (We repeated an X shape to cover the lower portion of the sheer.) Hand-sew centers at the pins.
For this shapely teal design on crisp white drapery panels, trace desired shapes onto cardboard and cut out. (Get the pattern used for these curtains below.) We used two sizes of diamond shapes and one football shape. Iron the curtain panel and lay flat on a protected work surface. Position the first shape at the bottom left-hand corner of the panel. Trace around the shape using an artists brush and slightly watered-down teal blue paint. Place a second shape above the first and trace with paint. Keep alternating shapes to the top of the panel, then begin another row next to the first. For an organic look, we let our brushstrokes be imperfect.
Facing a set of curtains that are a bit too short? Take them to the floor with this no-sew, on-a-budget technique.
Create an ombre effect by dipping a teal cotton curtain into equal parts bleach and water. Soak the bottom two-thirds of the curtain for five minutes, then lay it outdoors in the sun to dry. When the curtain reaches the desired shade, rinse with water. Repeat the process, soaking only the bottom third in the bleach-water solution. Allow the curtain to dry in the sun until the bottom portion is almost white. Rinse and let dry.
Add a design to a colored curtain panel by subtracting hues. Intrigued? We were, too! We found a product called DeColourant that removes pigment from fabric. To create this scalloped pattern, all you need is a cheap plastic protractor (the grade-school kind), a stencil brush, DeColourant, and an iron. Position the protractor horizontally on your 100-percent cotton or silk fabric, then apply DeColourant to the fabric inside the arch of the protractor using the stencil brush. Move the protractor horizontally across the fabric and repeat the process to achieve rows. Allow the DeColourant to dry, then set an iron to the highest steam setting and press it over the fabric. When heated, the DeColourant lifts the hue from the fabric.
Dress up plain curtains with painted stripes. Watch and see how easy it is.
Take plain white curtains up a notch with a simple flower embellishment. To create the rosettes, trace around a 3-inch diameter drinking glass on the flower fabric. Repeat until you have five same-size circles per rosette. Cut out circles and fold into quarters. Hold all the quarter circles in your hand and stitch together with a needle and thread at the base of the flowers. Create the number of rosettes that you want and stitch them to a pair of curtain panels, alternating heights. Run a bead of fabric glue from the flower to the bottom of the curtain panel. Place a length of green yarn on the glue, wrapping it under the bottom edge of the panel and gluing to the back of the curtain. Cut leaf shapes from green cotton fabric and position next to the yarn. Sew a straight stitch down the center and around the edges to secure.
Made from a miniblind and midweight upholstery fabric, this Roman shade can be assembled in a matter of hours. First, lay the blind on your work surface with the front facing down. Set the length by adjusting the plug underneath the thick bottom slat according to the package instructions. Next, snip away only the strings that connect the slats on both sides. Maintain the slats at 7-inch intervals; snap off and remove the rest. Place the fabric facedown under the blind. Mark the fabric where it folds at the sides, top, and bottom of the slats. Remove the shade and press the fabric folds. Place the fabric under the shade, then glue the sides of the fabric to each slat and the top and bottom edges of the fabric to the top and bottom slats. Use clothespins to hold the fabric in place while it dries.
Go to the next slide to watch a video on how to make this shade.
See it in action! Watch and learn how to make Roman shades from blinds.
Embroider a favorite saying or quote on curtains to make a fun statement. Measure the width of your panel. Cut kraft paper to that width, and write cursive words or letters on the paper in pencil. Trace the lettering with thick black marker on the paper, then tape the paper to the back of the curtain panel so the letters show through. Trace the words on the fabric using a 4b art pencil or white chalk. Following the lines, embroider a simple straight stitch using all five strands of embroidery floss.
Go geometric and paint a chevron design onto a plain shade. To make a chevron stripe, determine the center point of the fabric on the Roman shade, and position the pattern for pleasing symmetry. We allowed for 4-inch stripes. Use a plastic artist's triangle tool (or create your own triangle shape out of cardboard), and pencil to trace lines onto the shade. Use a straightedge to make sure the chevron stripes are level. Tape above and below the pencil line with painter's tape. Repeat for each stripe. Use a brush or roller to paint on fabric paint. Remove the painter's tape and install the shade once the paint is dry.
Off-the-shelf bamboo blinds become a custom window treatment with ribbon and a little bit of glue gun action. We layered two different types of grosgrain ribbon on the edge of this blind. Glue the middle ribbon on first, then glue on the top and bottom ribbons, overlapping them slightly with the middle ribbon. For all ribbons, tuck the ends under the edge of the blind and secure to the back for a polished look.
Set your windows apart with dyed linen strips. Start with sheer white linen and cut into strips. Divide the strips into four or five groups. You'll dye each group a different shade. We created five different colors using red and yellow crafts paint. Mix 1 tablespoon of crafts paint to 1 gallon of water and stir. Test the dye on a scrap of linen. Experiment with colors and saturation levels before you dye your final strips. Once you're happy with the color, plunge a length of fabric into the mixture. Remove and hang to dry. Repeat until you're satisfied with the mix of colors. Iron the dry fabric to set the color. Line up the strips in alternating colors, then tie to a curtain rod. Cut the fabric strips to the desired length. (These were cut short to create a cafe curtain.)
Get a lush, feminine look on a budget with DIY curtain panels decked out in low-cost doilies and lace remnants. To begin, cut sheer fabric into two panels to fit your window. Finish the edges with no-sew adhesive strips. In a bucket, mix fabric dye with water until the desired saturation is achieved, then dunk the doilies in the dye. Remove and let dry, then attach the doilies to the curtain panels in a random pattern using a hot-glue gun. For a cropped look, adhere a few doilies along the edge and trim accordingly. To finish, glue a lace remnant to the bottom of the curtain, leaving an inch or so extra on either side to fold over and finish the edges.
Create custom marbleized fabric that starts with a design you create on paper. Click the link below to learn how to marbleize paper and then upload your design to a fabric printing service (we used Spoonflower), order your fabric, and sew it into basic drapes.
Give plain vinyl roller shades a fresh face with paint. We used a paper doily as a stencil, but you can create your own template to match the theme of your room. First, unroll the shade and lay it flat. Overlap paper doilies on the surface of the shade in a design of your choosing. When you’ve decided on your layout, lightly spray the back of the doilies with adhesive. Spray-paint the shade. The edges of the doilies may ruffle up slightly, allowing some of the paint to spread underneath, achieving a slightly blurred look. Let dry completely and remove the doilies. For durability, spray the shade with a coat of clear polyurethane.
Project Tips: Home centers can cut vinyl shades to size for you. And be sure to use spray paint, not brush-on paint, as it adheres best to vinyl.
Put scraps to use as fresh window treatments. We used sheer scraps to create a soft, shimmery effect. Choose your fabrics, and plot out the pattern for the panels on grid paper to scale. By using grid paper, you can determine the dimensions of each fabric piece you'll be cutting. Label each section according to the fabric used. We used seven different sheers to get this effect. Cut fabric and pin together in rows. Stitch the pieces into rows, then stitch the rows together. Sew a rod pocket and the side and bottom edges to finish.
Watch and learn how to hang curtains for perfectly dressed windows.
To create these pretty cafe curtains, purchase two 16x24-inch tea towels. Install curtain rods at your desired height. Attach ring clips to the top of the tea towels to hang them from the rod. If the towels hang past the windowsill, measure the fabric, cut off the excess, and hem the towels using a sewing machine or fusible web and an iron.
To make a peacock-print valance like this one, start by cutting a 2x4 piece of wood to the width of your window. Buy enough fabric to extend 6 inches on either side and 4 inches longer than the desired length. Finish the hem and sides, and embellish with a fun fabric trim. Wrap fabric around the wood and staple into place. Attach the wood to the wall with screws or L brackets.
You can make these pretty curtains using solid-color flat sheets. Cut each panel to twice the window width and 6 inches longer than the desired length. Sew a rod pocket along the top. Hem the panels to floor length. Make the ruffles by cutting strips of fabric twice the width of a panel by 4-1/2 inches tall, then sew a 1/2-inch hem. Sew a basting stitch along the raw edge. Gather the fabric to the width of the panel. Starting at the curtain's bottom hem, pin overlapping ruffles to the panel with hem side down, and stitch them into place. Attach the top ruffle upside down, right sides together, and flip over to hide the raw edge.
When curtain panels won't fit or simply aren't needed, use an easy-sew valance like this one to add softness and color. Sew a rectangle to the window size, adding a rod pocket at the top. Stitch a length of wide ribbon on each end of the valance, 4-6 inches from the outer edge. Drape the ribbon over the top of the valance so there is a length of ribbon running down the back and the front of the valance. Stitch the ribbon into place and use each ribbon tail to tie up the fabric.
Add waves of color to plain white panels by progressively dyeing with two colors of acrylic crafts paint. We paired deep blue and teal. Dip the damp fabric into a solution of 1 tablespoon crafts paint per 1 gallon of water. Add more paint to the mixture and dip the lower portions of the curtain repeatedly to achieve an intense color.
Striped draperies add interest to this mostly neutral dining room. Striped fabric like this is easy to sew, even for beginners, because the stripes provide straight-line guides. Affixing clip-on rings to the top of each panel ensures they remain easy to take down and clean.
Fashion this easy-sew valance using only a curtain panel and grosgrain ribbon. The project is simple, can be completed in a matter of hours, and is sure to boost the style quotient of any room. Simply hem the curtain panel to the desired length and width, then embellish the perimeter of the panel with ribbon. Use the excess fabric for pillows or seat cushions in the room for a coordinated look.
Valances add height and depth to plain windows. Here, Grecian-pattern grilles are screwed directly to the faces of painted medium-density fiberboard (MDF) valances. Metal washers and twine attached to the drapery edges tie in with the industrial look of the valances above.
We love this window treatment idea: It serves the function of a valance but has the pleated look of a Roman shade. To make this window treatment, back a rectangle of the drapery fabric with a light-blocking fabric using fusible web (to prevent light-emitting needle holes). Iron in deep pleats and starch heavily. Stitch pleats into place and glue a grosgrain ribbon down the middle. Tie the ribbon in a loose bow at the bottom.
You can dress up purchased tab-top panels with a bit of trim attached to the edges. Or, get a similar look by making your own panels. You can buy yardage at a fabrics store, but you can also shop for table coverings or linens in the kitchen, bedding, and bath section of your local department store. There you will often find discounted or discontinued fabric items that you can cut up and use as yardage.