Sewing New Curtains
One of the projects that was high on my list of upgrades for our pop up tent trailer was replacing the old curtains. They were smelly, they were ugly, and they needed to go! I did a lot of research trying to figure out the easiest and cheapest way to replace my curtains.
I looked at getting Coleman brand curtains but they were $45 a curtain and all in ugly fabric choices. So I decided I would make my own. I went shopping at Joann's to look at fabric, and found some fabrics I liked the looks of, but even with a 60% off coupon I couldn't stomach the price.
One thing I had read about in my research was using store bought curtains as fabric for my new curtains. I looked into this and found I was able to get high quality, black out curtains to use as material for about $6 a yard! That is less than half the price of what I would pay at the fabric stores. So. my choice was easy, store bought curtains it was. I found these curtains on Amazon.com and decided on the platinum silver color.
Before placing my order, I took all my curtains out of the trailer and measured them. Then I made a diagram of how I would lay them out and how many curtains I would need to order. Honestly, with the curtains I chose I only needed 5 curtains. But since they came in packs of two I got six panels with plenty of extra which I will probably reuse in a future project.
You could use the extra fabric to make the valance for around the top of the trailer. For me, I felt like the valance in the trailer makes everything look a bit heavier, and too busy for my taste, so I am choosing not to include it in my project.
The curtains I chose measure 52 " x 95". As you can see in my diagram above I just counted it at 94 instead of 95 because when I was making the diagram I was unsure oh how big the rod insert area of the curtain was and I wanted to allow for that uncertainty. For most of the pre-made curtains I cut the this top section off where the rod inserts go. However, as you can see for 10 & 11, the curtains in the pop out area, I decided to use the rod insert portion of the panels because I had a bar across the window that I would be able to slide them them onto.
Once I received the curtains, I began to make the new panels. Looking at the edges that were already hemmed, it appeared that they used a double fold hem. I liked this look and decided that is how I would finish all my edges too. Since I didn't have a pattern, I decided to lay my old curtains on top of my new curtains and use that as a basis for my pattern.
I cut a two inch border all the way around my old curtains so that I would have plenty of room to do the double fold hem I wanted, as well as make my curtains just slightly larger than my old curtains. I decided it was better to have them a little bigger, rather than a little smaller, just to make sure I would have plenty of coverage.
I have a Singer Stylist sewing machine and I love it! It works great and is easy to use. I highly recommend it if you are in the market for a new sewing machine. Above, you can see the setting I chose to use for this project. I selected this setting to match up with the stitching on the sides that would already be hemmed so I would have a consistent look.
In the interest of saving money, I decided to reuse the clips that were on my curtains. They were sewn on with what appeared to be fishing line, and were fairly simple to cut off. As you can see they have holes punched in them that I planned on using to reattach them.
To reattach them I simply took a needle and thread and hand stitched them on, lining them up with the hem line on the top of my new curtains. The curtains for the windows were fairly straight forward, but next I will show you how to make the curtains that went across the bed sections of the trailer, they are a little more complex.
I started by folding a full curtain in half, but not exactly in half because you want to exclude the potion of the fabric that has the curtain rod inserts since you won't be using that portion of the fabric. From there you will cut that fabric on the crease, and then again along the edge that has the rod inserts.
This will end up making one slightly smaller than the other, because of having to hem two sides on one piece of fabric but not the other. I wasn't too concerned with this since my new panels would be slightly bigger than my old panels anyway. Then, I repeated the steps above ,of laying my old curtain on top of my new curtain, and trimming the top edge leaving a two inch allowance for my hem.
Once I had my panel for the lower portion of the panel cut out, I hemmed up the top edge, but left the other side edge un-hemmed to be hemmed later. If you are sewing the panel that you had to trim both sides of you can sew up one side as well as the top hem at this point.
Next, I cut the netting portion of my old curtain, off of the old curtain, and attached it to the top hem of the new curtain. I tried to find new netting, but I couldn't find white netting at any of the fabric stores near me and prices online were pretty steep. So, I chose to reuse the old netting for my project. Now, you could totally sew up the other hem and attach the curtains at this point but I didn't like the way this looked.
I decided to cut the top of the netting that had the clips attached off, because I wanted a more polished look for the top of the curtains. The netting fabric was really easy to work with, my favorite thing about it is that it doesn't unravel at all.
I then cut off all the clips from the old curtains, because I was going to hand stitch those back on later. The step of sewing these on by hand was my least favorite part of this project, and I definitely poked some holes in my finger tips, because I am an easily distracted sewer.
To complete the top of the panel of the curtain for the bed section of the trailer I used the fabric from the top of the panel I had cut in half earlier. I did this for two reasons. 1 It was one less hem I would have to sew, and 2 because then I knew the length of my lower panel and upper trim would be the same.
Since the top would already be trimmed, I cut my top section at 3 inches so then my final top strip would end up being about 2 inches. This is a little bit bigger than the top section was before, but I wanted the strip at the top to be a little more prominent.
In case you were wondering what a double fold hem looks like, in the picture above on the right you can see an example as well as how I went about creating it. Now, at this point I only hem one of the short sides and then the long width side, and save the other short side to hem later.
Most people would probably pin the whole hem before sewing it, but I am not that kind of sewer. I depend on eyeing it to keep the hem even. This is kind of risky because you most likely won't have a perfect hem, but chalk it up to laziness all the extra pinning isn't worth it to me. Some sewing projects require perfection, but with all these curtains I was sure that close enough was good enough for me.
Above, you can see me attaching the netting that is already attached to the lower panel to my top trim piece. As I said before, the netting doesn't fray, so I didn't feel the need to hem it. I just laid it flat on the trim, and sewed it on right along the seam.
Next, you will hem up that side that you left un-hemmed before. I wait to hem up the one side because then I can make sure that my sides for the lower panel, netting, and upper trim are all line up. In case you are wondering I did just sew along the netting as well. It was super easy, and sewed just the same as normal fabric. Then I hand sewed all the clips back onto the upper trim. I sewed them on by matching up the holes in the clips with the upper hem.
There is one last thing I would recommend doing before you hang up your curtains. I would scotch guard them to help with stain resistance, especially if you are going to chose a lighter color. Since we will be camping with two small children, who love to touch everything whether their hands are dirty or clean, any added stain resistance is great.
Now, you are ready to hang up all the curtains in your trailer. It is amazing the difference new curtains can make. Because I chose a lighter color I felt like it really made the space feel even larger.
I am really happy with the way the curtains turned out! One thing I didn't mention before was that the curtains I purchase already came with tie back strips. So I didn't have to make them, but you can see them pictured above. This project cost me less than $84 and probably took a total of 6-7 hours. The cost savings of doing it myself made it well worth all the extra effort. If you have any questions about this project let us know we would be glad to offer any advice or helpful tips we can!