DIY Blackout Curtains.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


So not only had it been lame previously that I was not getting anything done around the house, now it’s extra special lame with my stupid left shoulder.  And no doubt you’re tired of my lamenting over not getting things done, overall, in general.  Heh, I'm tired of it.

Trust me, I am oh-so-let's-get-sh*t-done.  Despite earning a green light from one of the PT folk, Mike still refuses to help thanks to his new “when you can put your hair in a ponytail...” rule, notwithstanding all his prior nudginess


(My haircut today negates that rule, ah ha ha ha ha!)

So I’m trying to find projects that don’t require oodles of arm functioning crap, one being new curtains for our master bedroom.

We all remember the black blackout ones, yes?  

Wow did I get ripped up on Hometalk for them.  Well, mostly because both curtains were pushed open to the left.  Super upset, folks railed, no no no, push the right one to the right!!, altogether missing the point:  the spiffy new floor to ceiling curtains on the cheap.

Don't get me wrong though, I love Hometalk.

Can’t make everybody happy all of the time.  Yah?  Yah.

Anyyywhoooo....I had purchased those black blackouts from a Target* only a mere five, six years ago yet the blackout goo was flaking and/or peeling and/or just vanishing.  Little speckles of light were seeping through my light barrier.  Now that’s lame.

This is not a lame idea though, in fact it's ridiculously cool.

Now, see, I love me tons of raging sunlight.  Just not when I’m trying to sleep.  Gimme dark dark dark dark dark for as long as possible.  Vampire.

I had gone back to Target, oddly, in desperation for some new curtains which I did indeed find* but lo, despite the lyin’ label saying “blackout,” they were so not.  Sigh, which extra sucked because, albeit boring, I actually kinda liked them.  Returned, they were.

Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over again expecting different results?  Ahhh me.

Finally the realization, mmk fine dammit, I can’t find a single blackout curtain I like.  Resolving myself, we all know what that means:  DIY.

Off I dawdled to the mega nuts fabric store which was great but also bad.  I didn’t know what I wanted and I didn’t know what I was looking for and I knew those two together were asking for Trouble.  Seventy five thousand square feet of fabric?  No direction?  Uh, yeah.

All the perusing and hemming and hawing and second's nearly traumatizing.  Yet fun at the same time.

First I spotted the blackout vinyl* for a measly buck ninety five a yard.  Sweet.  Duly noted.

I thought I wanted the puffier foamy blackout type but having held this vinyl up to a window then contemplating the stitching of heavier stuff, vinyl won.

Doo deh doo, wander, roam, doop dee doo, found more of my fave floofy stuff, had to pet it, had to ogle it, almost cuddled it but someone walked by, so roam roam wander roam.

If there’s anything I know about me, myself, and I after all this time of hanging out together, it’s that if I see something and I physically stop moving, I should get it.  If I don’t, I regret it.

And eventually that moment happened.  A few false alarms but bingo, butt wiggle, done.

diy window curtains close up
I know, it looks like a couch.  But I like it.
Yeah I know, it’s upholstery fabric but I like it.  Texture and pattern plus heavyweight for winter, aka most of the time in Chicago.  Not too heavy looking for the way-too-brief warmer months either.  Which someday we might get, maybe.

Maybe.  Grrr.  Come on spring, we’ve waited sooo long!  As it snows in mid-April as I type this.

Don't let yourself get tied up into a closed box of non-creativity by descriptive words such as "upholstery," or "outdoor," or "it's only used for this specific purpose."

Ultimately here folks, heh, my point is to show you how easy it is to have your own custom made blackout curtains in a fabric of your choosing.  And you don't have to be a stitching guru to do it either.

Ok, you do need a sewing machine,* or to borrow one, but you know someone, right?

I measured the windows previously and typed that into the running "House Stuff" note on my phone so I always have pertinent info with me at all times, in case of I-see-something-perfect emergency.

For added math security though, I used the hemmed curtains as a cutting guide.

laying out fabric and black out fabric to cut
Note I pre-folded the top pocket on the new then used the old curtain as a guide.  Maybe someday I'll have a spacious craft room with a huge table to lay fabric across, next door to my huge workshop......Though paws do make good fabric weights.
First I trimmed up the heavy upholstery fabric to the correct length, then the correct width, then draped the blackout vinyl over it, trimmed that to match.

I dunno what was up with that blackout vinyl but it was a shape-shifter.  So that was a hassle, it changing shape, shifting around.


stereo record collection area mess
Stood up and really took notice of this.  Oh my.  Houston, we have a real serious problem.  Ugh, my goodness.
Don't do what I did first and stitch the pocket at the top.  Because next you have to stitch the sides and that means either a ratty edge that requires hand stitching at the pocket or you stitch your pocket shut.

Which uh, yeah, don't stitch the pocket shut.  That defeats the whole purpose of curtains.

pinning curtain fabric
Ah, see, here....I'm making my first mistake by not hemming the sides first.
So fold and pin the two layers together all nice, like a three quarter inch fold over or whatever tickles your fancy.  Zip a straight line stitch through it and ta-da, one side done!  Woot, nice job!

more pinning of curtain fabric
A little side hem action going on here.  Yes, every rug, every thing in our house is embedded with dog fur.
Repeat for the opposite side.  A handy tip for pinning?  Start in the middle of your piece and work your way out to the ends.  Keeps things from going super awry.

Ooooh-kayyy, now do the top pocket.  I tucked the vinyl in just enough to be caught by the stitching, no need to line the pocket.  I made about a two and a half, three incher but you can pick whatever pocket width works best for you.

Finn helping
Entire dog as fabric weight?  Iiiii dunno.  It's a recurring theme:  work on something, end up with giant Trusty Furry Assistant on top of it.  Here, then here too, then here too.  Silly boy.
Another thing I loved about this fabric?  The pattern is straight lines so ah, I always had a line to follow for cutting, folding, and stitching.  Nice, yeah?  I thought so.  Kinda idiot proofed it for myself there.  Whew.

Mmk, once your top pocket is complete, hem the bottom of the curtain in the same fashion as the sides and then guess what?  You've got yourself a custom curtain handmade by you.  Now go hang it up!

new upholstery fabric blackout curtains installed

I did discover that the bent and twisted tension rods or cafe rods or whatever name they have (thanks to Finn barking like a maniac in the windows, yanking the curtains down against their will) weren't too keen on the weight of these new buggers but I twisted tight as best I could and now they're up.

Probably should get new rods* though.

And damn do these work well, wow.  Dark dark dark!  And wow do they keep the chill of the windows out of the room, holy cow!  And we're sleeping better!  And they add nice texture, a hint of a mid-century/seventies vibe, and they aren't sad nor jarringly in contrast to everything else in the room.  Cha-ching!  Multiple scores!

finished diy blackout curtains installed
Sorry, not the best photo but heh, the room is dark when the new curtains are closed!   It does look better in person, trust me.  And I love our new baking blog but it makes me sad I can't share pictures of Finn all the time!
Only issue I have is they don't open as far as the previous curtains because well, heavyweight fabric vs. wimpy thin, but that's pfffft, quite workable.

But they look cool and work stunningly well.  Yay!!  Check and mark and done!

view of curtains
So in the end I spent about seventy two bucks for three.  More expensive and labor intensive than Target curtains but we're the only ones who have these.

Mike didn’t say much.  “Got some new curtains, huh?”  ......  


.......  "Yeah babe, just finished 'em today."


Yep, that was it.

But having a conversation with Finn as he was crawling into bed, Mike snickered, “Finn, I’m really worried about your mom.  She had something black in the room and she took it out.”  

Finn proffered a blank stare, “duh Daddy, you know that means double the black somewhere else, dontcha?”  

Smart boy.

*The Target blackout curtain links are Target affiliate links.  The blackout lining link is a Joann Fabrics affiliate link.  The tension rods and sewing machines are an Amazon affiliate link.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.

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