Monday, October 7, 2013

My $4 Stenciled Curtain Panels (from tablecloths)

I started this project about 2 years ago…for a different living room. 
Now, I finally finished it for our “new” living room.  Cause these curtains just weren’t cutting it for me:
IMG_6459 (You can see more of our lovely curtains here.)
It is no secret that I like to be thrifty.  So when (in our old house) I wanted to get new curtains for our living room windows, I looked everywhere for curtains or fabric, hoping to score a deal.  I checked Ikea too and came up with nothing.  The trouble was, I really like purple and at the time fabrics (and curtains) that had purple in them were hard to find.  Any that I liked were really expensive, much more than I wanted to pay per panel.  So I put that idea on the back burner for a while, until I was at a event/catering supply sale a couple of falls ago. 
This sale was a liquidation sale of items used by an event rental company--they have them every other year or so.  The sale is mostly tablecloths that they are not using anymore, chargers, draping, candleholders, silverware, cloth napkins, etc.  Some of the tablecloths might be stained or damaged but most are just fine.  At this particular sale I noticed that they had a big table full of “catering cloths”…white or black linens that they use for draping over things, skirting tables, covering tables, etc.  A miscellaneous type of cloth.  I looked at the dimensions of the cloths and realized that they would be perfect for curtains. 
Now, they were nothing fancy…a poly/cotton blend I’m sure, not light blocking or anything special.  I dug through the table and found six that appeared to have no stains or damage.  The best part…they were $2 each!!  Score!!  Since the tablecloths were $2 each, I’m just guessing that I spent around $8 total in extra supplies specifically for the curtains.  Paint, folders for stencil, fabric medium, etc. 
I bought them and then they sat for a few months while I thought of how to make them into curtains.  I knew you could buy stencils but the ones I liked were pretty pricey…around $50 for one stencil.  Then I saw this tutorial over at All Things Thrifty for making your own stencils so I found an image on the internet (from here) to use for a template (tracing it first as you can see below) and cut the stencil out of clear plastic folders (as Brooke recommends) with an Xacto knife to make a stencil.  It was a bit time consuming but I found it rather cathartic while I was watching a movie (I’m kind of a detail person so I enjoy these types of things.  :)
I then bought a bunch of craft paint in varying shades of purple.  Some more violet than others.  Looking back, I think I should have just gone to Lowes or somewhere and bought a couple sample pots of regular paint tinted to the exact shade that I wanted, but oh well!  (It would have saved me the time mixing them together and getting all the paint out of those little containers!)  I also bought Martha Stewart fabric medium to add to the paints to make them softer and washable. 
I mostly followed this tutorial for stenciling curtains except I didn’t use quite as many products as they did.  I ended up using a fine foam roller to paint the curtains and it worked out great. 
IMG_4103 (the first curtain panel on our old living room floor)
The first curtain panel (that I painted almost 2 years ago) took for-ev-er to paint…I believe around 3-4 hours!  I think that was primarily why it took me so long to do the rest of them.  At that time I would have had to do 6 panels as we had three windows in our old living room.  It was definitely not a motivating thought!  A lot of that time was just spent in finding something to cover the carpet in our living room so that I had a hard and protected space to paint in.  The three panels that I painted last weekend took about that much time for all of them (we now have only two windows in our living room and laminate floors…so much easier!).  The painting is not perfect…there are a few smudges here and there but you would never notice unless you spread the curtains out and really scrutinized them. 
When I finished painting the curtains/tablecloths I draped them over the rods that I had installed to see where I needed to sew the pocket.  The beauty of using tablecloths is that they are already hemmed (see below) so I decided to take advantage of that and not hem them again. 
I know it is a small hem but these are lighthearted curtains (not drapes) and I wanted something fast and easy.  :)
I marked the spot on the curtains where the pocket needed to go, took them off the rod, and laid them on the floor to pin across them so I would know where to sew and the curtain would be even. 
I decided I wanted the pockets to be 2” down from the top so I pinned several inches apart across the width of the curtain and sewed it to make the ruffle. 
I then measured another three inches down and cut across the extra fabric on the back of the curtain (as you can see in the zoomed out photo above, I had quite a bit of extra fabric after I folded the panel over for the pocket…so I just cut away the extra in this step).  While I slowly sewed another line across, this time just eye-balling a 2” distance from the first line, I folded the extra 3/4 of an inch of extra fabric under to make a finished edge.  It really is very simple…I just made it sound super complicated.  :)
Then…time for ironing to make sure the paint is permanent!  (This was recommended on the fabric medium label…I almost skipped it as I had already hung the curtains to admire, but I guilted myself into this step even though it meant taking the curtains down again temporarily.  It was tough!)
And finally hung them again…cue triumphant trumpet blasts!!
I know not everyone’s thing is purple…and not even sure if trellis is still considered cool (?) but two years later, I’m really loving my new, easy, and super cheap curtains! 

Linking up to these parties:  Not Just a Housewife, Made by you Monday (Skip to My Lou), Metamorphosis Monday (Between Naps on the Front Porch), That DIY Party (DIY Showoff),


  1. What a great color- they look beautiful! And you cannot beat $4 for curtains! :)

    1. Thanks Lisa! I know...curtains can be sooo expensive right??

  2. I love how this turned out, way to be thrifty. I have never thought about making a stencil before but this seems do-able.

    1. Thanks Sarah! It is definitely do-able, go for it!!

  3. Wow! I adore the plummy purple. Great job.

  4. I love them! What a great idea and you could do different colors & patterns to change the seasons. The color is gorgeous?!!


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