On Tuesday, I revealed our combined Living and Dining Room combo and made quick mention about how I used a single shower curtain to make both some throw pillows for our couch as well as a valance for the kitchen window. Truth be told, when I need to make large fabric projects…for pillows, wall features, or even smaller window treatments…I will often turn to off-the-shelf curtain panels because they are a great source of high quality fabric at really low prices. Most curtain panels are around 50-56″ wide and can be as long as 100+” (which is almost three yards)! They are usually made of thick, sturdy fabric; and if you watch sales, you can snag all that yardage at a low cost/yard price. I constantly check aisle end caps, sales and clearance shelves for great patterns at good deals and will stockpile away great finds until I can figure out a way to re-purpose them for our home. So today, I want to show you some clever curtain hacks! These are easy projects and creative ideas for using off-the-shelf curtain panels that you may have never considered!
Below are the pillows and window valance I made from (strategically) cutting apart a single $15 shower curtain I snagged at Target. I had a really difficult time finding a large-scale floral pattern I liked at all my favorite fabric stores. So when I came across this pattern during an online search for something else, I knew it was the perfect solution from both a design and budget perspective!
Shower curtains are another great option for fabric, especially if you need a really wide cut. Most shower curtains are ~70″ squares, which is wider than most fabric you can buy. As such, they are great for projects when you don’t want to match seams in order to accommodate your width! I tend to browse shower curtain options as much as I do curtain panels, especially since shower curtains tend to have more whimsical patterns that work wonderfully as small accents in rooms.
If you stumble upon a shower curtain or curtain panel you love, here are a bunch of different ideas for using them in your home!
Clever Hanging Solutions
Let’s start with really easy hacks first – ones that don’t require any sewing or cutting!
One of my favorite solutions for adding more bulk (on really large windows) and interest is to hang two different-colored curtain panels side by side. This works best with grommet-topped curtains since the outside edges end up pointing backwards when hung. This allows you to line up several curtains side-by-side, giving the appearance of a solid panel without any work!
Below is the same idea put into practice a little differently! When I came across these seafoam and grey panels, they were on super clearance and the final ones in the store/area. I could get two of the seafoam color but only one of the grey. So I put a seafoam panel on each window and then cut/hemmed the grey panel down the middle to make it into two really skinny panels. When hung side-by-side, it not only created a unique-looking window arrangement, but also allowed me to create matching treatments with what was available!
Bed Bath and Beyond carries these curtains in an array of colors – I always thought it would be so cute to pick 3 or 4 different colors, cut them all in half vertically, hem the raw edge, and then hang them on each side of a huge window to make an easy multi-color display!
Sometimes you’ll come across really budget-friendly curtain panels that match your space just right, but they are a bit too…uuumm…dinky…to fill up your window. It’s pretty easy to turn two curtain panels into one and I show you exactly how to do it here!
Curtain panels are ideal for creating illusions, especially if you have a really small (and awkward) window placed in the middle of a large wall. Hang the curtains really, really wide and have them overlap just the edges of the window by a few inches. The curtains will help fill up all the visual space on the wall. The window below was just a smidge bigger than what you can see in the opening, but large curtain panels helped give it much more presence and make the whole window seem less random!
My last hanging hack is to change the way the curtain is hung on the rod to better suit your style or needs. Rod pockets don’t tend to be my favorite for long panels (because they are really hard to open and close), so I always lean toward grommets or tabs. Thankfully, both are super easy to add to off-the-shelf curtain panels, and you can do it right over existing rod pockets! Packages of grommets come with really easy-to-follow instructions and you can get them in pretty much any color imaginable. And if you want to add tabs to the back of an existing panel, this is always the tutorial I reference!
Turn a Curtain Into a Different Window Treatment
Admittedly, a majority of my own curtain “hacking” has been to turn a curtain panel/shower curtain into a different window treatment. Again, I often turn to pre-fab curtains instead of fabric because of the price/yard and the ability to get really wide coverage. Here are just a few ways to re-treat your windows with great finds!
Sewing a basic window valance is a pretty simple and straightforward project, and I detail out every step here.
NOTE: If your fabric is a bit sheer (as in, it lets in a bit too much sunlight) but sure to add some drapery lining (my tutorial shows you how to do that too!).
Below was a window valance I made in about 20 minutes for Henry’s Star Wars bedroom makeover. This one was so quick because the inexpensive curtain was already pre-lined, meaning I simply had to cut down the length and sew over the edge to create a rod pocket.
TIP! The original width of this curtain panel was too skinny to span our window, but when I rotated it 90 degrees, the length was just enough to fit without having to slice it apart and sew it back together! If your pattern can work in any direction, be sure to play with it to see if you can eliminate extra work!
TIP! Curtain and shower panels come pre-hemmed on all sides. If you’re going to cut the panel apart to re-size it, try to do so in a way that maintains as many existing hems as possible!
I was able to score two light-blocking navy curtain panels on super clearance a few years back. After cutting the width down to fit our window, I added simple roman shade hooks to transform it into a renter-friendly roman shade. See the full tutorial here.
I literally could NOT find a fabric I loved for Sam’s nursery that I did a few years ago. When I was walking through Lowes, this curtain panel stopped me in my tracks. The colors and scale of the pattern could not be more perfect for the room, and a single $20 panel allowed me to cover both cornice boxes without issue!
The cornice boxes for my home office were also made out of covering foam with a $10 shower curtain. Not only did I love the price, colors, and pattern…but that extra-wide width also made for less work here!
Embellish Plain Curtain Panels
White panels and shades are pretty easy to find (and often don’t cost a lot!), but if they seem a bit too dull you can always jazz them up with some sort of trim or border!
Below, I used iron-on tape to secure black bands of fabric to the edges of an off-the-shelf roman shade. It worked beautifully, and these were far less expensive than had I found black-trimmed shades from the start!
I customized plain white curtains for my NC office in a similar way. Instead of using iron-on tape, this chevron edging was sewn onto the outside edge to give them a bit more pizzazz!
Simple tassel or pom-pom trim can also be easily added to any curtain panel edge in order to give them a bit more whimsy and interest. I don’t have a detailed set of instructions on how to do this, but it’s pretty simple and is done just like the bedspread. Just pin the trim along the finished edge of the curtain panel and zigzag stitch in place!
Turn the Panel Into Something New!
Last but not least, curtain panels are a great source of fabric for other large-scale projects around the home. An extra-large curtain from IKEA was just the right size to make a slipcover for our extra large ottoman…again, without having to join lots of different seams!
I hung two standard curtain panels side-by-side and extra high to create an uber-chic shower curtain!
Curtain panels are also great for lining the backs of bookcases. Just trim a panel down to the size you need, hem all four edges (as needed), then use double-stick Velcro to secure to the wood paneling along the back. Finish by placing your shelves in front of the fabric backing!
Fabric can be a great way to create a focal accent wall, especially in small spaces such as nooks, closets, and bump-outs; and using extra-large curtain panels are likely to reach from ceiling to floor without having to match pieces together! Not sure how to attach fabric to your wall? You can use liquid starch for a damage-free method or thumb tacks or a staple gun for quick installation!
One of the easiest ways to use a curtain panel that has a pattern you love is to turn it into throw pillow covers! You can get A LOT of throw pillow covers out of a single 50×96″ panel…use this tutorial to help you do it!
Finally, don’t forget that (most) window and shower curtains are just fabric, meaning you can use them for pretty much anything (remember, Maria made the VonTrap kids playclothes from her old curtains!) From pillows to tablecloths, table runners to napkins, the options really are endless! Below are our family’s everyday cloth napkins I made from…you guessed it…a Target shower curtain! I made them years ago, we still use them every single day, and I still looooove that pattern!
I hope this post gives you some outside-the-box ideas for using curtain panels around your home! Not only can you modify and customize the way a curtain panel looks by changing it’s trim, size, or how it’s hung; but you can also use the fabric from those panels to make new, unique things for your home! This concept is not only really fun and a great way to flex your creative muscle, but it helps those of us, with piles of curtains from frequent moves, to keep using them over and over in new ways!