Hunt for unusual curtain fabric in ethnic textile shops.

Ideas for Making Curtains

by Benna Crawford

Windows can be mini-galleries of taste and invention that reflect the personalities of the people who inhabit the rooms in your house. When shopping for pre-made drapes to hang in the bedrooms or family room seems too boring to consider, repurpose other items as window dressings; press your artsy teens into service making curtains; or use a beautiful textile in a completely new way.

Fun Teen Friendship Curtains

Let the bedroom windows reflect your teen's exuberance with a little graffiti and a lot of invention. Plain blackout shades are more interesting when the kids and their friends decorate them with permanent marker drawings and autographs. Then hang "curtains" on spring rods in front of the shades to filter the light during the day. Curtains made from strings of colored pop beads interspersed with columns of linked plastic photograph sleeves reflect the colors of the bedroom decor or add a wild rainbow to windows. The residents of the room get to fill the photo sleeves with pictures of their adventures, tickets from favorite concerts and other flat memorabilia that celebrate their busy social lives.

Sack-Cloth Chic

Old burlap sacks add character to the kitchen window over the sink and take no time at all to install. Pop a tension rod in the window; cut one seam of a burlap produce or coffee sack and fold the sack over the rod, bunching it up to make "gathers" if it is wider than the window frame. Extra points if the sack has stenciling on it to add an element of design. With a bit more effort, you can stitch a fold at one end of a sack to thread over the curtain rod. Regular burlap yardage complement a re-purposed sack when you have sliding glass doors or larger windows that need covering. Use more burlap or grain sacks to make squashy pillows for kitchen chairs.

Symphony of Saris

Romance your bedroom windows with vintage silk saris, draped from the valance to pool on the floor. Choose all the same shade or mix and mis-match for an energy level to suit your decor. Legendary fashion guru Diana Vreeland said, "Pink is the navy blue of India," and saris will give you plenty of vivid color choices to brighten things up. Look for hot pinks that filter the light in flattering ways and juxtapose them with intense cerulean blues and greens. Keep it floaty with very thin, translucent silk, or go for a more formal look with heavier brocade silk that you can tailor like regular drapes. Twist and loop a sari over the valance rod to frame the window or stretch the pallu, the fancy end piece of the sari, over a fixed valance rod for a more subdued window treatment.

Piecemeal Poetry

Now you can recycle all those empty plastic milk jugs and make something useful and inspirational for your windows. Cut two different sizes of rectangles from the sides of clean milk containers -- make the pieces the same width but shorter and longer lengths -- to hang vertically. Lay out random-height rectangles the way they will hang in the window. Use colored markers, or all black, to write a word or two of a favorite poem or quotation on consecutive milk jug pieces. Punch holes in the plastic at top and bottom, and link the rectangles together with tiny silver jump rings from a craft or hardware store. Fasten the pieces at the sides in a few places so the curtain forms a loose panel. Attach silver key chain rings at the top, and slide over a curtain rod to hang across the window.

About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .

Photo Credits

  • Yamini Chao/Digital Vision/Getty Images