My living room has a wonderful wall of windows that makes you feel like you are sitting outdoors in the sunshine. But because we live on a busy little road, they needed a covering that could be closed at night for privacy. The three 4×6 foot windows are side by side with a 12-inch space between, creating a 6×14 foot expanse needing to be covered. There was another 4×6 foot window on the wall by the fireplace that would also need covering. The least expensive drapery material I could find on sale was $13.50 a yard. And the simplest extra-long rod and hardware was going to cost well over $200, creating a bill of about $500. Ouch!
I grew up listening to stories of curtains, quilts and dresses made from empty flour sacks. My ancestors recycled before it was the “fashionable” thing to do. I’ve always appreciate their thrifty creativeness, and learned to sew before I entered my teens. So I wasn’t about to let this big glass monster devour my purse. I began browsing through the local hardware and thrift stores looking at the merchandise with an eye for repurposing.
I needed 21 yards of material for a drapery style covering. Seventeen yards would do if I made short curtains rather than long drapes. I didn’t find any flour sacks, but bed sheets were on sale for $4 each! I bought eight twin flat sheets for $24. And, best of all, no sewing was required. So I saved precious time as well. Later, when I had the time, I hemmed them to the length of the window so they wouldn’t collect dust and pet hair off the floor.
Now I needed to find 14 feet of something long and rod-shaped that wasn’t going to cost an arm and a leg. I found my solution in the plumbing department. PVC piping was inexpensive and could be painted black. I’d painted plastic before, so I knew to use a spray paint made specifically for plastic and to let the paint cure for a couple of days before putting it to use so it would resist scratching. I couldn’t find black café-rod holders, so they were painted black as well. And even though the inexpensive curtain clips and rubber chair-leg covers I used to cap the ends of the pipe were already black, I gave them a coat of the same paint too so they would blend in nicely. Since they are 10 feet up in the air, you can’t tell what materials they are made of.
Obviously these thrifty curtains don’t have the elegant look of drapes, but they serve their purpose just fine. The clean, simple lines don’t compete with the nice view out the window. And the total cost was less than a hundred bucks, so these economical little jewels were a small fraction of even the best bargain-hunter price out there. My purse and I think they are lovely, and I’m sure Grandma would be proud!
Create a variety of pleats — from French to Goblet to Butterfly — to create stylish window treatments for your home.
Calculating Pleats and Spaces
Use this simple arithmetic to customize do-it-yourself traverse window treatments with one- and two-way draws.
Vintage Crafts: Bringing Back the Old Favorites
What happened to the crafts of the past?