Tutorial: Make a Mark on your Window Treatments

After discovering that I didn’t have enough window treatments for all the windows in our new house, I’ve been sewing up some curtains.

First, I made some curtains for the doorways into our room (As you may remember, we removed the doors, and we won’t be replacing them until we’re further along in the remodel process). I had hung some sheer curtains that I had in the doorway, but they aren’t suitable for any time that visitors come over. Plus, we wanted to have something in the doorway that would block the view of the “work zone.”

Anyway, I made some thicker doorway curtains, and I used it as a practice run for creating my own print using fabric paint.

I found a large piece of grayish-blue drapery material at the thrift store, for $2. Since the curtains will only serve as a temporary solution, I didn’t care too much about the quality of the material.

I didn’t realize until I got home that the material had some fading where it must have been folded while stored. Although these curtains are temporary, it would have bothered me every time I saw the curtains. So, I decided to add my own print to the curtains to help mask this imperfection, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to create a tutorial.


Tutorial for creating your own print on window treatments

The first step: sew up a basic set of curtains.

Choose a fabric that is suitable for fabric paint (i.e. don’t use something like velvet). Cut the fabric according to the measurements you want, plus seam allowances. Be sure to take into account the amount of extra material you’ll need at the top to make a tube for a rod.

Then, finish the edges first—just fold and press under, and under again, like you would for a hem.  Fold the top under and under again, to make the tube for the rod.  You can make it whatever size you’d like, just make sure there’s enough space for your rod to get through. Now you can hem the bottom.

For the next portion of the project, you will need to create a stencil. You could design your own stencil on the computer, draw your own design, or trace something.

I drew a stem with some leaves on a piece of sturdy paper. I would have just created it in Photoshop, but our printer hasn’t been working. This forced me to draw—something I haven’t done in some time. That’s why I kept it as simple as possible.

Once you have the outline for your stencil, cut along the sketch line with a razor blade.

Et voila, a stencil.

I recommend that you use a pretty sturdy and thick paper for this, maybe even weatherproof paper. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of difficulty with curling around the edges of the stencil when the paper has wet paint.

If you would like your print to be evenly spaced, you can create a grid across it for an easy visual of where you’ll need to place your print. I just measured and pinned some string out in a grid pattern.

If you really want to get artsy, this would be a great way to paint a large image on the curtain. You could simply grid out whatever image you want to use, in the same way you grid the curtain. Then, paint the image one square at a time.

For those who would rather stick to the stenciling, once you have a grid laid out, experiment with the placement of your print on the curtain.

Once you decide what you’d like to do, get some fabric paint ready, and paint away. Be careful not to put too much paint on the brush when painting around the edges of the stencil, or the paint will bleed under the stencil and you’ll have a messy print. You should also work carefully, and move slowly when removing the stencil after you’ve painted.

Use the same brush throughout the process, and don’t use the cheapest brush you can find. Spare yourself the frustration, and just buy something that will work. On the other hand, don’t use your favorite brush, or buy an expensive brush. It will likely become a brush that you can only use with fabric paint. Fabric paint is almost glue-like and you will spend a long time trying to remove every last bit of the paint. Be sure to clean the brush thoroughly immediately after you finish using it, or you will have clumps coming out when you start painting again.

If the stencil starts to curl halfway through the process, the paper you used wasn’t thick enough. All hope is not lost though. Use the piece you cut out when creating the original stencil to create a new stencil. Just place the piece in the same position on a new sheet of paper and trace around it. If possible, choose a thicker piece of paper to create the new stencil. Obviously, this won’t work if your stencil is more complex, with multiple pieces. In this case, you should make several copies of your stencil before you start to paint.

You may find that your stenciled print looks better as you go along. If you are concerned about this being too obvious, move around the curtain throughout the process, and not in a systematic pattern. You can also avoid this problem by using the same amount of paint each time, and painting in the same manner.

It’s not going to be perfect, but really, neither are most machine-made prints on fabrics.

Once you have finished, you can remove the grid, admire your handiwork and let the fabric paint dry.

Hang up your curtains, and enjoy!

I couldn’t get a good picture of the curtain. So, here are several pictures that I took with different lighting, etc.

I made a curtain with the same print for the doorway on the left, into the bathroom.

The doorways are at different heights and of different widths, and I made the curtains the same width and length. That’s why the one on the left drags the ground, and looks bigger. We only have two sets of sheers in our large bedroom window right now. So, I think I’ll be moving these to the window once I have another set made for the doorways.

Another way to add a print to dark fabrics is with bleach. I have yet to try it, but I have plans to experiment with it.

  1. Cindy

    July 22, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Becca, you are the epitome of being crafty. 🙂

    1. Becca

      July 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks sweet lady!

  2. GA

    July 22, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    When you come here can you make us some curtains? I have had the fabric for 7 years!! LOL

    1. Becca

      July 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm

      I’d be happy to! We can do it together. How fun! 🙂

    1. Becca

      July 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      Thank you! 🙂

  3. Sarah Lewis

    July 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Such creativity…you are a wonder, dear heart! Sounds like a fun thing to do but at this stage of my life, I’ll just let you do it and I’ll enjoy looking at it!!! LOL

    1. Becca

      July 26, 2011 at 7:17 pm

      Thanks so much! You’re just too sweet, Aunt Sarah. You always make me smile.

      I bet you would have lots of fun trying this out. You should definitely do this yourself, and let me know how it goes. 🙂

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