My New {DROP CLOTH} Curtains

This month I am on a mission.  The kids went back to school last week, and I finally have some time to focus on the house.  I love our family room, but quite honestly, it’s a little cold.  It’s not near cozy enough… yet.  The tile, although great for pets and kids, is not very warm and inviting.  So this month, I am going to attempt to cozy up the family room.  First item on the list was curtains.  I don’t have a very good before picture, but trust me, this room felt cold and empty.

Since I am not working with an unlimited budget, I couldn’t buy those Restoration Hardware drapes I had an unhealthy obsession with.  But I had been noticing that people were doing similar things with drop cloths, and for a much better price.

This was the brand of drop cloth I used, and I got them at Home Depot.  I noticed they were all a slightly different color, so I took a little time to sort through them and find the ones that matched up the best.

Then I got them home and washed them.  I washed and dried these drop cloths TWICE on the hottest cycle my machines would do.  I knew I’d need to wash them again at some point, and I didn’t want any shrinking to occur.  I held them up to my curtain rods to measure them both before and after the wash, and there was quite a bit of shrinking that happened after washing, so you will want to account for that when you buy your cloths, as there were several different lengths to choose from.

Once the cloths were all clean and dry, I ran an iron over them.  I knew I wanted them to be a bit more tailored than some I’d seen on the web, so I used pinch pleat tape to achieve that look.  You can find it at upholstery and craft stores.  I got mine at Hobby Lobby.  I simply pinned it in place and sewed it along the top of the curtain.

A couple of things to remember…  You are going to be inserting pleater hooks into the pockets in the tape.  Make sure you don’t sew over those pockets.  This shouldn’t be a problem if you sew as closely to the top and bottom of the tape as possible.  My tape actually had lines for me to follow, which made it easy peasy.  Also, make sure the pocket openings are pointing to the bottom of the curtain, not the top.  This will make sense in a minute.

Now once you have your tape sewn in place, you are going to insert pleater hooks into the pockets in the pinch pleat tape…

…just like this.  I inserted an end hook, and then I skipped two pockets.  I inserted pleater hooks across the top of the curtain like so, skipping two pockets between hooks.  I’ve seen pleater hooks at JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby.  I got mine at Hobby Lobby, and they were $2.49 for a 14 pack.

You kinda have to play with the pleats a bit to make them lay the way you want them to, but once I had everything the way I wanted it, I gave it a quick steam iron.  Then I was ready to hang them.  Now I think that you are supposed to have a special curtain rod to hang pinch pleat curtains, but they were expensive, and I’m cheap.  I just bought drapery rings with clips from Lowe’s.  You can just clip the drapery clip directly to the pleater hook and hang them that way.  I ended up needing a touch more length to satisy my OCD, so I actually attached large closed jump rings (for jewlery) to the clips and hung my pleater hooks from the rings.

I did want to mention that these drop cloths were no where near consistent in their sizing.  I know they are cheap drop cloths, and for their intended purpose they don’t need to be, but for curtains, well, it was a different story.  There were a couple of times that I needed to make alterations.  Instead of cutting the drop cloth, I would simply mark where I needed the cut, nick it with the scissors, and rip it by hand all the way down.  This resulted in a nice, clean line that I knew was perfectly straight.  Then I would serge the raw edge and finish my seam the way I needed to.

Here’s a look at the finished curtains.  That’s the empty window and side table from the before picture.

And one last view…

My final cost per curtain panel was under $25.  The Restoration Hardware ones were $169 per panel.  I didn’t even spend that to dress all four windows!  Which means, in the end, I have more money to put back into the space…  and that makes me happy.