Where there’s a will, there really is usually a way… and there certainly is a way to do this… so if you don’t have a sewing machine, or just hate to sew, I’m going to tell you
how I made custom curtains without a sewing machine!
You just may be inspired to make some yourself using a few magical ingredients.
No Sewing Machine? No Worry!
We are temporarily living in the freshly renovated lower level apartment of our newly purchased home, (a Mid-Century turned Colonial Revival house) while the rest of the main house gets an overhaul. What we were wanting (the “will” part) was to have a privacy curtain for nighttime on the window of the door. But the sewing machine is beyond packed away… It’s buried behind pretty much all of our worldly possessions in storage. Even if I knew where it was, I’m sure it’d be physically impossible to actually retrieve it.
Once we moved into the apartment a little over a week ago, we quickly realized that the entrance door actually has a view all the way down the hall, past the bathroom into the bedroom. We both are a little creeped out with uncovered windows when the black night hides everything outside the window, but the light insides shows all to any passerby. Good for you if you’re confident enough to leave your windows uncovered, but in town, I’m just not comfortable with that.
Now I could have just put a film on the window, that allows light through, but distorts the clear glass, (I’ll share that with you on the bedroom window) but the view out the window during the day is a lovely view of the pond just across the street… so a semi-permanent covering was out of the question.
Here is a quick pic of the door before:
It’s a newly installed steel door… I’m not willing to screw holes into it for shades or a curtain rod.
That could be a stumbling block too…
But, no worries, with a bit of magic I have an answer to that and the issue of no sewing machine and even one more magical solution up my sleeve to share with you… (I will have shopping links for you at the end of this post if you are looking for more details on any of the products I used for this project)
The magic of a magnetic rod. How perfect for this treatment. The rod has super strong magnets and doesn’t budge when the door is opened or closed. Plus, it’s a small size diameter rod, perfect for a small curtain. (Here is a shopping link for magnetic rods in different finishes)
Another Rod Option
If you have a wooden or fiberglass or another door… there is still hope! These hooks combined with a rod like this rod will work just as well as the magnetic rod on the metal door. And they will come off the door when you’re done with them with absolutely no residue!
Step by Step
Then to make the curtain…
For this door window treatment, I just simply cut the fabric in half lengthwise:
Just like when I’m sewing a curtain, the iron is an important part of getting the fabric turned into a curtain.
Pressing Side Seams
I always finish the sides of the curtain first. Then the bottom hem and top rod pocket finish cleanly with the sides already done.
So I pressed the raw edges in 1/2″ on each side of the curtain:
Heat n’ Bond
The 2nd magical ingredient comes into play…
Heat n Bond iron-on adhesive: (here is a link for this same width HeatnBond) affiliate
Using HeatnBond permanent iron-on adhesive that sticks once it’s ironed on, is kind of magical. (One thing though, it is impossible to sew through a seam that has had HeatnBond adhesive used on it…)
This is where the difference between sewing custom curtains and using this iron-on adhesive starts to differ… Instead of folding and ironing the seam with a double fold… at this point, I placed the HeatnBond iron-on just on the inside edge of the single folded edge and pressed it in place.
The waxed paper backing on the HeatnBond stays on the top, so the iron won’t stick to it. It only takes a few seconds to melt the tape and get it to adhere to the fabric, so this was pretty quick.
Here’s a tip: let the tape and fabric cool down, hence giving the tape time to harden, (it doesn’t harden hard and stiff… it’s more like a thin layer of flexible rubber) before you pull the waxed paper backing off the adhere it to the other side.
I found this out the hard way… I pulled it off too soon after ironing it and some of the adhesive was hot and gooey and came off with the paper. Easy to fix by adding more tape, but kind of a waste.
Let it Cool a Sec
It really only takes a few seconds longer to let it cool properly, then:
I did have one section that was a pain to pull off the waxed paper backing. I’m not sure why, but the paper kept ripping and sticking to the ironed adhesive. I don’t think I did anything differently on that one piece when I ironed it, so maybe it was just a faulty strip from the company? All the rest came off quite easily though.
Now, to complete the finished edge along the side seam of the curtain, I folded it over again, this is positioning the other side of the Heat n Bond to the curtain and pressed the curtain seam to a permanently bonded finished seam.
Finishing Top and Bottom of Curtain
For the top and bottom of the curtain, it was basically the same. Only difference is that for the top, I wanted a narrow rod pocket to fit the magnetic rod through. Therefore, I folded the top down wider on the 2nd fold and was careful to keep the HeatnBond on the outside edge, leaving the actual rod pocket area open for the rod:
Problems with Corners
I found that some of the corners didn’t bond well. I’m not sure why, but I was successful to get them to bond if I added extra tape to the corners and pressed them again:
That was it for the curtains.
To protect the daytime view and not have the curtains sneak shut during the day hours, I needed some tie-backs.
Burlap Ribbon Tie-Backs
I created them from some ribbon I found that had a burlap look, but unlike actual burlap that sheds fibers and unravels super easy, this ribbon had finished edges.
All I needed was to use a needle and thread to create a pinched end and stitched on a little ring to grab the hook:
Custom Curtains All Done
Here is the door now, during the day with the curtains held open:
Oh, one more magical ingredient…
The hook to hold the tie-backs:
It’s a Command 3M clear style mini hook with that famous adhesive backing that comes off cleanly. (I’ve shared different versions of these Command hooks with you, from the umbrella on the door to the deer antlers for Christmas. I love this 3M product… They work fantastically and this new smaller version is great!)
Here’s a close up of the finished custom curtain I made without a sewing machine:
and the view out the window is still visible… during the day…
Having a cozy little apartment to live in while the rest of the house gets worked on is wonderful! Making the apartment comfortable and function well is great for us during this time, but also a great opportunity to be sure it’s going to be good for the tenant, once we move out of the apartment into the main house and have this space rented.
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