I had a personal decorating challenge I recently overcame, which I thought would be a dandy one to share. Chances are slim that you will have this exact same challenge, but you just might face something similar. We made the decision to move our bed into the center of our bedroom, allowing us a lovely view out the front windows. Yikes! The back of the bed’s headboard was definitely not meant to be seen by anyone other than the wall. What to do? A lovely flat fabric curtain panel buttoned on to a row of simple drawer pulls allowed me to hide the unsightly frame and mattress and add a great blast of color and pattern to the room. I bet you have something you might want to hide.
This same idea would work well to hide the back of any type of furniture you might want to position away from a wall. You could also use it to create a panel across an open doorway or closet. I’ve even seen folks remove the the fronts from their base cabinets in a kitchen or pantry and cover the space with curtains. This has a very rustic, country feel, and as it did in my bedroom, injects a great shot of color and pattern.
Since there’s no way you’re likely to have the same bed in the same size in the same room (unless you’re living with me and I don’t know it), I’m not going to waste your time with lots of exact fabric measurements. Instead, what you need to keep in mind with your measuring is to be as careful as possible when figuring your finished size. As they say, “measure twice (or 10 times), cut once.” I wanted to span the entire back of the headboard in width. In height, I wanted the top edge to land between the top of the wood and the bottom of the iron accent, and I wanted the bottom edge about a half inch or more from the floor to make vacuuming easy. My finished size was 74″ wide x 40″ high.
My curtain is made up of three panels. I used two fabrics from Joel Dewberry’s beautiful Deer Valley collection: Antler Damask in Gourd and Architectural in Goldenrod. The lining is Moda Fabric’s Bella Solids in Natural. For great step-by-step instructions on how to do the ‘cutting math’ for curtain panels and linings, check out our Fresh Linens Curtains.
Installing the drawer pulls
- Your first step is to measure and install the drawer pulls that will become the ‘buttons’ on which your curtain panel will hang.
- To mount the pulls properly, you need wood hanger bolts. This is a ‘half-and-half’ type of wood screw that allows you to drill into, but not through, your furniture or molding or whatever. Half of this hanger is a #8 wood screw that screws into the drilled hole and stays there. The other half is an 8/32 machine bolt that will accept the drawer pull. These hanger bolts are used to mount drawer pulls to cutting boards, and are available at Home Depot or Lowes in the aisle where they stock the cabinet pulls.
NOTE: If you have a specific thickness you are working with, as we did with our headboard, make sure you carefully measure. You don’t want the screws to stick out the other side! The hanger bolt screw ends are 1¼” long, and the entire length of the screw thread needs to be flush with the wood so the pull will mount flush against the wood when installed. Our headboard was just under 1¼” thick, so we had to trim our screw end with heavy wire cutters to make sure it was short enough. CAUTION: If you need to trim yours, ALWAYS trim the wood screw end. If you trim the machine screw end, you will damage the threads and never get the pull to go on.
- We knew we wanted a pull at each end 2″ from the sides, so we marked those first, then measured the distance between them and divided equally to determine the position of each additional pull. Measure and mark carefully, then check twice, or three times, before drilling.
- Select a drill bit slightly smaller than the wood screw portion of the bolt. Or, you can buy a special bit for a #8 Screw and use that. Drill a hole at each marked point.
NOTE: You can put some tape around the drill bit at the exact depth you want, then drill to the edge of the tape. Then your holes will not accidently go through what you are drilling.
- Insert your hanger bolts loosely (as shown on the left in the photo below), then tighten each on in place and screw on the drawer pull. Make sure the drawer pull is tightened flush to the wood surface.
Making a paper template for the buttonholes
- In order for your curtain panel to hang nice and straight and flat, you have to carefully plan where your buttonholes will go. I made a paper template out of regular 8.5″ x 11″ copier paper taped together end-to-end in order to get a long enough strip.
- I made sure my paper strip was straight and taut and then firmly taped the strip in place over the top of my line of drawer pulls.
- With a pen, I marked the position of each pull.
Making the curtain
As I mentioned above, this curtain panel is constructed in a similar fashion to several of our previous tutorials: Fresh Linens Curtains. If you are new to making curtains, check out one or more of these for the step-by-step instructions. I’ve shortened and summarized my steps below since I’m really going for ‘inspiration’ here rather than a full-on tutorial.
- Stitch the front panels together and hem the bottom.
- Hem the bottom of the lining, which is, of course, shorter and narrower than the curtain panel.
- Align, pin and stitch one side.
- Align, pin and stitch the opposite side.
- Find and match the center of the lining and the center of the panel. Iron everything nice and flat, pressing the side seam allowances out away from the lining.
- Stitch across the top through all layers, using a ½” seam allowance.
- Because I am hanging this curtain with buttonholes, I added a strip of header tape across the entire length of the top for strength and body, and to insure the top edge of my curtain panel wouldn’t droop. The bottom of the header tape should line up with your sewn seam. The top will extend about 2 to 2½” beyond your seam allowance, depending on the width of your strip. Mine was 3″ header tape, so it extended about 2½”. Stitch the header tape in place through all layers within the top seam allowance.
- Clip the top corners at a diagonal and turn the curtain right side out through the open hemmed bottom. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp and press super well, paying special attention to keeping your top seam straight.
Many people run screaming from the room at the mere mention of buttonholes. But, today’s sewing machines make them so easy. We did an overview tutorial on buttonholes you can look at once you stop screaming.
The most critical part is putting the buttonholes in the right place, especially on a panel like we’re making, which MUST hang straight and flat.
- Remember that paper template we made above? Time to pull it out and stretch it across the top of the finished curtain. Find the center of the template and match it to the center of your curtain panel. My template stopped about ¾” from each end, which I planned because I wanted the sides of the curtain panel to be able to slightly curve in on themselves for a nice rolled edge.
- With the width set, carefully slide the template up and down to find the best point for the buttonhole. I set one of the actual drawer pulls on top of one of my original markings to help me better visualize the size and determine how much I wanted the top edge to stick up above the pull. I finally settled on about 1¼”. I measured all along the top of the template to make sure it was even with the top edge of the curtain, and then pinned the paper template securely in place.
- Using my actual drawer pull and an awl, I moved from mark to mark along the template and made a small hole through the paper at the top and the bottom of the pull.
- Then, using a fabric marker, I went back along the length of the strip and poked the pen through each hole, making a mark on the fabric.
- When I pulled the template away, I had two dots marking the top and bottom of each buttonhole position. I connected each set of dots with a vertical line and emphasized the top and bottom with short horizontal lines.
- Even if you are lucky enough to have a sensor type buttonhole feature on your sewing machine, it’s not likely to help in this situation as most drawer pulls are larger than your average button. But that’s okay, because you’ve made such good markings! You can create a manual buttonhole in this larger size instead, following your vertical and horizontal lines. On my Janome machine, this is their ‘Auto Buttonhole’ feature.
- Slow and careful wins the race when it comes to buttonholes. You have a lot to do, but don’t rush it.
Attaching the curtain
Because this type of curtain panel is designed to have a taut fit, you need to start at one end with your ‘buttoning’ and attach it one buttonhole at a time. You might need to tug on the curtain slightly to make it over each subsequent pull, but once the buttonhole slips over the pull, it falls nicely back into place.