DIY Drop Cloth Curtains – What You Need to Know First

Have you heard of DIY curtains made from painter’s canvas drop cloths? Thanks to Pinterest, I had. It only took a couple of photos and I fell in love with the idea. When I needed to find curtains for my living/dining room area (that didn’t cost over $100 per panel), I decided to give them a try.

I love all things DIY. At my house we probably go a little heavier with these type of projects than we should. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people say, “You did what?!” We’ve learned to figure out how much time a project should take…then multiply it by 4. That usually gives us a more accurate idea of our investment. Regardless, I love projects and the satisfaction of our finished product is worth the journey to get there (usually anyways).

This one was no different. I love these curtains…now that they are hanging up and not laying on my dining room floor (for weeks).

drop cloth curtains

I’m going to be honest. This project was the bane of my existence. Still is because I have 2 panels remaining that need done for my dining room window. It may be a while before I tackle it. Not that this project was necessarily difficult. I just made some errors and it drug on much longer than it should.

Let me set the stage for you. My living room has a 12-foot ceiling. The window takes up majority of that height. In my quest for curtains, I rarely found any that were long enough. When I did, they were either not what I was looking for or really expensive. I would never justify spending $500+  on curtains. There are just too many other things I need/want to do around here so my money needs to stretch (a lot).

I used 9’x12′ drop cloths. Those I bought were from Walmart at $20 per. For my big window, I ended up needing a full drop cloth on each side. This gave the width and length. I just folded over about 10-11 inches at the top so I didn’t have to sew them. You can’t even tell. Then I bought the cheapest flat paint I could buy. You really don’t need to spend money on good paint, and I never added medium to the paint. It is supposed to help keep it from cracking and possibly make it washable. I wasn’t concerned about that. Who washes their curtains, right?! Right?!

I made a few errors when I first started. These cost me about $30. The first paint color I chose was too light. It didn’t give the contrast I was looking for, and it definitely didn’t end up fitting the color scheme I’m working with in the room. Because of this, I scrapped the first panel and started over again. As long as you don’t make the same mistake I did, the price is really reasonable! Totally worth the time to do them.

While I love my curtains and they completely fit my needs, there are some things I wish I had known before I decided to tackle this project. I’m going to share them with you here.

diy curtains

Eventually the walls will be painted. We still have work to do before this room is done.

What You Need To Know First

  1. They will not be perfect! – This made me a bit nervous because I tend to be a perfectionist (I’m a Capricorn). I decided early on that I was just going to go with it. Glad I did. Think about it, the fabric is made to be a drop cloth for painting. It isn’t consistent. There were spots that were a little threadbare. Others that were discolored a bit. The edges are not really straight. The wrinkles don’t come out 100% (though they still look good). Be prepared for imperfections, but know they really don’t show in the finished product.
  2. They are stiff! – I washed mine before painting them. The fabric is thick and canvas doesn’t really lay softly. When the paint dries, it is very hard. I hung mine while they were still damp so they would harden in the shape I wanted them. For my purposes, it’s perfect! I don’t ever plan to open/close them. They are merely for decoration and a pop of color in the room. My guess is they will open/close if needed. Over time the paint could crack. I love how mine hang now that they are dry. They even pool a little on the floor. However, they may not be for everyone.
  3. Need a large work space! – Once washed and dried, they will need ironed. It is best to be able to lay it out flat on the floor. I had to use a water bottle to spray and then iron on the hottest setting. This got majority of the wrinkles out (not all). Then you need them to stay for as long as it takes to complete the project (measure, tape or outline your design, paint, and partially dry). I ironed on carpet and then moved them to the dining room floor for the rest so I could put a big plastic drop cloth under. They absorb a ton of paint! I kept getting interrupted during each step of the process and mine ended up being in their spot for a couple of weeks.
  4.  Some have seams! – When I opened my drop cloths the first time, I realized that there is a seam right across the middle. I wasn’t expecting that and went back and forth on what to do. The blogs I read never mentioned this. After the fact I started researching. I realized that I could either return them and then go on a hunt to find a brand that didn’t have them (seemed like a hassle), or just work with it. Maybe it’s the lazy in me, but driving around to a bunch of stores and buying/returning products or opening them in the store didn’t sound like fun. I went with it. You can’t even tell! I just lined up one of my stripes so it blends in. At least know some brands have seams.

I also want to mention that this project has taken me so much longer than I anticipated. I finished my first panel a day or so before Thanksgiving. Life happened here (sick kids, a surgery, holidays, and then Cameron’s passing). The project was put on hold. I have been so embarrassed to have just 1 curtain panel hanging on this window, but I couldn’t bring myself to finish it…until now. So I know there were extenuating circumstances here. However, they caused me to move the curtain and get it re-wrinkled. Starting over was so annoying that I put it off for a little while. I bring this up so you plan accordingly.

In the end, I love my diy curtains! This was the perfect choice for me. If you liked these, check out my next project. I built a curtain board to support the drop cloth curtains. I’m in love.

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