Thursday, June 13, 2013

Canvas Outdoor Curtains

I finally got around to making the outdoor curtains that I've been thinking about for years! We have a deck that spans the back of our home, and sits above our patio. I love being able to see out our windows to the wisteria, trees, and also to our daughter's apartment adjoining our back fence (hey there, Linds). But, sometimes when we're up on the deck, we feel like it would be nice to have a little more privacy from the neighbors on either side of us. 

I mulled the idea around in my head, and didn't love the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on outdoor fabric, and then having to make complicated curtains. I even thought about having someone else make them for me, which sounded way, way too expensive. So, what fabric could I use that wasn't too expensive, and was already in large pieces? Canvas drop cloths! Plus, I still had my Mother's Day Home Depot gift card with plenty to cover the cost of four of them.

I needed four panels for the deck: two on each end. And in measuring, they would have to drop about 9-1/2 feet from the pole, so I decided that this size would offer the least amount of cutting and hemming.

The first step was to wash all of the drop cloths in hot water, dry them in the dryer, wash them again, then lay them out in the warm sun to dry. I found that this big of a piece of fabric didn't dry well in the dryer. It was too much fabric for it to dry without tons of wrinkles. So, by laying them out in the sun, they ended up with the least amount of wrinkles. You really do have to wash and dry the drop cloths to shrink them. They do shrink considerably!

While the fabric was drying, the love of my life was busy fashioning brackets and poles to hang the curtains from. I had thought maybe I could buy the hardware, but he said he could make better and stronger brackets in less time than it would take me to go to the store and buy them. And he was right. It took about 30 minutes from beginning to end.

Here he is cutting the poles to size.

He welded little u-shaped boxes onto metal plates, and then painted them all black. When he asked if I wanted the screws to be black to match, I couldn't think of anything more tedious and messy than trying to paint each screw black. But, he had a clever plan in his head and punched the screws through cardboard.

And them gave them all a good coat of black spray. Clever, clever man.

And this is what his bracket looks like in place. Awesome!

The hardware is sturdy and not going anywhere, but easy for me to lift off the pole if I need to change things or wash the curtains. If you don't have a husband who welds as a hobby :), then I know you can find good hardware online or at stores everywhere.

I bought the clip rings from Joann's.

The rings clip easily to the provided hem of the drop cloth and they hold the heavy fabric tightly.

After we hung the curtains, I needed to pin them up so that I could hem them to a good size. I had thought I might like them to "pool" along the deck, but there was way too much fabric, and after I thought about the rain and weather they might get, I figured it would be good for them to be off of the deck so that they wouldn't sit in the wet and dirt that might accumulate there. Interestingly enough, the drop cloths come with a seam right across the middle of the panels. That was the exact spot that I pinned them up to, so it was really easy for me to keep that line straight.

I hemmed them up along the bottom edge, and then with the fabric that I cut off, had plenty of extra to make ties with. I attached the ties to the curtain panels at each bottom corner (to tie to the deck rails if it gets very windy) and then three down the center where the two panels meet so that I could tie the to panels together if wanted.

The ties also serve as something to tie them back with when they're not in use.

Its amazing how it makes it seem like more of a private space when the curtains are closed. And its SO much cooler out there in the afternoon. Also, one benefit that I hadn't counted on is it totally blocks the late afternoon sun from shining into our family room and kitchen windows and cools down those rooms considerably. Yay!

I love, love, love these curtains, and I really love that they were inexpensive, easy to make, and easy to care for!


  1. Dayna-dear,
    Such a great idea using the drop clothes! You are an imspiration & such a clever girl!
    Love you, Susan

  2. You are a amazing pair working together to help achieve a great project. I'm glad I raised such a clever gal.
    Lots of love

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    1. Thanks! I think they'll do just the trick, and they should be easy to take down and wash, too, at the end of the season!

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