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Cheap RV Living Tips: How To Make Your Own Curtains

By Edited Aug 8, 2016 0 2

We Frugal RVers Made Our Own Motorhome Curtains...

...And I Truly Can't Sew

When we purchased our 1993 Fleetwood Bounder, we were thrilled to have our new home. At the same time, the inside felt as inviting as a hospital operating room. The carpet, upholstery and curtains were all the same boring pattern...it looked like a gigantic, 30 foot mauve capsule on the inside. Even hanging our own decor around did nothing to cover the "ick factor" we felt when inside of it.

The problem was that we are rvers who jumped into full time rving without financial preparation, determined to simplify and live cash only. So we had to take time figuring out how to renovate our camper for minimal cost. In the end, we did it amazingly "on the cheap" and are thrilled with the outcome.

One of the changes we made was with the rv drapes. Here are the tips on how we did every window in our motorhome (all 7 of them).

Here Were The Awful RV Window Blinds It Came With

These Dusty, Filthy, Dark and Depressing Shades Were On Every Single Window!
Credit: Our Personal Photo

Here Is What This Window Became

We Made A Valance and Another Kitchen Curtain From This Tablecloth

A One Dollar Thrift Store Purchase Became Our Color Theme

How To Make Motorhome and Travel Trailer Curtains?

Here Is How We Did It...

The most important thing you need to know is that I truly cannot sew. Honestly, I don't even own a machine and get bored rather quickly. But I knew that basic rv drapes were easy to make...so I set off to borrow a Singer. I found one at the campground we are rving at, so that was a good start...free!

Next on the agenda...I had to refresh my memory on how to sew the darn thing. It goes a little something like this...If you have a piece of fabric in front of you, turn the side you want facing out, face down on the table. Measure the width of the window you are going to hang it on. For this example, we will say it is 60 inches wide. Assuming you want 2 panels (most people do!), cut the material down the center. Take one panel and get it cut down to a more manageable size. Because I'm not the most accurate with scissors, I add 4 inches to the width. So each panel will be 34" wide. Next, we need to cut the height to a better dimension. I leave 2" at the bottom and the top will depend on how you will be hanging it. If you want a gathered top you will need to leave a lot of fabric so you can fold it over...you will have to determine that measurement based on your preferences.

I then plug in my iron (this makes it so much easier, believe me!) and, this is important, I fold one side in and iron it nice and crisp. Then I use the tape measure to see where to fold the other side in, close to my goal of the 30", and iron that into place. Do the sides first or you will be closing off the hole where the curtain rod goes! With the sides all ready to go, I whip them under the sewing machine and move on to the top/bottom hems.

You repeat the steps you used on the sides for the height of the curtain. However, the top is a little trickier. Always keep in mind where it will hang from the curtain rod, to be sure you don't sew it too short or long. If, like me, you aren't going to worry about gathers (I like the looseness of opening/closing the drapes with ease in the rv), then it will simply lie over the rod, so you can fold the top hem at the exact measurement you need. If you want a gather, you simply sew across the top twice, with the distance between the stitching equaling the width of your curtain rod, so it can gather correctly. Too small, you won't be able to move it. Too large, it won't gather at all.

That is all there is to actually making the curtains. It really is easy! Before moving on, if you like the no-sew dinette cushions you see in the photo or if you are wanting to make no-sew windshield curtains, be sure to read my other articles below. Honestly, no sewing involved!

Dinette Cushions

Motorhome Windshield Curtains

Here Is The Kitchen Curtain We Made For Our RV From That Same Tablecloth

I Tie It Off With Leftover Scrap Material From Other Curtains

This Was The Best Dollar I've Spent In A Long Time

Cheap Drapes And Curtains For Your RV - Some Great Ideas We've Learned

Your Main Cost Will Be Your Time, Not Cash

Our tablecloth find was just one example of how cheaply you can make camper curtains. But there are other ideas as well that save you a lot of money...

  • Thrift stores have the best, funkiest fabric and sheets. I always start there to find that one-of-a-kind item for my rv window coverings.
  • Fabric stores often have bargain fabric bins...definitely check them out.
  • Here is a trick we used in our current camper...buy really nice curtains on clearance that are very long, cut them in half and do a whole bedroom! Our three bedroom curtains (6 panels) came from just two clearanced panels from Ross. These are suede, with tab tops, and are fully lined, blocking out the light. Paid only a few dollars for them and got enough material to do all windows. The great part is that half of the sewing was already done and in place, I just needed to stitch wherever I had to cut. Long 84" curtains are usually twice as long as you need for a camper window. I did the same in my living room as well. This tip saved me so much sewing time.
  • You can also find creative ideas with shower curtains. We made our motorhome windshield curtain with heavy duty liners.

In closing, I did all seven rv curtains in one day. Yes, it was a very long day...but I returned that Singer sewing machine the next morning, and our rv looked like a whole new motorhome.

Hope you've enjoyed these tips! Happy Trails, Jim and Robin



Sep 11, 2011 1:58am
I really enjoyed this article. We're doing up a big old bus and I'll need to make curtains. I have a machine but don't sew much and don't enjoy it so I'll make a note of this article so I can find it again when the time comes. Thanks.
Sep 12, 2011 10:14am
Thank you for your comment- So happy you found this article useful. Renovating a bus sounds like work, but so much fun. You feel like it will never get done, but when all of the pieces come together, you never want to leave it! Have fun!
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