Dorm rooms are not known for being private places; often two people are sharing a room about a hundred and fifty feet square, and everything is done in full view of the person's roommate. For a student who has been accustomed to having her own room at her parents' home, therefore, living in a dorm room can be a huge adjustment, and may lead to a lot of conflict between the persons sharing a dorm room. However, an increase in privacy may significantly reduce the tensions between people sharing dorm rooms, and one of the most attractive ways that you can enhance privacy, or at least the illusion of privacy, is with a mosquito net bed canopy. Not only do these canopies give a sense of privacy, but they make a dorm room look good, and may hide an untidy bed from an unexpected visitor, as well. Mosquito net bed canopies are easy and inexpensive to make, and may, in addition, provide protection from mosquito bites if there is a roommate who insists on sleeping with the windows open.

To make a canopy, all you need is some fabric, a square or circular hoop at least two feet in diameter, a ceiling hanger such as those used for hanging baskets, and a sewing machine. Optionally, you may wish to add trim to the canopy to embellish it. If you wish, you can make your canopy to fit a a king size bed, and tuck in the excess for the smaller beds found in dorm rooms, so that it can be reused in another bedroom. Properly made and cared for, a mosquito net bed canopy will last for many years!

First of all, you will need to find material that will be suitable for a mosquito net bed canopy. You can either use tulle or illusion, such as is used for bridal veils, or you may choose to use a heavier fabric that will provide more privacy and warmth, such as muslin or some heavier fabric. The colour can be anything you enjoy, from a soft pastel, to white, to a bold colour that will really stand out. Even stripes and patterns can be used to great effect -- however, if you want to reuse the canopy later in another room, make sure the colours will still harmonize.

Bed CanopyCredit: Public Domain

Most modern rooms are eight feet tall, so subtract one foot from this measurement to account for the hanger and the height of the bed from the floor. Next, you will want to know the width of the material. Measure around the circumference of the bed, (or measure across the bed, and the length of the bed, add together, and multiply by two) and add ten per cent for a close-fitting canopy, or fifty to one hundred per cent for a very full, billowy canopy (the lighter the material, the fuller your canopy can be). Divide this by the width of your chosen material, which will tell you how many seven-foot pieces you will need. Then you multiply the number of pieces needed times seven feet, and divide by three for yards. This will tell you how many yards of material you need to buy. Many fabric stores will cut the fabric into seven foot lengths for you at little to no cost. If you have trouble figuring out the yardage, most fabric stores will be able to help you figure out how much material to buy if you tell the person who cuts the fabric the height of the ceiling and the circumference of the bed.

If your fabric has a right side and a wrong side, mark the right side. If the fabric is a woven fabric, be sure to straighten the fabric after washing it, or your canopy will not hang straight. Now, you will match the selvages of the fabric (the finished edges, not the cut ends) and sew them together, from the bottom up to the top; doing half the seams on one piece, and then half on the other piece (so that people can get in and out). For delicate fabrics, you will want to use a French seam. You will now have four edges that are not attached to anything. Carefully press a small crease along each edge towards the wrong side, fold under, press again, and sew these edges up.Turn the top edge of the fabric under twice, so that you end up with a tunnel. Sew the tunnel together so that it can have a small piece of metal run through it. You will use a jump ring, such as are used on keychains, to suspend the canopy. Thread the jump ring carefully through the two pieces of fabric.

Now install the ceiling hook, and hang the canopy on the jump ring from the hook. The canopy should tuck in under the mattress. Figure out the height you wish for the hoop, and mark the distance from the top with a vanishing marker, pins, or chalk. Remove the canopy from the ceiling hook.

Suspend the hoop from the ceiling hook at the desired height. You may use monofilament fishing line for an airy look, or chain for a more decorative feel. Your local hardware store will offer you many decorative options. Make sure the hoop is level.

Remove the hoop from the ceiling hook, put the fishing line or chain through the jump ring at the top, and then place the hoop back on the ceiling hook, so that the canopy falls over the hoop. If you wish, you may use a few stitches to secure the fabric to the hoop. Make sure that there is an opening on each side of the bed, and you are done. Simply tuck the ends of the mosquito net bed canopy under the mattress for protection from mosquitoes, or leave them loose if you prefer. Now you can have privacy and romance in your dorm room, and you will also have an investment that you can take with you when you graduate!

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Sometimes you just don't have the time, or energy, or materials to do a project yourself. While this won't muffle too much sound or light, the bed canopy pictured here will give you at least a little sense of privacy. When the fabric gets worn, take it off carefully, and use it as a pattern to make a replacement (in a heavier fabric, if you wish).