Sewing a vintage-modern cafe curtain panel

Last week during the holiday break, I got fed up with the shade situation in our bathroom. The Roman shade was installed when we moved in and while it is a nice enough shade, it was installed wrong. It’s too big for the window and was mounted on the outside of the window frame. It was also hung crooked and when closed for privacy, blocked all the sunlight. Here’s a picture:

Since I had the time, I decided to come up with a solution on the spot. I went down to the garage and dug through the stuff leftover from our last apartment. I found a simple tension rod. Then, I rummaged though my fabric cabinet and discovered the old curtain from my former kitchen. When we moved, I washed the curtain and stowed it away imagining it would become linen tea towels or napkins. Little did I know it would be re-born as another curtain.

I removed the roman shade and the hardware and installed the tension rod halfway up the window. It took about 10 minutes.

Then I got to work on the linen curtain panel. It was too wide and too long for this window, so some simple hemming was in order.

First, I measured the width of the window and left a small seam allowance on the measured fabric. I sewed simple rolled hems on either side. The trick with this panel was to make sure it was the exact width of the window for a tailored finish. To sew a rolled hem, just fold and iron the raw edge over. And then fold and iron it again. Just pin everything in place and sew a simple straight stitch along the inner edge of the hem.

I did the same hem along the bottom of the panel because, for some reason, I hadn’t done so the first time I made this fabric into a curtain. The raw edges you see in the above photos are where I had attached the bottom border piece when I originally made this panel for my kitchen. You could certainly just use a single piece of fabric.

Next, I hung the half-finished panel on the tension rod and pinned the top. Then I carefully removed the panel, ironed the fold, and cut away the excess fabric leaving about two and a half inches for the rod pocket hem.

To sew the rod pocket hem, I folded the raw edge over as with the other hems. But when I folded the hem again, I left the hem wide enough to accommodate the hardware.

I’m really pleased with the final result. The curtain is linen so it lets in a good deal of light. Also, since only the bottom half of the window is covered, we now get plenty of light in through the top of the window. Since this window is on the second floor facing tree tops, we can get away with a skimpy window treatment. The best part: since I used what I already had, this new panel cost $0.

I’ve kept these how-to steps fairly basic. If you need more detail or have a sewing question I might be able to help with, leave a comment below or send me an email at urbandomesticity[at]gmail[dot]com.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like this post on hanging and hemming regular curtains. And this post about sewing a decorative throw pillow.

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2 Responses to Sewing a vintage-modern cafe curtain panel

  1. room design says:

    That is very simple and sweet! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Erin says:

    What a simple and elegant update to the classic cafe curtain! I was looking all over the internet and kept finding these poofy, frilly, or lacy cafe curtains, none of which suited our simple, kid-friendly, comtemporary kitchen. This is just perfect! Thanks for posting the pics.

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