DIY Outdoor Curtain Guide
Adding curtains elevates the look and feel of your outdoor space to something breezy, luxurious and out of the ordinary. The right outdoor curtains can make your patio feel like a high-end resort or hideaway, gently shading you from the sun and the outside world. They can transform an ordinary porch or patio into a true outdoor living room that you and your family will enjoy.
Outdoor curtains can be used to make an open space feel cozy and secluded, as well as help keep your porch cooler during the hotter hours of the day so you can spend that time outside in comfort. They also can help divide your patio into distinct areas with their own ambiance and, when added to a porch, can even help lower your air conditioning and heating bills by tempering the effects of particularly sweltering or freezing weather before it hits the house.
Even for DIY newbies, a patio curtain DIY project is relatively easy. With a little preparation and understanding the best fabric type for your needs, you can whip up an entire set in a single afternoon. With gorgeous outdoor fabrics from Phifer and our step-by-step tutorial, you’ll be lounging in your own private patio cabana before you know it.
Reasons to Make Your Own Curtains
DIY outdoor curtains offer endless flexibility: you choose the exact color, print and texture that sings to you. You can pair your fabrics with your existing outdoor furniture to create a design scheme that can include soothing neutrals or exciting pops of color. Making your own outdoor curtains from Phifer’s beautiful designed fabrics also opens up a whole world of possibilities to coordinate and contrast your curtains with your outdoor cushions and pillows. It also means that you can create curtains in the perfect size for your space without being restricted to the standard curtain panel widths and lengths.
How Much Fabric You'll Need to Make Your Curtains
It’s relatively easy to calculate how much fabric you’ll need to make your curtains. All you need is a measuring tape and a few simple measurements.
First, you’ll measure for height to determine how long your curtains will be. Measure from the topmost point of where you plan to hang the curtains (from a rod or wire). Measure from this point to the floor of your porch or patio. You will also need to add extra length for the hem of your curtains.
- Top hem: Just how much you add to the top will depend on your preferred hanging method.
Rod pocket: If you plan to create a single fold across the top for a rod or pipe to slide through, you need to make sure there is plenty of space for the curtains to move when you open and close them. A rod pocket that “just fits” will be too tight. You’ll want to allow for at least an extra inch to allow for easy movement even when the fabric is bunched up. For most sturdy curtain rods, an extra 5 inches on the top is a good rule of thumb. (Remember: you’ll be folding it over.
- Grommets: Curtains that have large metal grommets with decorative rods inserted through them have become popular in recent years. If you are going to go the grommet route and hang your curtains with hooks or wires, you will still need extra fabric at the top to fold over. This will give your curtains a neat finish as well as a sturdy anchor for the grommets. In this case, 3 inches should do the trick.
- Bottom Hem: For the bottom hem, add an extra 9 inches. This will give a nice, deep hem that will help the curtains hang gracefully, and you’ll have room to add curtain weights if you’re in a windy area.
Final Height Measurement: Length + Top Hem + Bottom Hem.
Next, measure the space you want your curtains to cover when extended. For an elegant, draped look to your outdoor curtains, you will want to double this measurement so that attractive folds are visible when the curtains are bunched up or hanging loosely.
- For very full curtains, allow for 2 ½ times the width of the space you’re covering. Because outdoor fabric is thick, it will have a natural fullness, so you don’t need to be as extravagant with your width for a luxe look to your finished outdoor curtains.
- Add another inch for each panel to allow for side hems.
Final width measurement: Width x 2 (or 2.5) + 2 inches per panel.
Phifer’s designer outdoor fabric is 54 inches wide, which offers a generous panel size for many outdoor curtain projects. Simply divide your width measurement by 54 to get an idea of how many panels you need. (If you want wider curtains, you can also sew multiple panels together.)
To calculate your overall fabric needs, you’ll need to multiply your length measurement by the number of panels required to cover your space.
How to Make Your Own DIY Outdoor Curtains
If this is your first time tackling a project with outdoor fabric, you may want to take a peek at our primer on how to sew with outdoor fabric, You’ll find a great introduction to working with Phifer’s fabrics, including tips on the right needles and thread to use in your sewing machine.
Here's What You'll Need:
- Outdoor fabric - We recommend our beautiful GeoBella® fabrics for this specific purpose
- Outdoor (polyester) thread
- Sewing machine
- Measuring tape/ruler
- Sharp fabric scissors
- Tailor’s chalk, disappearing fabric pen, or soft-leaded pencil
- Sewing pins
- Grommet Kit
- Clip rings
- Lead curtain weights or heavy galvanized steel washers (when choosing weights, be sure to pick something that won’t rust and discolor the bottoms of your curtains when exposed to moisture.
Now, onto our step-by-step guide that will show you how to make outdoor curtains for patios and porches!
To begin, make sure you have a large, clean, flat area to work. Curtains require a large volume of fabric, so the more space you have, the more comfortable and accurate your measuring, cutting and sewing will be. Preheat your iron and set it to the side of your workspace. During the process, you may want to press your fabric between certain steps. This is not mandatory, but it will give your DIY curtains a more polished finish if you do!
Step 1: Measure and cut your panels.
Lay your fabric on a flat surface, such as a large dining table or your floor. Measure your lengths. Remember: measure twice, cut once! Take your time to avoid mistakes, unnecessary frustration and wasted fabric.
Step 2: (Optional, for wider panels): Pin and sew panels together.
If you are creating wider panels, lay both lengths of fabric together with the right sides facing together. Mark a ½ inch seam allowance along the length and pin. Sew along the line. Press the seam allowance open with your iron.
Step 3: Pin and sew side hems.
Mark a 1 inch hem on each side of the panel. Fold the hem in half to create a ½ inch hem and press. Then, fold over again to enclose the raw edge. Press and pin, then sew along the length with a ¼ inch seam allowance.
Step 4: Pin and sew top hem.
How you sew the top hem will depend on whether you’re going for a long pocket to hold a curtain rod or grommets for hooks or wires.
For a “pocket” curtain: Mark a line across the top of the panel the height of your chosen pocket, 5 inches from the top edge. Mark a 1 inch hem along the top of your panel. Fold ½ inch of the top edge of your panel in and press. Fold it over again to enclose the raw edge. Press again and pin. Sew along the hem with a ¼ inch seam allowance. Finally, fold the finished edge to meet your first mark and sew with a ¼ inch seam allowance.
For grommets: Mark a line across the top of your curtain panel 3 inches from the top edge. Fold hem in half to create a 1 ½ inch hem and press. Fold again to enclose raw edge and press once more. Pin and sew with a ¼ inch seam allowance. This will give a sturdy base for you to insert grommets later.
Step 5: Pin and sew bottom hem.
Mark a line 9 inches from the bottom of your panel. Mark a 1 inch hem along the top of your panel. Fold ½ inch of the bottom edge of your panel in and press. Then fold it over once more to enclose the raw edge and press again. Sew along the hem with a ¼ inch seam allowance. Fold the finished edge in to meet your first mark and press once more. Now you can pin and add your weights if you are using them. Sew along the hem with ¼ inch seam allowance. If you have used curtain weights, you’ll also need to sew along each side of the hem to trap them inside.
Step 6: (Optional) Add grommets.
If you’re adding grommets, use a ruler and pencil to measure and mark your spacing between grommets along the top hem of your curtain. Cut a small X with your fabric scissors at each spot to make placement easier. Follow the instructions with your grommet kit to place a grommet at each of your marks. Add your clip rings, and they’re ready to hang.
That’s all it takes to create fabulous outdoor curtains and turn your porch or patio into a luxurious private escape.
Ready for More DIY? Meet Phifer's Products!
Are you ready to get started on your DIY outdoor curtains right now? Try the Phifer Fabric Visualizer! You can explore exciting color schemes, sample different textures, play with mixing and matching tones, and experiment with textures. Using sample images and your chosen fabrics, the Visualizer will give you an inspiring preview of your finished project!
Phifer wants you to feel confident and empowered about using our fabrics, so we’re always here to help. If you have any questions, get in touch with us! Our friendly experts are ready to assist you with whatever you need. We’re always happy to offer extra guidance over the phone, email or live chat! We can even help you jump-start your project by introducing you to a local or online retailer with your chosen Phifer Designed Fabrics in stock!