Low Cost Draperies

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Cheap Drapes Needed

If anyone knows of an inexpensive way to either buy or make drapes,please help me. The windows in my living room face the west, which causes the house to get very warm during the afternoon and evening. The room also has a high ceiling, so the windows are literally from top to bottom. I have mini blinds, but the heat continues to poor in. I put film on all the windows, but the room still gets very warm. I live in Houston, Tx. and the weather leaves a lot to be desired. I decided that drapes with an insulated backing would really help, so I did some checking. My windows are not standard sizes, so I've been unable to find anything ready made that will fit. I got a quote from a well known department store's drapery expert. It was well over a thousand dollars! I went to a cloth store, and found the drapery material to be very expensive. I am at a loss. I just want simple drapes, nothing fancy. But, everything is so expensive! If anyone has some ideas for me I would really appreciate it.
Sandy P.

It's In the Fabric

Our house also has all custom size windows. I made a curtain for the french door in the bathroom using a tablecloth top I got on sale for $5.00, with the lining and thread I made it for under $10.00. Be creative when looking for fabric. This would have required 4 yds of fabric which I could not have gotten for $5.00. I shop at discount fabric houses as well. I used inexpensive sheets and trimmed them with a ruffle to make curtains for my daughters room. I also made a valence for a window and will do drapes soon. I bought two patterns when they were on sale for 99 cents for how to instructions. However, I designed my own valence after looking at some custom ones. Also, New York Fabrics near me has a lot of samples on display of easy to make window coverings and instructions. If you want more information on general sewing, check out the newsgroup rec.crafts.textiles.sewing.

Cheap Drapes: Look to the Tightwad Gazette

For the person looking for an inexpensive way to make drapes: the The Tightwad Gazette III: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle has a section on just this topic. Check it out at the library.

Roman Shades

For the person who needed to make window coverings: Roman shades use much less fabric than drapes and are easy to make. I waited until the fabric I liked went on sale (right after the holidays in my case, but there are usually sales at other times) for 40% off, then bought it. I made shades for all the windows in my house for about $175, but they weren't insulated. For your problem, you may want to add an insulation or reflector fabric, which will up the price, but will probably pay off in reduced cooling bills over the long run.

Sunset Books makes a book that gives exact details about how to make the shades. They are a good first sewing project, so don't worry if you don't have sewing experience.

Cheap Drapes: Use Blankets

In answer to Sandy P needing drapery advice. Why use drapes at all? I have a house which gets full sun all day and no air-conditioning. I live in Lou., KY where our summers are hot and humid too. I used aluminum foil on my windows instead of the film like you did but it works quite well to reflect the sun away. Easily removed in the fall too.

As for the drapes, I bought enough backing fabric to make drape backs only. I bought blankets to use for the drapes. They come in longer lengths than most drapes. I have 7 ft windows and they fit quite well. I used the simple straight double curtain rods. Sewed a small straight hem in the backing fabric. Then made 12 button holes along the top of each. Then slipped shower curtain rings through the holes and hung them. The backing on the back rod and the blanket on the front one.

To cover up the rings and rods to make it look nicer I made a window box out of cardboard and covered it with scrap fabric which matched. The window box doesn't need to be made from anything heavy because it doesn't have to hold up any weight. I just stapled the window box to the wall. Cardboard is free so if I tire of the style, I simply get another box and make a new one in a different shape. Wash and reuse the fabric.

From across the room they look like "luxurious" type fabric drapes with a custom box over them. Remember, the darker the room the cooler it will be. The sun can't make it hot if it can't get in. Hope this helps.

Don't Forget Backing

My husband and I live in a small apartment in Tennessee that faces due west, and the temperature in the living room can rise to upwards of 90 degrees in the summertime if we leave the windows uncovered. Even with blinds closed all the way it was still too hot.

We shopped several fabric stores and found a medium heavy material on the sale table, and bought enough of the bolt to make curtains for each of 3 windows, based on the simple curtain pattern we had chosen. We also bought unbleached muslin to use for lining/insulation - even though the pattern did not call for or allow for a backing, I just sewed it to the cut out panels before sewing them according to the directions on the pattern.

This has worked out quite well - the small air conditioner can now adequately cool the living space,and the fierce heat of the sun no longer invades our summer evenings. It is, however, very dark in the living room in the summer, but having a cool place to relax is important!
A.L. O'H

Cheap Drapes: Tableclothes!

I'm facing the same problem with some newly-installed (but dumpster-salvaged!) 8-foot French doors on our new schoolroom/office addition. My solution is to purchase on sale some checked tablecloths for about $10 apiece (a ready-made drape this size would be $20) and then back this with the Roc-Lon lining fabric. I'll just cut a piece a bit smaller than the drape, including small hems at the sides and deeper one at the bottom to look nice. Then I'll probably hand-sew the lining on to the back of my "drape" and attach either a loop of matching fabric (a matching napkin cut up) or one of the ready-made drapery rings, and slip it over a simple wooden pole.

Shop home improvement for great prices at Overstock.com.

I used to work in a drapery shop, selling and helping sewing when I wasn't out in the field, and you can definitely do this if you carefully measure and lay everything out flat on either the kitchen floor or another smooth surface. Measure, measure and measure again to make sure everything is squared up. Use T-squares and measuring tapes and chalk to help you--maybe someone you know is experienced with drapes or you can get a book from the library to help you with some of the basics. The new ones are so simple you can easily make them, but you're right, the fabric can be very expensive. Look for fabric outlets, mail order places and get on the mailing list for fabric stores. Holidays are great times for 50% off sales on drapery fabric. On New Year's Day and 4th of July I get great bargains.

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