Using Sheets to Make Curtains - dummies

By Mark Montano, Carly Sommerstein

If you hate to sew and hate to shop for fabric, but you’re still committed to making your own window coverings, think about cheating — with flat sheets! They’re great for our no-sew and low-sew projects because they offer several advantages:

  • Their edges are already finished.

  • They’re usually wide enough to avoid joining several fabric panels together, which saves you mucho sewing time.

  • They’re multifunctional.

    You can use the sheets in many different ways. For example, if you have leftover sheet fabric, you can use it to create a pillow cover or tiebacks for another set of curtains. If you chose a printed sheet, you can color copy it and use it as a matte for framing pictures or art.

Sheet sizes are fairly standard, so keep these measurements in mind when you’re searching:

  • Twin sheets: 66 x 96 inches

  • Full sheets: 81 x 96 inches

  • Queen sheets: 90 x 102 inches

  • King sheets: 108 x 102 inches

Queen- and king-size sheets are almost twice the width of most home decorating fabrics, giving you a lot to work with. Sometimes a twin sheet cut in half to create two panels is enough to treat a small window.

Shop for sheets just as you would unroll a bolt of fabric at the store. For window treatments, take the flat sheet out of its packaging (or if you can’t, borrow the display sample), walk over to a source of natural light, and see how much light spills through.

Depending on where you shop for them, sheets can give you a lot of bang for the buck, especially the larger-size sheets. You can usually buy a good quality king-size flat sheet for about $35 to $45, which you can use to create draperies for an average-size window with some fabric leftover. Also, look out for those seasonal white sales! You can find some great bargains.

High thread-count designer sheets are also becoming more affordable, whereas they were once the privilege of the very rich. Why not consider using a sheet with a petite pattern and wonderful texture instead of fabric by the bolt? For a linen look, try an Egyptian cotton sheet. Egyptian cotton has beautiful draping qualities and works well for swag window treatments. For a tucked-and-pinned slipcover over that needs to fit over a hard-to-fit or unusually shaped sofa look for sheets with a synthetic/cotton blend, or even an all-synthetic sheet. Though you may frown on sleeping on all-synthetic sheets, they may work well for you elsewhere in your home. In addition, blends and synthetics don’t wrinkle as much.

Similarly, if you’re creating a project that requires a slightly stiffer fabric, say, to hold pleats, very cheap sheets (those with poor fiber content and low thread counts) found at a bargain store work well. Their fiber content doesn’t make them comfortable to sleep on, but their stiff texture may be just what you’re looking for. These same sheets aren’t durable enough for slipcover use because they’re just too poorly made.