Curtains are often made from high-quality fabrics, and when it comes to redecoration time, you may be quite reluctant to get rid of your old drapes and curtains. When I decided to fit blinds in my living room, I didn’t want to just throw away my old curtains. But what could I do with second-hand curtains? The real question is actually: What can’t I do with second-hand curtains?
Old drapes can be used to make amazing and useful home decor projects such as sofa covers, new cushions, wallpaper, shopper bags, bedspreads, headboards, and more.
15 Alternative Uses for Old Curtains Around the Home, But Not on the Windows
Curtains essentially offer you a large section of fabric, with the bonus that there may be some great fabric trim on the curtains. With this section of fabric, you can make and design any number of great ideas for your home.
1. Old Curtains as a Tablecloth
With a great curtain, you can easily make a durable and beautiful tablecloth. With a bit of luck, you may not even have to sew anything. Simply use a small pair of scissors to snip through the stitching holding the curtain tape in place and let the curtain loose. Wash and iron your curtain, making sure the curtain is clean and flat.
Lay the curtain out on your chosen table. If your table is too small for the curtain, you can consider hemming it, or you can use drawstring ribbons to create a little play fort for the little ones.
2. Old Curtains as Placemats and Napkins
When you have some skills at the sewing machine, consider upcycling your old drapes into fashionable placements and napkins.
Simply cut the desired size for the napkins and placemats from your old curtains, then fold the edges over into a half-inch seam, sticking them in place with sewing glue.
3. Faux Wallpaper
If you are renting and can’t repaint the walls or perhaps you want a quick fix to hide an ugly wall, you can easily install a curtain rod at ceiling height, then hang your old drapes as a type of wallpaper with a one and a quarter times gather so the patterns can be fully revealed.
If your curtains are too short to reach from floor to ceiling, you can always add a few layers, creating a ruffled look at the bottom.
4. Demarcate Spaces
Open plan living is all the rage, but some delineation between living spaces in an open plan is still desired. Adding an extra ceiling to floor length drape to edge openings between spaces can create the illusion of two separate rooms.
5. Replace Doors
Moving into a room where the dressing room has no door is no longer a problem. Simply edge the doorway with a single curtain that ties to the side or use two panels for a more symmetrical appearance.
6. Bed Canopy
If you are recycling some old lace or voile curtains, why not turn them into a bed canopy? Simply add a curtain rail against the ceiling, letting the curtains hang on this “frame” to complete the bed canopy.
7. Dutch Lace and Valance to Apron
Dutch lace or valance can be used to make a fashionable apron or waste paper basket fringe. Alternatively, tie a section of Dutch lace with a ribbon to make a window angel. Simply add a few pipe cleaners to finish with wings.
8. Garlands for the Festive Season
If you’ve got some bright-colored curtains sitting in a cupboard, you can cut strips of fabric and tie these to a string, creating a festive garland to use when it’s the holiday season.
9. Wrap Up Your Bed Nook
Students often have a bed nook or bunker curtain to ensure their roommate doesn’t disturb them at night. You can use some old drapes to achieve the same look. Simply open the curtain taping at both ends, then run a curtain wire through, securing it in place on both sides of the bed on the ceiling with strong cup hooks.
10. Save on Door Space
When your room is short on space, finding space for doors to open can be a challenge. Simplify the space and free up movement room. Remove cupboard doors and replace them with an old curtain as a panel to keep the cupboard private while not having doors swinging open.
11. No-Sew Shopping Bag
Curtaining is strong, making it ideally suited to carry weight. Cut two squares that are large enough to work as a shopping bag. Also, cut two strips of 2 inches by 21 inches.
Glue the top edges of the bag panels over with fabric glue, then glue the two squares together with the right sides facing inward. Only apply glue to three sides, leaving the folded side as the bag top. Finally, glue the strips as handles. If necessary, you can double the strips and fold them in half down the length, making a stronger handle.
Flip the squares inside out to finish off the bag.
12. Cut Fabric Yarn
Fabric yarn can be cut by taking an elasticated fabric to create a long strip of fabric similar to a thread. Fabric types ideal for this are polyesters, cotton, linens, and velvets. Simply measure out along the length of the curtain’s drop.
Cut strips that are no wider than half an inch in width. Tie the different strips together or stick with fabric glue. Roll for storage and you’ll never be without colorful yarn to knit or decorate with.
13. DIY Bulletin Board
Your old curtain can become an amazing bulletin board. You will need a panel of pressboard or even a sheet of polystyrene, an old curtain, some tape, hot glue, and nimble fingers.
Cut a square of curtaining that is an inch bigger on all sides than the board or sheet of polystyrene. Fold the fabric over, securing it to the board or sheet with glue or pins. Add two loops of fabric on the top to hang the board. Use board tacks or sewing pins to add images, notes, and other important snippets to the fabric board.
14. Fabric Roses
If you have colorful curtains, you can create beautiful fabric roses to decorate your home. Simply cut inch-wide strips of fabric, then wind the fabric up around your finger, pulling the last section of fabric through to the inside of the roll.
With your flowers made, glue the ends down to secure the flowers and stop them from unraveling.
With an unusual fabric or print, you can make gorgeous lampshades. Curtain fabric can also be used for making cushions, woven rugs, table runners, and more. Simply cut the fabric to size for your lampshade. Use hot-glue to attach the fabric to one side of the shade. Next, roll the shade to fully cover with the fabric.
To finish off, fold the fabric edge to create a neat pleat, then glue the pleat down. Fold the top and bottom edges into the lampshade to neaten up the bottom and top edges. Glue all loose fabric down, then decorate with beads, buttons, ribbons, and other trimmings.
How to Know Your Old Curtains Are Still Good Enough to Use
Not all curtains are still in a good enough condition to use for revamping your home. Be sure to inspect the old curtains thoroughly to prevent failed projects. Check your old curtains for:
- Signs of tears and stains
- Melt lines in polyester curtains that hung in a very sunny window
- Holes of tears from insect activity
- Separation of the fabric weave (when you hold it up against strong light it shouldn’t look like someone practiced shooting at the fabric)
The Final Old Curtains
Your old curtains have a long story to tell, and while really old and tattered curtains are really at their end, your other curtains can still have a second life. Be sure to check your curtains and evaluate their potential as source material for other home projects. Have fun and make something unique, and if you enjoy giving old things a new lease on life, read our article about how to revamp second-hand upholstered furniture.