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Stenciled Drop Cloth Curtain Tutorial

How to turn drop cloths into a pretty window treatment with a bit of paint!

Last winter I won a Cutting Edge stencil from a giveaway at Oak Ridge Revival and after mulling it over for a long while, eventually I decided to stencil drop cloths curtains for my dining room.

My husband’s reaction:

“Drop cloths??? In our dining room? That you paint??? No, honey. No. Please? No.”

Our dining room, even though it had come a long way with paint and a table makeover, was a blank slate desperately in need of curtains and personality.

Unfortunately, after almost two years of renovating, the budget for giving my house personality was hovering on empty, so I had to find a lot of bang for my buck.

Enter drop cloths, my newly won, fabulously chic Zamira stencil, and the motivation of hosting Easter (and 5 months after Easter, they are finally done!)

Mark’s reaction:

“I never should have doubted you, honey. You are always right and I’m the luckiest man alive to be married to you. Do you want a foot massage?”

Okay, okay, he didn’t say that exactly – but he did say something along the lines of

“They look great! You can’t even tell they’re drop cloths.”

Why drop cloths?
They are crazy inexpensive.
A typical window panel is around 54″ wide and usually comes in varying lengths – 84″, 96″, 108″ etc.
9’x12′ dropcloths (108″x144″) are the perfect starting point for this project, because divided by it’s width, each cloth yields two 54″-wide panels, and the length can be customized.

The drop cloths that I used were $20 (free shipping with Prime!) which breaks down to $10 each curtain panel (unlined). $10! Pretty good right?!

Also, drop cloths are 100% cotton canvas, come in a natural oatmeal color that works perfectly in my house, and have a bit of texture that I like.

Note:  drop cloths come in various ounces, meaning the weight of the fabric. I used 8 oz. drop cloths (the less expensive version) and found them to have a nice drape.

Here is the scoop on how to make your own fabulous 

stenciled drop cloth curtains!

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1) something to protect your work surface (not to be confused with #2!)
2) drop cloths, which serve as your fabric
3) painter’s tape
4) foam roller
5)  paint. I used leftover latex wall paint from my garage
6) textile medium  *optional*

a note on textile medium:  this is found at craft stores like Michael’s, and when added to paint, allows the fabric to remain flexible and washable. I used it on half my panels, ran out, and finished the other panels without it, and they came out almost identical in texture and stiffness to the panels with textile medium. for this application on drop cloths I don’t think textile medium is necessary, but I imagine on other kinds of fabric it would be necessary.


Make sure you put something under your panel before you paint because the paint will seep through the curtain panel. Because I have rolls and rolls of black craft paper from my picture framing days, I used sheets of it to protect my floors (but hit a snag with this underlayment, as you will see!)

I recommend using large trash bags cut open, a cheap plastic tablecloth, or – crazy idea – a fabric drop cloth, used as an actual drop cloth 🙂  I DON’T recommend newspaper or craft paper.
A garage floor, driveway or even your kitchen table will work great if you don’t have the floorspace for this project. I used my dining room table, covered in trash bags, for touching up the panels.

Use painter’s tape to keep the stencil in place on the panel. Place the roller in the paint, then roll off the excess on another paper plate before applying to the fabric. Then move the stencil down and roll. Move and roll. Move and roll. Rove and moll. Moll and rove.

This is what stenciling at midnight when you realllllly should go to bed looks like right here.

As soon as I was done with a panel, I would hang it up using rings with clips. This freed up my workspace for another panel and allowed the paint to dry overnight.

One down, three more to go.

Whatever you do, DON’T leave your freshly painted curtain on top of craft paper and go to bed because it’s 2 in the morning and you can’t keep your eyes open another moment, or you will end up with this:  paint that has dried onto the craft paper on the back of your lovely curtain. So sad!!
(Thankfully the drop cloth fabric is so heavy that you can’t see these black stuck-on bits of paper even when the panel is hung in the window.)

King size flat sheets (1 sheet for each drop cloth)
No-sew hem tape

I wasn’t even going to line these panels because I like the way the light came through them giving them a burnout affect, but my mother suggested lining to help them hang well and look more “professional” (if that is even possible when we’re talking about painted drop cloths serving as window treatments!)

**If you are a proper seamstress, now would be a good time to look away.**

Remember how I’m not much of a sewer?

To line the panels, I bought inexpensive white king sheets, and cut them in half.

I could have purchased cheap white liner fabric at Joann’s but the halved sheets have the finished edge that serves as the bottom hem and I think cost per panel is still less expensive using sheets.

I laid the sheet on the back of the panel with a two inch allowance, folded the panel over twice for a nice clean finished looking edge, and ironed this edge with no-sew hem tape.
I think the finished edge and lining look perfectly fine. You’d never know they weren’t sewn together properly.

To “hem” the raw edge on the top of the panels, I folded the curtain and lining over together twice, ironed a stiff crease, and clipped them to the rings. (Take your “hems” into consideration when cutting the drop cloths – you will need a few inches at the top to fold over and clip.)

The lining adds so much structure and weight to the panels – I truly can’t even believe how beautifully they hang!

 Did I mention ironing???  This is a hugely important step to a pretty finished product.

The drop cloths require a serious amount of ironing. I would highly recommend washing your panels first to get the creases out, but remember that they are 100% cotton so be careful with your drying time, lest they shrink. Even if you wash the panels, I think ironing them before hanging helps them to hang nicely and gives them a more finished look.

A few of you have been curious about how these panels are hung.

We have two bay windows in our dining room and one of them meets the adjoining walls in this awkward way. There is also a built in cabinet under this window just to complicate matters. I could have used roman shades in this room but I really love the look of full-length panels, and this room needed some major softening with fabric.

Hanging the curtains on knobs made it possible for the curtains to “bend” around this space. From most angles in the room these curtains look perfectly straight like the other window:
(this panel needs one more knob so it hangs a little fuller)

If you are sitting on the window sill you can see how the panel is leaning against the cabinet.
This doesn’t bother me at all – I rather like it for some reason.


Cabinet knobs (the exact ones I used are no longer available, but these are very similar and come in a pack of 10. I used 7 per window.)
Hanger bolts (or as I like to call them, double sided screws)

I retrofitted common cabinet knobs (1), with hanger bolts (2). One side of the hanger bolt screws into the knob (3) , and the other side screws into the wall (4). The 8/32″ x 1 1/2″ hanger bolts did the trick for the knobs I used.

To hang curtains on knobs, a level is a must. Lightly draw a line using the level as your guide, then measure, mark and drill evenly spaced pilot holes for the knobs. Erase pencil marks and then screw knobs into the pilot holes.

Attach the clip rings to the curtain panels, hang the rings on the knobs and voila!
Time to go take a nap.

Paint (I used leftover latex wall paint but acrylic paint works great too. Keep in mind you will need a lot – the fabric soaks up the paint like a sponge! I would guesstimate that between 4 panels I used at least a quart of paint.)
Zamira Stencil by Cutting Edge Stencils
King size flat sheets for lining panels
No-sew hem tape (I have the Heat n’Bond brand but I heard Stitch Witchery works well.)
Curtain ring clips (make sure your rings are big enough to fit over the knobs)
Thanks for visiting!

At Long Last, Dining Room Curtains
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Laura, The Start of a Good Life

Saturday 11th of April 2015

Now to just convince the hubby that we should do this. ...he's not big into diy.... I lobe it though, and we've got a bunch of windows to cover!

Janet P

Saturday 7th of February 2015

You just solved a major problem at my house of finding curtains the hubby will like. I love this idea!!!! Thank you for posting!!!

Paula O'Meara

Saturday 29th of March 2014

Thank you so much for your excellent tutorial! Not only are your curtains so beautiful but your instruction is the BEST I have encountered YET. Trust me when I say I have been searching and searching and then I found your tutorial. Thank you for the gift of your time, your effort, and your direction!

April Sharpe

Thursday 9th of January 2014

Hi! Could you lease tell me the name of your wall color here? And is it the same as what's in your foyer? I'd like to know both. Thank you! Your house is just [email protected]

Terry S

Tuesday 25th of June 2013

I just saw this on Pinterest and love what you did, especially using the hardware for hanging the curtains!I am wondering where you got the black metal shelf that is on the right side of your bay window. Thanks!