Tuesday, July 9, 2013

DIY Painter's Drop Cloth Curtain Panels for Screen Room/Patio

Since our screened-in deck was completed last fall, I've had the intense desire to make that room seem like an "indoor" room, but outside!  To complete this look, I knew curtains were a must have, but when I started to price out Outdoor Drapery Panels, the price was anywhere from $50-$100 a panel.  So, then I decided to price out buying outdoor fabric and making drapery panels, but that was rather pricey too, especially considering I would need a lot of fabric.  The panels would need to be about 8 1/2 feet long.  I also noticed that most outdoor fabric is guaranteed for up to 500 hours of sunlight, which isn't really that much.  I figured I would end up having to replace the curtains every summer if I went that route.  Then, I came across the idea of using painter's drop cloths as drapery panels.  They come in varying widths and lengths and they are very affordable.  They are made of canvas, so they are very durable and they can be washed and dried.

I was SOLD, so I went to Home Depot and purchased several, ten to be exact, drop cloths.  The only issue with the first two sets of drop cloths I bought was they had horizontal seams right down the middle of the panel.  My third and final attempt to find a drop cloth with NO seam, was a success.  I actually found a set of 2 drop cloths per package for $10.  They were 6 ft. by 9 ft. With permission from a sales associate, I opened the package before buying to make sure the drop cloth did not have a seam.  SUCCESS!  And, I couldn't beat the price of $5 per drop cloth. 

Initially I thought I would need ten drop clothes as I had planned to place a panel in each corner and then put two more panels in the center of each wall in my screen room.  I wanted enough drop cloths to be able to close them and block the sun out.  Though, after re-thinking that plan, I opted to just place panels in each corner, so two panels per wall.  The panels aren't wide enough, when pulled closed, to cover all the wall space, but I didn't really want the panels to obstruct our view of the backyard, and more importantly the pool.  See, I sit in this room while my kids swim, and I NEED to be able to see them while they are swimming, for safety purposes!  My hubby and I decided that we would just slide the two panels per wall along the rod to block out the sun where ever it might be!

I had also decided that I wanted to stencil the curtain panels once sewn.  I selected the Moroccan Dream Allover Stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils.  The stencil was $39.95, and I also opted to purchase the Clip on Stencil Level for $12.95, to ensure that the stencil would always be lined up correctly. 

I do not sew, well maybe buttons and small holes in clothing, but that's about it!  I really love the back tab feature on drapery panels, and decided that's what I wanted for these outdoor curtains.  So, I enlisted the help of my mother-in-law, who is a wonderful seamstress.  Before she began work on the panels, I first washed and dried all the panels.  Please NOTE:  Do NOT use liquid fabric softener when washing or a dryer sheet when drying them if you do plan to stencil your drapery panels.  The acrylic paint that you will end up using, will not adhere to the panels if you have used fabric softener of any kind.  Once dried, you will need to iron the drop cloths as they will be very wrinkled after having been dried. This is a bit time consuming.

Since the painter's drop cloths are already hemmed on all four sides, my mother-in-law, simply cut off the excess fabric from one end, taking into account a 1/2 inch hem and then a 3" rod pocket.  I needed my panels to be 8.5 feet long.  So, the unfinished length of the panel was cut to 102" long.  She allowed for a 1/2 inch hem, and a 3" rod pocket, which allowed for a finished length of 98.5 inches.  The difficult thing was each panel measured a different length once washed and dried.  So, she did have to measure the length of each panel in numerous places before pinning the hem, and rod pocket.  Now I know I said I wanted the back tab feature on the panels, which I did, but to obtain that look, it's necessary to make a rod pocket of sorts.  I found a great tutorial on how to make back tabs on your drapery panels, using grosgrain ribbon at Fiscally Chic Saving Money with Style.  I purchased the ribbon from Ribbons and Bows Oh My!  I choose the Oatmeal colored grosgrain ribbon.

 in 1.5" width and 20 yards, which was roughly $7.00.  They have so many colors available, varying width and lengths, and they are super affordable.  I would highly recommend Ribbons and Bows Oh My!  The great thing about using ribbon for the back tabs is you do not have to hem the sides, and the ribbon is very durable. 

My mother-in-law went to work, and made all 6 panels, using the grosgrain ribbon.  Once she returned them to me, I had to iron them again just to iron out the folds, etc.  Then I prepped the panels to be stenciled.  I did one panel a day. Each panel took me approximately 1 hr. and 45 minutes to set up, stencil, and then clean up.  I began by taking an unwashed drop cloth and laying it out on my hardwood floor in my living room (this is the most open, unobstructed area I have in my home).  I did this to make sure that any paint that seeped through the curtain panel would not go through to my flooring.  I took painters tape and taped that drop cloth to the floor very securely.  You do not want this drop cloth to be moving around once you begin stenciling.  Next, I took my actual panel and taped that down on top of the drop cloth that was taped to my hardwood floor.  I taped the curtain panel in several places to ensure that it would not move as I stenciled. 

Now, before I even began to do all of this, I had decided I wanted to paint the curtains with a fun, summery color.  I decided upon a "spa blue" color, as it really brought out the blue water in our pool that is situated just outside of the screen room. 

Calypso Blue by Folkart is the name of the color I used.  It  is an Acrylic Paint.  I found it at Michael's for .69/a bottle.   Now I had read that if you use acrylic paint on clothing or fabric, you should mix in some Textile Medium.  Textile medium helps to prevent the paint from cracking once washed and dried.   According to the directions you should mix 1 part Textile Medium to 2 parts Acrylic Paint.  After my first panel, I learned that each panel took 2 - 2 1/2 bottles of acrylic paint.  Since each bottle is 2 oz., I mixed 1- 1 1/4 oz. of textile medium to 2 - 2 1/2 bottles of paint.  I mixed this up in my painters tray, and used a dense foam 4" roller.  You can buy these at Home Depot for $5 or so. 

I measured the top width of the curtain panel and found the center.  I marked the center with a pencil.  I did likewise with the stencil, marking the center of that with a pencil.  I lined the center points up and then placed the level on the bottom of the stencil.  I then taped down the stencil to the curtain panel like such.

When stenciling, which this was my first time, according to the instructions you should load you foam roller up with paint, and then roll it back and forth on a paper towel so to absorb any excess paint.  This helps to prevent the paint from seeping or running once applied.  So, I did as was suggested and it worked relatively well.  Though, I will admit, as I did more and more panels, I didn't roll as much paint off the roller onto the paper towel as the color seemed to be brighter and required less effort to roll onto the fabric. I guess I got lazy!

Here's what it looked like once I got going:

The best thing about this pattern is that you don't see errors as readily, and trust me I made a few errors. Anyhow, I stenciled 6 panels.  Each panel seemed to take about 1 hr.  Though, I was stenciling these panels during my son's 2 hr. nap time, so I really only had time to make one panel per nap, with prep time and clean-up.  The only real pain was having to wash out the foam roller, paint pan, and the stencil.  I had to wash that in the bath tub, which was a bit time consuming.

Once I completed each panel, I allowed it to dry for an hour or so before moving it.  I then laid it over a couple of chairs to dry over-night.  About 24 hours after stenciling, I turned the panel over, and ironed the entire panel.  This is a necessary step as it sets the paint, so it won't wash out when laundering.

Here's a few photos of the end result.  Stay tuned for a tutorial on making your own inexpensive, drapery rods, which is how we hung these panels in our screen room.

Once this room is complete I will be glad to give you all a run-down of what I did, where I bought it, and/or how I achieved the look!

**UPDATE** Well, last week I noticed that two panels had started to develop mold/mildew on them, so I threw them in the washing machine on my "deep clean" cycle, which is super hot water.  Well, the mold/mildew remained after two washings, and the curtains shrunk A LOT, and one panel faded a lot.  So, what I have learned, WASH the drop cloths several times on the hottest water setting your washing machine has.  I had to re-paint two new panels, which I was not happy about.  BUT, I did learn once a couple more panels developed mold/mildew, pour clorox bleach directly onto the mold on the back side of the curtain. It kills the mold!   Throw the panels immediately into the washing machine on a hot water setting.  The mold came out and  the bleach did NOT fade or bleach out the panel.  I did notice, that these panels shrunk some, and I didn't dry them in the dryer.  I actually hung them back on the curtain rods and let the sun and wind dry them.  So that being said, again wash the painters cloths 2-3 times and then dry them on a hot setting before making them into drapery panels and then stenciling.  Learn from my mistakes!!!


  1. Because these panels are not "breathable" won't you continue to run into the mold issue??

    1. Bottom line....yes! The panels are actually breathable, but I left my panels scrunched up in every corner, which didn't allow the fabric to dry out in a timely fashion after it had become wet from rain. However, I have learned some tricks to help deter the mold. For example, when I know it's going to rain, I open the panels up. Once it stops raining, they dry out very well, which prevents mold from forming in the first place. When we had a humid stretch of weather, even opening the panels up didn't help much, especially if it had rained. But, that's when I learned I could put Clorox bleach directly on the back of these panels, which kills mold, and it didn't damage or fade the panels or the painted areas. I live in the Northeast so I only have these panels up for 4 mos. or so, during the summer. I just check the panels every so often to ensure there's no mold, and if there is I wash them by pouring Clorox directly onto the moldy areas. It worked wonderfully. Yes, it's a bit of work, but I would make these panels over again in a heartbeat!

  2. Any suggestions on corner rods?

    1. Conduit Elbow pieces. Check this one out at Home Depot: Hope this helps!!

    2. Not sure if you read my post about how to make your own drapery rods out of conduit:;postID=2938479435519947706;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=10;src=postname

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  5. what good is a stencil clip on level when you are stenciling on the ground?

    1. The level ensures that the stencil is straight not the surface! Without a level, it would be easy for the stencil not to be perfectly straight and then you would end up with your stencil looking like it was going downhill.

  6. Sad to say Home depot has discontinued the 2 pack.

  7. I've had drop cloth curtains outside for two years. This is the first year with the mold issue. I tried washing them on hot wth bleach and it didn't help. I think I will rub bleach directly on the panels out in the backyard and then wash as you suggested. It's still warm here, so need to get that done. I bring the curtains in over the winter months so now is a good time. Mine aren't stenciled, just plain fabric and they are fully exposed to the outdoors. Thanks for the tip!