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Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

DIY Curtain for a Palladian Window

When we moved into our house years ago, I was faced with the challenge of dressing palladian or half-circle windows. We have 5 of them and the biggest one is in my sewing room. It faces south, so the light is constant and wonderful, but the glare was so bad I almost needed sunglasses while I was sewing!

I quickly bought the paper “accordion” pleated window shades to put in the upper half-circle of the windows (on top of the mini-blinds), just to diffuse the light a little in three of the rooms on the front of my house. The paper shades are great because they are cheap and easy to cut to fit. I had to attach two 36” shades for my sewing room window because the diameter of the arch was almost 72 inches. The other windows were smaller and could be filled with just one shade, folded in half and fanned.

Window with paper shade from outside my house.

The paper fans look great from the outside of the house, but my sewing room window was a little boring on the inside. It needed a curtain to dress it up.

I scoured my personal library for ideas of how to adorn a curved window because I didn’t want to just hang a rod straight across the top. In the out-of-print book 1001 Ideas for Windows by Anne Justin, I came across this fun design idea:

The inspiration sketch with my measurement notes.

Unfortunately, the book doesn’t include any instructions or how-to’s and most of the best ideas are only sketches. So I needed to engineer a way to rig my curtain to match the sketch.

In another book on my shelf, I found some lovely photographs of simple curtains hanging in arched windows. No curtain rod required! The only problem was that the how-to seemed to be written in code because it called for “touch-and-close tape”. What on earth??

For at least two years, I pondered my window and brooded over what touch-and-close tape could be. Then one day I cracked the code! I remembered that the book was written by a British decorator so… I figured it had to be a lost-in-translation thing.

Then – lightbulb!!! – I knew! “Touch-and-close tape” is British for what Americans call “hook-and-loop tape” or Velcro. It was so stupidly simple, I can’t believe it took me years to figure it out!

I bought a pack of half stick-on and half sew-on velcro and (to save a little money) cut it in half down the entire length, giving myself twice as much since my window circumference was so big. I stuck a continuous line of the hook velcro around the inside of the window frame. (You could also staple the hook side of sew-on velcro to the frame if you don’t have the sticky kind.)

For my curtain, I needed 15 yards of fabric. I chose 34-inch-wide bleached muslin because it would still let a lot of light through, and I wouldn’t need to hem the sides since the selvage edge was hem enough without the fabric being too wide. This way, I only needed to cut the fabric in 4 straight lines. Then I had two panels 10 feet long and two panels 12 feet long. (Make sure to wash and dry your fabric before cutting to allow for any shrinking – this way you can wash & dry your curtain later.)

The same curtain design would be fun in all kinds of fabric combinations, or edged with a colored stripe. I considered adding a black edge around my panels for an added graphic effect, but decided it would detract from my wall decorations and just kept it simple.

I gathered the tops of the 4 long panels and secured the gathers by sewing the edge to the fuzzy strip of velcro, which was cut to fit exactly one quarter of the half circle window frame. (This also makes it easy to wash the curtains because the soft loopy velcro won’t tear the fabric like the hook side.) Then it was as simple as hanging, twisting, attaching loops (or safety-pins) to 4 small nails in the wall, and cutting the hem at the correct angle. I simply serged the bottom hem on each panel, but a rolled hem would work as well.

Now I have an artistically draped curtain that helps filter the light and looks great with my décor.

The finished curtain in my sewing room.

I know that anyone who has any sort of curved window has been frustrated at some point by the lack of options for window treatments. I had a feeling there was a simple solution out there without spending a fortune on fancy hardware! And when you have a beautifully shaped window, why should you have to cover up the architectural interest?

I hope this – my adventure and eventual solution – will help other owners of unusually shaped windows solve their own decorating dilemmas.

Related posts:

How I Organized my Sewing Room

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13 responses to “DIY Curtain for a Palladian Window

  1. Lissy January 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Excellent design, Brooke! Love the look of that! (Followed your link from Epbot)

  2. Claude Campeau January 25, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I wasn’t sure how it would look when I saw your sketch, but the end result is stunning! Now I want arched windows!

  3. Jen in Jersey (soon to be Texas) February 1, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I can’t quite tell from the sketch or the photo – are you basically just criss-crossing the panels? That is the two right side end up on the left and the two left on the right. Or is there a twist in there? That is the left goes out, twists around the right, and returns to the left side?

    A stunning effect for a particularly hard style of window! Thanks for sharing this. I have two such window in our new home and have been debating what to do with them. They both face North and the front of our property so the amount of light isn’t an issue, it is simply a privacy thing.

    • Brooke February 1, 2013 at 8:53 am

      Thanks! The panels are twisted in the center – start with two in the center, twist around each other once, and hook each on side it started from. Then twist outer panels around those and hook them on the sides they started from as well. Of course, you can always drape and twist however you like for all kinds of different looks.

      This style window is extremely common down here in Texas. And “welcome” to Texas! =)

      • Jen in Jersey (soon to be Texas) February 1, 2013 at 8:57 am

        Thank you so much! We are very excited to be moving to Texas and our “forever” home. Have all sorts of plans. Actually, that is what brought me originally to your blog, I was searching for inspiration for my craft room at Ikeahackers and came across your cutting table. I’ve stayed to be inspired by all your other posts!

      • Brooke February 1, 2013 at 9:03 am

        Aww thanks – I’m so glad you like my blog! If you happen to be moving to the Dallas area, I can give you directions/show you where all the great shopping for sewing/crafting is. (And I live just a couple minutes away from our IKEA.) You’ll love it in Texas. =)

      • Jen in Jersey (soon to be Texas) February 1, 2013 at 9:13 am

        Oh cool! We are moving to Granbury, so not very close, but I’m sure I’ll be heading into the metroplex a few times. ;) I was excited to see that Granbury is getting a Michael’s, not my favorite place to shop, but better than what is currently there which is nothing!

        Ikea is on my to-do list for after we arrive. We’ve lived overseas a lot and Ikea is the one consistent place that we’ve been able to shop, so I have a LOT of Ikea around the house. I love the versatility of their products and how they fit in well even if you don’t have a “modern” vibe in your home.

      • Brooke February 1, 2013 at 9:30 am

        Ahh, yes, I know exactly where Granbury is – you’ll probably be doing some shopping in Fort Worth. There are some warehouse fabric stores on the southwest side of Dallas that are really great. (I’m actually going down there this afternoon with a designer I’m working with.)

  4. Chris April 3, 2014 at 1:18 am

    I love it! Mind if I copy? I have a few of these windows also, and have not been able to figure out what to do with them except custom blinds. This will soften them up a bit! Thanks for the post!

  5. Andrea August 16, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    This is awesome! I’m so glad I found this post. My window is asymmetrical and blinds are really expensive. I can’t wait to do this. Thanks a lot :)

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