How I Made Custom Curtains Without a Sewing Machine

4 Materials
2 Hours

Hi Liz here from
Where there’s a will, there really is usually a way… and there certainly is a way to do this… so if you don’t have a sewing machine, or just hate to sew, I’m going to tell you how I made custom curtains without a sewing machine! You just may be inspired to make some yourself using a few magical ingredients.

We are temporarily living in the freshly renovated lower level apartment of our newly purchased home, (a mid-century-to-colonial-revival house) while the rest of the main house gets an overhaul. What we were wanting (the “will” part) was to have a privacy curtain for nighttime on the window of the door. But the sewing machine is beyond packed away… It’s buried behind pretty much all of our worldly possessions in storage. Even if I knew where it was, I’m sure it’d be physically impossible to actually retrieve it.
Once we moved into the apartment a little over a week ago, we quickly realized that the entrance door actually has a view all the way down the hall, past the bathroom into the bedroom. We both are a little creeped out with uncovered windows when the black night hides everything outside the window, but the light insides shows all to any passerby. Good for you if you’re confident enough to leave your windows uncovered, but in town, I’m just not comfortable with that.
Now I could have just put a film on the window, that allows light through, but distorts the clear glass, (I’ll share that with you on the bedroom window) but the view out the window during the day is a lovely view of the pond just across the street… so a semi-permanent covering was out of the question.

how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
It’s a newly installed steel door… I’m not willing to screw holes into it for shades or a curtain rod.
That could be a stumbling block too…
Here is a quick pic of the door before:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
But, no worries, with a bit of magic I have an answer to that and the issue of no sewing machine and even one more magical solution up my sleeve to share with you… (I will have shopping links for you at the end of this post if you are looking for more details on any of the products I used for this project)
First things first…
The magic of a magnetic rod. How perfect for this treatment. The rod has super strong magnets and doesn’t budge when the door is opened or closed. Plus, it’s a small size diameter rod, perfect for a small curtain.
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
Then to make the curtain…
For this door window treatment, I just simply cut the fabric in half lengthwise:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
Just like when I’m sewing a curtain, the iron is an important part of getting the fabric turned into a curtain.
I always finish the sides of the curtain first. Then the bottom hem and top rod pocket finish cleanly with the sides already done.
So I pressed the raw edges in 1/2″ on each side of the curtain:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
The 2nd magical ingredient comes into play…
HeatnBond iron-on adhesive:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
Using HeatnBond permanent iron-on adhesive that sticks once it’s ironed on, is kind of magical. (One thing though, it is impossible to sew through a seam that has had HeatnBond adhesive used on it…)
This is where the difference from sewing custom curtains and using this iron-on adhesive starts to differ… Instead of folding and ironing the seam with a double fold… at this point, I placed the HeatnBond iron-on just on the inside edge of the single folded edge and pressed it in place.
The waxed paper backing on the HeatnBond stays on the top, so the iron won’t stick to it. It only takes a few seconds to melt the tape and get it to adhere to the fabric, so this was pretty quick.
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
Here’s a tip: let the tape and fabric cool down, hence giving the tape time to harden, (it doesn’t harden hard and stiff… it’s more like a thin layer of flexible rubber) before you pull the waxed paper backing off the adhere it to the other side.
I found this out the hard way… I pulled it off too soon after ironing it and some of the adhesive was hot and gooey and came off with the paper. Easy to fix by adding more tape, but kind of a waste.
It really only takes a few seconds longer to let it cool properly, then:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
I did have one section that was a pain to pull off the waxed paper backing. I’m not sure why, but the paper kept ripping and sticking to the ironed adhesive. I don’t think I did anything differently on that one piece when I ironed it, so maybe it was just a faulty strip from the company? All the rest came off quite easily though.
Now, to complete the finished edge along the side seam of the curtain, I folded it over again, this is positioning the other side of the HeatnBond to the curtain, and pressed the curtain seam to a permanently bonded finished seam.
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
For the top and bottom of the curtain, it was basically the same. Only difference is that for the top, I wanted a narrow rod pocket to fit the magnetic rod through. Therefore, I folded the top down wider on the 2nd fold and was careful to keep the HeatnBond on the outside edge, leaving the actual rod pocket area open for the rod:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
I found that some of the corners didn’t bond well. I’m not sure why, but I was successful to get them to bond if I added extra tape to the corners and pressed them again:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
That was it for the curtains.
To protect the daytime view and not have the curtains sneak shut during the day hours, I needed some tie-backs.
I created them from some ribbon I found that had a burlap look, but unlike actual burlap that sheds fibers and unravels super easy, this ribbon had finished edges.
All I needed was to use a needle and thread to create a pinched end and stitched on a little ring to grab the hook:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
Here is the door now, during the day with the curtains held open:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
Oh, one more magical ingredient…
The hook to hold the tie-backs:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
It’s a Command 3M clear style mini hook with that famous adhesive backing that comes off cleanly. I love this 3M product… They work fantastically and this new smaller version is great!)
Here’s a close up of the finished custom curtain I made without a sewing machine:
how i made custom curtains without a sewing machine
and the view out the window is still visible… during the day…
To read more about the renovations of this basement apartment and the whole main house, be sure to come visit me at
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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Patti
    on Dec 2, 2017

    Great 👍🏻 job! Have you considered maybe using some of the tie back fabric ... or curtain fabric ... to cover those clear plastic hooks that are holding the tie backs?

Join the conversation

4 of 31 comments
  • Mrs B
    on Dec 5, 2017

    I have a pair of metal doors to my deck and faced the same dilemma - beautiful view during the day but wanted cover during the night. These magnetic curtain rods are the best thing since sliced bread!!! :) Great job, Liz!

  • Christina
    on Dec 14, 2017

    Terrific idea and execution. I have that same door. I’ll be looking for that magnetic rod. It really looks nice.

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