In Search Of: Solid White Drapes
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This is the story of my search for white drapes for my new house that I thought would be easy, but ended up taking weeks. I was trying to find solid white drapes that had the styling I wanted (opaque, but breezy) and function (sun control) I needed… and of course all on a budget. I found that this was a tall order.
When we moved into our house in December there were custom made pinch-pleat drapes on every window and all the sliding glass doors.
All were extremely nice and hung on HUGE decorative rods with HUGE wooden rings. I took them down as soon as we moved into the house for two reasons:
1. The fabrics were not in my decorating color scheme.
2. Even when they were opened, the stack-back of the drapes covered way too much of the glass on the doors since the end of the rods stopped at the end of the doors.
What I needed and wanted to fit my decorating style were white drapes with a breezier feel at each door and when opened the stack-back would not cover the glass at all. I also didn’t want drapes with grommets or formal pleats. I wanted them to hang on small white metal rings that would not add to the size of the stack-back.
Buying white 84″ length drapery panels to hang on a 36″ wide window for under $50 is a piece of cake.
Finding white 95″ length drapery panels so I can hang the rods close to the ceiling like I did in my previous house is not so easy, especially when you don’t want to spend $500 + per window. I found many beautiful panels that I loved but were way out of my budget.
I have 7 regular sized windows in my new-to-me lake house. Aside from these windows, there are 7 sliding glass doors. One in my studioffice…
All are 9 feet wide. A lot of fabric will be needed when summer rolls around to cover them from the hot sun. I don’ like to cover up any window, but when the thermometer soars, being able to simply pull drapes across the glass while the sun is directly hitting them as it passes in the afternoon will keep the house much cooler.
The other 3 sliding glass doors in the house are upstairs in the bedrooms.
They already had nice white rods, drapes and sun blocking liners.
I love the sliding glass doors since they offer stellar lake views from every room in the house, but they have given me a run for my money in how I am going to get them covered since I have found after searching that manufacturers just don’t make what I envision.
So what is a DIY’er to do? Redesign purchased panels to fit my wants and needs is what I had to do.
I knew that I could make drapery panels from scratch using fabric, tablecloths, sheets, etc. to keep the cost down, but I wanted the panels to drape nicely and be full, yet keep the rooms feeling fresh and breezy.
I know my sewing skills are lacking when it comes to production line type sewing since I would have to make 8 very wide and large drapery panels. No-Sew was not an option since no-sew glues will break down faster when in the hot southern sun. I want my efforts to last for a long time.
Although many people think curtains and drapes are the same thing, since they both cover windows, there is a difference by definition and use, even though most of us use the words interchangeably.
- Curtains usually are a lighter fabric, thin or sheer. They are not lined and won’t block out light. They should not be used for privacy, since you can see through them.
- Drapes are made of heavier fabric and typically are lined. They are used for blocking out the light, cold and heat, as well as for privacy. They are more formal in appearance.
What I needed for each sliding glass door:
- 4 – 54″wide x 95″ long white drapery panels, not sheer and if possible, thermal lined.
- 144″ long white rod, brackets, finials, and rings
I needed 4 panels for fullness. I plan to sew two together to make one panel so the drapes would look full across the window when closed. I didn’t want it to look like I had sheets hanging.
I needed the extra long rod, so the stack-back of the panels would hang away from the glass when they were not in use. I wanted easy and breezy, but having a thermal lining would be smart to keep the heat down in the summer months since the house is in the south and faces southwest.
White Drapes I Considered:
I started my search by ordering the IKEA Ritva panels $24.99 a panel that are popular with decorating bloggers. They are very nice curtains with all sorts of hanging options built right into the back tabs. I don’t live near an IKEA anymore so I could check them out in person.
I ordered one to see what it looked like. It was not white enough, the fabric was the color of a drop cloth, but was beautifully made and that would drape nicely. It had everything going for it, but sadly I sent it back because of the color.
I then headed to Walmart and Target where I did find 84″ length white panels, but not 95″ long. I came home and started searching online for the perfect 95″ long solid white drapery panels.
Every online home store has white drapery and curtain panels, but most were too sheer, too expensive, not white enough or long enough.
In my search I also found that white, 144″ long curtain rods are pretty much non-existent. I thought about making them using PVC pipe like I did in the guest bedroom in my previous house, but it seems that narrow diameter PVC pipe has red lettering all over it now.
Why did they have to do that? I could have had super long rods for $4.00 each!
I did find two white curtain rods that would be long enough. One at Walmart.com and the other at Bed Bath and Beyond.com. I first ordered the ones above from Walmart, they were well made and quite affordable, but I was disappointed when I opened the box. They were not true white, more of a taupe-white. I returned them.
After weeks of more purchases and returns, these are the white drapery panels, rods, and rings I liked the best:
Target: Threshold $29.99 per panel. They are truly white and fall nicely from the rod. They are an impressive weight fabric for the price.
All Modern: Rhapsody Voile Thermal Lined from All Modern $34.99 a panel. These are super thin, drape beautifully, have a thermal lining, and have practically no stack-back.
Bed, Bath, and Beyond: Nantucket White Rod, Brackets, and Rings: The finials that came with these rods were not quite what I wanted, but with a pair of scissors it was easy to cut the jute off. I made a few more changes to them to fit my style. I will show you how in my next post.
I am using the All Modern thermal lined panels alone in my bedroom so the stack-back is small and will only cover the sidelights when they are open. I am using them as liners on the other 3 sliders that require more sun/heat protection. I am spending more than I wanted, but am quite happy with what I found.
I have only one panel finished so far to fit my needs, but will have the slider in my studioffice done and will show you the completed drapes along with how I fashioned new finials for the rods next week.
Other 95″ long drapes and curtains that I considered:
- Country Curtains Janes Plain & Simple White Curtains $39.95
- Pottery Barn – Belgian Flax $59.00
Hi. Here’s another possibility for you, available from J.C. Penney: Royal Velvet Encore Rod Pocket Back Tab Curtain Panel. They come in Cool White and many other colors, 95 inch length and also other lengths.
Just FYI. I have made drapes and after the fact, added the insulating, room darkening liner sold at JoAnn. It is about $7 a yard, 54 inches wide, and you can always get it on sale or with a coupon. I just clipped it into the ring with the curtain, not attached, and have also added it with some velcro along the top of the curtain to make it more permanent/removable. Not a top quality finish, but budget friendly and it got the job done.
Hi Kathy – I miss JoAnn Fabrics. I went there weekly. Where I live now, there isn’t one nearby. :-( Great idea to just clip the liner on. I will check out the liner on their website. Thanks for sharing your idea. I know other readers will benefit. XO
I finally just gave up looking for white 95″ long panels for my dining room & living room! Now, armed with the info you so helpfully posted,in may try again! I love the look of The Prospect & Vine (which I’ve not heard of before)!
I only need a total of 8 panels, & these are all far more reasonable than anything I found. Thank you, Diane–I may no longer have 4 naked windows!
I feel your pain with budget constraints but, then where would our creativity go????
I have one word for you…SHEETS!! I have made so many curtains using them! They wash up nice, it’s all straight sewing, so it’s easy to work with them.
Hi Sherry – I agree with you about being more creative when you have budget restraints. I like coming up with resourceful solutions. :-) I have used sheet and tablecloths before to make curtains. They do come out well, but sheets are not so cheap anymore and it is hard to find flat sheets sold by themselves, they always come with a fitted sheet and pillow case. I miss the days when you could buy each sheet separate. :-) One of my most popular posts a few years ago was how to use a fitted sheet for make a balloon style shade. When I worked in retail display we always used sheets to make the window treatments for the stores furniture and room displays. You can find it here, https://inmyownstyle.com/2012/03/in-an-instant-no-sew-window-treatment.html
I recently redecorated our bedroom. I bought white duck fabric at Walmart and made 95″ long panels with 2 inch ribbon hot glued top and bottom every 5 inches. They hang beautifully on the wood rod in pleats. They were very affordable. I just hemmed the sides, top and bottom first and then added the ribbon. The ribbon slides on the rods very easily. The only thing I wanted my curtains to hang just to the edge of our sliding doors and I do not plan to close them. I plan to add 2 ” blinds or gray blinds to the French doors. I do think 1″ ribbon would even work better. I have made this style many times by making tabs for the backs but I finally realized it was much easier to just use ribbon and hot glue! Your home is going to be beautiful when you finish decorating. I envy you living on a lake. Enjoy it!
Hi Rebecca – Thanks for sharing how you made your panels. Very ingenious. Ribbon is so versatile, now I have one more reason never to pass up a pretty roll of it.
Rebecca you have done exactly what I am planning. I just want the panel to hang at the side. I will not close it because I already have blinds. I don’t exactly understand how you did the ribbon. Is it glued on the back to thread the rod through it or on the outside to be decorative.? Why the ribbon at the bottom?
Diane, I too moved to a lake house about a year ago and love seeing your ideas.
Thanks to both of you.
Thank you so much for the detective work. This length is not easy to find at a good price and when you have a Victorian with 54 windows even inexpensive gets expensive!
Wow Kathie! 54 windows!!! Yes even the least expensive treatments would start to add up. I bet the house has tons of character and unique details, though that make up for what you need to spend for window coverings.
In my previous home I had walls of Windows in every room. You can imagine what curtain rods would cost, so I made mine from galvanized pipe and electrical hardware for brackets and spray painted them. For the finials I bought wooden balls and used wooden dowels to insert in end of rod. They came out amazing and were extremely sturdy. By making my rods I saved enough to buy the drapes I loved and the iron rings to hang them.
Hi Gloria – Your rods sound fabulous…ingenious and money saving for sure :-). If you have a photo I would love to see what you did.
Hi Diane! Great post! Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations of the hunt for THE perfect solution! I, too, am fussy as to how i want things to be, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a lot of choices out there. More times than none, I have to settle with what is available or have nothing, which is frustrating- it’s not what I want AND I have to pay for it? you know, anyone can pay a decorator and write out a check for expensive, overpriced items- but you show us how to do it as reasonably as possible and I thank you too, for keeping it real!
So thanks for taking us with you! I haven’t been in the market for drapes/curtains in years, but I always found JCPenney to be great! They were always well made the selection was very good.
Thanks Joanne – It makes me happy to know that you enjoy that I keep it real. I find its the only way to live. It also allows for personal style to shine through. I have always been a fan of JCP, it was actually the first place I looked, but I didn’t find what I needed there.
That s exactly the size of my family room slider, which after 2 1/2 years is still naked. Great post!
I have the same problem with my large front window and a slider. But I’m confused. Are you going to sew the panels together? Thanks,, Jeannie
Hi Jeanne – Sorry for not explaining better what I am doing with the drapery panels. I have only made one so far and will post how I did it next week. I am sewing two panels together to create one large panel to cover one side of the sliders when they are closed. Using 4 panels (2 for each side) will cover the slider nicely and add just enough fullness to look nice when they are closed.
I have been unable to find your post showing how to sew the panels together. I desperately need this info! I just bought 3 Pottery Barn panels for my slider. please help !!!!!
Hi Deb – I have not created the post yet. Too much to do, so little time. :-) In a nutshell…. I opened one side seam on each panel. On the first panel I opened the the seam on the left side of one panel and on the right side seam of the second panel. I opened the seams all the way from the heading to the hem. I pinned the two sides together (right sides together) and refolded the header and hem into place, then sewed the two panels together. I then pressed the seam open and hung the drapes.
I think those microfiber sheets (very inexpensive) make such beautiful curtains. The only problem is finding the colors you want. I really do not like them for sheets, but for curtains, they hang beautifully.
Did u try j c penney. I have had the same issue trying to find true white. I had bought a pair years ago with the blackout liner.unfortunately they don t carry the ones I had purchased in the past.
Hi Lou – JCP was the first place I checked. I didn’t find anything there which surprised me since they have a pretty big window treatment dept. They had more trendy, patterned, and colorful curtains, but not a lot of white. On many of the sites where I searched for the panels I read more than once in the reviews from buyers that they were sad to see previous styles discontinued or not as well made. So you are not alone trying to find something that use to be sold.
What a challenge! While living in a southwest facing apartment in north Texas, we faced a similar problem for our 8′ tall 10′ wide sliding door/window combo. The horribly ugly vertical blinds weren’t keeping out the heat and they were just plain UGLY. I solved the problem by going to Lowe’s and buying electrical conduit along with cafe clip rings. The electrical conduit is steel and doesn’t sag in the middle of an extended run like plastic pvc might. In the winter, we used sheer white curtains to cover the blinds (that had to be used for privacy as it was a 1st floor apartment). In the summer, I simply used old king size sheets because budget was a very important factor–temporary living situation, not wanting to spend any money to fix it up! I think I spent less than $40 for the entire wall of windows.
I follow a few decorating blogs, I truly like your way of thinking as far as budget. Some people seem to forget about that. Thank you for that, and sharing your knowledgeable decorative ideas. I’ll be waiting for the next one!!
Alabama, Roll Tide ?
Such an informative post Diane! You are smart to realize the summer sun will be no friend to your A\C bills. I’m anxious to see your next post. Vikki in VA.
Thank you for writing about your budget constraints, and how this adds to the difficulty of finding exactly what you want. Some of your ideas may still be too pricey for some, but you addressed the creative process and perseverance needed to decorate with a limited budget.
It is frustrating to know exactly what you want and not be able to find it!
I love your ideas and how you carry them out. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for the nice not Margaret. I love finding alternate ways of doing things to stay on a small budget, but I think what drives me the most is that I am a designer at heart. I envision things in my head and then get frustrated when I can’t find them. The only way to get them is to make them myself. I have to credit my many years of working in retail display that taught me that anything can be created even on a small budget with some creativity and elbow grease.
Diane, Are you going to hang drapery panels to close off Ed’s office from your sleeping area? With the beautiful view It’s a wonderful spot for him to work , but does it intrude on the calm of your bedroom? I’m looking forward to the progress in your new home…..and wish I had a fraction of your ambition to get projects done!
Hi Sally – I am not going to close off the work area since it does not effect the calm of the room. He is neat and doesn’t have a lot of clutter on the desk. I may paint the desk though, a dark blue color so it blends in with the room more. I also want to paint the brick white which will make the area that was once a porch look more integral with the rest of the room. I wish I didn’t even have to add the drapes but without them in the summer the room will feel like an oven.
I only wish my husband office area was as neat as yours! As always, I’m looking forward to your next post.
For such multiple large windows, the PVC pipe can be spray painted nicely for less $$. With your same problem at my home, I used really inexpensive sheets from IKEA at $5.00 each…..really cheap ( I would not even consider these for bedding due to being so sheer). Mine only needed to be hemmed for appropriate length. Love them…..lots of light in the guest room, but, still private from the outside.
I love watching your progress on the new to you home. Best wishes. Can’t wait for the next post!
Hi Debra – Thanks for sharing about using $5.00 IKEA sheets to make your curtains. I know others will benefit from hearing how you tacked decorating on a budget. I used to live very close to an IKEA, but the closet one to me now is a few hours away. I am already missing it.
I thought about spraying the PVC pipe, I had bought two to do just that. But even with a plastic primer on it first and then gloss, I think the metal rings and weight of the drapes going back and forth over it daily would mark the paint eventually. If I hung the drapes without the rings and a rod pocket instead, the softness of the fabric would not mark the paint and I think I would have gone with it. In my previous house I used a larger diameter PVC pipe than I wanted to use in this house. It only had a few places with writing on it that came off with nail polish remover so I didn’t have to paint it since it was already white. I was hoping to find a type like that again, but the Lowes and Home Depot I went to didn’t carry it anymore. :-(
Your new lake house is going to be so gorgeous with all your remodeling. If you or anyone wants beautiful 96 in sheers, go to Walmart online. I will have to look them up, but I am thinking they were about $6 a panel, maybe less
Hi Sheryll – Thanks for sharing about the $6 sheers. That is quite a bargain. XO
I do not know how to hyperlink on here and using a small tablet can not even copy and paste. So here is the info on those sheers I bought online from Walmart. http://www.Walmart.com/IP/37686084
They are the Mainstays Marjorie, size 59 w by 95 long. I got 6 in pure white, teal and black. Unfotunately the white is sold out, but you can ask to be emailed when back.
Do not buy the Mainstays Down Alternative Comforter, it is garbage. I just returned that thing.
Hi Sheryll – You added the link just fine. :-) Thanks for taking the time to find it. I know other readers will benefit. Thanks for the tip on the Mainstay comforter. Good to know. I bought a Better Homes and Garden fleece and velveteen comforter from Walmart for one of my daughters last year. It was so soft and comfy and very well made. I went in search of more and was lucky to grab one more before they were all gone. You just never know the quality of something until you hold it in your hands or wash it.
Thank you, Diane, for this helpful post. Your determination is inspiring.
Thanks so much for sharing your post. By sharing all of your investigating materials, etc. you’ve made things
so easy for those of us in the same situation. THANK YOU!
Hi Ka – Thanks :-) I figured after all the searching I did that it might be helpful for others to know where to look or at least start.
This is a lovely idea – if your neighbours can’t look inside your bedroom. Everything white looks soft, smooth and gentle.
Thanks Lynda – One of the nice features of our house is that is sits out on a point lot. The only neighbors that could see into the bedrooms are way across the lake and would need very strong binoculars if they wanted to see in. I grew up in a house with all white curtains and drapes, I think that is why I favor them and the fact that it keeps the major features neutral in the rooms. I can then add any color to the room in the way of accessories and not worry if it will match or coordinate.
Great post. You’ve done all of the leg work for many of us! Thank you.
These kinds of posts are just one of the reasons I love your blog, Diane.
XO Patrica – I try to write about the things that I would find interest in reading myself. It makes me happy to know that you like what I post about which makes me even more passionate about blogging.