For what they are, shower curtains can be expensive. Years ago I discovered you can actually find curtain panels for windows really cheap at thrift stores. Let me show you how I’m upgrading my own shower curtains with a DIY shower curtain from thrifted panels.
Just a Few Simple Steps to Custom Made
Did you know that you can make your own custom shower curtain? Anyone can go out and buy a standard shower curtain. They sell them pretty much everywhere. But I’m over here loving on custom-made everything.
My current shower curtain was also made with old window panels I had lying around. But it had a few fatal flaws since it was my first try with this technique. I’ve learned from that first try and definitely improved on the design.
You can sew your own shower curtain with some pieces of fabric. It’s a similar concept, except my way is the easy way. There’s no hemming involved when you’re taking window curtains and repurposing them for your shower.
Watch this on Youtube:
What Other Ways Can You Make a DIY Shower Curtain?
There are definitely alternatives to my technique. A few that come to mind are:
- Flat Sheet. Use a flat sheet as a decorative shower curtain with a plastic liner on the inside.
- Sewing it from Decorator Fabric. Purchase several yards of fabric (you will need exact measurements of height and width) from a craft store like Joann Fabrics in a style you like and sew them from scratch. This will of course be the most expensive option likely and comes with quite a bit of additional cost.
- Store-Bought New Shower Curtain. With a twist, you could purchase a second curtain panel to get the same drapery look I’m going for. Get longer lengths of panels and install them as a ceiling shower curtain for that high drama.
What are the benefits of a DIY shower curtain made with thrifted panels?
- Less Sewing. Because I’m utilizing already sewn window curtains or a drapery panel.
- Extra length. I use longer window panels so my shower curtains end up with extra length which adds additional drama and style.
- High-End Look. You can get a high-end look without a high-end budget.
- Budget-Friendly. Thrifting for supplies is obviously the least expensive way to get any look.
- You Don’t Need Exact Measurements. In fact, you don’t need to worry about a lot of things you would with a typical shower curtain sewing DIY. Like seam allowances, side hem, etc.
- 100% Washable. Because I use a fabric liner attached to my curtain panels I can throw them in the wash with bleach and they will last literally years.
Let’s talk about supplies and get into the details.
What Kind of Fabric Should I Look For?
Thrift stores always have a huge supply of fabric in various forms, some really great ideas of options to look for would be:
- White Flat Sheets
- Fabric Shower Curtains
- Scrap Piece of Fabric – Several Yards Preferably
- Old Shower Curtain – though this would be harder to find 2 matching ones.
- Sheer Curtain Panels – This is what I am Choosing to Use
- Drop Cloth – If you Bleach this it is one of my favorite fabrics to use. Check out my tutorial How to Bleach Drop Cloth for Vintage Vibes.
Tools & Supplies to Make a DIY Shower Curtain
Depending on the curtain panels you are choosing to use your supply list might vary a bit from mine, but I will list exactly what I used. And some of the choices I made were also because of the custom-made shower curtain rod I am making.
- Seam Ripper
- 2″ Drapery Hooks or Clips (Shower Curtain Rings)
- 2x Shower Liner, Fabric Shower Curtain Liner
- 4 – 6 Window Panels, Fabric Panel
- Sewing Machine
- Upholstery Thread
Step One – Wash and Dry Your Fabric
Whether you’re choosing to sew everything from scratch with water proof fabric or you’re using my technique with thrifted panels, it’s always good to wash it all first.
I chose to give my 4 panels and 2 fabric liners a good bleach cycle before I started anything.
How to Wash Fabric Shower Curtains & Liners
I use all the whitening techniques for a fresh clean start.
- The first thing to do is add all curtains and liners to your washing machine.
- Add in your detergent, white vinegar for fabric softener, bleach, and I use Baking Soda Washing Soda.
- I use hot water with a heavy cleaning cycle.
- Then I stop the cycle after about 10 minutes and let it soak for an hour or two.
- Start the cycle back up and let it complete.
- Switch it over to the dryer and let it completely dry.
- Take it out when it’s still hot so you avoid lots of wrinkles.
Step Two – Using a Running Stitch On Your Sheer Panels to Create Gathers
This is a great way to create the gathered fabric and would typically be used to create ruffles. However, today we’re going to use it to create a gathered effect so that two full window panels fit on a single shower fabric liner.
How to Create Gathers in Your Panels
You will use a running stitch which is basically just a straight stitch. You can easily do this stitch with hand-sewing as well. So, if you don’t own or want to use a sewing machine you definitely can do it. I hand-sewed my first shower curtains with this technique.
This is exactly what I did, however, depending on your sewing machine the settings might be a bit different. I had to experiment with mine because the string kept breaking.
Machine Settings for this Easy Project
- Thread your machine and bobbin with a thick upholstery thread so it doesn’t break as easily during this process.
- Set your tension very low (how tight it will sew with the thread). I ended up with my tension at 0.
- I used my widest/largest running stitch which was a 10 on my machine.
Start With Your 4 Sheer Window Panels
- Choose which end will be your top. You can use the top hem or bottom hem.
- Sew a straight line all the way across the top of the fabric.
- Ensure you have several inches of loose thread at the end and the beginning of the panel.
- Hold the bottom thread and start pulling the fabric in the opposite direction of the thread.
- Slowly and carefully do this until the entire panel is gathered.
- Set it aside and start the next panel.
- Repeat these steps for all 4.
Step Three – Attaching the Sheer Panels to Your Fabric Liners
This is literally your last step, aren’t you excited?!
A Few Notes Before You Start:
I chose to turn my fabric liners upside down. For the first set of curtains I sewed, the metal grommets got in the way of sewing it all the way at the top. Which made it hang wonky for the rest of its life.
Also, make sure you’re sewing the right sides together. You want the outside of the fabric panel to be sewn to the inside of the sheer panel. I almost started on the wrong side and caught myself.
Sewing Your Fabric Liner to Your Sheer Panels
- Take your fabric liner and fold it in half width-wise, mark the center with a pin.
- Then take a sheer panel and start lining it up with that half side, and pin it to the top of the fabric liner.
- Try to get the gathers as evenly distributed as possible.
- Then sew a straight line along the straight edge of the top of the panel and liner.
- I lined up my sewing foot with just a little bit of fabric overlap. I wanted it fairly close to the top hem.
- I chose to attach only 1 sheer panel at a time since it’s so heavy and awkward.
- Typically I do a back and forth a couple of times at the beginning and end of the stitch so it creates that tightly closed stitch.
- Turn your liner over to empty the second half and start attaching your second sheer curtain exactly like the first.
- Repeat steps 3-7. Then Repeat all the steps for the second fabric liner.
When you’re done you should have 2 curtain liners with 2 sheer fabric panels on each. I really wanted 3 panels each for an even more gathered look, but 2 of my curtain panels were significantly shorter. Oops!
But regardless I love the end result! This is literally one of the easiest ways, besides just buying a shower curtain, to get that beautiful feminine shower curtain look. And in less than an hour, I added charm and character to this small bathroom as a part of the bathroom makeover.
Step Four – Installing Your New Shower Curtain
This is my favorite part, the staging. I’ve been using this inexpensive extension rod from the Dollar General for a couple of years now. It isn’t my favorite, but it works for the time being.
Don’t forget to watch for my tutorial on creating a DIY Wooden Rod & Cornice Piece for a Shower.
I chose to use 2″ curtain rings I purchased on Amazon, the package contains 14 rings. So, I just evenly distributed 7 per shower curtain.
It really is easy peasy. Now take a step back and admire your beautiful work.
Well friends, thanks so much for visiting! I hope I have inspired you to try your hand at repurposing a few thrifted sheer panels. I literally see them all the time and have more ideas in mind for later.
Meet the Author
Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→