Flutter on the Sneeze – Cafe Curtains from Vintage Linens

From Episode 102 – Country Mouse

What to do with that collection of linens that sits forever in your drawers? Why not stitch them together into café curtains? Curtains from vintage linens display beautifully, without subjecting the linens to undue stress.


You’ll need:
  • A collection of vintage linens – handkerchiefs, tea towels, antimacassars
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Two curtain rods and the hardware to mount them

Start by laying out your linens to create the panels in the size that you need for your windows. You’ll be creating two panels to cover the lower half of the window. A third will be a valence covering the top quarter. To make the panels lush, aim for the combined lower panels to be twice the width of the window and the upper panel to be about a width and a half.

Lay out your linens

Then pin them in place with the linens overlapping each other and top stitch them together.

Stitch them together

Next, fold down about 2 inches and stitch to create a rod pocket.

Press carefully

Then press carefully so as not to press down the overlapped edges.

Put rod through rod pocket.

Finally you can mount the curtain rods at the top and middle of the window and put your valence and café curtain in place.

The charm is in the details

Curtains at the windowThe tops and bottoms of the curtains can be cut even and hemmed or you can piece the linens together so they create a staggered edge. That edge can be left as the hem on the bottom and on top, folded over to the front and stitched down for the rod pocket.

As you lay out your curtains, consider the linens you’re using. Lap the ones with particularly pretty edgings over the ones with surface detail.

Play with the selection of linens. You can find specimens with colored embroidery like the ones I used in the demo, or ones with all white embroidery for a more textural look. Tea towels will make a more opaque curtain, handkerchiefs will be more sheer.

In the collections episode of season 2, we made similar drapery panels with Vera scarves inset into them. As an alternative, make a lovely bohemian curtain of chiffon scarves instead of tea towels or handkerchiefs.

Curtains from vintage linens will give your windows a delicate, etherial quality, and it gives you an opportunity to use and enjoy vintage textiles that may have sentimental value. If you decide to dress your windows with this project, share some pictures!

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