The Southern Glamper: How to Make Pop Up Camper Curtains, Part 1

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How to Make Pop Up Camper Curtains, Part 1

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Our pop up camper curtains!

What better way to spend those cold winter days and nights than spending them working on a project for future camping trips?  It is the coldest weather we have had all winter, and I'm finishing the curtains for our pop up!




One of the first things that I did for our pop up camper was picking out fabrics that would be used to make the curtains and redecorate!  I already knew that I wanted to have a mint green deer print fabric incorporated into the decor.  I had been searching for deer print fabric and found this Buck Forest Mint - Hello Bear print that I loved.  Also, the fabric can be pricey!  This project ended up using 47 yards total.  Took this inspiration piece and built outward from there to come up with a cohesive plan for the project.

For starters, the cabinets were already grey, and originally we contemplated keeping them.  I can go ahead and tell you we are going with grey cabinets but giving them a fresh coat of paint with some existing paint from a bathroom paint project earlier in the year.

While on the trip to NYC this past December, my friend wanted to visit Mood fabrics which I was indifferent about at the time.  And this one trip kind of ended up steering my project.  I found an Amy Butler print that I loved with bluish greens, coral and grey.  Then on the same shelf was a coral and white.  I picked up a couple of yards of each to make decorative pillows or something and decided that I would go from there.

Since this trip, I have incorporated this color palette throughout.
These are the original inspiration pieces that I purchased at Mood Fabrics in NYC.
Next, I added the Hello Bear Dear Print in Mint.

Finally, I added some Waverly Inspiration Fabric that I found at Walmart to round everything out and give me enough yardage.  The greys and mints all work together but will be spaced out.
Here are some tips and tricks about mixing colors and prints.
  1. Don't put competing fabrics next to each other.  Break up your colors so that color variations aren't noticeable.
  2. Pick a color palette that has three colors or shade variations.  I really like to use two cool colors and a warm or two warm and a cool color.  This creates balance.  
  3. Be willing to take risks.  Stripes and prints can go together.  Or prints can also be mixed.  If you have narrow stripes, mix a bold print.  Or if you have a tiny print, go with wide stripes.  Think of ways to make a mixture rather than everything being the same size or scale.
I measured all of the spaces for length and width.  Also, take into account the amount of selvage that you need for hemming.  It is also necessary to consider doubling fabric pieces for fullness in valances or curtain panels.  Finally, the width of the fabric makes a large difference in how much you will need.

With the Hello Bear Print, I needed 14 inch long pieces for the valance (this is vertical measurements).  I didn't want the deer head to be side ways.  I cut 14 in pieces so that the deer head would be vertical when hung and pieced these together sewing each piece together to make the long valance panels.  Since my bunk end valances needed to be at least 82 inches long, I cut 14 in pieces of a 44 width fabric.  I sewed 3 of these pieces together on the short side to give me 132 inches for almost double the width.  Continued this process to make 4 valance pieces that would wrap the interior space that would have curtains.

Once I had my long strips of the mint deer print, I placed right sides together of my deer print and blackout fabric.  The blackout fabric is my lining.  Sew together at the top and bottom and turn right sides out again.  The blackout fabric is really sturdy.  Be sure to use the correct needle for this.  I would recommend a needle for heavy woven fabric or jeans.  This makes easier sewing.

I'm a big believer of pressing seams after each step.  I ironed all of these long valance pieces once I had added the blackout fabric so that it would be easy to topstitch and make everything polished looking.  I also press out the seams when I join fabrics together to make longer pieces.  Everything just ends up working much better this way!

Reading several blog posts about camper curtains, I knew that I needed to plan on how to hang these when sewing.  My plan was to make a pocket along the top for threading 3/4 inch elastic.  The elastic would help the fabric gather for fullness.  To do this, I market along the top edge of the valance piece, in two places.  1 inch from the top and 1 inch below that.  Marking all the way along the valance piece to sew in my pocket.
These are my two marks.  I used a pencil.  It will disappear in the fabric once it ruffles up!
After making the elastic pocket, I topstitched all the way around the valance piece leaving and opening at the 1 inch slot for the elastic to be threaded through.  Threading the 3/4 inch elastic is a job for long pieces.  I recommend attaching a large safety pin to the end of your elastic for this.  You can grip it and guide it through.  Pick a good tv show to watch or good music to listen to!  This can take a while!

For a final step, RV Designer Collection A115 72 Inch Glide Tape was added to the valance panels that had wall tracks.  The wall tracks were directly over the windows facing outside of our pop up.  There is a different track system for the bunk ends.  I'll get to that next.

This was attached directly onto the elastic on the back side (blackout fabric/lining side) of the valance.  Use a zipper foot to complete this process.  If you can change the position of your needle, I would recommend that too.  On my machine, I can change the position of my needle to center, left or right.  I used a left position on the needle with the zipper foot to sew near the edge of the track tape.  Also, I had to lower the feeder foot on my machine.  This meant I had to manually pull the fabric through as I sewed along the edge of the tape.  I sewed slowly and pulled slowly until I had sewn all the way down the track tape on the back of each piece.

I had to use two types of glide tape for this project.  This is the glide tape that was used for the wall track system. 


To sew through all of the layers - fabric plus lining, elastic and the plastic track tape - I used a zipper foot to get close and dropped the feeder foot.  By doing this, I had to pull the fabric through slowly by hand.
 The ceiling track system required a different set of tape and pieces.  For the valances on the bunk ends (next to the beds), I used, JR Products 81355 White 72" Sew-In Slide-Rite Curtain Tape.  This tape was much easier to work with.  I did have to keep my feeder foot lowered and manually pull the fabric through while sewing here.

And, I do not recommend sewing through those little plastic tracks.  I stopped my needle, pulled the fabric through to the other side of the track piece and lowered the needle and zipper foot back down to continue sewing.  I did sew through a few plastic pieces just to see what would happen.  My needle didn't break, but I also thought that was a distinct possibility given the number of plastic pieces I would go through on each valance piece.

The bunk end valances had a ceiling track.  Therefore, I used a different track tape.  This was a ribbon with plastic feeder pieces that fit into the ceiling piece in the pop up.  MUCH easier to work with!

As I sewed, I left the feeder foot down and manually fed the fabric through.  As I approached each plastic piece in the tape, I stopped my needle and pushed over the plastic manually before dropping the needle back down.

You will sew in your gathers into the valances by doing this, but it will still look great.  This is the finished product.

When pinning the sew in curtain carrier tape, make sure that you have measured for the exact track that this will fit into.  Evenly distribute the elastic and gathers of the piece.  Leave a small portion of the elastic visible or trim as needed and attach a small piece of narrow elastic to the very end piece.  This will serve as a loop to be slipped over a hook next to the track.  I got this idea from the Pop Up Princess post about making new curtains for a Pop-Up.  In my second part to this post, I'll show to hang everything and finish these valances for hanging

Now let's move on to the panels.  I made panels of two varieties:  1.  Panels for privacy that are to be placed on the exterior facing windows.  2.  Bunk end panels that will open and close over the beds.

The bunk end curtains were made by measuring for a 55-inch long panel that would hang down just below the bed landing.  I measured across for the total width the curtains would need to cover when closed.   Since the curtains needed to fit onto an 82-inch track and my fabric was 44-inch width, I could cut a long panel using the entire width of the fabric piece and to the length measured.  I would have 4 pieces that would make 4 - 55-inch panels.

I really wanted to break up and use my mixed prints.  I accomplished this by dividing 55 inches in three and deciding to make the top two-thirds of the bunk end panels with the grey baroque print.  The bottom third would be the aqua print.  This would ensure that the mint deer valances and aqua/mint-ish colors would not be next to each other.

The panels were rounded and measured to 36 inches of the baroque grey print and 20 inches of the aqua.  I now have an inch of selvage to accommodate hemming.  I pinned the right sides together and sewed a straight seam to create the one 56 inch piece.  After this step, I pressed my seams out so that they would lay flat when lined and finished.

I decided to line these curtains with muslin.  It is lighter weight and would breathe.  These curtains are not going to be facing exterior windows either.  I selected a muslin that was 44 inches wide just like my panel piece width to make it easy for measuring and cutting.  Muslin was cut in 56-inch pieces to match the right side panel pieces.  I pinned the right sides together and sewed the long sides and one short side together.  I left one short side open and turned right sides out and ironed out the seams.

The last step to complete these bunk end curtains was to turn the top end inward and pin.  This just closed the top edge that was left open.  Then, I evenly distributed 7 JR Products 81275 Type C Elastic Sew-In Curtain Carrier.  14 come in a pack.  So I ordered two packs and distributed 7 per panel piece.   I started by pinning one piece of curtain carrier to each and one piece to the middle for a total of three pieces.  This left with 4 pieces to place - 2 pieces between the first and middle carrier and 2 pieces between the middle and last carrier.   

These track pieces are a little piece of plastic threaded into a small piece of elastic.  

These pieces are evenly distributed across the panels and sewn in.
The privacy curtain panels for the exterior windows were similar to the bunk end curtains, except that one window was much longer than the other.  The one over the sink needed to be 86 inches long.  Based on the 44-inch width of the fabric I would not be able to cover the entire width.  So I would have to increase the overall width.

I accomplished this by creating 2 of the same 55-inch panel pieces just like for the bunk ends.  Then I added width by taking one piece of the aqua print and cutting a 56-inch piece that was 44 inches wide.  Next, I cut this into 4th's on the long side.  4-11 inch wide pieces that were 55 inches long.  I pinned the right sides together and on each of the exterior sides of these panel pieces.  It gave me 22 additional inches on each panel piece and would more than cover the windows.  I wanted these to be fuller when hanging but open and closed.

The camper already had curtain tracks for the valances and the bunk in curtains.  However, there is no track system for the privacy curtains for the exterior windows.  

For the privacy curtains where there was no track system, I purchased some curtain rods and that I would simply install.  To make these curtains easy to install and hold up over the long haul, I attached a piece of Dritz Home 6-Yard Clip Ring Header Tape, 3-7/8-Inch  to the back of these privacy panels.

The Dritz Clip Ring Tape comes in 6 yard packs.

It is a mesh piece that you will sew along the top edge of your panel for attaching the drapery clip rings cafe clip rings.

Just pin and sew into place.
The bulk of our remodel funds went to this one project that cost a total of $442.  I have read other blogs that have described much cheaper ways to do this.  The blackout fabric is not cheap nor are novelty prints.  But it is something that I really wanted to do and went ahead and did it.  Less expensive fabrics can be shopped around for.  But don't skip linings and blackout options.  I think that these really make a big difference.  This total also incorporates that cost of fabric that covers that actual cushions too.  So, probably $400 is a more accurate total.  

Ordering fabric can save you money, even if you think Walmart is cheaper.  Below are some comparisons of fabric choices that I made.
Look for ways to save money by ordering items.  Especially items that you can just order and wait for them to come in.  I know sometimes it is hard to order fabric online because of wanting to see it in person.  However, I knew that I wanted to use the Hello Bear Mint Deer Print and was going to work around that.  Ordering worked just fine.  Curtain accessories like track tape, blackout fabric, etc. can all be ordered.

Read reviews before purchasing to help make better decisions.  Amazon also allows you to ask questions about items.  I did this on the track tape that I was using.  This was one step that I lost sleep over.  I didn't want to order a bunch of stuff that wouldn't work.  Sewing these kinds of curtains was completely new to me, and I wasn't sure this was going to work. I opened up a box of each curtain carrier or track and tried it out in our camper on the wall and ceiling tracks just to make sure that they were going to work!  I can't tell you what a relief that was!

Here are a few additional tips.  I was sewing a large amount of fabric.  I found it easier to dump all of my pins into a small nesting bowl for me to dig out of or through pins back into while I was working. 

So easy to get pins out of for pinning and drop back into as I was making my stitches at the machine.
Topstitch everything!  This is making a seam close to the edge all the way around the outer edge of your panels or valances.  It will make your curtains look much nicer in the end.  

I just run my presser foot along the edge like you see here all the way around the rectangle of my curtain to topstitch.
Finally, take your time!  Sew with even slow stitching at the machine.  Don't try to race.  Enjoy the process.  Rushing only creates mistakes and makes you hate your project.  Taking your time will pay off.  I work in an assembly line process.  I cut all of my pieces.  Then I sew all of them together to make the front sides.  Next, I cut all of my linings.  Then, I started to cut all of my linings.  Now it is time to pin together.  And so on...

Making curtains takes more time and planning that it does the skill.  However, I did learn some new sewing skills to do this project.  I'm a big believer in YouTube videos for things I am unsure of or a simple Internet search.  I did both for this project to make sure that I was doing it right or to figure out something that wasn't working.

It is a lot of straight stitches and long pieces of fabric.  The time pays off and makes a great finished product in the end.

This is a preview of the final product.
Come back to see the final product when we hang everything up in our pop up.  I can't wait to show you how this all turned out.  Feel free to comment with questions that you have regarding this project. Ordering the track pieces is totally worth it.   Just remember that there are ceiling track pieces and wall track.  Every camper is different.  The pieces that I used are well worth the time to sew in because it creates a stable finished product!

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4 comments:

  1. Please take before and after pictures of the camper. I have a travel trailer that I would love to redecorate...I'm looking to you for inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I totally will! This has been such a fun project!! And I've learned a lot.

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  3. I love your fabric choices!! I can't wait to see the finished project!
    I just came across your blog from. Facebook pop up group, so I'm slowly reading through your pop up camper tag and loving every post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your feedback. I'm glad you are following along. I'll be doing a full reveal next weekend!

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