We’ve updated this post! If you want to see more information about our camper curtains and valances, please see part two of our camper curtain post, which you can find HERE.
When we first got our pop up camper, it was definitely showing its age. Although everything was technically in fairly good condition, it was dated and tired looking. We wanted to give the whole thing a major facelift, but we were also on a budget. Early on, I decided that the curtains were in nice enough condition that we could reuse them once they had been given a good washing.
The curtains weren’t fabulous, but they weren’t awful. They had a plastic black out liner that would keep the heat and sunlight at bay, and the color would coordinate nicely with the scheme I had planned. I put the curtains in my washing machine and set the cycle to delicate with cold water. I even used Woolite, so as to be extra gentle. While I was setting them out to dry, I noticed that all the curtains that had faced a vinyl window were melted and had come apart in the wash.
The old curtains were obviously unusable now, so it looked like I was going to have to break out that sewing machine. Since I was having to make the curtains from scratch, I decided I was going to make a few changes. I didn’t like how difficult the curtains were to remove. I don’t think the old curtains had ever been removed, and hence never washed. I knew I would want to give the pop up camper a good cleaning a couple of times a year, and that would involve washing the curtains. The new curtains not only had to be durable, but they also had to be easy to remove. I had seen this post from Peg’s Gotta Do, and it was my inspiration. I knew I wanted to do something very similar to allow me to remove my curtains easily as well.
Unlike Peg, I didn’t want to put grommets in my curtains. I wanted the hooks to be hidden, so I decided to purchase drapery rings from my local JoAnn Fabrics. I sewed them to the backs of my curtain panels where Peg put her grommets. Then I clipped off the original curtain c-clip sliders from the old curtains and attached these mini Command Hooks to the sliders. I learned early on that the Command Hooks stuck better if I sanded the sliders with 400 grit sandpaper first and them wiped them down with alcohol. If you are short on sliders, Coleman Pop Up Parts has a great selection of curtain accessories, however, I have recently learned that their price on these c-clips has more than tripled since we bought ours. If anyone has a great idea on how to hang the curtains without the c-clip sliders, I’m all ears. 🙂
UPDATE: I’ve found that these carrier clips match the original Coleman track pretty well. You can snap them in to RV curtain glide tape, which you can sew on the back of your curtains. If you’ve been looking for those pricey and hard-to-find Coleman c-clips, this may be your answer. They are available on Amazon here or through Canvas Replacements.
This is how the curtain rings fit on the Command Hooks. As a side note… after two weeks of camping and kids pulling curtains open and shut, the Command Hooks haven’t held up. I’m going to remove the adhesive and use Gorilla Glue or something similar to permanently attach the hooks. If your camper isn’t going to see a whole lot of abuse from kids, you may be fine using the Command adhesive. ***Update! I ended up having to use a new adhesive to attach the Command hooks. If you want to see how I did that, you can check part two of our curtain series HERE.***
To make the actual curtain panels, I used this awesome tutorial from Craftsy. I pretty much followed it to the letter. It’s a fabulous tutorial, and I never once ran into a problem using it. For the fabric, I was lucky enough to find some heavy duty sage green drapery fabric at our local upholstery store for $2.50/yard. It was an absolute steal. I used a Hobby Lobby coupon to buy black out liner. I think I ended up purchasing about 15 yards of each and had some fabric left over.
Once the curtain panels were finished, I sewed the plastic drapery rings to the back of each panel. Although the stitching is visible from the front, it blends in nicely when you aren’t up close. You can hardly tell it’s there, and the valance covers it as well. I love how easy it is to remove the curtains for washing.
I also reused the mesh panels at the tops of the privacy curtains for the bunk ends. I simply cut very close to the original stitching so that I could use as much of the panel as possible. Once all the mesh panels were removed, I squared them up and made sure they were all the same size. A word to the wise… the mesh material stretches, so make sure you pin everything before you sew. If you have a walking foot, that helps as well. 🙂
While the curtains were quick and easy, the valance took a little more work. I had, at first, decided on a flat panel, ungathered valance. I made one and decided I didn’t care for it. When the curtains were open, the bulk of the panels made the valance stick out funny. So I went back to work, making a slightly gathered valance for the top. I liked the look of this valance much better.
To attach the valance to the plastic railing, I used this glide tape. It was pretty difficult to work with, and I highly recommend pinning it in place and using a zipper foot. This was by far the most difficult part of the entire project, but once the glide tape was sewn into place, it worked like a dream. To keep the old valance in place, there were button holes sewn into the ends which then attached to black hooks at the end of each curtain rail. I didn’t want to mess with button holes, so I used a very thin elastic to sew a loop on each end of the valance.
It actually works much better than the original method with the button holes. The elastic stretches a bit and allows me to pull the valance as tight as I want it. I was very happy with the way it turned out.
That’s it! The curtains and valances were actually very easy to make, just a little time consuming. Like I said, the hardest part was that dang glide tape. I love the way the curtains make the camper feel like a little home away from home. I intended to make curtain tie-backs that matched the valance, but I ran out of time before we left on our trip. As it was, I was sewing at midnight the night before we left. And it turns out, we didn’t need them anyway. The camper curtains ended up being closed a good portion of the time to keep the heat out. That black out liner worked wonders.
So far, we’re pretty pleased with how things are turning out. Many of the projects we were unsure about have turned out wonderfully. If you’re dreading those dang curtains like I was, you may be pleasantly surprised at just how easy they can be! And if you’ve already tackled curtains for your pop up, I’d love to see them. I’m sure many of you have some great ideas to share.
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