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A Striped Curtain Tutorial

Last week I promised a tutorial for the striped curtains I just added in the living room.

First let me tell you how they came about. I’ve had a little itch recently…
Serena and Lily

(No, not an itch for other people’s small children.)


Yep: a hankerin’ for the bold, classic look of navy and white stripes. I knew I wanted to add a graphic element to the living room, and navy stripes would perfect! But why don’t striped curtains like this exist?

And then one night…I tossed and turned all night, imagining those navy stripes. Wondering how I could make them mine. And the very next morning – not kidding – I woke up to Carol’s painted striped curtains on Design Pages. HOW DID SHE SEE INTO MY DREAMS? Maybe tomorrow when I wake up, she will have solved other deep life questions I have, like:

How am I the only person left in the world who still doesn’t know how to wear ankle boots?

Ankle boots
Suddenly, the sun was shining and all things seemed right in the world. I ordered up some cheapo standard long sailcloth curtains from target and got started.
Simple sailcloth curtains - perfect for painting or DIYing. (Come see how!)
Most of the other bloggers used wall paint for their curtains, but with a terroristic toddler running around the house trying to find things to ruin, I wanted something washable. Enter this magical stuff called Textile Medium which, when added to acrylic paint, makes the painted fabric washable. Sign me up for that.
Using textile medium to paint fabric (and the fabric is washable!)
But when I went to my local Michaels to find the stuff, they looked at me like I was asking for a mystical substance that doesn’t exist.
Funny, helpful post about making your own curtains!
No one knew what I was talking about. If this happens to you, don’t give up! It’s a real thing! I found mine at Joanns. I also picked up some royal blue acrylic paint and black paint, because I couldn’t find quite the navy I wanted.

Materials I used:

  • 2 bottles of blue acrylic paint
  • 1 bottle of black acrylic paint
  • Painters tape
  • Small paint roller
  • Curtains (duh)
  • Measuring tape/ruler and straightedge. And patience.

Materials you need to make your own DIY striped curtain panels


1. Measure

Lay out your curtains and measure the length. Don’t skip this step: my curtains were shorter than advertised on the package! (I’m on to you, Target.) Decide how wide you want your stripes, and move down each side of the panel, marking every interval with a pencil. My stripes are 13 inches (33 cm) each.
How to measure stripes for DIY painted curtains

2. Tape

Line up a straightedge or yardstick with the marks you just made, and tape along the straightedge. Make sure you tape the outside of each painted stripe.
Measuring chunky stripes to paint your own drapes

3. (Optional Step) Realize you did it wrong and start all over.

Remove the tape you just applied, and once again make sure you tape the OUTSIDE of each painted stripe, so the tape will NOT look evenly spread across the length of the panel. I don’t recommend needing to do this step.

4. Measure one more time and make sure it’s right.

See previous step.

5. Mix up the paint.

I used 1 part black paint to 9 parts blue paint to get the right color. If you’re using the acrylic color right out of the bottle, your life will be easier than mine was. Then add textile medium to the paint according to the instructions on the bottle. Mine requires 1 part medium to 2 parts paint.
How to mix paint to make your own DIY striped curtains!

6. Paint the stripes slooooowly and carefully.

Make sure to lay something under the panel to protect your floor from bleed-through. I started with my roller slightly overlapping onto the tape to keep the edge neat. When the paint was still wet, I removed the tape. Carefully and nervously.
Using a roller to paint stripes on plain white curtains

7. Touch up as necessary.

I ended up needing about three coats of paint. Because I wanted to be sure to remove the tape while the paint was still wet, I did my second and third coats without a taped-off edge. I can’t believe I didn’t mess it up.

8. Set the textile medium.

To make the curtains washable, you have to iron the back of the panels to set the textile medium. I accidentally threw away my bottle of textile medium before reading these instructions carefully, so I just… ironed them. I recommend reading the instructions first.

Lessons Learned

If I had to do it all over again, I would:

  • Paint the top and bottom stripe of the curtains. I left the top and bottom white on purpose (because I didn’t want to paint around the grommets), but I think painting the top would draw your eye up and look better.
  • Just lay the paint on really, really thick the first time so I didn’t need several coats later without the tape.
  • Measure right the first time. Meaning don’t measure the stripes while watching an intense game of college football. (Andy was appalled at my multitasking idea, and I think he was right.)

I also think the curtains are too narrow for this giant window, so I bought another pair and MIGHT paint them and add them to the window. If I can work up the enthusiasm for measuring again.
How to make your own DIY painted curtains - and they're washable!

Tutorial: how to make DIY striped painted curtains!

Have you tackled any painted fabric projects? Any advice on working with the textile medium or… not messing it all up and redoing your work? 🙂
DIY *painted* striped curtains! And they are washable!

P.S.: Check out my tutorial for how to sew lined back-tab curtains! And check out these 27 BRILLIANT DIY curtain ideas:Creative DIY curtain ideas

Let's connect


  1. Oh I DEFINITELY have an itch for other people’s small children. I probably have about 7 photos on my phone that I’ve texted to Caleb saying “I want twelve of these!” Creepy? You betcha!

    Onto your striped curtains, they are freaking awesome! For a long time I considered chunky striped curtains in my dining room, but I think I need to go with a pattern. Oh my goodness! A lightbulb just went off in my head! I have a den covered in white sheet/curtains! This may be so perfect. You’re awesome!

    • Haha, not sure I can take credit for that but you’re welcome! 🙂

      • Christin says:

        Hi! I just recently stumbled upon your striped curtain tutorial and I’m officially inspired! I am going to paint my sons “bog boy room” curtains and spare myself from spending hundreds of dollars on Pottery Barn Curtains. I have one question though on how you achieved that Navy Blue color. What do you mean when you say ,”1 part black paint to 9 parts blue paint” ? Does the “parts” mean “squirts” of paint? I wasn’t sure and just want to make I understand this correctly.

        Thank You!!

  2. Love the stripes! I want to do my own striped rug.

  3. They look great. I don’t understand why curtain manufacturers don’t make bold horizontal striped curtains for cheap. Hello? Don’t they pay attention to what’s going on in the blogosphere and/or Pinterest? Whatev. These look soooooo good! I love them and am completely awestuck by your patience. This would likely turn into disaster for me. Good thing the ‘rents named me Faith not Patience…whoa, not my best virtue.

  4. These look awesome! I want to do this in my guest room! Where did you get your curtains?

  5. Yep, nevermind. I just read a little more carefully and saw the note about Target. 🙂

  6. yeah, yeah, the curtains are great and all but let’s get to the heart of the issue here.

    HOW THE HECK DO YOU WEAR ANKLE BOOTIES? this is serious stuff man! i feel like a complete and total doob when i see a pair and think they are cute and then imagine me in them. yeah, totally not happening.

    PS – The curtains really are amazeballs. i haven’t gotten the courage to tackle painting curtains yet but when I do i will be referencing this post. PINNING THIS!!! 😀

  7. Great job on the curtains – and I did not know about that Textile Medium magic! I recently painted on some baby onesies with freezer paper designs with acrylic paint… now I wonder if they will wash off. Sigh. I’ll test it out before I make any more… thanks for the tip!

  8. They came out absolutely amazing!

  9. Wow, I absolutely love the color you picked, it looks so sharp with the white. Love your living room by the way!

  10. Great tutorial … and your drapes are beautiful!

    And, no worries, you aren’t the only person who doesn’t know how to wear ankle boots … I’m right there with you. They’re a huge mystery to me 🙂

  11. Obsessed with how these turned out. I’ve been wanting to paint a rug for some time now…and just haven’t pulled the trigger. You’re inspiring me to get it together!



  12. I still love those curtains. Is the textile medium what makes them soft? I always wondered if paint would make fabric all stiff and weird…but yours looks beautiful and flowy and like they came that way.

    And ankle boots? No idea.

    • I think so? The painted stripes are still not quite as soft as the rest of the fabric – you can feel a difference when you touch it – but I don’t think you can see the difference, even up close. I’ll just put a “no touching” sign nearby. 🙂

  13. I love how the curtains turned out! I was wondering if you had sewn them or not 🙂 My crafty friend, you fool me every time haha! I’m also interested to know if the paint makes the fabric stiff. And I definitely feel like you could pull of ankle boots! My legs are too stubby for ankle boots, but they look so cute with winter dresses and tights! Oh, and I tried the strawberry recipe. Totally did not turn out for me. Glad I did only a few. My looked all gross and seedy, not chewy and gummy at all. Maybe they need to be at 200 instead of 100?

  14. Your curtains came out beautiful!! I am wanting some like this too, only in black and cream. I cannot understand why no one makes fabric like this!! It’s crazy that something so popular and classic is only achievable if we paint it ourselves. Fabric designers need to get a clue! But anyways your instructions are great. I’m going to pin this so I remember!

  15. Kelly, they look so great! I love that you painted the stripes on – brilliant! This is exactly why I love the blog world… so much inspiration!

  16. What a great idea! I may have to try that in our new house.

  17. I keep seeing those ankle boots everywhere and I just thought it was because I was almost 30 that I didn’t get it.

    I love your curtains!! I have a stripe obsession too. I just can’t bring myself to paint walls striped or anything though. Too trendy. Again, I’m getting old. Curtains are perfect for stripes though. However, this project terrifies me. I would surely ruin a nice set of white curtains.

    And a guest series…..ooooooooooo. The suspense. 😉

  18. Beautifully done!

  19. oh I love them 🙂

  20. The look great! I just finished some this weekend…feature to come once I can hem them 🙂 Oh, and paint the rod they’re supposed to hang on.

    I’m linking up with a guest room today…thanks for sharing!


  21. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE these!!!! Such a great job and they look fantastic in your living room!!!

  22. I love your navy striped curtains! The colors are beautiful and you did a fabulous job! Personally, I wouldn’t attempt something like this because I will probably ruin a perfect set of curtains, so hats off to you, my friend!

    By the way, I am hosting a new giveaway! Come by and enter to win a stylish book- Shoestring Chic by Kerrie Hess!


  23. These curtains look amazing. I love them just the way they are. How long did it take you to do this?

    • Thanks! It took much longer than it would’ve if I’d been paying attention while measuring. 🙂 Probably about 30 minutes to measure and tape (each time), then an hour of total painting. Not too bad!

  24. They came out great! I just love blue and white stripes. I have a ton in my wardrobe and the upstairs of my house has a lot of blue and white. It is such a classic look!

  25. I got the textile medium out of town and then found that they DO in fact sell it at Michael’s..but it is called Fabric Medium and is Martha Stewart brand. So for everyone hunting for it, check that one out in the acrylic paint section!

  26. Oh heck to the yeah, I’m so doing this! I HATE the curtains that I have up in the guest room so cream and black stripes on the way!!! Thank you for the cool tutorial and pictures!!!!

  27. I love the idea! I am expecting a little boy and doing my nursery Nautical theme. I’ve been looking for curtains and a rug that are horizontal striped with Navy! This weekend I will be venturing into painting both! Thanks for the inspiration!!! love it

  28. Thanks for the inspiration! I painted white stripes on my already-owned navy curtains using your tutorial (and a few minor tweaks).

    I love the way they turned out!

  29. I just tried this and after 2 thick coats, my curtains are VERY BLOTCHY! I’m about ready to give up. Did your curtains look blotchy after 2 coats? I’m not sure I want to waste my time and paint adding a 3rd coat. I just don’t see how they could possible end up looking good at all. Thanks!

    • Oh no! I wonder if the paint wasn’t mixed uniformly? Or maybe it’s a different kind of fabric that didn’t take the paint and medium as well? Maybe try a third coat in a small area and see if it fixes the problem there before you spend your time on the rest of it? I’m so sorry to hear it hasn’t worked for you! If you find the solution, I’d love to hear it!

  30. Love the curtains. Where is your couch from?

    • Thanks! It’s the VERY affordable Ikea Ektorp. We actually bought it off craigslist but got a new slipcover, and it looks just like new!

  31. For some reason you make these look not NEARLY as terrifying as others have made them appear! I have been wanting striped curtains for a while, but am too scared. Might have to suck it up and try soon! They look great.

  32. I am so doing this… the tears from the unicorn….once again you seriously make me laugh out loud….you are my new favorite blog!

  33. Courtney Estes says:

    Kelly! So glad I stopped by to explore again. Have been dying to come up with a noncommital way to put chevrons on the nursery wall but I think this is the ticket!

  34. I’m trying out your tutorial, but I’m finding that it’s taking a LOT of paint and the paint is drying very stiff. I haven’t tried ironing or washing them yet so maybe that might help?…Also, have you washed yours yet? Did the blue bleed onto the white?

    • I haven’t had to wash mine yet so I’m not sure how well it will hold up. I have them hanging still, and when you touch it, the painted part is definitely stiffer than the white part, but you can’t tell at all unless you touch it. It doesn’t look weird or anything. I do remember it taking a lot of paint. If you wash it, I’d love to hear how it goes! It *should* wash well, but I’m still nervous. 🙂

  35. Hi Kelly. I love this idea, but i have started and my stripes have dried very stiff. Will it soften after I iron? I also took the challenge of painting white on dark grey curtains. I probably should have made my own grey on white curtains…we’ll see how it ends up. Thanks for posting this, it is a very great option since there are no affordable horizontal striped curtains out there.

    • It should soften some after ironing, but it still won’t feel quite as soft as the rest of the fabric. If you feel my curtains, there’s a definite difference in texture, but fortunately you can’t tell at all when they’re just hanging there, so I don’t worry about it too much. Washing might soften them too, but I haven’t tried it yet. Good luck!

  36. Thank you for this, I’m about to paint 3 pairs of curtains with white stripes. I was totally going to do white at the top, but won’t anymore. I love how the navy looks against your light blue walls. Gorgeous, lady! 🙂

  37. Love the curtains. I am thinking I will try my stripes vertically! I was wondering about your couch….did you make the slip cover? I have a brown couch that I would love to slipcover in cream…but can’t find them for sale where each seat cushion is covered seperately. Any ideas?

  38. Great tutorial! I definitely want to try painting some curtains soon. Just wanted to commiserate on the experience of looking for fabric medium. When I was painting some upholstery, I had the exact same experience at Michael’s and at JoAnn’s! I finally took it upon myself to dig through the bottom shelf of paint supplies at Michael’s and found Martha Stewart fabric medium that absolutely rocked my socks! I found it way easier to work with than Ceramcoat. Just wanted to share 🙂

  39. I loved how your curtains turned i decided to give it a whirl. I have only painted one panel so far but i ended up using more paint than i thought i would. ..maybe it’s the type of fabric. My stipes are very stiff even after washing. Some of the paint came off while washing but it was at a crease where it was very stiff and i had to bend it to get it in the washer. I’m thinking i may have used too much paint…maybe i should try 3 or 4 light coats instead of 2 heavy coats? Did yours bleed all the way through to the other side? mine did..not uniformly but almost…it’s blotchy. I’m hoping once i hang them nobody will see the backside.
    any suggestions ?

  40. I love the look! Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

    • How much did it all end up costing? How much acrylic paint and textile medium did you have to purchase? I really want to do this for my sons room 🙂

      • Hmm… I don’t remember cost specifics unfortunately! I wish i’d saved that info! We bought 2 bottles of blue paint, one bottle of black and a bottle of textile medium, and we had some paint left over in the end. Good luck!

  41. Ok, first, you are definitely not the only one who still doesn’t have ankle boots down! I definitely need some kind of help in that department!
    Second…LOVE the drapes! They look awesome. I am such a sucker for navy and white together.

    Today, I am starting a social media blog hop with 5 other ladies I met at Snap Conference. Each week features a new social media link up starting with Facebook today. I hope you will come over to link up at Just Us Four!

  42. I have been wanting new curtains for my Living room that has an unnaturally huge window and this looks amazing on yours! I’ve been looking all over for a nice stripe/chevron/something but, apparently nobody has figured out they’d make a fortune if they made curtains with that pattern. Now its time for me to buy some plain curtains and acrylic paint and get to work! Thanks for sharing!

  43. This post is old and I didn’t read the other comments (cardinal sin I know!) but if you’re like me and you’re still staring at projects from 2 years ago that you’d like to finish, I was thinking you could just line up the old curtains on the floor with a blank one and continue the line across… And then verify by measuring. Much easier than re-measuring. I also think I’m partial to it being white on top instead of navy but that’s just me. They look great!

  44. It looks so simple that way you explained however, i guess it requires much more effort and skill.
    If i happen to do one such, first thing on my mind to check your blog.

  45. Hey, Kelly! I came across your site on Pinterest and can’t get enough. I am about to tackle paint the curtains and then sew according to your tutorial on how to line and back tab them. I’m nervous as I don’t have any experience with painting fabric and very minimal experience sewing. 🙂 Either way, when this works out I’ll have to send you a HUGE thanks! I’ve just bought my first home and it’s like living in a cave because I feel like I can’t afford to decorate it the way I want.

    Enough about me. I do have a question. I have some leftover latex pain from a furniture project I’ve done. I can’t find anywhere in the product information that it would be dangerous to put in the washer/dryer… do you have thoughts on using the latex vs acrylic paint?

    I’m 29 and don’t know much about the ankle boots. Wish I could help. I think the most important thing with most trends is to have skinny legs… and since I don’t, I stick with my comfy boot cut jeans and Chaco’s.

  46. I just chanced upon this and you are hilarious…the unicorn graphic made me bust up laughing. Thanks for this awesome post…I love all things nautical looking and would love to do this for my new apartment! xx

  47. Mildred James says:

    Since I have been sewing for a very looooog time, I would rather get two colors of fabric and create my own stripes and sew them together in alternating stripes. Ont e subject of painting fabric, I did paint some canvas fabric that I was making tote bags from. I used the same ideas you did and measured, taped, and then painted. I used the fabric medium also. They turned out good, but painting fabric is too long procedure for me. After I painted the fabric, let it dry, set the paint, cut out the bags to the correct size, then I still had to make them. Makes me a little tired thing a out it.

    I think the projects you have done are great.


  48. Sherry Beauchamp says:

    The curtains look very nice, but I’m in love with the striped walls in your hallway!

  49. Striped navy curtains = amazing! But the line that reads, “Mix the paint with 3 tears from the eye of a unicorn” is only the Funniest. Line. Ever. In. The. History. Of. Mankind. Sheer genius on multiple levels.

  50. phuong besancon says:

    I love your bamboo blinds that you have, and I have a window just like that! Where did you get them? And did you have to custom order the 3 panels to the dimensions you needed?

    Thank you!!

  51. kymomof4boys says:

    Ohmygosh!!!! I am absolutely obsessed with your site!! I love reading your “instructions!”!!!

    Can’t wait to try some of your projects!!
    PS I never leave comments on websites but just had to let you know how much I love your projects!

  52. Your curtains turned out fantastic! I had purchased some fabric medium when I first anticipated painting a rug, but since I used a sharpie instead I still have the bottle and this is the perfect project for it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    -Katie @ Upcycled Treasures

  53. Kristen Langston says:

    I’m going to tackle this project but am wondering about what curtains to buy. I noticed yours were 100% cotton. I have found some that are 100% polyester….do you think those would work? Or should I keep looking for cotton?

    • I’m not 100% sure how polyester would behave with the paint. It would make me nervous to risk it, so if it were me, I’d probably keep looking for cotton.

  54. Kelly, loved this idea. I, too, am a big fan of classic Navy & White stripes. Also love your presentation. Still giggling over “terroristic toddler” and Step #3 above!

  55. Found you on Pinterest. Love all the curtain ideas… but am most interested in the plate design to the right of the curtains.. are you hiding a picture of this project somewhere? Would love to see that room… BTW planning to finish the hidden tab curtains before Christmas dinner. Wish me luck.

  56. (old)Alice says:

    First of all, I love your sense of humor and we would communicate well together because of that :).
    Why aren’t there people around here like you? OK, back to reality here in the Bible belt.
    I was looking for a tutorial on making my own upholstered bed frame and happily found you. I haven’t looked at that part yet, just finished with those striped drapes, may do that too. BTW, I once did a kitchen with 5″ stripes, got to pay attention to where you put that tape when you do that!! It can get confusing at 1 AM. First I used a 48″ level, drew the full line of that then using an 8 foot piece of molding continued from floor to ceiling. Of course, you could simply just run that level all the way up and down by placing it a couple of feet onto the last line drawn.
    OK, now back to finding how you guys did that bed frame…shouldn’t be that difficult once you find all the needed hardware for those inside corners. If you’ve learned anything else since you first posted, please send it my way, I’ll be doing this myself with the help of HD’s lumber.
    Alice near ATL

  57. Hi, Kelly,

    Thanks for the fun ideas! My question is about your curtain rod: your living room window looks VERY wide, yet your curtain rod doesn’t seem to be sagging at all. How is it not sagging? I don’t see a center bracket, either.


  58. Hi Kelly!

    I really enjoy your blog and all the creative project you share. This one in particular is different and very useful. I’m a big fan of big bold stripes and I think you used them very well. Nice job!



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