Make it: vintage button kitchen curtains! January 19, 2007

I’ve lived in this apartment for nearly two years, and somehow I’ve never actually made curtains for my bare and boring kitchen window during all this time. I guess I fell into the not-sure-how-long-we’ll-be-here trap, and hesitated to cut up any of my pretty vintage fabric for a relatively temporary living situation.

But when we got back from a month of traveling, and our neglected apartment was in dire need of a pick-me-up, I put the curtain project back on the front burner. And then I spotted the cheerful flowered tea towels we got at Crate & Barrel last year and realized that maybe I didn’t have to use anything precious… and a $2 tension curtain rod from the hardware store and a vintage button windfall at the Rose Bowl flea market on Sunday sealed the deal. And a couple of hours later, our kitchen is so much cuter.

Vintage buttons + tea towel = curtains!

These dishcloth curtains are quick to make and ultra-easy, since all the edging is already done for you. You could also try using vintage or new scarves (filmy ones would be nice) or cut a patterned pillowcase in half and hem the side edges.

You’ll need:

Two matching or similar tea towels (mine measured 26 inches long and 20 inches wide)
Measuring tape
Iron (recommended)
Sewing machine (recommended)
Needle and thread
Assorted vintage buttons (I used about 50 for mine)
Tension curtain rod to fit your window

1. Fold the short end of each dishtowel down to form a channel for the curtain rod (mine worked well at 1.5 inches — so it slipped over the ends of the rod but wasn’t loose). Iron or smooth it down and pin it in place. This will be the top of your curtains.

Folding down the top edge

2. Stitch each seam by hand or with a machine. Test it to make sure it fits over the tension rod, and rip it out and re-sew it if it’s too big or too small.

3. Now it’s time for the fun part: arranging and sewing on the vintage buttons! Hand-sew each button on, bringing the needle and thread through three times to hold it in place.

Buttons on the center of each flower

I added one to the center of each flower, and used lots of different styles and sizes in orange, red, green, and yellow. It could also look great with a repeating print and identical buttons… or a simpler style with a button here and there as an accent. I threaded four needles, each with a different color, and just picked up a new one every time I added a different color button, but you could use the same thread each time if you like for simplicity.

I used assorted colors and sizes for my design

4. When you have finished adding as many buttons as you want, slip the curtains onto the tension rod and place it where you’d like it in the window. This is perfect for a cafe-style curtain, with window peeking out above or below, rather than a measured or fitted style.

 new curtains!

It would look really cute with vintage rick-rack, ribbon, or lace all along the bottom too… there are a million ways to customize your curtains.

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