Folding fabric screens make a decorative addition to a room, while providing a functional privacy if needed. By making a screen yourself, the screen can be made to coordinate with the room's decor. It can be made to match the walls, wallpaper or drapes. The possibilities are broad, limited only by fabric choices. For heavier fabrics, use a heavier wooden frame. Remember the frame must support the weight of the fabric. Keep this especially in mind if you decide to cover both sides of the screen.
Make the Frame
Cut square dowel rods (or cut lumber into 1 inch by 1 inch dimensions) to the desired heights and widths for each rectangle that will be connected together to create the wooden frame for the screen. If using lumber, you can find 1 inch by 2 inch boards which, if you have access to the proper cutting tools, can be cut in half to make two 1 inch by 1 inch boards. If using dowel rods and they are not long enough to make the screen as tall as you want, drill holes in the ends and use a wooden dowel and some wood glue to attach the ends together, doubling the length. Cut or glue together as necessary to create enough boards the proper lengths. You will need 4 boards for each rectangle and you will need at least 3 rectangles to make a screen.
Nail and/or glue together the boards to create the individual rectangles. You can simply lay out the lengths in parallel then attach the shorter widths directly on top and bottom, making sure the ends are square. However, for a nicer corner, you would cut each of the boards on a 45 degree diagonal and attach them with nails and/or wood glue, putting the pieces together the way they are on a picture frame.
Paint, lacquer or stain the wooden frame if desired. Remember the fabric won't entirely cover the wood and so parts of the frame will show. Even if you want a raw, natural look to the wood, consider sealing it for durability.
Attach the rectangles together using brass hinges, which should have come with all the necessary hardware for attaching them to wood. Use at least 2 hinges along each connecting side of the rectangles. If the screen is over 5 feet tall, use at least 3 hinges. This completes the frame for the screen. Remember to set the hinges so that the direction they open will alternate from one rectangle to the next so that the screen opens with a zigzag.
Covering with Fabric
Cut the fabric the dimensions of the rectangles, allowing for a 1/2 inch turn-under seam allowance around the sides. Cut one fabric panel for each rectangle in the frame, unless you want to cover both sides, in which case you cut two fabric panels for each rectangle in the frame.
Turn under the edge 1/2 inch and sew around the fabric panel to create a clean edge. When finished, the fabric panels should be the size of the frame rectangles without raw edges.
Tack or staple (with a staple gun) the fabric panel onto the screen frame. Consider using decorative brass tacks that will enhance the look of the fabric. If desired, tack or staple panels onto both sides.
Stand the screen with the rectangles forming a zigzag pattern.