How to Make Homemade Primitive Curtains

By Jane Smith
Sew a casing along the top of a flour or coffee sack or add tabs to a quilt to make simple, primitive curtains.

Primitive curtains complete the relaxed decor of a camper, rustic cabin, beach cottage or playhouse. Primitive curtains require only minimal sewing skills. Made from burlap coffee sacks, cotton flour sacks or old quilts, primitive curtains employ simple design elements, such as casings, tabs and curtain-rod holes to accommodate rope or twig support rods. Unlined and often without hems, primitive curtains lack the frills, pleats and other finishing touches that more expensive draperies include.

Sack Curtains

Lay the flour, coffee or feed sacks on your work table with the bottoms facing you, and the printed or patterned side face-down. Fold the top of the feed sack down 1 1/4 inches.

Lay a yardstick against the fold. Use the yardstick as a guide. Pin along the fold every 1/2 inch, with the tips of the pins pointing toward you and their heads facing away from you.

Thread a tapestry needle with kitchen twine or ribbon and knot the loose ends. Use a running stitch -- which means sewing in a straight line with an even stitch length and spacing between stitches -- to create a casing at the top of the sack.

Begin at the pin farthest to the left along the fold. Push your needle through the sack and pull the twine or ribbon until the knot at the end rests tight against the fabric.

Remove that first pin and place it in your pin cushion. Push the needle back through the fabric at the second pin. Pull the twine or ribbon through until it rests tight against the fabric, without pulling it so tight that it ruffles the sack.

Remove the second pin. Continue sewing from pin to pin, removing all but the pin on the far right end of the fold as you go.

Push the needle through the fabric, 1/8 inch to the left of your last stitch, and come back up through the fabric at the final pin. Repeat two more times. Push the needle under the threads of that final stitch without going through the fabric.

Put your finger in the thread loop before you pull the thread all the way through the final stitch. Push the needle back through the loop. Pull the rest of the thread through the loop to make a knot.

Remove the final pin. Repeat all steps for the second flour, coffee or feed sack. Push your curtain rod through the casings of both sacks to hang them.

Tabbed-Quilt Curtains

Create curtain tabs, using men's ties. Cut the pointed end off the small end of each tie. Cut the narrow portion of each tie into as many 4-inch long pieces as you can.

Lay each of the pieces of tie seam-side-up on your work table. Make a 1/4-inch fold at each end of each section of tie. Use a running stitch to sew along each fold.

Fold each hemmed tie section in half, with the hems even. Stitch along the hem seams to finish your curtain tabs.

Use a seam ripper to open the seam along the top of your quilt. Position the tabs every 6 inches along the top seam of the quilt, beginning one inch from the right side. Position the last tab inch from the left side of the quilt.

Tuck each tab 1/2-inch deep into the open top seam of the quilt. Machine-stitch the top seam of the quilt closed, sewing across each tab as you go.

Slip the curtain rod through each tab to hang your primitive tabbed-quilt curtains.


Placing the pins a set distance apart helps you keep your stitch length even. If you already make even stitches, you can use fewer pins, spaced farther apart, or none at all. Use up to four pairs of sack curtains per rod depending on how full you want them to look when you hang them.

Sack curtains work best as sash or cottage curtains, with or without a heading or valance. Sash curtains hang from a rod placed at the top of the lower sash of the window, explains Window Treatment Ideas website owner, Janna Haliorus. Cottage curtains hang in pairs -- one at the top of the lower sash and one hung from the top of the upper sash.

About the Author

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.