make a dorm feel like home: dorm room curtains

Dorm rooms are challenging. They’re temporary, and typically bland – sometimes actively ugly. Between dorm regulations, car space, and college-kid budget, it’s hard to make a dorm feel like a great place to live. But for me, especially since at school I need to be able to focus and get work done, I want to feel comfortable and “at home” in my room.

light shining through last year's dorm room curtains (made from a vintage sheet)

I recently posted about this year’s thrifted vintage curtains, and how cozy they make my room feel. I believe that curtains are one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways to make a room feel like your room.

For me, a vintagey/grandmotherly fabric helps. But that’s optional.

light shining through last year's dorm room curtains (made from a vintage sheet)

This year, I was lucky enough to find perfectly-sized, pre-made curtains at the thrift store. But last year, I just chopped into a vintage sheet to make my own. Simple curtains like these are one of the easiest projects I can think of. So here’s how to make yours!


  • curtain fabric (I used a vintage sheet), $2.50
  • lining fabric* (white cotton is cheap, or you can buy curtain lining fabric), $5
  • tension rod (sized to your window), $10

*I did not line these curtains! I wanted to let some sunlight come through.

vintage sheets waiting to become curtains

To determine your measurements:
Measure the width of your window, and then decide on a length. The length is up to you.


  1. Number of panels
    For two panels, like mine in these photos, start by dividing the window width by 2.

  2. Gathered Look
    You always want your curtains to be sized slightly bigger than your window so they gather a bit at the top – I did not add enough fabric, which is why these curtains look so flat. So add at least 10% to your width to allow for gathers.

  3. Hems
    Finally, add 4″ to each panel (2″ per edge) to allow for hemming the sides of each panel.

Total Panel Width = 1/2(WindowWidth) + 1/10(WindowWidth) + 4″


  1. What length?
    It’s a dorm room, so any length of curtains will look better than no curtains. You can decide this based on your fabric or based on how much coverage you want – basically, it’s up to you.

  2. Tension Rod looping
    Allow enough extra fabric that you will be able to slide the curtain easily over the tension rod. Usually a 4″ fold will suffice.

  3. Bottom Hem*
    Curtains look much classier if you allow for a 4″ hem or so – that’s what I did, and see how nice they look?
    *If you’re lining your curtains, you don’t need to add this measurement.

Total Panel Length = Your Length + Rod Loop + Bottom Hem

Hopefully, your Panel Width will be less than the width of your fabric. Then, you just need to buy a length of fabric that is twice your calculated length.

From there, it’s super easy.

Making Unlined Curtains

  1. Cut panels of fabric to your determined length and width.
  2. Hem sides of panels: turn under 3/8″, turn under again 1″, and then stitch.
  3. Create tension rod loop by turning under a small hem (3/8″) and then folding over an amount that will allow your tension rod to clear. Stitch in place.
  4. Hem, making sure both panels line up straight.

That’s it!

Making Lined Curtains

  1. Cut panels of both fabric and lining to your determined length and width.
  2. Stitch panels right-to-right, leaving a gap on the top edge for turning right-side-out.
  3. Create tension rod loop by folding over an amount that will allow your tension rod to clear and stitch it in place. You should be able to incorporate your turning hole here, stitching it shut as you stitch down the line.
  4. Optional: Topstitch 4″ above bottom as a pseudo-hem line – it will look nicer. You may also want to topstitch along your other two edges, but don’t stitch the rod hole shut!

That’s it!

The best part, is that when it’s time to pack up and go home for the summer, curtains can just be folded up and thrown in a box. Try doing that with a poster! Tension rods aren’t hard to transport either.

Curtains help cover those awful dorm blinds, and they give the room a depth that only fabric can provide. They’re cheap and easy, and they make my room feel so much nicer!

I hope you have the chance to make your own, and I hope you love them as much as I do!