Tagged: dorm

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!

home sweet home away from home

beautiful backpack & back-to-school shoesI’m all moved in to my fancy new apartment-style dorm. This may be the only perk of being an upperclassman, but it’s a good one! We (there are 4 of us in my suite) get air conditioning and a nifty little kitchen (with dishwasher!). I’m delighting in the freedom of cooking my own food; a challenge, sure, but I love it. It will become more difficult to keep myself well-fed once the work piles up, but hey, it’s day 3. Not much homework yet.

But I do have some homework today, which is probably why you’re hearing from me. I haven’t had anything to procrastinate from for a whole week plus some! Why blog??

I haven’t been taking enough pictures lately (shame, shame!) and my new camera feels quite neglected. I’ll have to take it for a Cleveland photo walk soon… but for now, here are small snapshots of my new room.

bobbins on the wall
My mini bulletin board full of bobbins on the wall… it makes me happy.

animals (whales!) closet curtain
I bought this curtain at a thrift store simply for the fabric… whales! Then I realized it was the exact size I needed for my closet. Perfect.

I made some windowseat cushions for the boys’ suite… they’re pretty awesome. Photos of those to come next!

successful transplant

finally settling,
last pieces are put in place…
the puzzle: complete.

dorm desk

Technically, I am all moved in. All of my most important things are within the confines of this eight-by-ten-foot block. My clothes in drawers, my coats on hangers, my shoes on shelves. I feel like a master puzzler, having fit such an absurd amount of things into such a tight space. My lovely orange shelf unit is still jammed to the brim with stuff, and I have an empty bin waiting to be filled, and the plastic drawers under my desk are half empty and not at all organized. I will get to them, yes, but they cannot be opened when my fan is in its optimal position. And my fan is the most beloved item in my room at the moment.

my measuring cup wall decorationI have had a wonderful couple days back… the stifling heat has kept us moving at a slow pace, but it’s a kind of friendly relaxation that I haven’t felt all summer. For once, I have no need to do anything, and for once, I don’t make up more things that need done. I always make myself feel so busy, whether I’m busy or not… this hodge-podge, plan-as-you-go schedule is a nice change for me.

It’s fun and funny to be living in a new place. I’m on the other side of campus, in a new room, with a new walk to class and most of my friends very close by. Everything on campus is the same, yet everything is so different and new; it’s familiar but exciting and it fills me with content.

I managed to crank out a design (whales of course!) for Spoonflower‘s free swatch day (today!), and ordered my swatches. I’m quite excited, and if they turn out alright perhaps I will order some lovely whale fabric for myself come birthday time. I love the idea of making my own fabric; what could be more fun?

I wish it were fall. I can’t wait for sweaters and scarves. It’s so hot… I love my fan.