Car Window Screen





Introduction: Car Window Screen

Inspired by gregmacd1's Magnetic Window Screens for Car Camping, I decided to make a fancier version that kept bugs out more completely and looked better.

Step 1: Ingredients

Extra wide double fold bias tape - black. 2 packages. $3.68

Fiberglass window screen 36" x 84" charcoal. $6.78

70 Rare Earth Neodymium Magnets 1/4" X 1/16" Discs. $6.89

Total cost: $17.35

Also used:

Long piece of white butcher paper

Black thread

Utility scissors

Sewing machine OR hand needle

Sewing pins


Black marker

Craft glue

Step 2: Make a Template

My car is a Prius and does not have a metal strip between the front and rear windows. At first I thought this would be a problem, but it simply meant I have one finished screen to deal with rather than two. My screen covers both the front and rear windows.

Cut a piece of butcher paper longer than your window width.

Fasten it with magnets to the car and roughly draw a line outside of the perimeter where you want the screen to lie.

Cut out the rough dimensions and put it back on the car.

Make a more precise outline just where you will want the magnets to be.

Remember the magnets will be on the outer 1/4" of the screen, so you need to cut it close for the uprights. It is not as important for the upper and lower sections as you have the whole roof and door to attach it to.

Step 3: Cut Out the Pattern

Fasten the paper pattern to the screening with sewing pins.
Cut out the pattern. Attach it to the car to verify the size (I had to trim it down to fit)

Step 4: Add the Bias Tape

THESE SECTIONS HAVE IMAGES THAT WERE DONE TO ILLUSTRATE THE PROCESS. The black-on-black of the actual screen did not have enough contrast to display in photographs.


Open the bias tape. Pin the raw edge to the edge of the screen with the two edges aligned.

Sew it around the perimeter of the screen on the sewing machine or by hand.

I did the actual screen on the sewing machine, but the sample is done by hand, either method works equally well for this step.

Step 5: Add the Magnets

Separate your magnets into individuals - they will jump back together if you get them near each other! Put one magnet about every 2 - 3" along the upper edge of the tape.

Secure with a drop of craft glue. Trust me - they will not stay in place otherwise. These tiny little demons are powerful.

Fold the bias tape over the magnets and match the folded edges of the tape. Pin it in place.

Step 6: Stitch It Closed

Then sewed this closed with a sewing machine or by hand.

My actual screen was sewn with the machine but the sample above is done by hand.

It was only half way through the real screen that I realized the problems I was having with the bobbin were because the magnets were pulling the metal bobbin out of place. I changed to a plastic one and had no more problems.

You can not just sew straight around the bias tape because the magnets will slide along the channel and group together (did I mention these are amazingly powerful magnets for their tiny size?). I made channels for the magnets by stitching across the bias tape every time I came across another magnet.

In retrospect, I might have done better to do the second sewing by hand. Between the bobbin shifting and tangling the thread, the magnets shifting along the tape and having to change sewing direction several times for each magnet, nice quick long hand stitching might have been faster and less frustrating. If you do not have a sewing machine, you could easily stitch it all by hand.

Step 7: Finished Screen

The finished screen works great - it has already been camping. Having fresh air in the car and no bugs is a big improvement.

The magnets keep it rolled up when not in use and it fits easily into the storage bin under the platform in the back of my car.

It looks very nice and with magnets placed so close together, the screen fits snug against the car to work well for bug prevention. There are no rough edges to scratch the car or me. I think this will be durable too with the nicely finished edge.



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    23 Discussions

    I have an idea to solve the magnets and sewing machine challenge. What if you marked on the bias tape all the spots you intended to place the magnets, sewed the netting to the bias tape, but sewed in pockets for the magnets but WITHOUT placing the magnets in the pockets until the bias tap was completely attached to the netting. Then, craft glue the magnets into the little open pockets and either hand sew or machine sew this small stretch (I'm imagining no more than 1") stitches to seal in the magnets into the bias/edge tape. :)

    2 replies

    I should say that the screens have held up very well - I just roll them up and keep them in the hatch well. I use them even when I stop for a bit to watch a view and take a driving break. I made two individual ones for the driver side (the single unit works fine on the passenger side).

    That is a great idea and the pockets would not have to be nearly 1" as the magnets are only .25" across. One or two quick stitches by hand and you would be done. Let me know how it comes out.

    I think you will find the excess netting is hard to manage if you leave it on to tuck in behind the door, but the magnetic tape might work - it tends to be very weak compared to these powerful little magnets but all you want is for the magnet to stick.

    I'd like to do this so I can open both front and back doors of my Prius. I'm considering using magnetic tape on the plastic between the two windows, or leaving excess netting and wrap them around to the metal window frame accessible on the inside of the door.

    i want one !

    A quick and easy alternative (that we used just before a road trip -- for nights we had to boondock -- is to sew a mesh hood/pocket/sock/sleeve that fits over the window part of the door when the door is open. It usually stays in place well enough when the door is closed, but magnets could be added at the bottom outside edge if desired.

    You can often find a suitable mesh for pennies at the thrift store -- sometimes in the form of sheer curtains.

    Didn't find it confusing...I easily sewed the bias to the raw edge of the screen, glued in the magnets and pinned them. But when I went to my machine to sew the binding closed, I discovered the faceplate and feed dogs are metal, so I can't sew the bias taped closed with the magnets inside. Any advice?

    2 replies

    Oh, I had the same problem but with my bobbin. If I were making another one, I would just do the second sewing by hand as it was a pain in the neck to keep adjusting for the magnets. You can take pretty long stitches as the only requirement is to keep the magnets inside. My screen is over a year old now and it still in great condition. I hope it works out well for you!

    Thanks! I changed my straight pins to closed pins (like a diaper pin) so I could work by hand without getting pricked by all those pins, which become unmanageable once they get stuck in the magnets. I would definitely recommend using closed pins for this project, and not straight pins. I also recommend avoiding 90° angles because it's difficult to get the binding right. Use gentle curves around the corners instead of a hard angle. If you do need a 90° corner, look up quilt binding tutorials and that will help you manage the corner...there's a specific trick to it. Thanks so much for this tutorial!

    Awesome... Fantabulous... Spectacular... Now I have added something to my "To Do" List. Also, really like the idea of wrapping the screen around the frame a little so that the doors can be opened. Wow. Thank you.

    Hmmm . . I doubt it. That is not what this was designed for. If you want one to stay on while driving, you should probably look at one that goes on the inside of the window - or attaches to the door frame on the inside. It should not be hard to adapt this approach to one that sticks to the metal frame.

    I have done a makeshift version of this at Drive-ins. My family always picks on the idea until they are cool and bug free later on in the night. Great Instructable.

    1 reply

    Until I saw the responses here, I never would have considered this for a drive-in. Doh! It is a perfect solution as the screens are easy to handle and reasonably inexpensive.

    This is great. I have the same car and want to make something like this for going to the drive-in movies. I would need to make a separation for front and back doors though for the inevitable trips to the snack bar.

    2 replies

    Thanks! The drive-in is a GREAT idea! Let me know how you mange the center bar, as I would like a pair for the other side of the car for those especially warm nights.

    I don't know if this will work or not but here is an idea. Since there is no where for the magnets to adhere on the upright between the doors, Is it possible to make the pattern several inches longer front to back, and then split it down the middle from top to bottom where the doors meet. put the bias all the way around like you did originally. adhere the magnetic parts of the screen to the car as before. when you get to the edge where the uprights are, take the excess length and wrap it around inside the door as you pull the door closed. The door's weather stripping should hold it snugly in place and now you can open either door independant of the other.