I wanted to use curtains that didnt require a rail system to support the top and bottom as this can interfere with the space inside the van. I therefore opted for some simple curtains that are velcro-ed in place when required.
Step 1: Buy the Materials
at least 5m of velro with stick hooks and sew loops. (~$50 in australia!)
Sewable material of your choice (we used a low weight poly cotton blend)
A sewing machine (ours was found on the side of the road).
about 2 hours per curtain (I also learnt to sew in this time)
Step 2: Mark It Out
Once inside, get her to help you hold the material in place while you mark the edges. An extra set of hands really helps here so if you can get more chocolate, get as many helpers as possible.
Hold oversized pieces of fabric to the windows and use your helper to support the pieces while you mark out the edges. The photo attached shows how I used the contours of the body panels to define the edge of the curtains. Mark out the curtains the whole way around.
Step 3: Make the Hem
Working around the edge of the curtain, fold over the hem. The cut line (red) should rest on the edge line (blue. The hem should be 20mm back from the edge. Use a pin to hold the layers of cloth together. Move around the cloth (about 200mm down) and repeat.
Now, lay the cloth on an ironing board and starting at the pinned points and working into the middle, iron a crease to hold the hem line parallel to the edge line. Work all the way around the cloth until the hem is complete.
Fold in the corners as much as is necessary to bring the edge line back to a tangent with the corner of the window. Dont worry about getting this perfect the material will look good even if the cloth doesn't perfectly match the inside of the window cavity.
Remember to take of your shirt and drink lots of beer if sewing makes you feel uncomfortable about your manliness.
Step 4: Attach the Sew Loop Strips
As the velcro came in a 5m roll, 50 strips would mean each strip is 100mm long. To be conservative, I made the strips 80mm long allowing for a few extra strips to be used on the back window.
I cut up all the strips before starting.
Pin the hook strips in the corners of the curtains. I offset mine inwards a few millimeters and out from the corners 30mm so that the strips are clear of the internal radius of the window sills and so the fabric covers those unsightly velcro thingys.
Sew the strips on getting about a 10mm run of stitches in before removing the pin. Taking the pin out earlier helps to get the strip to sit flat with to the curtain. Run the stitches around the inside 1-2 mm from the edge of the strip.
(first time sewer tip: stop the machine when the needle is in the downward stroke and lift the foot to pivot your work 90 to get a neat change in direction).
Go around once more criss-crossing the centre of the strip to reinforce it, double the run at the end of the strip whilst you're at it.
Step 5: Mount the Curtains
Get your buddy/ladyfriend to hold the curtain against the sills
unstick the backing paper from the hook strip and press into the corner of the window so it sticks.
Then, moving to the other side an pulling in some healthy tension, stick the other side.
Work around the window until all are complete.
Step 6: Camp! / Conclusions
I think you should enjoy this project. I was quite happy with the results. The curtains give the interior a clean look and provide the all the privacy one needs when camping. By using white cloth, the curtains allow sufficient light in to help give the space a more open feeling which reduces any claustrophobic vibes one may get from a solid panel camper.
To complete the project, we made a small draw string bag to store the curtains when they weren't in use. We also made a curtain with hook straps only which sticks to the roof lining and drapes over the front seats to block out the front window.