Intro: Volkswagen Bus Camper Curtains
Our 1979 Westfalia Bus, is totally unrestored, and in very nice condition. It has Green rough Burlap type Curtains, which I can do without. They look like they might regenerate into dust soon as it is. Looking on the Web the few curtains I could find Started @ $150 a set and went up from there. That was for the same burlap type of material. We liked the idea of a heavy tapestry lined in white to cut down the heat.
Step 1: Get Ready
Again turning to the web, I looked for instruction in making a set of our own. I only found a few (2) and one of those was for Vanagen, which had a different window set up. The other (Thank you Mr. Ratwell) was inspiring, but not suitable for the Material we decided on.
You will need:
a Sewing Machine,
a nice sharp Shears or Cutting wheel,
Snap setter (A Must! You can change a lot of the snaps to Velcro as I did, But you need Snaps for the big Front Window Curtain. Velcro won't hold the weight.)
I used 6.5 yards of 60" wide fabric for my main color, 30" of that was lost to Pattern matching.I Started with 8.5 yards not knowing how much I would need.
Liner Fabric, I used 6 yards of 45" wide white cotton.
1.5 yards of 1" wide Elastic, I used 34" but have plenty to adjust for the weight of your fabric.
Snaps, These are not the snaps in the fabric store, these are for automotive uses. one side has a screw in it for attaching to a surface. I found mine in Lowes.
Snaps, regular type for the middle section of curtain. (this is optional, you can use velcro here too, I didn't, I stayed with the snaps)
Velcro, 20" of 1" wide. 2.5" for each tie back ( my tiebacks are 3" wide instead of the standard 1")
1.5" of 1/8th" velcro,(for curtain over sliding door)
Thread - I know this seems obvious, but I didn't buy enough the first time , of course they ran out and I ended up switching colors half way through. 4-5 spools of main color heavy duty ,and 1 liner color.
You will probably need to get some or the heaviest fabric needles for your machine too.
Step 2: Get Set
The Original Curtains are a pretty simple Set-up. The bigest, Front Curtain: 1 curtain
Cut size - 138"W x 24"L
Fin size - 132"W x 20"L
Sliding Door: 1 curtain
Cut size - 54"W x 24"L
Fin size - 52"W x 20"L
Rear Hatch Door: 2 curtains
Cut size - 32"W x 21"L
Fin size - 30"W x 16"L
All Other Windows - 6 curtains total:
Cut size - 32"W x 24"L
Fin size - 30"W x 20"L
Cut size - All peices are 22"L by whatever width is needed minus 1"W
Step 3: Get Cutting
Due to the thickness and weight of the Fabric and Liner combined, I decided to change the dimensions of our Curtains. So my finished sizes are slightly smaller than the originals. The Front Window and Sliding Door Curtains, I did not change. But all the other curtains are 27" wide instead of 30". The curtains still more than cover the windows nicely, and have that pleasing bunched effect when open. It doesn't affect the directions, but it gave me an advantage in that I was able to get 2 curtains from each cut of my 60"W main Fabric. I was concerned at first because I was losing fabric to match the Pattern, so that every curtain is inline with the last. This might not be an issue , but I was trying to match a 20" repeat and a 24" cut of fabric. I lost approx. 7" for each cut of Fabric. Some of this I was able to reclaim for the tiebacks.
But not much.
Step 4: Cut Cut Cut
I did all my cutting at the same time, so that I could match my Pattern up. The main thing is to get it laid out straight so that your cuts come out strait. This heavy fabric has a mind of its own, it wants to lay with its grain and if it is cut crooked it will show, you cant train it with an Iron like a light weight Fabric. This can help with cutting, but when you are wrestling 6-8 yards of Fabric it gets tricky. After you get it laid out nice straight and even, just cut it in 24" lengths all the way across the width. You will need 3 cuts just for the Big Front curtain. 1 for the sliding door, and 1 cut for each set of 2 curtains. ( If you are doing the full 30" wide curtains, your layout will be length wise of the Fabric. I cut across the width.)
8 peices of cut fabric in all.
The Lining Fabric is 45" wide so after cutting the edges off, I just cut the long peice right down the middle all the length and that gave me 2 long peices of 22" Fabric.
Step 5: Pin PIn PIN
I made my first seam the hem to help the lining lay flat. First and foremost is to get the lining to lay flat and straight in line with the main Fabric. Lay the 2 Fabrics face to face Smooth the heck out of it, then pin it together (not just along the seam, the whole thing) You want both fabrics to move as one.
After the seam is sewn, Iron the seam flat and then iron the lining back on to the back side of the main fabric. Smooth and pin Smooth and pin, until that lining is nice and straight. I always changed my thread color here, and top stitched the hem to keep it flat. Once you get it all pinned together nice and smooth, these pins will stay in until the end to keep it as one, as you work.
Step 6: All Sewing Now
After the hem is sewn, The side seams are next. The liner Fabic is slightly smaller than the Main Fabric, this makes it easier to fold the side seams without making the liner bunch up and wrinkle. Fold Fabric over 1", then fold 1/2" of that under and pin all along the edge nice and straght. At the corners cut 1/2" off at an angle, and cut off as much excess material at the corners, this will help the edges lay flat, and more importantly, help your machine sew to the edge, without hitting a huge mound of material and breaking your needle.
Step 7: Top It Off
Sides done We move on to the top edge, it is a nice simple 2" rod pocket. So like on the side turn up the Fabric 2" nice and straight along the top and pin. Then turn 1/2" of that under and pin all along the top. Sew the turned under edge 1/4" from the edge.
On the Front curtain, when you get to this point, only sew the top edge 26" inward from each corner. This is where you will need to determine the length of your elastic. Pin it at each stopping point and tuck under the area that is still pinned, pin it in place so you have an area to run your seam without hitting the elastic and sewing it in place by accident.
Step 8: Hold Back
The tie backs were narrow before, but I liked the look of a nice wide tie back. So I used 2 of the 7 " wide pieces of Main Fabric to make them. After marking which end is up just fold in half lengthwise and run a seam 1/2" from the edge. That gave me 2 3" tubes 60" long. I needed 5 - 9" pieces and 3 - 13" pieces.
Take a little time here if needed to determine which tabs need to be up and which ones need to flip over to match your pattern direction.
Seam each one, one end only, and turn inside out. Iron flat. On that end sew on the fuzzy side of your Velcro.
Take the other end and pin it to the edge of the curtain to be fastened to the wall. (you want the mid point of the tieback to fall where the screw fastens to the wall. Each one was different in my case, so it probably will be in yours too.) So pin that to the back side of the curtain, and on the front side place the velcro. You will have a sandwich of 3 layers ,velcro,curtain, and tieback. Its quite thick, sew slowly, and it should be fine. My machine is a good one but about 20 years old and it did fine.
Step 9: Snaps
All thats left are the snaps. These need to be placed where yours are so measure carefully. The snaps come with complete intructions, plan on needing a strong arm. I think the original snaps might be metric, I had to replace the snaps on wall even though the old snaps looked to be the same size as the new ones.
They came out pretty nicely.
And the bottom line?
Fabric = Main $12.50
Snaps, auto $5.99
Total, aprox. $43.00 and a weekend of time.
We were lucky , we shopped and found some great deals on fabric, but that was because the Tapestry can be a bit spendy.