Volkswagen Bus Camper Curtains




About: Recent life remod... into the 3 C's... Computers, Camping, Cars, and too many others to list. I had a VW bus, a westfalia, if you don't have one ... you need one. I do.

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.

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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,
an Iron,
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.)
Measuring Tape

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

Liner Fabric:
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
Lining $7.50
Elastic $3.99
Snaps, auto $5.99
Snaps, $3.00
Thread $6.00
Velcro $3.99

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.

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    44 Discussions


    1 year ago

    the tutorial is great, thanks...imo the fabric choice of tapestry is to thick for a curtain. Imo a quality quilting fabric with blackout white liner is lighter and more fitting. All fabric and liner was 68 dollars to do this project. I am doing a 69 westy


    2 years ago

    These campers is a stupid trend

    Like crete matala

    Hey ...why dont you all go live in caves?

    Thats what hippies did also..

    Everyone almost changed aircolled stupid engine with a subaru boxer to get the car most of the time on the road not in the garage

    I dont get it.....

    Vw brainwashed....


    2 years ago

    Chesus Christ!!
    A vw for van life?

    A rear mounted engine car for space...??

    C'mon people wake up what's wrong with you?

    This aircolled car has only disadvantages

    No space
    No reliability
    No space
    No low consumption
    No space
    No proper driving position
    No space
    No safety

    Did i mention space?


    2 years ago

    Would these sane dimensions work on a 1968 Tin top Deluxe? I am purchasing the original curtain rods from my local air cooled shop, and I just want to make sure that I don't have to make these twice.. Great instructions!

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you, but I do not know for sure, if the window demensions are comparable it should work fine. As far as I know they are.

    Good luck!


    2 years ago

    Hi there! I'm looking to make a set for my husband's bus, but I've never seen the curtains in person to model mine after. What is the elastic for in the front window curtain?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi Sarah, the elastic is to keep it from sagging and keep it snug to the edge of the window. It has quite a bit of distance between the snaps along the front of the window. No elastic = a gap that allows light and eyes to get through.

    Good luck!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Deanarue,

    I'm in the middle of a restoration of my '78 Westy. His name is Finster. I am doing all the resto work myself including an engine rebuild and all the body welding and painting.

    Do you live in a state where they allow women to have more than one husband or adopt a 62 year old man? You are every VW owner's dream wife!!!

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    In all modesty, I have to agree that I am.... My hubby tells me so all the time.
    Thanks you for you lovely comment, and good luck with Finster!

    Love your bus, we have a '74 orange & white, we bought last summer, we are still in the throws of getting it ready for the road,love the fact that you have detailed instructions for making curtains, it's my next job. Although the one that goes around the windshield was never used still in the bag, looks brand new no wear & tear on it. The rest is another story. I was thinking of going with a fabric i saw @ walmart, it black w/ tyed died peace signs.
    Anyway thanks for the instructions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    My husband and I bought a '75 bus last year. The interior is in fantastic shape, but the curtains were falling apart. I wasn't sure how to make them, and the ones that we could order were just plain ugly. Thanks so much for posting these instructions. I'm almost finished making ours! I'm not a seasoned seamstress by any means, and these instructions were simple and easy to follow.  Thanks again!

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     I am so glad that it was helpful! Enjoy your Bus, we love ours,,, Happy Trails


    Might you happen to have the Jumper Seat between the Sink/fridge and single seat....I would love to see some thorough pctures of ine because finding someone who still has one is impossible!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I own a body shop and I'll tell you, don't get in a wreck inside one of these. If looks nice and all, but it will mess you up.

    Actually, many of the post '73 models can hold their own in low speed crashes. This is when Vdub added a Y frame between the bumper and the actual chassis. The bumper (which is actually a REAL bumper, rather than the plain old sheet metal on newer cars) will completely maul a new cars front end. I've heard stories of head on collisions with luxury cars, where the Lexus or whatever is demolished, and the bus can drive away. I'm reinforcing my nose as well, I'd rather deal with G forces than no front legs...


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Don't worry, I don't think I will be getting in one of these in my life time. Thanks for the warning though.