New Front Porch Draperies

Spouse writes: The un-hemmed Ikea white curtains for $30 a pair were a great way to minimize the sun exposure on the front porch. We were able to use 6 sets to shade the southwestern exposure of the house. That was two years ago.

After two years, the curtains became a rainbow of color from the bottom (early colonial mud) to the top (white-ish brown). And the sun bleaching, plus the wind, and plus the geese/dogs/chickens produced rips, tears and all sorts of sundry holes.

We looked for outdoor fabric, but at $15 to $20 a yard times the 42 yards (at 54 inch widths) we needed required more money than I wanted to spend. We ended up going with Saddle Tan Sun Screen by Easy Gardener, which the hardware box stores carry in large rolls for less than $5 a yard, and at 72 inch widths which meant that we only needed 24 yards of the stuff.

It took one three-hour stint just to see how it would work. After I got the process worked out, I did the rest in an afternoon. I used jute webbing for the top and the side reinforcements. For me the longest part was putting the 13 grommets in each of the curtain panels. Nine grommets are inserted on top for the curtain rings and one grommet for each side to anchor the panel to the railing.

During the trial run I used an inexpensive hand punch that looked like a pair of pliers. After the first panel my hands were pretty much done. For the rest of the panels I used a nice heavy anvil and cutter, which made clean cuts and tight grommets.

The top of each panel is attached to the still-functional Ikea curtain rods using shower curtain rings with roller bearings. The old Ikea curtains hung from fabric loops, which caught on the rod and required some “persuasion” (a.k.a. a long stick) to shut or open. The new rings and roller bearing allow the curtains to open and close without the need for any “persuasion”.

D.A. says that the best part about the new curtains is that they are slightly see through so you can still make out the view from inside the house.

[And a "before" pic (complete with puppies)]


  1. Great job! I'm impressed. Did you hem them up and sew on the webbing as well?

  2. Yes- My parents never heard of child labor laws so we all worked in the family tailoring business.

    The panels have two inch hems and the jute webbing is rolled in half with the sun shade fabric sandwiched in the middle. Unfortunately, I can sew a much straighter line in fabric than I can saw on a piece of wood.

  3. Very hice. I am thinking of putting the very long bamboo shades along my front porch next spring to shade out the hot Kentucky sun.

  4. What a great idea. We've been trying to think of something that would work on our west-facing porch here on the Kansas plains (translation: extreme wind). We had considered the long bamboo shades, but not sure they will work well in this environment. Your idea might be something we should consider! :)

  5. MEB, Oz Girl: To help keep the curtains from blowing all over, Spouse first put some eyebolts onto the wood porch railing, then put grommets & spring clamps onto the curtains at the level of the eyebolts. Attach the clips to the curtains through the grommet, then attach to the eyebolts, and the curtains will no longer flap completely away from the porch! We get some strong winds up here as well, so you have my empathy :-).

  6. That's a great idea and they look great!


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