DIY Smocked Curtains

I know drop cloth curtains have been all the rage for some time in the DIY world, but I had my first experience with them last summer when I decided I needed to dress my three tall living room windows.  Six 9′ panels don’t come cheap, though, so I began looking for affordable yet unique options.

The result?  Smocked drop cloth curtains.

These curtains actually emboldened me to try my DIY ruffled curtains.  I must say that both turned out better than I could have imagined; they were time-consuming, but totally worth it.  Now I only wish I’d discovered my $5 “reclaimed” wood curtain rods before I hung these!

The smocking makes them so…. scrumptious.  No. other. word. for. it.

I made these over the course of a month or so right after my son was born, so no process pictures… sorry!  Before I give instructions, though, I will tell you a little secret.

Are you ready for it…..??

You can hang these half finished and no one will know.  I mean, I imagine you could… I wouldn’t know from experience, of course. 😉

Ok, enough confessions suggestions.  Step one is to buy drop cloth material at a home improvement store (mine came from Lowe’s).  Tip: make your curtains the height of your walls (mine are 9′ tall, so I was able to buy 9′ drop cloths which saved me some hemming!).  Then hang your bar 4-8″ below the ceiling and it gives you some pooling on the floor.

Note: Smocking the material cuts its width in half.  So before you begin cutting your individual panels, make sure you take that into account.  If you want your panel to end up 3′ wide, you’ll need 6′ of material.  Capiche?

Now hem all four sides (hopefully some of that was done for you since the drop cloths are pre-hemmed!).  [And if you are me, here is where you hang them all up using little curtain clips and take them down one at a time to smock them over a few days weeks.]

Finally, read this fabulous tutorial on honeycomb smocking.  It seems daunting, but once you get rolling, it’s fairly mindless.  I had never smocked before, and I managed without any major hiccups!  Start your smocking a few inches from the top (to provide a ruffle for the curtain clips).  I chose to make my grid on 3/4″ (this will make sense once you’ve read the smocking tutorial).

And voila!  I love them in our living room because the drop cloth material provides a casual, comfortable backdrop, but the smocking dresses them up a bit and adds that hint of texture.

Just so you know, I’m purposefully not photographing the full room for you because I’m creating suspense for my upcoming reveal in the interest of full disclosure, my son happened to be watching Curious George when I took the pictures.  :)  But for a full tour of the living room, you’ll have to come back soon.  I shared the entryway last week, and this room is next on the home tour.

I love questions and comments, so please feel free!

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  1. Your curtains are gorgeous!!!!

  2. Oh my gosh!! These are absolutely fabulous!! I am over the top in love!

  3. hello. love your gray arm chairs in your living room. do you have a source?

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Thank you, Candice! They are called the Lorraine chairs from Restoration Hardware (you can find them here). We bought them a few years ago, but I’m pretty sure they were army duck fabric in fog. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Rachel, Just needed to tell you how beautiful your “drapes” turned out. You would never know they are drop cloths. I love the smocking, it did add that something special to them. I might even try this myself. Maybe a pillow to start, lol. I was wondering about a darker shade of threading or even metallic or embroidery thread. I think i will start playing with some threads and material first just to see if i can actually achieve anything close to what you have accomplished. Bravo Ms. Maison de Pax, you’ve done it again.Have a better week, you certainly deserve it. Sincerely, Diena <3 P.S. can you tell my mind was whirling ( : ? <3

  5. Laura Washburn says:

    You have inspired me! I love the smocked curtains seen online, however the price tag was a little scarey.
    After seeing your website and checking out the tutorial I am on my way to smocked curtains in my dining room.

  6. Hello I love these drapes they are beyond lovely! I have a question regarding drop cloth size. The drop cloths I purchased were 9ft long x 6ft wide each. Did you cut the cloth in half to 3 feet wide; in order to get approximately 1.5ft as your finished drape? If I used a full panel it would be a 3ft panel which seems a bit wide. Thank you for your assistance,

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Thank you so much, Kristine! Yes, I actually cut my panels in half, so I smocked 3′ and ended up with each panel 1.5′ wide. I hope this helps!

  7. Hi! I LOVE how your curtains look and am now on my way to the store to make this project! I did have a question for you. Did you do just as the tutorial showed with the .4 inch dots to create the smocking? Or did you do this larger/smaller?

    Thank you so much!!


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