Have curtains in your home that need curtain backing, but it sounded too complicated? Here’s the cheapest and easiest way to line curtains in your home.  

Here’s how to make your own curtain linings and save money. This is a far less expensive way than purchasing fabric and lining at the store.

curtain backing blue and white living room with flowers

See the curtains in this room?

Remember when I wanted new curtains and we all voted on our favorite fabric and you all helped me pick this smaller geometric that balances out the larger-scale pattern of the rug and the stripes on the chairs?

And then remember when the fabric showed up at the house and I told all of you I was making curtains for the living room?

And it all seemed so simple.

Like I made them in a day?

Guess what?


I made these four panels for the living room in one day and they are LINED.  Yep.  Curtains in one day with curtain lining.

Want to know how I did it?

It is the cheapest, simplest, easiest way to line a curtain.


In the history of ever.

Here’s how to line curtains 101.

curtain backing blue and white curtains with white walls


Curtain Backing DIY and How To

Do you actually need to line your curtains?

Before we get started, can we talk about if you actually need curtain backing?

No one says that all curtains have to use curtain backing.  I have some curtains in my house (specifically these roman shades) that are not lined.  I love that they aren’t lined.  I love that the shades let in light and if they were lined they would look almost too heavy for the window.

It all depends on the look you want to create and your fabric.

When this fabric showed up, I held it up a sample piece in front of the window to test and see if they needed to be lined.  This fabric is a decorator weight cotton.  That means it’s heavier than a lightweight cotton that you might buy at the store in the craft section of the fabric bolts.  This fabric is heavier and more substantial than a lighter cotton, but when you hold it up in front of the window, the weave on the fabric lets light through and the entire pattern disappears.

If you were only looking at these curtains at night?  You wouldn’t need to line them.

But during the day, with all the natural light that comes in through the windows, this fabric for this room calls for curtain lining.

curtain backing full length blue and white curtains


What are the different types of liners?

Liners for curtains come in so many different weights and fabric choices.

There are lightweight cotton liner materials.  There are heavier curtain lining (that almost resemble cotton duck) materials.  There is curtain lining made of insulating materials.  There are also blackout liner materials.

For this room, I wanted a lightweight cotton material.  If you go to the fabric store, liner material like that will cost you between $7.00 to $8.00 a yard.  For a standard curtain, you can spend up to $30 on liner material and more if it’s blackout or insulated material.


Or you can do what I do.

If you want the easiest way to line curtains?


The easiest (and cheapest) option to line curtains is a sheet

I know, right?


I buy all my sheet like this from WalMart.  A single flat white top sheet like this is so much cheaper than liner.

I wish I could tell you I discovered this, but my mother is the one who told me the easiest way to line curtains.

Back when I rented my first apartment and wanted curtains for my house and I was trying to figure out how to line curtains, I actually used sheets for the actual curtains.  I would take white sheets (or printed sheets) and cut a hole in the border at the top and thread the curtain rod through it.  Then one day I found the most amazing decorator fabric at a yard sale that worked perfectly for the window in my living room, but it needed a liner.  We were living on love and couldn’t afford to worry about lining curtains, so my mother suggested using the sheets at the window as curtain lining.

And I’ve never looked back.

curtain backing with curtains on rod


How to cut the fabric for the curtain backing

  1.  Start with the sheet.  Most twin flat sheets are 66″ x 96.”  If you get an XL flat twin sheet it’s a little more expensive, but works perfectly for longer windows.  An XL flat twin sheet measures 66″ x 102″.
  2. Most decorator fabrics are 54″ wide, cut to fit the length of the windows.  See the math?  See how perfectly the sheet works without much adjustment?
  3. Start by laying the fabric flat on a large workspace (like your dining room table).  Cut the fabric to fit your windows with a hem allowance.  For example, if you have 8-foot ceilings, depending on where you place your curtain rods, your curtains are probably going to be about 84″ to 88″.  If you add a 6″ hem allowance, you’ll need to cut a piece of fabric 90″ to 92″.
  4. Sew a 2″ hem on each side.

(total aside:  I’m not fancy with my hems.  I don’t double fold them.  I just fold the piece over and sew a straight line.)

close view of fabric seam


How to add curtain backing

  1. To start lining curtains, place your flat, hemmed decorator fabric wrong side up on the table.
  2. Place the flat sheet on top.  Your fabric after it’s hemmed will be about 50″ wide.  Your sheet is 66″ wide.  If you leave room for a 2″ hem on one side (the other side already has a hem), you’ll need to cut about 14″ off of the width of your flat sheet.
  3. I only cut the width off on one side so I only have to hem one side.
  4. Next place the back sides of the sheet and the fabric together and hem at the top.
close view of curtain


Iron and hang curtains

Now, all that’s left is to fold over the hem at the top and iron the two sides together.

And then?

Here’s my secret.

I don’t sew the curtain lining on the sides.

I just let it hang free.

Somewhere, someplace there is a highschool home economics teacher shaking her head at me.  I know.  I get it.  I understand.  But here’s the thing.  In all my experience with lining curtains, every time I try and sew up the sides?

It just looks bunched and crooked.

curtain rings


Clip-on rings

I usually try and fold it with about an inch of the decorator fabric folded over the back.  You can see that in this picture.

Then I clip-on rings to the top of the fabric and hang.

One quick tip.  If you are using clip-on rings?  The more the better.

I usually clip on my rings about three inches apart.  This helps the curtain to hang better.

patterned curtain fabrics


Fluff the curtains

Here are the curtains hanging in my living room.

And when you lift back the edge of them?

curtain fabrics


You see this.

There’s a sheet that’s a liner that’s connected at the top that hangs independently from the curtain.

You would never know that this is a sheet or that the sides aren’t hemmed together.

decorated room


Hem the curtains

I always hang up the curtains before I hem them.  I live in a hundred-year-old home.  Not all floors are created equal.  When I’ve hemmed them before I’ve hung them up, they never look right, so I always hem them after.

I hem each curtain and liner separately.

And I have a faster and easier way for that, too, but that will have to wait until another post.

Until then?

My curtains and I are having sweet tea to celebrate the day and the easiest way to line curtains.

Stop by and say hello. 🙂

PS  Have you ever used sheets when lining curtains before?  If you have any other curtain tips, I’d love to hear.

And I’ve pinned tons of other fabric projects here.

curtain promo graphic


Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Sharon Garner Sharon Garner

    I’ve always done this! It’s so easy and works perfectly! Another idea is to make curtains from muslin yardgoods. Selvage on both edges...turn once & hem sides. Width x2==panels! Launder the muslin first & measure away! The wrinkled texture adds interest!!

  2. Image for Dorothy Ensz Dorothy Ensz

    Perfect timing, friend. I am about to switch from blinds to curtains in my living/dining rooms, and this is so helpful. I'll need something heavy enough for heat resistance for the summer, but I'll be looking for alternatives to buying expensive by-the-yard stuff. Any ideas?

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Dorothy, I wish I did! I'm trying to think----maybe cotton duck? Or would that be too heavy? You can buy that SUPER inexpensively at WalMart in the fabric department! Happy day friend! karianne

    2. Image for Shannon Shannon

      Hi Dorothy! I made draperies professionally for 20+ years and when I made my own for our LR (2 huge floor to ceiling windows) I went to Joann fabrics to buy a fairly lightweight thermal lining- with my 50% off coupon it was not expensive - it was actually much cheaper than my wholesale price. I couldn’t believe it!!! I had to make my draperies on a super tight budget but with the bright sun beating in I needed something a bit more durable for the lining. Also- I used to use sheets ALL THE TIME for clients that were on a tight budget - they work really really well!!! I used them for bedskirts too!!! :)

  3. Image for Jo Jo

    First apartment? Yellow gingham curtains lined with a sheet!! As I used to say, I had boutique taste and K-mart money!! Who knew the sheet lining would stand the test of time?? Love the tip on not attaching the sides...so smart!!

  4. Image for Kris Kris

    My mom has always used the phrase "living on love". So funny. These are my favorite kinds of posts--simple, inexpensive ways to make your home look good and function well.

  5. Image for Jenn Jenn

    Yes! I have both lined with sheets and made curtains from sheets. Anything that makes DIY easier, sheets already have the nice hem. I'm with you too, it seems like I always get bunchy when I am sewing an extra long seam. If the "rules" make it more difficult toss the rules out!

  6. Image for Maria Maria

    You are a genius! I love all your ideas, but of all your curtain ones the best one so far is to use drop cloths! We just finished building our retirement home and I am busy doing some smocking on the drop cloths I am going to use as curtains on the living room. My sons think I am completely bonkers! It's a lot of work but I love the effect! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  7. Image for Janice Paschal Janice Paschal

    Great idea to line with sheets and not sew the sides! How long will it be for us to find out how you hem them?

  8. Image for Marcia Hollon Marcia Hollon

    I have used sheets as liners for a while now. Always look great and hang well too. Gives just enough weight to the drapes/curtains.

  9. Image for Marty Marty

    Oh that is the only way I line curtains. I have done that for years and also done a few tutorials on how to use them as lining too. Yours look amazing.

  10. Image for Kellie Kellie

    Yes, I have used patterned sheets for curtains a few times over the years. They look especially cute in kids rooms. I even applied patterned sheets to a wall with liquid cornstarch (cheaper than wallpaper) and sewed curtains and a duvet cover with coordinating sheets.

  11. Image for Lynn W Lynn W

    This is a great use of a sheet. Sheets can make nice tablecloths or runners and shower curtains!! I love the pattern on your drapes 💜

  12. Image for PJ PJ

    I have used flat sheets for lots of projects too. My favorite curtains so far are made from drop cloths. I could really tell they blocked out some of the cold this winter and will probably keep the heat out in the summer. I like your living room curtains. Very pretty. .

  13. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    Great tip! Here's another, if you don't need lining and just want a pretty semi-sheer panel - table cloths! I have some hung with clips in one of my rooms and they're beautiful! There is a slight pattern on all four edges, and they're polyester, so when you iron them, they STAY ironed - for YEARS! LOL!

  14. Image for Richella Parham Richella Parham

    Excellent! I'm so glad you disclosed that you don't sew the sides. I've had the same problem with the liner bunching up; I'm now going to free myself from that frustrating step of side-sewing! Here's another tip. I once made some lovely curtains that I didn't realize needed to be lined until after I'd hung them and used them awhile. They cover windows that also have blinds, but they're in a bedroom, so I ended up wanting a fairly heavy liner for them to help with blocking light. My solution? I bought felt from a fabric store (with a 50% off coupon, since felt is pricey) and used fusible tape to fasten the felt to the back of the curtain panels. Presto! Nicely lined curtains after the fact!

  15. Image for Missy Missy

    I have used yard sale tablecloths to make bed skirts. But I am looking forward to making curtains for the house NOW - I was dreading it earlier.

  16. Image for Teresa L Gonzales Teresa L Gonzales

    You are so smart!!!! I have used sheets as curtains, tablecloths before but not as curtain liners. What a brilliant idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Suppose in cold country you could use flannel sheets to keep the cold air out of the hundred + year house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Image for Taste of France Taste of France

    Unfortunately, sheets were far too small for the windows in my AirBnBs, which were built around 1620. The ceilings are 13 feet high. Way beyond curtains available for order online. I had to do them all myself, and yes, I lined them. Blackout for the bedrooms. Meanwhile, I do use sheets for lots of stuff. I like to shop the antique markets for old sheets, because they are 100% cotton, and, by dint of being pre-pesticide, organic. I can score antique 100% cotton double-bed sheets, with hand embroidery, for €5 per sheet. If there are imperfections, I talk down the price and then make pillow cases out of the good parts. You cannot beat the quality of the old stuff. Hint: when you wash them, set the spin (in a front-load machine) to half or less and hang the dripping sheets on the line to dry. They will be almost wrinkle-free. And will smell divine.

  18. Image for phyllis henry phyllis henry

    Karianne- You have shared my secret and I could not be happier. I also have used sheets as liners, but often used them to make matching drapes to many of my comforters. Lining them just gives the right amount of weight so that they "drape" well and keep the sun from ruining fabric in a sunny window. I've also used patterned flat sheets to make duvets...my only wish is that sheet manufacturers would make more sheets sold in separates rather than packaged as a set. Those fitted sheets aren't easy to use without a lot of extra ripping and waste. One more thing- I don't know a single "home economics" teacher who would be critical of any of your work that shows so beautifully. I know...because I am one! By the way, we now call ourselves Lifeskills or Life Management teachers! (but my good friends call me Becky-homecky,) I am bestowing an honorary degree upon you!

  19. Image for Becky Becky

    Yes! Sheets belong on windows! My other favorite tip comes from Allison of 'House Of Hepworths': use aluminum conduit as your rods. They are the strongest, cheapest, lightweight, long... PERFECT rods EVER. Every window in my house thanks Allison EVERY DAY. 😊 P.S. Your room is so pretty! I love the new curtains!

  20. Image for Cindy Cindy

    Jo-Ann has bleached muslin that comes up to 108 inches wide. When I have to make a lot of curtains I wait until they have a good coupon and I go and buy a bolt---it seems to last forever. With 108 inch wide lining, you can do panels with 2 widths of your decorative fabric and not have a seam in the lining.

  21. Image for Holly Rigby Holly Rigby

    Hi! Yes, my husband was in the Army for 21 years and we moved a gazillion times. No windows were ever the same in any quarters, or in one Army post to the next. Every window had sheets for curtains. I cut them down or added bottoms in the next post. I even learned how to make buttonholes so I could have sheet shower curtains. Very, very cute! Especially matching the nearby bedroom. So custom, ha ha ha! I used to tell my daughters that my legacy to them were a thousand sheet curtains. Eventually a vet clinic became the recipients of the largess. Clever idea...and now I make them from drop cloths like you! Come to think of it, I have never had real curtains..now I have plantation shutters in Texas, drop cloths in NH. Genius not stiching the sides!! I needed you 40 years ago! Thanks for all your brilliance!

  22. Image for vicky vicky

    Sheets are great for lining. Been using them for a long time. Sometimes it is hard to find a single flat sheet as many come in a package. Thank you Walmart and Karianne.

  23. Image for Rebecca Rebecca

    No, I haven’t used them for curtains......YET! I have used cotton sheets for the backing of quilts though! Works great!

  24. Image for Shelia P. Shelia P.

    Hi Karianne! You are a genius! How clever is that, using sheets for a curtain liner! Wow, the things floating around in that head of yours, lol! This has nothing to do with curtains but, I’ve got something that’s been bugging me every time I see a picture of this room. I probably should just keep my big trap shut but if I don’t say it I surely won’t sleep tonight and I already have insomnia so I’m just going to speak my mind. I hope you don’t mind? Eek! Have you ever considered putting a light toned wood coffee table, like the color of wood on your striped chair legs, in that room? To me, that white coffee table just ruins what all you’ve done in that room. It’s so beautiful, but that table just really sticks out, glares even, in that space. Whew, ok I said it! Maybe try finding one cheap on your garage sale runs and just try it in there to see what it looks like. If you hate it, nothing lost. It just seems like that would tie together the room better and ground all the white and bright. Just a thought? I really love that room. It has all my favorite colors in it and it makes me happy when I see it. Except for that table, lol! Have a great week and please don’t hate me, lol. 😊

  25. Image for Sharon Sharon

    The first time I saw muslin drop cloth from Harbour Freight took me to a cheap curtain liners. I picked up two drop clothes for 12.00. Perfect long panel size. Not just for painting anymore. I washed them twice to soften They hang well and work with whatever curtain material you choose.

    1. Image for Ashleigh Hall Ashleigh Hall

      Sharon!!! That’s brilliant! I’m heading to Harbor freight as soon as they open to grab some Muslin drop cloths!

  26. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    I love this!! I’ve always loved making curtains, but this is brilliant! Thanks, as always, for the sweet inspiration! Now where to begin...

  27. Image for Anita Anita

    KariAnne, I've used sheets as curtains, Pillow cases are toppers in my master bedroom right now and I currently have a tablecloth as a shower curtain in the master bath with the same pillow case layered over it at the top. What's great about them all is I didn't have to hem any of them, they all came with a hem and the way I used them they fit perfectly. I love when a good plan comes together. Keep the ideas coming. I love your blog.

  28. Image for Marti Morgan Marti Morgan

    I have started using sheets (100% Cotton from Target) for my quilt backings and love it. Now you have given me a great way to fix these drapes I bought that looked bunch the day I hung them. Have wanted to fix it and now I think I know how I will do just that! Thanks a million!!!

  29. Image for Rev. Suzanne Taylor Rev. Suzanne Taylor

    I have used printed sheets to make curtains. When we didn't have the money to buy curtains, one full sheet made what I needed for two windows or two sheets made full length curtains for my tow living room windows.. No one knew the difference and always gave compliments about them.

  30. Image for Valerie Valerie

    I recently hung $16.99 tablecloths from target on a large, tall window in my breakfast nook with clip rings. They worked perfectly! You can’t beat $17 for 106” panels!!

  31. Image for Beth Beth

    Great idea! I have used fancy white sheets with a lace border for drapes. I put them in a guest bedroom when I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on drapes. I also decorate using a lot of blue and white. Love your ideas!

  32. Image for Carole Carole

    Back in the day, before most ALL sheets cost a fortune, I made curtains, pillows, and even cute tops out of them. I never considered lining. This might actually be an idea for the curtains in the bedroom, that I just made out of drop cloth.

  33. Image for June Marshall June Marshall

    Hi Karianne Love the ease and simplicity of sheet curtains and liners and of course the savings! I'm just adding a white sheet liner to my grey striped sheet curtains and wish I knew your fast and easy hem tip. Came to see if you had added that post yet :-(

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