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Is it cheaper to make curtains or buy them?

Making your own curtains can be a fun DIY project that allows you to customize your window treatments. However, buying premade curtains also has its perks when it comes to cost and convenience. This article examines the pros and cons of both options to help you decide what’s best for your budget and home décor needs.

Is it cheaper to make curtains or buy them?

The Cost of Materials

Fabric is the main expense for DIY curtains. Prices span a wide range:

  • Inexpensive cotton prints can cost as little as $3-7 per yard.
  • Premium designer fabrics can cost $30 or more per yard.
  • The amount needed depends on your window size and curtain style. Floor-length curtains require more yardage.

You’ll also need:

  • Lining to block light and increase privacy.
  • Curtain rods, hardware, and hooks/rings.
  • Possible additional supplies like thread, sewing tools, scissors, and iron-on hem tape.

Factor in all materials needed when deciding if DIY is cheaper.

Factoring in Your Time

Sewing curtains requires an investment of effort and time:

  • Taking precise measurements
  • Calculating yardage needed
  • Shopping for fabrics/supplies
  • Cutting out each panel neatly
  • Sewing crisp hems or side seams
  • Adding the top header casing for the rod to feed through
  • Ironing out wrinkles

The time commitment depends on:

  • Your skill level and speed
  • If curtains are lined or unlined
  • Whether they’re simple panels or have ornate details

Consider if this labor has monetary value to you. Could you earn income doing other work in those hours instead?

Cost to Have Curtains Made

Alternatively, having custom curtains professionally made typically costs:

  • $100-300 per window for simple styles
  • $500+ per window for elaborate designs with abundant fabric, trims, patterns, or linings

Prices vary by:

  • Fabric choices
  • Intricate details
  • Seamstress’ time and expertise
  • Your geographic location

Handmade doesn’t always equal higher quality though. It depends on the seamstress’ skills.

Mass-manufactured curtains from retailers can offer decent quality at lower prices.

Price Comparison Guide

Here’s a quick reference guide to average prices of different curtain options:

Curtain Option Average Price Range
Mass-market readymade curtains $20-60 per panel
Custom curtains from Etsy sellers $60-200 per panel
DIY sewing your own curtains $40-150 per panel
Professionally sewn custom curtains $100-500+ per panel

Curtain sets for a whole window raise prices proportionately (2 to 3 times more for two or three panels).

DIY Curtain Cost Calculator

Use this DIY curtain calculator to compare making vs buying your own curtains:

Inputs

  • Number of panels needed: _____
  • Fabric type: _____
  • Fabric price per yard: _____
  • Fabric yardage needed: _____

Cost Estimates:

Fabric cost: (Fabric price per yard) x (Fabric yardage needed)

Other materials costs: ~$20 per panel

Total DIY material costs: _______

Store-bought equivalent curtain price: _______

Estimated hours to DIY: _______

Hourly value of your time: _________

Key Takeaways

  • Cheaper fabrics make DIY curtain costs comparable to store prices. But the time tradeoff may still be significant, especially for beginners.
  • Customized details and premium fabrics make DIY more cost-effective. Buying equivalents would require expensive custom curtain makers.
  • Factor your time into the DIY equation honestly. Could you earn income doing other things with those hours instead?
  • DIY opportunity cost = Materials cost + (Hours to make) x (Value of your time)
  • Doing curtains yourself brings intangible rewards beyond cost savings too – personalization, pride, decor skills gained.

Conclusion

If achieving the lowest possible price is your top priority, opt for budget readymade curtains instead of attempting DIY projects.

But for most customized results with midrange or luxury fabrics, sewing your own curtains nets greater cost savings in addition to creative fulfillment and home decor satisfaction. Evaluate the time tradeoff carefully for your schedule.

Approach DIY curtain sewing as a relaxing hobby instead of a chore and you may find the hours well spent regardless of bottom-line cost comparisons to storebought versions. The intangible benefits outweigh the pennies saved or not saved.

Your beautiful custom window dressings created through your own skill and effort will enhance your space with enjoyment and style for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the cheapest DIY curtain options?
    The cheapest DIY curtains use basic cotton sheeting fabric, unfinished hems, and tie-top headers made from the same material instead of rod pockets or grommets. This saves on lining yardage needs, hardware, and time finishing edges.

  2. Is it worth the time to sew my own curtains?
    It can be, if you enjoy sewing as a relaxing hobby and like to customize. As a pure money-saving strategy alone, basic readymade curtains from stores are likely faster. Calculate the hours required honestly against what your time is worth.

  3. How do I calculate fabric needed for curtains?
    Estimate your total finished curtain length and width measurements. Add at least 20% more length for hemming/sewing margins. Determine yardage needed by dividing your total inch measurements by 36” fabric width. Round up yards needed to the nearest quarter yard.

  4. What sewing tools do I need to make curtains?
    Basic tools include: tape measure, fabric scissors, straight pins, hand-stitching needle, thread, iron. A sewing machine helps make faster work but is not essential for hand-sewn styles.

  5. How much does it cost to hire a professional seamstress?
    Custom professional curtains cost $100-500 or more per window, based on details like fabrics used, multiple panels, elaborate designs, trims, linings, labor time, and geographic region.

  6. Is it cheaper to make blackout curtains or buy them?
    Blackout curtains require special lining and typically cost more either way. Making them yourself with blackout lining fabric can maximize cost savings for this style over custom orders or in-store options.

  7. What sewing stitches are best for curtains?
    Straight, basic hems look clean and crisp. For discreet internal construction, use double-fold invisible seams or French seams encasing raw edges. Topstitching and edge stitching also give a neat professional edge.

  8. Can beginners sew their own curtains?
    Yes! Curtains are a learn-as-you-go project even for total beginners. Start simply without linings or embellishments. Allow extra margin for mistakes in your measurements and cuts. Relax and have fun while building your skills.

  9. Is it cheaper to make long curtains?
    Not always. More length means purchasing extra yardage across an entire coordinated fabric scheme. Buying coordinating long curtains as sets can be more cost-effective than making floor-length designs yourself.

  10. What unconventional household materials can use to make cheap DIY curtains?
    Creative alternatives for cheap DIY curtain fabric include king-sized bedsheets, tablecloths, painters drop cloths, or canvas tarps. Bleach and dye them in your desired colors too.

  11. Can I machine wash homemade curtains?
    Check your fabric details first. Some handle washing better than others. Consider preshrinking fabric before sewing to allow for potential minor future shrinking. Add washable hem tape to prevent fraying when washed. Use gentle cycles and air dry.

  12. How do you calculate sewing time for handmade curtains?
    Expect at least 5-10 hours per panel if making lined curtains including: shopping, cutting, sewing top/side hems, making rod pockets. Unlined curtain panels may take 2-5 hours. Elaborate details add more time.

  13. Is it worth making blackout lined curtains?
    It can be due to the high costs of purchasing commercially made blackout curtains. Making them yourself allows buying blackout lining fabric by the yard vs paying for entire finished panels. Just account for significant added labor time.

  14. Can you use home decor fabric to make curtains?
    Yes, most standard width home decor printed cotton fabrics work well for lightweight curtain panels. Calculate yardage needed based on your window measurements and fabric width (usually 54”).

  15. What homemade curtain rods work best?
    Sturdy wooden dowel curtain rods painted or stained give a clean custom look. Thick copper pipes or electrical conduit piping spray painted to your liking also craft attractive window rods. Ensure ceiling brackets anchor safely in studs.

  16. Can I use quilting cotton prints to make cute DIY curtains?
    Definitely! Quilter’s cotton offers hundreds of cheerful print options well-suited for lightweight curtains. Just remember to double check the fabric width (usually 44″-45″ for quilting cotton) when calculating yardage needed for your window.

  17. Where can I buy cheap fabric to sew curtains?
    Check fabric discount stores, thrift shops and secondhand markets for curtain fabric savings. Craft and sewing sites like Joann’s regularly offer 50% off apparel fabrics by-the-yard which can work beautifully for budget curtains. Sign up for store promo emails.

  18. What is the most cost effective curtain fabric?
    For maximum savings, use basic cotton sheeting or muslin fabric, which can cost as little as $3-5 per yard. Stay away from silk, velvet, or premium designer fabrics which raise DIY costs substantially.

  19. What kind of hem is best for curtain fabric?
    A standard double-fold hem with straight machine stitching creates a clean, durable edge for most curtain styles. For lighter fabrics, use washable iron-on hem tape to prevent fraying over time instead of traditional sewn hems.

  20. Can I use old sheets or tablecloths to make zero-budget curtains?
    Absolutely! Repurposing worn but clean bedsheets, table linens, or other fabric remnants provides an eco-friendly free curtain material option. Add your own custom dying or embellishments for one-of-a-kind window treatments.

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