How to Repurpose Old Curtains

Chantel Alise

Many people today try to do their parts to preserve Mother Earth. Recycling usable materials and reducing what goes into the trash are two crucial steps to achieving that goal. Repurposing, which refers to altering or adapting an existing item for a new use, accomplishes both.

If you replace your old curtains, for example, repurpose the panels or just the fabric for a new home decorating use.

  1. Curtain an alcove or closet without doors to create hidden storage. Hang rod-pocket curtains from a tension rod installed at the inside top of the opening. For other curtain styles -- tie-top, tab-top and flat-panel curtains with rings -- install a pole rod on inside-mount brackets.

  2. Turn grommet-topped or rod-pocket curtains into decorative shower curtains. Attach grommet-top curtains to the liner and rod with shower curtain rings. Cut small vertical slits that align with the holes in the shower curtain liner’s heading into the back layer of a rod-pocket. Coat the cut edges with white craft glue to minimize raveling. Slip shower curtain hooks into the rod-pocket channel, through the fabric slits, through the corresponding holes on the liner and onto the shower curtain rod.

  3. Drape a large curtain over a stack of sturdy boxes, file cabinet or round decorator table -- the type with a particleboard top and screw-on legs -- to create an inexpensive nightstand or end table. Make a small topper for a more refined round table by cutting curtain fabric into a square and sewing a 1-inch double-folded hem into all four sides. Embellish the hem with fringe or braid, if you like, for a dressier look.

  4. Hide plumbing pipes by repurposing a curtain as a sink skirt. Cut the curtain 2 inches longer than the skirt length you need. Cut excess fabric from the top to preserve the bottom hem. Sew a new 2-inch hem into the curtain top, or heading. Sew 2-inch shirring tape along the heading and knot the cords at one end. Pull the other end’s cords to gather the heading to the sink skirt width. Stitch sew-on hook-and-loop tape along the heading. Affix self-adhesive hook-and-loop tape around a wall-mounted sink or just above the opening of a sink cabinet. Install the skirt by pressing the tapes together.

  5. Make throw pillows by cutting curtain fabric into two matching squares, circles or rectangles. With the decorative sides facing each other, machine sew the pieces together, expect for a fist-sized opening. Turn the pillow right side out and stuff loose batting through the opening. Sew the opening closed using small hand stitches.

  6. Cut curtain fabric and quilt batting into matching rectangles to make placemats. Sandwich a piece of batting between two pieces of fabric. The decorative sides of the fabric should face outward. Slip the folds of binding tape strips over the raw, layered edges of the placemat and sew it in place.


Choose curtain fabrics that are colorfast and washable for making items that require regular cleaning.