How to Make Sidelight Curtains

Deb Powers

Sidelights, the panel windows on either side of a door, can brighten up a hallway and add a classic designer touch to a room. Unfortunately, they also allow outsiders to peer into your house and they can look a bit bare without window dressing.

Curtains give sidelight windows privacy and decorative flair.

Sidelight curtains provide needed privacy and a light filter, and can also add a decorative appeal to the door. You can make simple sidelight curtains that shirr on a pair of sash rods and can be dressed up with a pretty bow or tailored ribbon at the center.


If you have to mount the curtain outside the sidelight, be sure to add 4 to 6 inches to the length of the fabric to account for the extra length. For an added touch, gather the curtain together at the middle and wrap a ribbon around the center to secure it. A wide, plain ribbon gives a tailored effect, while a ribbon tied with a bow fits in nicely with a romantic, feminine room.

Making the Curtains

  1. Cut a fabric panel that measures 1 1/2 to 2 times the width and 6 inches more than the height of the sidelight. The extra width creates fullness to gather along the sash rods when the curtain is mounted. The extra length is for the top and bottom hems and rod pockets.

  2. Make a narrow hem along both long edges of the fabric panel. Press up 1/2 inch of fabric along the sides, pin and stitch on a sewing machine. Use a narrow zigzag stitch to reduce fraying.

  3. Fold under 1 1/2 inches at the top edge of the panel and press. Fold under another 1 1/2 inches with the cut edge inside the fold. Press the folds. Stitch a 1/8-inch hem at the second folded edge.

  4. Run a row of stitches 1/4 inch from the top edge of the curtain. Run a second row of stitches 1 inch from the first row to make a rod pocket.

  5. Fold and stitch the bottom edge of the panel to make a hem and rod pocket in the same manner as for the top edge.

Mounting the Curtains

  1. If the window frame is at least 1/2 inch deep, you can use spring tension rods to hang your curtains, or mount sash brackets inside the window frame at the top and bottom. Otherwise, mount the brackets 2 to 3 inches above and below the window.

  2. Insert the sash rod through the top and bottom rod pockets on the curtain panel. Mount the sash rods or tension rods following the directions given for the rod.

  3. Arrange the fullness across the window glass evenly at the top and bottom of the curtain.