Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase

Today I’m going to show you how to make these awesome cafe curtains out of a pillowcase. There’s even a video tutorial for the most difficult part: the ruffle.

There are a lot of pretty leaded glass windows in our old house, and I hate covering up the awesome design with curtains. So cafe curtains were definitely the way to go in the kid’s rooms, which are on the second floor. Cafe curtains are a great way to add privacy, but still let the light shine in (or show off your pretty windows, as the case may be).

I made Eliza’s curtains last year, but was having trouble finding the right fabric for Jonas. His room is space themed, and it’s very hard to find space fabric that’s not cheesy. Luckily, I found some awesome pillowcases at a thrift store: one solar system sham and one Star Wars pillowcase. Cheapest cool fabric ever!

Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase

Before you start making the curtains, hang your curtain rod. This is super important, as it allows you to get accurate measurements for your curtains. We attached ours halfway down the window, at the point where the bottom pane starts.

The curtain rod is from Target, in case you’re wondering.

Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase


sewing machine
coordinating thread
cutting mat
rotary cutter
clear quilter’s ruler
tape measurer
fabric marker
seam ripper
fabric scissors
extra coordinating fabric for ruffles*

Seam allowance is 1/2 inch.

*A note on sizing. One pillowcase will only yield two curtain panels for a small window. Measure your window first. If you don’t have enough fabric from the pillowcase, use some coordinating fabric to add to the panel. A pillow sham yields more fabric than a regular pillowcase, so I’m using my Star Wars cafe curtain (not yet finished, made from a standard pillowcase), for the smaller window in Jonas’s room and the Solar System sham (shown) for the larger window.

Cafe Curtain Tutorial

Measure | Get out a tape measurer and measure your window. Write down the dimensions of the area you want covered. For this window, the actual glass on the window was 36 inches wide, but I wrote down 40 inches, because I wanted the curtains to extend out over part of the window pane as well. The height from the midpoint of the window (where the curtain rod is hung) and the point where I wanted the curtains to end (slightly above the ledge) was 40 inches.

Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase

Rip the Seams | To get the pillowcase from pillowcase form to fabric, you’ll need to do some seam ripping. Take the seam ripper and carefully go to town until you have one big piece of fabric.

Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase

Press | Your fabric is going to have some serious wrinkles and folds, so you’ll need to iron them out. Lightly spray the folds with water while pressing if needed.

Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase

Measure and Mark | Now that you have one big piece of fabric, you’re going to need to measure it so you can cut it into two panels.

To figure out what size you need, you’ll have to go back to those dimensions you wrote down. There are two panels, so you need to start by dividing the width of your window by half. Then, because there’s a 1/2 inch seam allowance, you need to add one inch to that number. My window is 40 inches, so each finished panel needs to be 20 inches wide. This means that the fabric I cut needs to be 21 inches wide. Thus the total fabric has to be 42 inches wide to make two panels that fit my window.

Using the quilter’s ruler and a fabric marker, mark your measurements on the wrong side of the fabric.

Now you need go back to the desired height of your curtain. You need about 2 1/2 extra inches for the curtain rod casing (measure the diameter of your rod to be sure you don’t need more), but you get an extra 3 1/2 inches from the ruffle fabric. So the height of your fabric must be one inch shorter than your desired height (adjusted for curtain rod diameter). If it’s not long enough, consider making a longer ruffle! I didn’t need to cut for height at all, but if you do, mark where you need to cut on the wrong side of the fabric.

Lastly, measure out your coordinating ruffle fabric. This needs to be 4 inches tall and twice the width of your panel width. Make sure to cut two (one for each panel).

Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase

Cut | Now that you know the size that each panel needs to be, carefully cut the pillowcase fabric and the ruffle fabric.

Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase

Hem | Press under a 1/4 inch double-fold hem on both sides of each curtain panel and topstitch. Do the same to the bottom of each piece of ruffle fabric and both sort sides of each piece of ruffle fabric.

Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase

Make the Curtain Rod Casing | Press under the top of each curtain panel 1/2 inch. Then press under another 2 inches (or adjust to fit your curtain rod). Topstitch the hem to form the casing for your curtain rod.

Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase with Ruffle Video Tutorial

Make the Ruffle | The ruffle is the tricky part, so watch this video so I can teach you how!

And there you have it: finished curtains from a thrifted pillowcase! I hope you found this tutorial helpful and would love to see links to your cafe curtains or to any ruffle project you do! I can’t wait to make the Star Wars curtains now. I’ll make sure to show you when they are done.

Cafe Curtain from a Thrifted Pillowcase

*I learned how to make Cafe Curtains from the book One-Yard Wonders. I made curtains from the directions in the book, which you can see here.

Find more tutorials from the Nerd Nest here.