Blackout curtains are beneficial for darkening rooms and potentially lowering your energy bill. But, these thick curtains aren’t as available in many colors and prints as other curtains, and they can sometimes be pricey. Because of this, you may wish to make your own blackout curtains. But, what are the best fabrics to use?
The best fabric for blackout curtains will be a thick, tightly woven, and heavy fabric. Blackout curtain fabric is typically made from polyester or a blend of polyester and cotton. Examples of good fabrics to use include heavyweight polyester, heavy microfiber, blackout fabric, and heavyweight poly/cotton blends.
In this article, I’ll explain the benefits of blackout curtains and why you need certain fabrics to make them. I’ll also tell you what the best fabrics are as well as the characteristics of those fabrics. Finally, I’ll explain how to make blackout curtains and where to get the fabric to make them.
- What Are the Benefits of Blackout Curtains?
- Best Fabric for Blackout Curtains
- What to Consider for Blackout Curtain Fabric
- How to Make Blackout Curtains
- Blackout Curtain Fabric by the Yard
What Are the Benefits of Blackout Curtains?
The main purpose of blackout curtains is to block the amount of sunlight that enters a room. They can make the room darker, which may just be your personal preference, or maybe you work a 2nd or 3rd shift job and need the room to be darker for sleeping purposes.
Since blackout curtains block the amount of sunlight that enters a room, they can also help keep rooms cooler. This is especially beneficial during hot summer months. If you have large windows or a sliding door in a particular room, those rooms can get quite hot due to the sunlight.
More sunlight coming into a room and raising the temperature can also raise your energy or power bill since the air conditioner has to work harder to keep the room cool. That means that blackout curtains can sometimes help with lowering the cost of your energy bill since they keep the room cooler. And who doesn’t love saving money?
The final benefit of blackout curtains is that they can sometimes be noise-dampening. This isn’t always the case, but it depends on the type of fabric you choose. Maybe you live in a noisy city, neighborhood, or apartment building. Or maybe you sleep in the daytime for whatever reason. By choosing the right blackout curtain fabric, you can also reduce the noise that comes into a room.
Best Fabric for Blackout Curtains
Blackout curtains are typically made of polyester or a mixture of polyester and cotton. But you don’t want just any type of polyester. You want the fabric to be as thick and heavyweight as possible. The reason why these fabrics are beneficial is that they are more tightly woven. This helps to prevent light from passing through.
Thin fabrics, including some versions of cotton, aren’t as tightly woven or just made thinner. Even some sheer curtains are made from thin and lightweight polyester. But sheer curtains especially let a lot of light into a room. That’s why you want blackout curtains made from the thickest polyester fabric you can find.
Let’s take a look at some of the more specific fabrics that are good for blackout curtains.
1. Heavyweight Polyester
As the name implies, heavyweight polyester is a heavier and more tightly woven fabric than other polyester fabrics. This fabric is generally used for upholstery, including sofas, couches, and chairs, in addition to curtains.
Sometimes, polyester fabric is listed as being heavyweight. But other times, it won’t be as obvious, so you have to look at the tag on the fabric bolt. If a fabric is heavyweight, it will have a weight of 350 grams per square meter (GSM) or higher.
In addition to being thick and tightly woven, heavyweight polyester is good for blackout curtains because it is durable and easy to clean. Although you may not be able to wash curtains in the washing machine easily, you can spot clean them or steam clean them very easily. This fabric is also resistant to fading, so the curtains shouldn’t fade much due to sunlight.
2. Heavy Microfiber
If you want your blackout curtains to have a different appearance and texture than what you would get with traditional polyester, you can opt for heavy microfiber fabric. Microfiber is a specific type of polyester fabric that is soft and smooth and has a texture similar to velvet.
Heavy microfiber will give you less light penetration due to being thicker and more tightly woven than traditional microfiber. Again, just look for a fabric weight of 350+ GSM if you’re unsure if the fabric is heavy enough.
Microfiber is another fabric that is commonly used for upholstery in addition to curtains. It is very strong and durable, so it can also withstand the weight of being hung for extended periods of time. Microfiber is also easy to steam clean and it won’t hold as much dust as some fabrics do.
3. Blackout Fabric
Then, there’s also blackout fabric that you can use. Blackout fabric is a specific type of fabric that is used to make blackout curtains and drapery. But, it isn’t as easy to find or as widely available as fabrics made out of polyester.
Blackout fabric comes in two varieties: 2-pass and 3-pass. 2-pass fabric means that the fabric has been sprayed with a black opaque membrane and a white layer of acrylic foam. The fabric blocks out 100% of light, is more lightweight, and costs less than 3-pass fabric.
3-pass fabric is thicker and more expensive. The fabric is sprayed with a layer of acrylic foam, followed by a black membrane and another layer of acrylic foam. This is the type of fabric you want if you want better temperature control/insulation and sound-blocking in addition to blocking 100% of light.
4. Heavyweight Poly/Cotton Blend
Finally, you can use a heavyweight poly/cotton blend fabric. This fabric is often used for blackout fabric without layers of foam. That means that it won’t block quite as much light and won’t be insulating and noise-dampening. But, it can still be a good, affordable option for blackout curtains that is also widely available.
Heavyweight poly/cotton blend fabric is a blend of polyester and cotton fibers that is more tightly woven than a typical poly/cotton blend. Again, look for the 350+ GSM measurement on the fabric label if you’re unsure.
This fabric is a great option for blackout curtains because it is strong, durable, wrinkle-resistant, and fade-resistant. It can also be easily cleaned and ironed more easily than fabrics made from 100% polyester since poly/cotton blends aren’t as heat-sensitive.
What to Consider for Blackout Curtain Fabric
Now that you know the different types of fabric that can be used to make blackout curtains, how do you know which one to choose? Here are a few things to consider that can help make your decision easier.
Fabric Type and Weight
The type of fabric that you choose is the most important if you want your curtains to be truly light-blocking. All of the fabrics that we mentioned above will serve the purpose of blocking out light. But if you want the curtains to be insulating and noise-dampening, you need to choose blackout fabric.
If you don’t care much about insulation and/or noise-dampening, you can use any heavyweight polyester or poly/cotton blend fabric. Just make sure to check the fabric weight if you’re unsure. The heaviest fabrics will have a weight of 350+ GSM and be tightly woven. You don’t want lightweight or sheer fabrics, as these aren’t as tightly woven and will allow more light to pass through.
You want your curtains to match your decor and style preferences. So, the next thing you should consider is the fabric color. Although black curtains will have the most room-darkening ability, you don’t have to use black fabric for blackout curtains.
Choose a fabric that goes with your decor. Many heavyweight polyester and poly/cotton blend fabrics come in various colors and prints. You should have no problem finding one that suits your needs.
However, if you’re opting for true blackout fabric for the noise-dampening and insulation properties, you should know that there is less variety, so you’ll have fewer styles to choose from. You may have to choose from colors that are neutral rather than having a wide selection of colors and prints.
How to Make Blackout Curtains
If you’ve never made blackout curtains before, it might be helpful to have some pointers regarding how much fabric you need and how to sew the curtains. Here are some tips and tricks to help you.
Tools and Materials
- Heavyweight/blackout fabric
- Lining (optional)
- Heavy-duty scissors
- Needle/sewing machine
For most standard windows, you’ll need around 6 yards of fabric to make blackout curtains. However, larger windows and sliding glass doors will require more fabric. Make sure you measure your windows so you know how much fabric to buy. You want the curtains to completely cover the windows to be effective.
Remember that one yard of fabric is 36 inches in length. But, the fabric width can vary depending on what type of fabric you choose. You’ll also want to add 10 inches to your measurement to account for the hems/rod pockets.
Depending on the type of fabric you choose, you may also wish to add a lining. Remember that the pattern or color on some fabrics may be visible on only one side of the curtain, or it may be faded. If you want the pattern or color visible from the inside and outside of the window, buy double the amount of fabric and sew them back to back. Or, you can opt for a solid lining in a neutral color.
- Measure the width and height of your window and add 10 inches to account for hems. Make sure to measure from the curtain rod to the floor to ensure that you have enough fabric and optional lining to cover the window.
- Once you have your fabric, lay it flat on the floor and mark any areas you need to cut and/or mark off the hems and where you need to sew.
- Cut the fabric as needed and repeat step 2 for the lining if you’re opting to have one.
- If the fabric is wrinkled, you may wish to iron it before you begin sewing. Make sure to use the proper iron setting for the fabric material.
- Lay the curtain fabric on the floor with the right side facing down, then lay your lining fabric on top of it.
- Fold the hems over the lining and pin them in place. For the top hem, make sure to make it large enough for your curtain rod to fit through.
- Pin the fabric together around the edges and corners.
- Use a sewing machine (or sew by hand) to connect the curtain fabric and/or lining together.
- When sewing the hem at the top, be sure not to sew the outside edges closed so that you can slip a curtain rod through.
- Hang your new curtains!
Blackout Curtain Fabric by the Yard
Now that you know the best fabrics for blackout curtains and how to make them, where can you get the fabric and how much is it? It just depends on the type of fabric you want. Heavyweight polyester and poly/cotton blends are available in most stores where fabric is sold and you can also find a large selection online.
These are going to be the cheapest types of fabrics and the ones with the most availability. Heavyweight polyester and poly/cotton fabrics can be found for as low as $3 per yard. But the price will vary based on the manufacturer, quality of the fabric, and the store where you purchase the fabric.
If you want blackout fabric that is insulating and noise-dampening, you may have to look exclusively online or go to a store that specializes in upholstery fabric. That’s where you’ll find the largest selection. But remember that your options may still be limited as far as color and pattern.
Blackout fabrics can start at around $5 per yard for budget fabrics but can cost more than $10 per yard. The price again depends on the quality of the fabric and where it’s purchased, as well as whether you purchase 2-pass or 3-pass fabric.
Making your own blackout curtains can save you money or ensure you get the exact color or pattern you want. The best fabrics are heavyweight polyester and poly/cotton blends. But, you can also opt for special blackout fabrics that can help insult and reduce noise and darken a room. If you found this article helpful, share it with others. Thanks for reading!