If your boat is your home – full time or for weekend time, you’ll want it to reflect your style and provide some comforts of home. There are a variety of styles for curtains to add some warmth to you home afloat. What fits your boat’s personality and your lifestyle on the boat? A fun nautical or tropical print? A solid darkening curtain just to keep light and heat out? Do you want a simple snap on cover? Blinds? Curtains with tabs that roll up or curtains that slide on a track? Pleats for a bit more formal style or something softer? And there are those times when you may want to keep others from peeking in. You may even get a bit of warmth from curtains. So whether for style or comfort think about what your curtains can say about and do for your boat.
We chose to use the existing curtain track for sliding tabs behind the teak rails on our boat, Magnolia. First we took down the stinky, moldy, old, dark formal curtains. I took them apart to reuse the slider tabs. Ditch the pleats for us. These curtains with slider tabs aren’t hard to make, but need exacting measurements to fit and slide easily on the track.
Here are the materials I used:
1/4″ width elastic
Washable marker or tailors chalk
Decorator indoor/outdoor fabric (cream background with a blue styled compass rose) and matching thread
Black-out lining fabric (one side has a “plastic” coating)
Instructions for track curtains:
- Install track. Install so that the track run is closest to the front, not the interior cabin bulkhead. Hide track behind a rail if possible. Measure space between tracks for height and length of track you want to cover (e.g., entire length or just in front of port lights).
- Plan how many curtains you want. One or two per port light? Will you want them bunched on both sides of the port lights or in front or behind it?
- Figure fabric width adding 1” total for 1/2” side seams. If you want some fullness, multiply by .25 or .5. I used .25. Adjust to allow for 4” between tabs after subtracting 1” for ends and 1” for seam allowance. Make remaining width divisible by 4.
- Figure total curtain height less 1/2″ for tab each extension top and bottom (1″ total). Take height measurements at a few points along the track in case there are areas that are slightly different.
- Double check your measurements.
- Secret trick: You may want to test how far the tabs need to be positioned in the seam to allow the tabs to slide in the tracks but have the fabric close enough to the track to minimize any gap and hide the tabs behind the rails if you have them. I redid a few curtains once we tested them and too much of the tab or elastic showed for our liking. Also check to see if the space between the tracks is the same along the length of the track. (I swear ours wasn’t so the curtains were fitted to their space and numbered in order of position.)
- Measure and mark cut lines with washable marker using your measurements and preferably metal T square or yard stick. Cut decorator and lining fabrics with good fabric scissors or hot knife. Seal edges with hot knife if needed.
- Mark ½” seams on both sides of lining, mark plastic tab and elastic tab placement on right side of lining leaving 1/2” within seam mark at ends. Divide length between end tabs by 4” for placement spacing. Mark tab placements on right side. Tab placements should match top and bottom so you have a 1/2″ space before the first tab at the end on both ends.
- Baste sew on plastic tabs on right side of lining within ½” seam allowance with tab facing towards center of fabric using right presser foot/needle on left (at about 3/8”). Plastic tab edges should be ¼” over edge (at mark on tab). Leave 1/2” on each end by putting the last tab at 1” from cut edge. Cut elastic about 1 1/2″ and insert into each eyelet tab. Baste elastic edge 1/8” over edge of fabric.
- Check placement of tabs on both top and bottom sides. These should match across sides.
- Pin and stitch 1/2″ seams with panel and lining right sides together, leaving 4” open at about 2” from corner to allow turning curtain right sides out. Watch that tabs are sewn straight holding fingers over area carefully.
- Trim corners. Turn right side out. Push out corners carefully.
- Test on track.
- Hand sew opening with hidden stitches in the folded 1/2″. Sew a tab to mark position of each curtain if each has a specific order on the track.
- Slide on track a few tabs at a time. Use small screws with small nuts at the track end.
Sundowner makes curtains.
Track parts at Beacon Fabrics
Curtaintracks.com offers some advice
Catalina puts out a pdf of track instructions and curtain fabrication