Favorites Under $50: Patterned Panels

By Kate Riley September 22, 2015

I’m redecorating in the studio above our garage so I went in search of new window panels – 8 in total – 4 to frame the 72” window, a set for the French doors, and 2 for the smaller windows beside the bed. I wanted panels all in the same fabric for a cohesive feel since the living and sleeping spaces in this studio are open to each other.

My approach to dressing windows varies, the first thing that grabs me has to be the fabric, sometimes I’ll design it myself but often it’s a pattern I spy in a fabric store or retail store that I just love at first sight. Over the years, I’ve had curtains custom made, I’ve sewn my own with with designer fabric, but I’ve used simple store bought curtains if the size and price is right and the fabric is good quality. If unlined, I’ll add $4/yard liner if the window can be seen from the outside.

The sale price for these store bought 96” panels caught my eye and to design and print a similar pattern would have cost more than twice as much so instead I ordered 8 of them. I’ll hem them to the proper length and then add rings on top. Funny, the green versions hang in my dining room and now I have the navy versions too, I just love this curvy brushstroke print! I’ll share the redecorated studio space in the upcoming weeks…

I’m drawn to single color or tone on tone patterned curtains which repeat one of the colors in the space, be it a neutral or a colorful hue, it’s one of the simplest way to make a room feel layered and interesting. I rounded up a dozen favorites I spied online, all of them under $50.

Cotton Mosaic – two colors

cotton mosaic


Ogee Jacquard

ogee jaquard





Tie Dye

tie dye



Hex Sheers

hex sheers





Ivy Ankara



Alexander – three colors



Paisley – Washed Blue



Tile – Semi Sheer – Multiple Colors

tile semi


Portinari – Multiple Colors






A word on hanging curtains at the proper length, typically retailers will photograph curtains hung on a rod placed just above the window frame like in all the examples above, but this is a practice I don’t follow.

While the patterns are pretty, the panels should be hung at a minimum halfway between window and ceiling. Any designer will tell you, the closer to the ceiling the better for a more elegant look and to make the space feel taller. I hang my curtain rods just a few inches below the ceiling. In my home where the ceilings are 9 feet I’ll always buy a 108” curtain and hem it to a length between 102 and 104”.

Finally the issue of fullness, most store bought curtains are not wider than 48 – 50” so on a window wider than 5 feet, I’ll double up the panels for adequate fullness.

What luck have you had decorating with store bought curtains?


  1. Just wanted to say that I do the same thing. If I find a print that I like, I just buy it and add backing. Also to get a bit more width or length on those of the rack panels, I will head on over to the discount section of my local fabric store. I dig through it until I find a nice coordinating fabric and use that to add bands at the sides (either just inner or both inner and outer) and for length, I add wide bands on the tops and/or bottoms. This also gives me a nice custom look. So win-win. Low cost panel, less work than sewing one completely from scratch.

    Can’t wait to see the studio!
    Rachel Lynn
    AKA – Queen Bee of Honey Dos. :-)

  2. I bought these same panels from West Elm (only I bought the grey version), on super clearance. They were about $5 per panel because they were all hemmed to different lengths. Worked out for me because I needed to hem them anyway. Only one of the 6 panels I purchased had a hem that was too short, but only slightly and it’s not really even noticeable.

  3. I don’t know what happened but curtains are so fricken expensive! And of course I always like the ones that are proved $80 a panel! And I have to buy four just to frame the window! But of course that’s not full enough so you either have to buy two panels per side or put in some sheers or something to bulk it up. Even the cost of fabric these days are crazy! I try to buy when I see sales but usually it’s when I have the money and most of the time the two don’t match up! I did score on so,e Pottery Barn curtains on eBay last year. They were brand new, swtill in the package. She only had one at the correct length and one that was much longer. So I had my mom hem the long one for me since I suck at doing the blind stitch! I also got a really good deal on a close out sale at JC Penneys and got the remaining four panels they had for my living room. But I needed to add more bulk to the window so it looked right. So I bought some really cheap plain white panels and found a starfish stamp to go with my nautical theme. So I stamped the sheers in the same color blue and it looks awesome!
    I also saw a tip on Pinterest where they used table cloths for making curtains,and pillows.

  4. I always look at the curtains at ROSS or TJ Max. My dining room 96″ I found for under $20. Same as above patterned goals brush stroke really nice for fall! I also nabbed several beautiful patterned shower curtains 2 panels for $8.00 One set I used to cover rattan chair pads. Love love!!

  5. Honestly, I have never found curtain panels that I liked for a price I liked. That was the major reason I learned how to sew! I have always made my own window treatments, including Roman shades. There were some not so attractive results in the beginning, but over the years I have gotten to the point where you cannot tell the difference between store bought or custom made. I feel good walking through my house and looking at my “designer” window treatments every day! But if I ever do find a pair of panels I like, I will gladly add the liner:)

  6. Whenever I use more than 1 panel on each side of the window, I have a problem with them separating and it being obvious that they are panels. How do you make them look right? I don’t need to close them, we don’t have neighbors but I don’t like the way they lay. This probably sounds like a strange question, it has always frustrated me. I have even had this problem with a grommet valance on a sliding glass door. It takes 5 valance panels and it is very obvious that they are 5 separate panels. I don’t like that look. I’ve tried using stick-on velcro to hold them together and that doesn’t look right either. Thanks!

    • Hi Judy, I sew mine together that works, but if you don’t sew try fusible web tape (you can iron them together) so they appear seamless.

  7. i purchased curtains for our windows, just solid panels, and I like them. They do need a liner, and I’m curious about different options for adding one. They are the same color on the front and back, and I’d prefer a solid white to show outside when they are closed. Can I just use muslin for this? I have always shied away from it because I thought it would look wrinkly, not hang straight, and not be a clean white color. What do you use for curtain liners?

  8. These are great ideas! We opted for curtains for our patio door in our dinette – I just could not find vertical blind options that were durable and that I could live with. I plan on switching up the patterns for a quick and easy design update. Will definitely be pinning this post for later inspiration. Thanks!

  9. I truly hope the manufacturer of those panels isn’t planning to sell very many. The way they’re hung reminds me of someone running around in clothes that fit poorly. They are stretched out across the window blocking the light. They should be mounted well beyond the sides of the windows, exposing much of the glass. To presume purchasing one width panels will improve the look of a window is crazy. A pair of them works on about a 24″ wide window, max. Adding multiple pairs of non-pleated panels just hanging there looks odd when light shines through where they should be joined. Can you imagine a designer doing something like this? Never!

  10. All the patterns are so petty. I do agree that the price for the panels are so expensive and the price of material is out of site too. It seems that I don’t even have to see the price because if I think it’s beautiful, the price is going to be crazy. Wish I had my taste coincided with my pocket book.
    Hope everyone is doing well,

  11. Is there a reason why you hem your curtains to be 92-94″? If you hang your curtains a few inches below a 9′ ceiling, why not just leave them 96″?

    • Anne I meant to say 108″ panels, I corrected the post! If the rod is hung at 104″ just 4″ below the ceiling then I’d hem them to 105″ if they were hanging on a rod pocket – but again it varies if it’s a ring top or rod pocket or grommet installation. Hang them first, then pin the hem, take the panel off and sew it to the right length once you know that from hanging it up on the rod.

      • I think she’s a bit confused because a 9′ ceiling would be 108″, not 96″. Your method of hanging them at 93″ makes sense for an 8′ ceiling if you are hanging them really tight to the ceiling. On a 9ft ceiling, hanging them at 93″ puts them 15″ from the ceiling. In my 9′ ceiling living room mine are hung just below the crown molding (maybe 5 inches) so I bought 108″ curtains and hemmed them.

        • Right Christina! 9 feet = 108″ so if the rod is hung between 100 or 104″ a bit closer to the ceiling, buy a 108″ panel and hem the bottom to where the fabric hits the floor. Another trick I’ve used is to buy a 96″ panel and pull out the hem, there’s usually 4 or 5 inches of extra fabric there to elongate it even more.

  12. I love the first panel! But my question is, when along a single wall you have a large bow window, a medium window (with a window seat) and a glass sliding door – would you use the same fabric/panels on all three? I’d like to keep the overall look coordinated…but also worried that it would look ‘too much’ if I use the same patterned fabric three times…

    • Hi Sim, it depends on the space, the panels don’t have to match they just have to complement each other, so you could do a plain panel on one as long as that color or neutral tone is repeated in the secondary print.

  13. Thanks for the tips on how high to hang curtains. Our ceilings are 9 feet, but our double window has an arched transom. Still okay to hang close to the ceiling–and over the transom?

  14. We just had new windows replaced throughout our house. Now I am in the market for window treatments, however, I love my new windows and window trim detail so much that I don’t want to hide it! I do need some solutions for our bedroom, though, that faces the street! I bought a white, flat sheet from Target, and plan to alter it to be a curtain.
    Kate, what is your favorite, thrifty solution for curtain rods?! Have you had luck using a thick, wooden dowel? I could also use advice on where to hang the rod. We have low ceilings in the bedroom, and the top of our new window trim is only 5″ below the ceiling. If I am hanging long panels, should I still hang the rod above the trim?

  15. JCPenney surprisingly! I’m also very picky about fabric, want a nice heavy fabric, and want them lined. And I’ve loved the ones I’ve gotten (three rooms now) from JCP. Very good quality!

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