How to make curtains for boats

Updated February 21, 2017

Like any sewing project, the better the planning, the better the result. Curtains for a boat are no different. Making curtains for a boat is just like making curtains for your home with two small exceptions: the curtains are best made from a water-resistant or waterproof material, and they have a nautical touch, like a bit of square sennit for trim.

Measure for the curtains. Some boat windows are not square, but the curtains that cover them will be. To determine the width of the curtains to be installed, measure the total width of the window area. If the windows are irregular, measure a width that will cover all of the glass, plus 4 inches on either end. The length should be measured from the top of the window frame plus 4 inches, to the bottom of the window frame, plus 4 inches.

Cut the material to the length above, using the finished edge of the material as the bottom. The edge you cut will be the top. Mark a line with chalk, 2 inches from the top and bottom of the material. The distance between your chalk lines will be finished length of the curtains.

Fold the material at the chalk lines, and hem both top and bottom as pocket hems, 2 inches deep. The top hem is now finished. Close the sides of the bottom hem when you hem the sides of the panel. The bottom hem is now finished.

Tack the flat sennit to the bottom of the curtain along its width. Gluing the sennit to the curtain panel is not recommended, as the glue will stiffen and make opening the curtain panel troublesome. Tacking the sennit at about 1-inch intervals with a matching thread will allow the sennit to flex with the curtain.

Mount the cafe rod hardware with screws or screwbolts. Put the panels on the cafe rod. Place the rod in the mountings.


Sennit purchased in stores is generally machine-made and more flexible than the sennit you make by hand.


Sewing and cutting material can be dangerous. Remember the hazards inherent in working with needles, pins and shears.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine or sailmaker's kit
  • Straight pins
  • Waterproof synthetic material or waxed No. 3 cotton canvas
  • Chalk marker or carpenter's chalk line
  • Pre-made flat sennit, 1 inch wide
  • Cafe#xE9; rods and mounting brackets
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About the Author

Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.