How to make blackout curtains out of existing drapes

Blackout curtains block light from a window. This keeps sunlight or bright lights from shining in a window and keeps inside light and movement from showing outside. Blackout curtains may be lined with Dim-Out or lightweight linings that block most, but not all light. They may be lined with medium or heavyweight linings with a thin layer of foam to block all light, reduce noise and save energy by providing insulation. Here are tips to turn existing drapes into temporary or permanent blackout curtains.

Make a temporary blackout curtain when light needs to be blocked for a day or two. Use an emergency blanket made of aluminised polyester to line the drapes. This is a shiny, lightweight fabric that looks like foil. A typical emergency blanket is about 52 inches by 82 inches. It can be taped or pinned directly to the back of the drapes and removed when no longer needed. These emergency blankets, folded to fit into a pocket, are available in auto and sporting goods departments.

Replace an existing drapery liner with blackout lining. If the existing liner is on a separate rod from the drapery, measure the existing liner as a guide. Purchase a blackout liner replacement at a curtain or department store. Most blackout liners are white or ivory and fit smoothly on the drapery lining rod.

Choose an integral liner such as a Roc-Lon Blackout Drapery Liner. These inexpensive liners are used in hotels and hospitals to block outside light. Measure the existing drapes. The integral liner comes in several sizes and in one or two panel styles. These ready-made liners fit almost all existing curtains or drapes, require no tools, and often come with hooks for easy installation.

Look for lining features such as TLC indicating Total Light Control. Some two-panel linings offer magnetic closures. These are magnetic strips down the centre of the linings to keep the two panels together and avoid light leakage. If total light control is not needed, a dim out lining is usually lighter in weight and is rated about 80 per cent light blockage.

Choose a drapery lining to fully cover the window. It may be tempting to select a shorter lining to save money, but the lining should be matched to the existing drape size. Some blackout linings come in colours. Remember that the colour will be visible through the window and should coordinate with the other windows when viewed from the street. A good lining will last for years, improving sleep, study, computer use and TV watching.


When using an emergency blanket or Mylar lining, hang it between the drapery and a sheer lining to prevent glare outside the window. Sew a custom blackout lining. Fabric stores sell various blackout linings by the yard. Blackout insulated lining saves energy by blocking heat and cold air transfer at the window.


Most blackout linings are not washable. Brush or vacuum them gently to remove dust. Use a professional dry cleaner when necessary. The liner foam is not well suited to coin-operated tumble cleaning.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Emergency or space blanket
  • Blackout lining
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About the Author

Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.