DIY Bead Curtains

Written by katherine harder
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DIY Bead Curtains
Make your own hipster-retro beaded curtain. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Bead curtains reappear in homes every few decades: In the 1890s, fashionable homes used them to separate areas, and in the 1960s, hippies used inexpensive plastic beaded curtains to create colourful, whimsical spaces. Now you can revive the look, too. Use any type of bead, as long as it's available in bulk, because you'll need several thousand. Use your beaded curtain to divide areas in a large room, to create privacy in doorless doorways or as inexpensive window treatments. You can also use your DIY bead curtains to skirt a table or pedestal bathroom sink.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Upholstery thread
  • Scissors
  • Upholstery needle
  • Metal book rings, 1 ½-inch diameter
  • Tension rod

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  1. 1

    Measure the width and height of the area you want to cover with a beaded curtain. Only measure inside the window or door's casing. Purchase enough beads to cover the space. For example, a 10mm bead is about ½ inch wide and tall. If you want to cover a doorway that is 36 inches wide and 80 inches tall, multiply both measurements by 2 to get 72 beads to cover the width of the door and 160 beads per string for the door's height. Then multiply these two numbers to get the total number of 10mm beads required for the project: 11,520.

  2. 2

    Cut a thread to the height of your doorway, plus 2 inches. Use one of the extra inches to tie the thread to a book ring. Thread the other end of the string through the upholstery needle's eye, and pull the needle a few inches down the string.

  3. 3

    Drop a bead onto the needle, and pull it down the thread. Continue beading the thread until it's filled. Once the string is completely full to the needle, remove the needle and add the last few beads that will fit, up until the final inch. Tie the end of the thread around the final bead and cut away any excess string.

  4. 4

    Bead as many strings as you need for your curtain. For the 10mm example, make 72 strings of beads, each with a book ring at the top.

  5. 5

    Thread book rings onto your tension rod, and then place the tension rod inside your doorway or window's casing. If the strands are too long, untie the bottom bead of each strand, remove as many beads as necessary and retie the new bottom bead.

Tips and warnings

  • If you'd rather install your beaded curtain over a door or window instead of inside its casing, purchase a small curtain rod and 1-inch rod brackets. Select brackets with open "U" shaped rod holders. Screw the brackets above the door or window, with each bracket placed just outside the door or window's upper corners. Thread your beaded curtains' top metal rings onto the curtain rod before resting the rod onto the holders.
  • If you want to use your curtains as a pedestal sink or side table skirt, skip the metal rings and tie each string of beads to a length of cord or strong ribbon.
  • For removable beaded strands, use large, curved lobster clasps, available in your local craft store's jewellery-making section, instead of book rings.
  • Do not use beaded curtains in young children's and babies' sleeping and playing spaces. The curtains are both strangulation and choking hazards.

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