One of the most important parts of your customised camper van is curtains! Privacy is very important, especially at night time when you are relaxing in your van or sleeping. When making our DIY camper van, we searched for pre-made curtains which would fit the windows of our Nissan Caravan but we found them to be quite expensive.
We also thought the colours available were plain and boring. That’s when we decided to make our own DIY camper van curtains. We are very happy with the result and in this blog post we will explain how we made our curtains while keeping the cost low.
Below we will explain step by step, how we made our DIY camper van curtains.
The first thing to do before starting to make your camper van curtains is to measure the area where you want to put your curtains. The best way to do this, is to plan where you will attach the curtains exactly and the measure.
It’s not a good idea to only measure the glass from the window since the curtains will be bigger than the window. If you like privacy it is good to make the curtains a bit longer just in case.
2. Make sketches with exact measurements
After measuring, it’s a good idea to make a sketch of each curtain and calculate the exact measurements. We had 3 areas which required curtains, the back door window, the sliding door window and the area between the driver’s seat and the back of the van. Each area needed 2 curtains which meet in the middle so we had to prepare 6 curtain sketches.
Each camper van curtain will need some extra centimetres of fabric for sewing. For the sides which were not connected to a curtain rail, we left an extra 1cm of fabric which was folded over and sewed using a sewing machine.
For the sides which were connected to a curtain rail, we left 3cm of extra fabric. We found this to be tight and the curtains don’t move very smoothly along the rail, so we would recommend leaving 4cm or 5cm of extra fabric on the sides where you will use a curtain rail.
After making all your sketches, you will be able to estimate how many meters of fabric you will need to buy.
3. Buy the fabric
In Japan, you can find shops selling fabric by the meter. This is great because you can choose a design you like and buy as much fabric as you need. The problem sometimes is that there are too many nice designs to choose from and you are spoilt for choice.
There are usually many fabrics on sale so if you are not fussy about how your curtains look you might be able to buy fabric for ¥500 per meter. Ours cost around ¥900 per meter.
An important factor to consider when buying fabric for camper van curtains is to make sure it is ‘’black out’’. This means the fabric blocks sunlight and also people outside cannot see shadows inside the van at nighttime.
We tested the fabrics in the shop by holding them up to the light to check. However, some people buy a fabric design they like then buy black out fabric separately and connect them together using a sewing machine but this usually increases the cost since you need to buy 2 fabrics.
We estimated that we needed around 4m of fabric but we purchased 5m just in case we made any mistakes.
4. Cut the fabric
The next thing you need to do is mark the fabric with your measurements and cut it. We recommend using fabric scissors since they make the cutting process smoother. We got our fabric scissors from Daiso, a popular ¥100 shop in Japan.
It’s important to double and triple check your measurements are correct before cutting, otherwise you will need to go back to the fabric shop and buy more fabric if you make a mistake!
5. Sew the camper van curtains
You can sew the camper van curtains by hand or by machine. Sewing by hand will take more time but if you don’t have experience with a sewing machine, then this can be an option.
Some shops also offer a sewing service but the price is quite high, when we enquired, they quoted us ¥3000 per curtain. If you have a friend or family member who can use a sewing machine, it’s the best option! Shota’s mum helped us sew our curtains!
6. Prepare the curtain rail
We purchased curtain rails from Daiso for ¥100. There are some different lengths available and we purchased 4. We used 2 rails on the back door window, 1 rail for the side door window and 1 rail for the area between the driver’s area and the back of the van. The curtain rails are made from metal wire and have a plastic cover. The rails can be cut according to the length you need.
7. Attach the curtains and curtain rail
The next step is to slide the curtain onto the rail and then attach it to the van. This method means that the curtains cannot be removed easily but they are very secure. If we want to remove the curtains for washing, it is possible but we will need to unscrew the nails which are holding the curtains in place.
It was very easy to attach the curtain rail to parts of the van with wood. For the back door we drilled some small holes in the metal. For the area between the kitchen and the back of the van, we hooked the curtain rail onto the fabric headliner and this worked well without us needing to use our drill.
8. Use an eyelet hole punch
If you want to attach the middle of the curtain to the wall in addition to the bottom and top corner you can use an eyelet hole punch. This can be purchased from Daiso and is easy to use. It will mean there is no risk of any gaps and people being able to see inside the van from outside.
9. Make curtain holders
You can buy curtain holders to hold the curtains when you are not using them during the day but we didn’t like the design of any we saw so we decided to make our own. We used a small hook we found in Daiso and a piece of burlap string. We glued the string to the hook so it would stay in place and not get lost. The curtain holders work perfectly and were very cheap to make.
10. Buy some clips
Some of our curtains don’t meet exactly in the middle, so we use some small clips which came with the curtain rail and they hold the curtains together and ensure we have privacy at night!
Summary of making camper van curtains
Making DIY camper van curtains was quite a simple process and we have had no previous experience doing anything like this before and it was possible for us to do it! We were happy with the low cost and the option to choose our own fabric design.
It took us 2 days to complete everything and make our curtains but it could be done faster if you do everything in the same day and are confident using a sewing machine. Cutting the fabric and the sewing will be the most time consuming parts.
Here is the breakdown of the costs for our camper van curtains.
Curtain Rails: ¥440
Burlap String: ¥110
Curtain Hooks: ¥110