The Beaded Curtains I Wanted In the 60s

Beads, beads, beads

I thought I had a lot of beads … until I decided to make a beaded curtain. In the 1960s, I always wanted beaded curtains, but never could get my mother to supply them. Then I lived my life with a houseful of cats, who would tear them down in a heartbeat. When I realized that I have made my craft room a “cat-free zone,” I determined it was time to have what I always wanted! I started threading my stash of colorful beads on fishing line. Suddenly I realized that you don’t have a “lot” of beads unless you own the whole danged craft store!

beaded curtain

I persevered and made not one beaded curtain but three, and I’ve been showing out about it on Facebook. Click that picture, and you can see a larger image. Some of my friends have said, “I’m going to make one of those!” Before you do, I want you to know what I learned about 1/5 of the way into the process. I have about 16 strands that I need to re-do, and I don’t want you making my mistake.

Now, I don’t usually do DIY posts, so bear with me while I try to explain it. It’s not rocket surgery, but there are a few things you might not think about if you, like me, just jump into the project without planning.

top rail

Before you even think about starting the beading, cut a 3/4″ diameter oak dowel rod to fit your window. It needs to be oak, so it will be sturdy enough to hold those strands of beads. They get extremely heavy. Drill holes for at least two to three heavy duty hooks in the top of the window sill to hold that dowel rod. Or, find some willing handyman to do this for you (sorry, I’ve already worn out my Sweet Spousal Unit, so he probably won’t volunteer). Make sure that you drill into wood and not Sheetrock, or that curtain will come tumbling down. I’ve seen tension rods suggested for this, but I wouldn’t trust a tension rod to hold the weight of all those beads.

Why hang the rod before you bead? Because it will help you gauge how your strands will look (you might want to vary the types of beads you use) and you will have a place to put the finished strand so it doesn’t get tangled. Lord knows, you don’t want to tangle these suckers up!

You’ll need a HUGE assortment of beads. Unless you are being particular, don’t worry about them matching. I found that even beads that seemed ugly on their own looked just fine when beaded for these curtains. Buy in bulk at the craft store, or scour garage sales and thrift stores for old costume jewelry. The funkier the better.

You will need fishing line for the stringing, and there are two other supply items that I suggest:

split rings
First, you want to find some “split rings.” I think they are for key rings, and at the local craft store they are in the jewelry section that they call “findings.” You could use another type of ring, but these metal ones were heavy enough to hold the weight. Plastic won’t work, I think. And, although these are called “split,” the fishing line won’t slip through the crack.

double hole beads

Second, invest in beads with two holes. You only need enough of them to have one at the bottom of each strand. I’ll tell you why in a minute, so bear with me. Dang, that’s a bright orange background that I picked, isn’t it? Put your sunglasses on to cut the glare and continue. I’ll do better the next time I do a DIY post.

attach fish lineDO NOT string these beads on a single strand of fishing line. That is the mistake that I made, and it is darned near impossible to tie the line off tightly enough that beads don’t slip. Measure how long you want the curtains, then cut the fishing line twice as long PLUS about a foot. In other words, if you are making a 3′ long curtain, each strand of line will be 7′ long. Fold the line in half, and tie the split ring smack dab in the middle (use at least two knots to hold it … it will slip if you don’t).

Now, find your glasses and start beading.

beading strand

When the strand is as long as you want it to be, thread the fishing line (one strand on each side) through one of those double-hole beads. After making sure that your bead strand is pushed all the way down the line to the split ring (so you don’t have gaps), tie at least three knots and then thread your ends back through about two inches of beads before trimming it.

VOILÀ! Kick back and enjoy your handiwork… the beaded curtains that Momma wouldn’t let you have in the 1960s! I hope that helps, but if I made things as clear as mud, then feel free to ask questions.

  7 comments for “The Beaded Curtains I Wanted In the 60s

  1. March 5, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Thanks Shelly, I want to make a beaded curtain, but I am thinking about using plastic beads, they are ligther.

    • March 5, 2014 at 7:05 am

      They are lighter, Lola. I was using what I had. Plastic beads might have larger holes, too, so it will be easier on your eyes as you work!

  2. March 5, 2014 at 7:11 am

    I always wanted some of those curtains, too, but I’ll never make them so I doubt I’ll ever have any. Yours is gorgeous!

  3. Ann
    March 5, 2014 at 11:11 am

    I love your beaded curtain, and I especially love that you are writing again! Miss you, friend – let’s talk this weekend!

  4. March 6, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Hey! I’ve been thinking about a beaded curtain since I was about five. Here is the room in my studio where I want to put it:
    It will be visible from the Arabian Nights room AND the Halloween room, so I’m trying to figure out how that’s going to work. I can’t decide which room to hang the rod in.
    Thanks for all the info….I’d hate to have figure out that stuff the hard way.

  5. curtains
    March 23, 2014 at 6:43 am

    very nice idea it looks amazing

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