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DIY Privacy Curtains for the Van

Originally published: August 15, 2018

In order to make traveling in MoCa (my 1999 Chevy Express Conversion van) comfortable, I knew I needed DIY privacy curtains.  To make this happen, I went to WalMart and found “room darkening” curtains. It was my belief that room darkening curtains plus the already installed conversion van blinds would give me total privacy. I was wrong.  While the curtains were attractive, they didn’t give me the privacy I was looking for. Unfortunately, with the proper lighting, I could see through the curtains/blinds. That wasn’t private enough for me.

Back to WalMart! While there, I found blackout curtains that would definitely give the desired effect, but they weren’t very attractive.  I was in a conundrum; I liked the design of one and the functionality of the other. So, I combined them both. I cut the blackout curtains, “sewed” them onto the backside of the room darkening curtains and voila!  The end result was that I had the look of one with the functionality of the other.

DIY Privacy Curtains

Ironing vs Sewing Privacy Curtains

I said I “sewed” the one onto the other, but I didn’t really.  I don’t sew. I used Stitch Witchery to bind them together.  For those not familiar with Stitch Witchery, it’s a binding tape that creates adhesion by ironing. It’s simple. I cut the blackout curtain, pinned it in place on the back of the attractive curtains, placed stitching tape between the two layers and ironed according to the directions.

Stitch Witchery
Stitch Witchery
a Life Saver!

Putting up the Van’s DIY Privacy Curtains

Placing the DIY privacy curtains over the windows was easy.  I bought a few tension rods and was able to put the curtains up without a problem.  The windows on the doors weren’t as accommodating. Because the two side doors are constantly opened and closed, a curtain rod would not work. I didn’t want to drill holes in the doors to put up curtain rods.  Instead, I used good old velcro to adhere the curtains to the individual side doors.

DIY Privacy Curtains for Door Windows
Notice the velcro on the sides.

Fortunately, I was able to use a tension rod to hang the privacy curtains over the back doors.  The back door curtains aren’t as pretty. They’re just the blackout curtains, functional but not pretty.  I store a lot of crap in the back so the pretty curtains would probably be subject to quite a bit of wear and tear.  I’m thinking the functional curtains are all that’s required back there (at least for now).

Back Door Curtains

Currently, all curtains, except the ones in the back and behind the driver's/passengers seats get rolled up when not in use.  I tie them up with strips of the excess curtain material. It’s a bit cumbersome tying each of the privacy curtains, but until I come up with another plan, this will suffice. When I need privacy, I untie the strips and position the curtains for ultimate privacy.

Rolled Up Privacy Curtains

A Few Weird Curtain Privacy Spots

There are a couple of spots where the DIY privacy curtains are challenged. For those areas, I’m strategically using binder clips to bring the edges of the various curtains together.  Some spots are awkward, like covering the space behind the driver’s seat and the driver’s sidewall. Same for the passenger seat and its sidewall. I’m still fumfering around to find a workable plan, but binder clips are the workaround for now.

The Next Mobile Cabin Challenge

The DIY privacy curtains are good enough for now.  My next real challenge is to keep the interior of the van cool enough to sleep comfortably during the summer while the engine isn’t running.  This is a challenge on so many levels. I don’t have solar panels and the Chevy outlets are hot. In other words, if you plug something in to charge and the engine isn’t running, it will continue charging until the battery is drained. There’s no protective cut-off.  Guess that’s one of the challenges of driving a 20-year-old van.

I love a good challenge and this is a good one.  I’ve got a few things in the works that I’ll share in my next update.  It involves rechargeable fans, insulated curtains (aka privacy curtains) and a cooler (also known as a redneck cooler). Stay tuned...

About the Author: Felicia likes to traipse around and write about her traipsings. FeliciaIn her mind, she lives in an RV and gets to travel to beautiful places far and near. However, in reality, she traipses around in her mobile cabin, Faith, a 2005 Chevy Express Conversion van. With Faith, she’s slowly (and I mean slowly) transitioning her mind to leave the ‘safe world’ of bricks and sticks in favor of the unpredictable world of van travel.

Last Modified: 4 May 2021

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