A little plaid… Part 6 (front curtain – finished)

Those with an eye for detail may have noticed the completed front curtain in the first and last picture of the Fall Camping post.  Finished just in time, the curtain worked great and is much better than any used previously.  Only seven curtains remain in this project but, with the two complicated ones finished, the remainder should be easily completed (but I make no promises on posting the results in a timely manner 🙂 ).

Originally, I intended to mimic reproduction front curtains used in previous buses.  The design required no failure prone elastic banding, seemed simple, and, most importantly, easy to execute.  Basically rectangles of cloth that relied on tension to prevent sagging when installed, these reproductions functioned very well in the absence of the front child’s cot.  In years past, I never used the front cot but now-a-days this is a much needed accessory for my son, who I am quite sure would willingly sleep there every night.  I reckoned a couple holes in the fabric through which the cot poles could pass before attaching to the front cot brackets on the bus frame would be sufficient.  How wrong I was, at least if I wanted the curtain to look nice, because the cot canvas interfered with the curtain resulting in incomplete coverage of the windshield and a lot of wrinkles.

This added bit of complexity took me by surprise but one look at the original VW-Westfalia design told me why the cot caused problems.  Measuring roughly 122-inches long by 20.5-inches wide, the original curtain is a rectangle with a top span much too long for the bus cab.  VW-Westfalia resolved this issue by affixing elastic on the top run to take up slack between the front two snaps.  The extra length along the bottom, however, provides additional material where the cot poles and canvas extend into the cab corners near the front brackets; in this respect, the new curtain failed.  While the top of Moby’s curtain fit nice and snug in the cab, the bottom was too short with the cot installed.

Unfortunately not enough plaid fabric existed on the ream to make a second curtain, forcing a search for alternate ideas. Attaching cloth triangles at the curtain’s two front corners thereby increasing curtain length along the bottom while keeping the top length the same seemed the best solution at the time.  It quickly became evident that simple triangles would not suffice, further compounding what started out as a straight forward project.  Although I can fabricate many items out of wood and metal, I admit that my lack of experience with cloth materials limited my ability to expound upon and implement a more intricate triangle concept. While I rely on help from Martha’s superior sewing skills with the curtain project as a whole, the front curtain really became hers and I cannot take much credit for the finished product or steps outlined below.  I simply acted as a sounding board, distraction, purveyor of frustration, and was ultimately tasked with pinning hems for the remaining curtains in an attempt to get me out from underfoot.

All said and done, I am not sure I would follow the original VW front curtain design if I needed another.  Even though the original is certainly less complicated, the headaches of the triangle design are solved and patterns made.  The increased strength around the cot pole slots and potentially longer life span without the elastic band are definite improvements.  Besides it looks great!

Link to project thread

The child’s cot canvas extends into the front corners of the cab near the brackets holding the cot. The front curtain bottom must be long enough across the cab to accommodate the canvas or the fabric will not hang correctly.

The original design used a 122-inch long rectangle with elastic to shorten the top. The longer bottom allowed the fabric to extend into the cab corners along with the cot canvas.

First step: Directly under each front corner snap, a slit was cut from the bottom hem to about 2 3/4-inches from the top hem. This is where the triangle-shaped pieces of fabric will be attached to lengthen the curtain bottom while top length remains the same

A little experimentation showed that a true triangle will not work. This is the modified triangle, more of an odd pentagon, as designed by Martha. For the working pattern, she cut this shape out of a large piece of paper. (Note: This pattern does not include measurements for a 1-inch bottom hem)

Pattern laid out on fabric for a trial run. Although there was enough plaid material to make the triangles, Martha pointed out that it is almost impossible to align fabric patterns when attaching pieces of cloth at an angle. An odd looking finished product would result. Therefore, a complimentary solid color was used instead (Note: This was the first attempt at cutting out the triangle. Final cutting required moving the pattern up approximately 2 inches to make room for a 1-inch double hem)

Prototype triangle cut out. The white line marks the spot where the cot poles will pass through for the test run. I will address how to locate this spot later.

Final version of the triangle sewn into place. (Note: extra material at triangle bottom is for later hemming).   Seams face the bus interior (back of curtain)

Close-up of seam between the two pieces of material.

Single-fold seam tape pinned in place. The tape will provide a finished look to the seam.

Both sides before sewing.

I tend to drive a sewing machine much like a race car.   This is Martha showing me how it should be done.

Sides sewn, 1-inch double hem (1-inch hem folded twice) pinned.

Several ideas floated about for the cot pole holes, from duplicating the originals to large button holes. Turns out the button hole function does not work on our machine so grommets were used to secure the fabric around each hole. These can be found at any local fabric store

The grommet kit came with a template for cutting out a hole. To find the location of where the cot pole should pass through the curtain, simply install the curtain (make sure both triangles are sewn in first), have someone inside the bus push the curtain out (with no wrinkles or tension in the fabric) and mark where the cot bracket meets the curtain.

Hole cut.

Bottom grommet in position

Top grommet snapped into bottom piece.

Finished triangle with sewn hem. This side is the curtain back and faces the bus interior

This is the front side which faces the windshield

Finished curtain


With cot

Close up of where the cot passes through the curtain

Cot pole into frame bracket

Outside view



4 thoughts on “A little plaid… Part 6 (front curtain – finished)

  1. Looks great! I bought a reproduction of this cot this year, but will find time only next year to install it. Will then try to reproduce your curtain. Great tio have these plans and descriptions. Would then also be my first adventure with my wife’s sewing machine 🙂

    • Thanks! Your daughter is bound to love sleeping in the cot – seems like a very cozy place. I look forward to seeing how you make out with our plans and your wife’s sewing machine – sounds dangerous to me 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s