If you camp in the summer in an RV, you know that most of the heat comes through the windshield. Standard RV windshield curtains have a thin fabric lining that provides little insulation and also acquires stains over time. You can update your RV windshield curtain lining while adding some protection from the heat (and cold) with these simple DIY instructions.
Do you prefer printed instructions? Download a print-friendly PDF for only $5.
Gather your supplies
Ensure that you have all the necessary items by the time you finish step 3. The following list contains links to example products, but verify the correct options for your equipment before you purchase.
- Existing RV windshield curtains
- Light-filtering Thermafoam drapery lining fabric (not room darkening)
- Replacement RV windshield curtain glide tape in the same size as your current glide tape
- All-purpose thread in the same color as your windshield curtains (for the hem)
- Heavy-duty thread in the same color as your windshield curtains (for the side seams)
- Upholstery thread in the same color as your windshield curtains (for the top)
- Size 12 universal machine needles (for the hem)
- Size 14 universal machine needles (for the side seams)
- Size 18 leather machine needles (for the top)
- Sewing machine capable of sewing through thick layers (for the top)
- Narrow zipper foot (for the top, to sew around glide tape clips)
- Sewing scissors
- Measuring tape
- Seam ripper
- Double-sided adhesive tape
- Sewing machine with blind hem stitch option
- Blind hem foot
- Walking foot
- Rotary cutter
- Self-healing cutting mat
- Long ruler
How to replace your RV windshield curtain lining
Approximate total time needed: 8 hours and 30 minutes.
Update your RV windshield curtain lining while adding some protection from the heat and cold with these simple DIY instructions.
- Remove and clean your RV windshield curtains and lining.
Remove the windshield curtains from the RV and clean them. Although most manufacturers recommend dry cleaning. I washed mine in the machine on the delicate cycle, and they came out fine. I washed each curtain separately and pretreated the soiled areas with Oxyclean.
Only the outer curtain fabric (that faces inside the RV) needs to be cleaned, but it is better to clean it while the original curtain lining is still attached to reduce the risk of fraying the curtain fabric or damaging the new lining. The new Thermafoam lining fabric cannot be washed in the washing machine.
- Identify and measure the curtains.
Identify the type of carrier and how it is attached to the curtain. This example shows a glide tape with 1/2 inch clips spaced 4.25 inches apart. The last glide clip has been cut off of the glide tape and repositioned so the clips on both ends are lined up with the side curtain seam.
Measure each windshield curtain separately, and write down the dimensions. You will use these measurements to determine how much lining fabric and glide tape you need for replacement.
After you receive the new glide tape, lay it out flat until you are ready to sew it to the curtain. The glide tape will straighten out to make sewing easier.
- Rip, rip, and cut.
While you are waiting for your materials to arrive, start removing the existing lining from your RV windshield curtains.
3.A. Start with the top. Remove the old carrier hardware and discard it.
3.B. Remove stitching on the sides to release the old lining from the curtain.
Leave the lining attached to the curtain at the top seam. Leave the hems at the bottom of the lining and the curtain intact. Do not iron the curtain seams. You will use the existing seam folds in a subsequent step.
3.C. Separate the lining from the curtain so that the curtain is on one side of your cutting table, and the lining is on the other. Cut the old lining free of the curtain right on the fold line.
- Measure again and cut new curtain lining.
Your new RV windshield curtain lining will be the same size as the old lining you just removed.
4.A. Measure the detached lining width and length. Add the appropriate amount to the length to account for the intact bottom hem.
4.B. Cut the new lining fabric according to your measurements.
4.C. Square up the newly cut lining fabric.
4.D. Place the new lining on the detached drape to ensure the lining fits and is straight. Make adjustments as needed.
- Hem the lining.
Hem the bottom side of the new lining to match the old lining. Use all-purpose thread and a #12 universal needle if using the machine.
The shiny side of the lining is the right side and will face the street. You can see the fabric grain in the right side. The thermal side is fuzzier, has little or no grain pattern, and is white.
5.A. Turn the bottom of your lining fabric about half an inch, wrong sides together, and dry press on a synthetic heat setting.
5.B. Turn the lining hem up again about two inches, or to match your old curtain lining, and dry press on synthetic heat setting.
5.C. Secure the lining hem by blind stitching on the machine or by hand.
5.D. Dry-press the right side of the hem on a synthetic heat setting.
- Pin, verify, and adjust.
Most RV windshield curtains are constructed with a special sewing machine. I use a more common method of attaching the lining with the machine. The first step is to pin and test.
6.A. Put the lining on your work table, right side up, thermal side down.
6.B. Place your RV windshield curtain right side down on top of the lining. Ensure that the right sides of the lining and curtain are facing each other, the top of each piece is aligned, and the hems of each piece are facing on the same end.
Your curtain will be wider and longer than your lining, which is correct.
6.C. Beginning in a top corner, pin the pieces together in the outer fold line of the curtain sides so that the pins are parallel to the fold line. Repeat on the other side. Do not do the top.
You will move these pins and stitch in that outer curtain fold later, but first, you must ensure that the measurements and cuts are correct.
6.D. Carefully turn the curtain and lining right side out. Ensure that both pieces can lie flat and the lining hem is straight.
The side of the curtain will fold over the lining where you pinned it. If needed, unpin and trim the top or sides of the lining, then pin and test again. Do not trim the curtain! It should be wider than the lining.
I skipped this step the first time, and the result was a crooked lining at the bottom.
- Repin and stitch the curtain sides to the lining.
After ensuring that everything is lined up, start putting the two pieces together.
7.A. Turn the curtain again so the right sides are together and you can see the pins.
7.B. Carefully move the pins over to the inner fold line of the curtain. Add extra pins perpendicular to the fold for stability. Remove and move pins one at a time to ensure that the fabric stays aligned. You can remove the perpendicular pins as you come to them when you are sewing.
7.C. Using heavy-duty, matching thread and a #14 universal needle, stitch the curtain and lining together in the outer fold line (closest to the edge), where you placed the pins the first time.
I recommend using a walking foot with this step, which will help feed the fabric evenly. If you don’t have a walking foot, you could use a teflon zig-zag foot or a roller foot.
- Finish the RV curtain sides.
Put the finishing touches on your new RV windshield curtain lining for a professional look.
8.A. Turn the curtain right side out with the lining on top. Dry-press the sides on a synthetic heat setting. Ensure that the curtain folds are all lying correctly as you press. Feel inside the drape to ensure that the edge of the lining is lying flat under the curtain side hem.
8.B. Stitch in the ditch with a #14 universal needle and heavy-duty thread at the bottom of each side for a couple inches to add stability. Start from just above the lining hem and stitch to the bottom of the curtain. Barely catch the edge of the curtain fold when you get past the lining hem.
- Baste the top of the curtain to the lining.
Machine-baste the top of the lining under the existing fold on the top of the curtain. Use your walking foot if you have one and a #14 universal needle with all-purpose thread.
9.A. Align the top of the lining with the inside fold at the top of the curtain, where you removed the glide tape. The thermal side of the lining should face the wrong side of the drape.
9.B. Pin liberally to ensure the layers stay aligned while sewing.
9.C. Baste on the edge of the folded curtain.
This step secures the lining while you attach the glide tape in the next step.
- Secure the glide tape before sewing.
Use double-sided adhesive tape to hold one side of the glide tape in place while you stitch the other side of the glide tape with the machine.
10.A. Apply double-sided tape to the curtain fold at the top, on the inner side where you can see the lining.
Do not apply adhesive tape to the lining fabric. Ensure that the tape won’t be under the needle when you sew the opposite side. Don’t allow the tape to hang off the edge of the drape where it might catch the machine. I had to fold the adhesive tape in half lengthwise to keep it only on the drape fold.
Fold the tape in half lengthwise, and slightly roll the short edge on each piece to make it easier to remove later. On one drape, I used a single layer of tape instead of folding it, and it was nearly impossible to remove from the glide tape later.
10.B. Ensure that you have glide clips at the outer edge of the curtain on both sides. Cut and overlap a piece of glide tape, if needed, and secure it with double-sided tape.
- Stitch the glide tape to the curtain.
After all that work, now comes the fun part—finishing!
11.A. Using a heavy-duty sewing machine, upholstery thread, a narrow zipper foot, and a #18 leather needle, stitch the glide tape on the inner side of the curtain only, on the un-taped side. Back-tack at the beginning and end to secure the threads.
11.B. Remove the adhesive tape from the unsewn, outer edge of the glide tape.
11.C. Pull out the basting stitches.
11.D. Stitch the outer edge of the glide tape to the curtain.
Admire your work, and re-hang your drapes. You’ve just replaced your RV windshield curtain lining!
Copyright © Karen Farrell and Exploring RV. All rights reserved
Need a print version?
You can download an easy-to-print version of these instructions for $5. Your payment will be securely processed by PayPal, and you will receive a download link immediately. See a sample.