As we shiver through an extended cold snap through most of the north in the U.S., people have been talking about how to stay warm. Cranking up the thermostat can lead to high gas bills, not to mention can be ineffective if you have sources for cold air to come into your house. We live in an old house and our windows (and some doors) can be a huge problem. In a perfect world we would go and buy new windows or do massive insulating to block any drafts. But, it's not a perfect world, and money and circumstances just don't warrant. So, for the past several years we have depended on the alternative: utilizing quilts and comforters as window coverings. Now, I realize this post might seem a bit late considering most of the U.S. is in the dead of winter, but honestly I ended up having to do this project again just last week as the temperatures dipped into the negative numbers and we found that one of our doors was literally pouring cold air into our house.
For this project, you can use any quilt or heavy covering. I've also done this using heavy flannel material I found at the fabric store. As we get into the post-holiday season and into January white sales, now is a good time to find inexpensive blankets. A few years back, I found down throws on sale after Christmas. They are smaller than regular quilts and were the perfect size for my windows, which meant I didn't have to do any cutting. Granted, the patterns are a bit wintery/holiday, which I admit does feel a bit odd when they are still hanging in March, but I did try to get something without Santa or anything.
To use quilts over your windows, you can simply throw them over a rod and secure with safety pins or clips. That was how I did things initially, but quickly found that my kids were apt to pull the coverings down. I also wanted something that looked more formal. So, I decided that since the quilts in question were going to be used yearly for the same purpose and nothing else, I would make them permanent by using grommets. I should note, when you are using grommets for window coverings, be sure to get the heavy-duty type. There are 2 types: ones that use a hand tool to secure the grommets and is meant for lighter fabric, and ones that utilizes a tool you pound with a hammer which is meant to be used for heavier fabric and layered fabric. The latter, extra-large grommets, is what I have used for these particular projects. I do want to note that you will probably see that I use grommets in a lot of my "curtain" projects. For curtains, a pocket can work just as well, but I like the smooth movement grommets give me, as well as the fact that I can take the curtain down for washing (or storage) without having to remove the rod.
Getting back to the project. As I mentioned, we had this door that was an add-on to our home when they converted it from a single family to a 2-flat (we actually converted the home back to a 1-family after we bought it). Since the door was not in the original design, it wasn't hung well. Because it was a structural design problem, simply hanging a new door would not help. There was the idea of actually sealing the door off with plastic, but we didn't like that because we do use the door. So, we decided to go with the same premise as the window coverings. I set out to get the most inexpensive quilt I could find. While I like quilts better for windows, I decided to go with a comforter for the door since it was thicker and would give better insulation when doubled over. The material was polyester and a bit scratchy--I wouldn't use this on one of our beds. But, since I was hanging it on the door, it was perfect...and the $20 price tag was within our budget.
The first step was to decide how to hang the quilt. Most people already have curtain rods hanging, but since we didn't, we made inexpensive ones using simple dowel rods hung on dollar store plastic coat hooks. We then used plastic shower curtain rings to hang them on the rod. This has worked out well. Quilts tend to be heavier than typical window coverings and thus can be harder to pull open. Using the grommets and rings allowed more free movement and helps us to easily pull them aside on those warm days when we want the sunlight and can open the window a crack. For the door, however, the rod wouldn't work. I still wanted to utilize the grommets, so we decided to use regular cup hooks and mount them above the door. Then using those hooks as measurement, I marked the quilt and attached the grommets. The quilt was deliberately purchased with the idea it would be doubled over. So, I made the marks on one half, attached the grommets, then folded the quilt over the mark and attach the second set. This assured proper spacing.
Now, I realize some people may not like the idea of putting hooks up into a door frame or wall. All I can say is that there are ways around it. You could mount the hooks on a board and then mount the board with 2 simple screws, over the top. The thing is, this project is about saving money, and sometimes that means foregoing beauty for function. In this case, the door we covered is in a utility hallway, thus the panelling and choppy paint. However, I have used this idea in our main foyer (with a heavy flannel blanket) and it not only works well, but can look nice too. Holes can be filled and painted over in the future if resale is a consideration. It's a small price to pay for the savings in heating dollars, as well as family comfort.
Window covering in my bedroom.
Hanging door quilt-side view.
Heavy duty grommet.