Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tutorial: Curtain rods with interchangeable finials

I decided to sneak this little bit in before I do the curtain panel tutorial. 
Since you'll be needing a place to hang said curtains. Obviously.
Or maybe you already have some miniature curtain rods hanging around collecting dust, but I didn't. So here's what I did.
The best part is that the finials are removable/replaceable, so you can change them on a whim, and in a jiffy.

You'll need:
-3/32" (or even slightly smaller) diameter metal tubing (comes in brass, aluminum, and copper).
-A hack saw, or scissors that you don't care about.
-A flat file suitable for metal.
-A pick (optional, yet helpful)
-2" head pins (maybe 1.5" for a skinny window), 2 per rod. (as in jewelry making supply, preferably in the same finish as your tubing)
-Beads for finials, at least two per rod.
-Eye hooks (really small ones, I think they're 1/8" size, can't be sure) These can be found in gold and silver-tone finishes. (seen below with ruler)

The easiest way to start, is to figure out how high/far apart you want the eye hooks on the wall, depending on your window size/location. The curtain rod will slip through these to hang, so try to keep them as level as possible (I just eye-balled mine, but I've got pretty level eyeballs).
You can even embellish these if you want. You'll see that I have, with wood or other beads. There's a reason, besides the added detail/realism.
Most of the beads I chose for my finials are 8mm-ish in size, and I didn't want them touching the walls, so I screwed the eye hooks into other stuff to get a little more clearance between the wall and the finial. Keep this in mind when you choose your finials. If it matters to you.

Enamel bead caps from Michael's

Scrap wood painted gold for this one.

And a filigree bead cap here.
Once you've got your eye hooks twisted into the walls, you're ready to make the rod. It's painfully easy. I buy this size (3/32") tubing in bulk in packages of 3-5 pieces, usually in 12" lengths at Hobby Lobby. That's the best deal I've found. And if I buy it with the weekly 40% coupon, it's basically a steal. I think it's between $3-$5 regularly for a  pack, depending on the metal.
Measure the distance between your eye hooks on the wall, add 1/2-5/8". That's how long your rod should be.
Using a hack saw/scissors trim a piece of tubing to that length, trying not to squish the tube in the process. Aluminum squishes more than the brass because it's softer. A hack saw really isn't necessary so long as you have an extra pair of scissors that you don't mind trashing. (My blue-handled scissors are my designated 'metal' scissors. I don't use my fabric Fiskars on this shit. I'm that type A. But it definitely pays to take care of your more expensive tools.)
This is a straight scissor-cut on aluminum. Yep. Squished.
Not really a big deal, as long as you have an appropriately sized pick (you'll see in a minute).
Here's my go-to set, (I've had them for over a decade). Plus the one you saw go through my finger here.

I recommend doing the following for the best cut, especially with brass (it's the method with the least waste, I hate wasting metal):
Gently, make a groove around the tube, and keep working it slowly. Carefully bend the tube back and forth on either side of the groove and it should break pretty clean:
But knowing me, we'll make it cleaner.

I still use the pick to make the end perfectly round (optional, the file will do just fine if it's all you've got):

I love my file set from Peep's shop, but the flat one above is the most versatile most used in my collection. And I've had it since high school, it's from my N-gauge days.

Using your file, make the fresh-cut nice and smooth.
Easier than a manicure.
After that you're as good as finished.

Add desired beads to each head pin to make the finials, then give the remaining length of the head pin a few gentle bends (last photo in group below). This will keep the finials from falling out, gives them a bit of 'grab' inside the tube without needing glue. Interchangeable! I love versatility, especially when it's so cheap.
Old pink round finial vs. green leaf finial. Thoughts?

I used 3 bead finials in my living room.
 Go as crazy or as sane as you please. For the sake of boring tutorials, I'll stay consistent...
 Here's that bendy part I mentioned:

These are vintage glass leaf beads I had on hand.
Then insert pins on each end of the rod, and shazam! Fancy, custom rods and finials for your mini curtains.

Just pull out one finial, slide through the eyehooks (add a curtain in the middle) then shove it back in there on the other side.

Very swanky, indeed.
I might like the green leaves better than the round Swarovski finials for this room. I'll leave it and let it simmer for a while.

If you try this tutorial and happen to write about it, please link back to my original post. Thanks!

I should have the 'grommetted curtain panel tutorial' done and posted by the end of the upcoming weekend, if not sooner. (As you can see above, you can use the sheerest, most unforgiving fabrics, and you can't even tell it's a no-sew project. I'm really proud of this design. Even if grommetted curtains aren't 'in' anymore.)
Then my blog to-do list will be fairly well caught-up! Holy mackerel, I thought that would never happen.

Since I can't help myself, and I sometimes show you non-miniature things here... I'll show you what we just bought tonight. Ridiculous, but I had to have it. You know the feeling? I'm still reeling from the excitement.

vintage motor home
1980 Winnebago.
31'. Not miniature. 


Totally pumped. Clear my goddamn schedule.


  1. Very cool curtain rods!
    If I were you I'd invest in a simple mini miter box and saw (something like this:,6751.html ). The saw will let you cut both wood and metal and you'll always have a straight cut and -more importantly- your rods won't kink.
    If you use natural fibers for your curtains you can wet them before hanging and pin the folds of the fabric in place until the fabric is dry (or use some hairspray to stiffen). That way you can simulate weight to a curtain for a more natural look.

    Fantastic camper!

    1. Thanks!
      I already have two of those miter boxes and multiple saws, I'm just too lazy to use them when scissors will get the job done :)
      But the hairspray is an excellent idea, I'll have to give it a try! I was just going to iron in the pleats, but I'm going to try the water idea on my kitchen curtains first! They desperately need help.
      Thanks for the tips!

  2. The finials are just too saucy for words. Love 'em

  3. The finials look fantastic... I'm a sucker for glass beads anyways. Thank you for this tutorial! I think my girl's kitchen will need curtains for sure once I make it!!

    1. Thanks! And you're welcome :)

      Curtain tutorial coming soon! I can't wait to see how the kitchen turns out!

  4. I love the leaf beads. Thanks for posting all of these tutorials, they're sparking all kinds of ideas!

    1. Yeah, those leaf beads are really starting to grow on me. Ha! I'm so punny... (read: lame)

      I'm glad these tutorials aren't too been-there-done-that. Since I'm a beginner, I often feel like I'm the blind leading the blind.

      I promised these in prior posts, so I'm glad I've finally had some time to make good on my promises :)

  5. Thanks for the tut, very helpful. Also you can use spray starch to wet the curtain fabric and fix folds.

  6. Damn girl. That is one bitchin' ride. Hope you guys have a blast in it. You can park your Winnie in my driveway any day. Fab tutorial!!!

    1. Thanks, pretty proud of the new slab!
      I'm basically doing to it what I did to my dollhouse. Because that's exactly what I needed. Another time-eater, money-pit, thanks-for-nothing project. Just kidding ;)
      I'm having a blast, it is just like doing the dollhouse, but not miniature. Sooo harder. And more mouse droppings. *dry heave*

  7. Many thanks for the gorgeous tutorial! :)

  8. thanks for the tutorial, I also found another one that I'm going to try along with yours for my roombox

    of course I haven't even gotten to curtains yet I'm still working on it and Ive decided to make it a diner (this week, last week it was a bedroom..but we'll see how it turns out)

    PS I love the ping pong ball tutorial too

    1. Funny timing. My curtain tutorial will be up in the next 48 hours!

      I'll check out that link you left, it doesn't look familiar. I'm very new at all of this internet stuff, so I'm sure there are tons of blogs I need to add to my list. I did a quick peek on my phone, and it looks like she's got a bunch of great ideas!

      Surely your diner will need a range hood...

    2. well since you are checking out stuff let me clue you to this one as well she did some wonderful tutorials on various stuff and thank you for the range hood I'm gonna need one

  9. Thanks for another great tut! I've been looking for some tubing like this. Didn't look at Hobby Lobby! Silly me.

  10. And I was going to purchase at $6.00 thanks a million