Sharing My Design Secrets:: Custom Shower Curtains and Liners

A few days ago, I shared about my love for custom shower curtains that hang almost from the ceiling, have the fullness of a drapery panel, are made of gorgeous fabrics, and sometimes include trims that you would normally see on custom draperies.

A few of you had questions about how to use a liner with these custom shower curtains. So I’ve decided that today, I’m going to share my secrets with you. But let’s just keep this between us, okay? I’d hate for my design secrets to get out into the open. 🙂

First, the design of the shower curtain fully depends on the type of bathroom it’s used in. For example, if the shower curtain will be used on a tub that will be used on a daily basis, then I would use a shower curtain that hangs straight, like this one:

However, if the shower curtain is going to be used in a guest bathroom that rarely, if ever, is used for showering, then I may choose to use a shower curtain that is pulled back with a decorative tassel, shown here:

So why does this make a difference?

Because the purpose of the decorative shower curtain is not only to provide a decorative element to the room, but also to hide the shower curtain liner. If the liner is being used daily, and you have a decorative shower curtain that is pulled back with a tassel, in all likelihood, your liner will always be exposed for the world to see.

Most of us have busy lives, and the added hassle of having to neatly tuck the liner back behind the shower curtain every day would just be too much. Not to mention the fact that a shower curtain needs airing and drying time after use, so tucking a wet liner behind a decorative shower curtain after use each day would harbor mold and mildew. Definitely not what you want!

So far so good?

Okay, now on to the rods.

If I choose to let the shower curtain hang straight, then I hang the shower curtain liner and the decorative shower curtain on the same rod, and they move back and forth together. This is pretty standard, as it’s the same thing we all do with the store-bought shower curtains and liners.


I generally prefer to hang my shower curtain and liner on a decorative drapery rod rather than a metal tension rod.

Now of course, because most tubs are built into a niche in the room, with walls at both ends of the tub, that means that I can’t use finials or standard drapery rod mounting brackets. The only parts I use are the rings and the rod. I install the rod using unfinished wood closet pole brackets, available at Home Depot or Lowe’s, and I stain them to match the rod.

Now, if I’m using a decorative shower curtain that’s pulled back with a tassel, then naturally the shower curtain and the liner have to be hung on separate poles. There are a couple of ways I’ve addressed this:

1. I hang the decorative shower curtain on a drapery rod, with decorative wood rings, using the closet pole brackets as described above, and then I hang the liner on a tension rod hung immediately behind the drapery rod so that the drapery rod hides the tension rod. I always purchase a tension rod that is the same color as the ceiling so that it will blend in with the ceiling and be less noticeable; OR

2. I have a 1″ x 6″ piece of wood installed at the edge of the tub area to be used almost as a cornice, and behind that I use two tension rods–one for the decorative shower curtain and one for the liner.

I used solution #2 on this bathroom, and you can see how beautifully it works to hide the tension rods:


And by the way, if you look really closely at the photo just above, you can see the shower curtain liner barely peeking out just to the left of the decorative tassel tieback. Again, the liner is really tucked back there, almost completely out of sight, because this guest bathroom is rarely used for showering.
Here is a close-up view of the cornice that hides the two tension rods:


Alrighty…everyone up to speed so far? Great!! Now let’s move on to the most important part…

How do you get a shower curtain liner that’s long enough to reach almost to the ceiling?

Well, this part requires some sewing, but I promise, it’s not difficult at all.

First, I purchase two shower curtain liners. I DO NOT use the vinyl liners. I use the polyester kind that you very often see in hotels. They’re available at Bed, Bath & Beyond and other bath stores.

I determine the finished height of the liner that I need. Let’s just say, for example, that I want the liner to be 92″ high.

On the first shower curtain liner, I cut off the top edge, including the hem and the grommets, and use the large portion as the main part of the finished shower curtain liner.

I usually end up with about 72 inches of usable shower curtain.

That means I need 10 additional inches from the other shower curtain, plus an additional 1.25″ for seam allowances (figuring for a standard 5/8″ seam). So on the second shower curtain liner, I measure down from the top 11.25 inches and cut.

Now I sew these two parts together using a flat felled seam. This is the same kind of seam that you see on the side seams of jeans, and it requires no special attachment or sewing machine setting. It’s all just straight line sewing.

I didn’t have time to do a tutorial on this, but it just so happens that there are several tutorials available online for flat felled seams. Here’s a good one, or you can search to find one that makes sense to you.

A flat felled seam ensures that you have no open seams or raw edges. I also think it adds a nice decorative, professional touch.

Alrighty…there you have it! My inside secret on decorative shower curtains and extra long liners.

Now go…make those bathrooms beautiful! Oh, and have a great weekend. 🙂

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  1. Thanks so much! I live in Germany & for some reason they designed our showers to be impossibly long & narrow so normal shower curtains & liners are too short.

  2. Hi Kristi,
    I am working on my tiny Master Bathroom with a gorgeous yet simple plan from Layla at TLC. I have an angled ceiling over the shower and used a tension rod and a heavy vinyl shower curtain liner. I can't get the tension rod to stay up! I have twisted and tightened only to have it continually slipping (and taking the paint off the wall as it slides down–argh!). What to do? Your post is so timely! Thank you. So, I need to get those wooden closet pole holder thingies and two polyester liners to fix the problem–yes! Sooooo glad you didn't hold back and shared your secrets with me–just between the two of us, of course 🙂

  3. Sindy, I'm so glad I could help! I've had similar trouble in the past with those darned tension rods. They can be a real headache!! But you should have no trouble once you use the closet pole bracket thingies. They have a hole in the middle where you use a screw to attach it to the wall. Hope you have success with it!!

  4. Kristi,
    Love the red shower curtain! Did you line it?
    I would love to try something like this in my guest bath. Also, do you recommend twice the width of the tub for the amount of fabric?
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. I generally make shower curtains with separate liners. I never line the actual curtain like I do on draperies.

    And yes, I use twice the width. Good luck with yours!! 🙂

  6. Thank you for your quick reply! Now I have another question though! You said you hang the liner directly behind the shower curtain. How do you keep the liner from showing between the pole rings and the top of the curtain? Please excuse what must seem like obvious questions.I'm
    definately a beginner but I'm determined to do this myself! Any advice is greatly appreciated(and guarded of course!)
    Thanks so much!

  7. I generally only hang them separately if there's some sort of cornice that will hide both rods. If the rod will be exposed, the I try to hang both the decorative curtain and the shower curtain liner on the same rod, and move them back and forth as one.

  8. The height of the tieback is really a matter of personal taste, but mine always seem to fall somewhere around 40 inches.

  9. Kristi I am in the process of decorating my guest bathroom that is 6' x 9' with 9'4" ceiling. I want to put a fabric cornice over the tub/shower opening and also hang a curtain down swagged over to the right side of the tub. Can you give me any advice where to find a 20" Cornice that I can cover with Fabric. I have found 15" but am afraid that it may be too short. I want to hand it from the ceiling so that you do not see any of the back wall of the shower.

  10. Joyce~
    I'm not sure where to purchase cornices. Have you googled it? I seldom use cornices in the rooms I design, and when I do, I make the cornice myself using MDF from Home Depot, cut to size, and then assembled with brackets.

  11. Hey there – I'm about to move into a new studio downtown in Chicago and I have NOTHING … your blog is a godsend, so many great ideas 🙂 Anyways, I just wanted to know if you've ever used a curtain track? I see your preference is a rod, but I'm moving into a rehabbed, non-traditional space and I'm not sure if a tension rod would work. I'm thinking of a ceiling-mounted curtain track? Something like — has anyone used a track before in the bathroom?

  12. Nice tutorial! I have one question about rods for you. I want to sew a custom panel for decoration on one side only of my glass shower doors. i see them always in model homes but i forgot to look at exactly what they use but as i recall they are only about 16 " rod sticking out of a bracket on the wall and only on one side. i am having a hard time finding a decorator looking one. any suggestions? thank you.

  13. I have no idea what you could use for that, Patty.  I've looked for similar rods and brackets in the past, and I don't know where people are getting things like that, because I've never found them.  Sorry!

  14. Why didn't I find your site sooner?!?!?!?!?!  LOL.  I have been on a three month long hunt as to where I could find 'decorative wooden shower poles"  Everyone thought I was crazy.   And stumped were they when I asked them how to mount a wooden curtain rod above the shower.  At my last stop, Home Depot, that was their response—to grab some closet mounts and stain them.  That's what i did and it looks GREAT!!!!!!!