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Curtain Clothing

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"I saw it in the window and I just couldn't resist it."

A character is in dire need of some new clothing, but short on materials — so she converts the curtains (or some other unconventional item, such as a tablecloth or a sail) into a new outfit.

If played for comedy, expect to see the exact silhouette of the outfit in the still-hanging curtains — and possibly only enough for a two-dimensional version. Do not try to work out how that's possible. Another option is for the outfit to still look like a window dressing, complete with the poles and strings.

A Sub-Trope of Improvised Clothes. See also Bankruptcy Barrel.


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  • A TV commercial had a lady showering on the beach. The cleaning lady comes in and accidentally takes her bathing suit. She makes an impromptu dress from the shower curtain and wears it to a party. Don't remember what was advertised.
  • Brintons Carpets ran a print campaign in the 1990s using clothes constructed from their carpets (Scroll down this page to see some examples). One has since been donated to London's Science Museum (Picture), while another featured in an unusual fashion show in 2013 (Blog post).

    Anime and Manga 
  • Juugo from Naruto: Shippuden is forced to do this when his new boss, Sasuke, is preparing to hunt down and kill his big brother, Itachi. He thinks it's kind of comfy. Oddly enough, he continues wearing it even after he starts wearing an Akatsuki cloak, so he's now wearing one cloak over another.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Utena makes a dress for Anthy from a tablecloth after Anthy is tricked into going to a party wearing a dress made from fabric that disintegrates when wet and then gets drenched.
  • In Sister Princess, when the family ends up stranded on what seems to be a deserted island with a vacant house, the sisters make dry clothes out of the curtains for everyone to wear.
  • In Hidamari Sketch, Miya needs a yukata but doesn't have one, so she thinks of using the curtains to make a "modern" one. She ends up borrowing one of Hiro's, though.
  • In Angelic Layer, Hatoko wonders why Misaki's Angel Hikaru is naked. She promptly fashions a dress out of her handkerchief.
  • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, after Domon saves a very naked Rain from the Devil/Dark Gundam, he promptly throws his cape around her, which conveniently morphs into a form-fitting sexy red dress.
  • Ohana in Hanasaku Iroha makes a wedding dress out of curtains for Takako.
  • In Fairy Tail, when Lucy temporarily ends up naked during the fight against the dragons after the Grand Magic Games and is sent flying, she conveniently happens to land near a big cloth which she uses as a makeshift Modesty Towel until she can get actual clothes from the Celestial Spirit realm.
  • In the film adaptation of AKIRA, Tetsuo earns his iconic red cape by tearing it out of the curtains of a ruined store window.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind makes a Pimped-Out Dress out of her fancy curtains to try to avoid looking destitute when she meets Rhett. As he lets her know in a later scene, he isn't fooled (although it's her work-roughened hands, not the dress, that gives her away). Arguably the Trope Codifier for modern versions of this trope.
  • Maria in The Sound of Music makes play clothing for the Von Trapp children from the curtains. When she's called on it, she points out that the curtains were being replaced, anyway; she just used the old ones, so the fabric didn't go to waste. This fails to mollify Captain Von Trapp, whose main concern is that people would think he was too cheap to buy his children proper clothes or too ineffectual to teach his children proper dress standards.
  • Giselle from Enchanted makes a dress from Robert's curtains, and later one from his daughter's bedding. She leaves the curtains in place, and the holes can be seen throughout the rest of the movie. Robert is, understandably, furious. Later in the movie she makes another dress out of Morgan's bedroom rug, by this point Robert is resigned to it and tells her it looks nice.
  • In A Knight's Tale, when Jocelyn's maid asks Roland what Will's tunic for the banquet following his first tournament will look like (when Will, being a commoner posing as a nobleman, doesn't own a tunic) Roland describes the tent behind her. He then later makes the tunic himself using fabric from the tent.
  • In Lust in the Dust, Big Ed removes the piano blanket to create a new dress for Divine.
  • In Preston Sturges' The Palm Beach Story, Claudette Colbert's character has her clothes stolen from her overnight berth on a train. She fashions an outfit from her pajama top, a bath towel, and an oversized rug.
  • The 2007 version of Hairspray has Penny wear a dress made from her bedroom curtains to the Miss Teenage Hairspray episode of The Corny Collins Show. She uses the curtain rings to attach an extra piece of material to the dress.
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010) has Alice suddenly grow to be 25 feet tall, and the Queen orders her servants to find her some clothes. Specifically, "Use the curtains, if you must, but please clothe this enormous girl!" In the next scene, the clothes that Alice is wearing imply that the servants did exactly that.
  • In Dark Angel: The Ascent, the demon Veronica arrives on Earth naked and makes a dress out of a trash bag and some sheets. Later, she cuts up a leather sofa and makes a dress out of that.
  • In How to Beat the High Cost of Living, after Jane Curtin's character does a striptease during a "money ball" scheme in which she and her friends try to raise up money to eliminate their enormous debt, she ends up wrapping herself up in a curtain.
  • In Rags, to design Charlie's costume for the Masquerade Ball, Martha incorporates the restaurant's stage curtains, which are a shiny silver color, and manages to turn them into a nice-looking suit and pants combo with just a bit of sewing.
  • After the out of town hooligans eat the goop that turns them into the titular giants in Village of the Giants, they make themselves dresses and togas out of theater curtains.
  • Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde: After transforming from Jekyll into Hyde, the female Hyde pulls down some red draperies and fashions them into a dress.

  • Invoked in "The Fairy Godmother's Assistant" from the Girls to the Rescue series. While the Fairy Godmother is on vacation, her assistant receives a visit from Cinderella, who begs for help attending a ball. After giving her the bad news, the assistant tells her that she should go to the ball regardless of whether she can obtain magical help if it's important to her. Ella asks how she's supposed to attend without formal clothes, and the assistant asks if her stepfamily has any silk sheets or velvet curtains.
  • Inverted in the Swedish children's book Prinsessor på semester ("Princesses on holiday"): when princesses go on a holiday, they bring big pretty dresses. They make good tents.
  • In Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Black and Blue Magic the main character finds that the only way to make a warm outfit that allows his wings to go through while flying at night is to drape a curtain around himself. He thinks he looks a bit like a Roman in a toga. Unfortunately, a winged boy in a long white robe can also be mistaken for an angel.
  • In The Egypt Game, also by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, the main characters use old curtains and pillowcases to make Egyptian-style robes and tunics.
  • Captain Underpants uses a curtain to make a cape the first time he assumes his superhero identity. This is also his only article of clothing other than the obvious.
  • In Kathleen: The Celtic Knot from the Girls of Many Lands series, a rumor goes around at a dance competition that Kathleen's performance dress was made from a curtain. It was, by her aunt, and after Kathleen wins she publicly confirms the rumor.
  • In Margot Benary-Isbert's novel The Ark, set in post World War II Germany, Mrs. Lechow makes her daughters dresses from a set of old drapes.
  • The first book of Jane B. Mason and Sarah Hines Stephens's series The Princess School, Cinderella makes a ballgown out of midnight blue velvet left over from when her stepmother had the furniture reupholstered.
  • In Neogicia, the protagonist has to take advantage of a Mercy Lead to escape from a castle that is in a very cold place, and the No, Mister Bond, I Expect You To Dine treatment she got from her captor resulted in her getting only interior clothing. She eventually gets the idea to wrap herself in a curtain, break a window, and rely on acrobatics on the castle's exterior ornaments to avoid pursuit. Once she's outside, she has to arrange an improvised cloak out of the curtain and a non-essential belt to avoid getting too cold.
  • In My Brother is a Superhero, Luke makes Zack a cape out of the drapes from their downstairs bathroom. They even have stars on them, fitting his superhero theme! Zack, who tends toward Not Wearing Tights, refuses to wear it.
  • In We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a fire destroys most of Constance and Merricat's clothes so Constance makes Merricat a dress from a tablecloth.

    Live Action TV 
  • The page image comes from "Went with the Wind", a sketch parodying Gone with the Wind (see Film above) on The Carol Burnett Show. Starlet O'Hara doesn't want Rat Butler to see her wearing rags, so Sissy suggests hiding behind the drapes. This inspires Starlet to make a dress out of them, as in GWTW — but she uses the curtain rod and ropes too. Rat finds the result "gorgeous", but the uproarious laughter of the audience suggests they disagree. (Not to mention Starlet's priceless response, shown under the page image.)
    • According to Harvey Korman, they had to re-record the audio on that take because he was laughing so hard when Burnett came down the stairs.
  • In Princess Agents an assassin uses one of Yuwen Yue's curtains as a makeshift dress.
  • One challenge in Project Runway involved making clothes using only the materials in the furnished apartment.
  • In Selfie, Eliza gets puke all over her clothes on an airplane (it spills from sickbags) and she ends up wrapping herself in courtesy blankets to be modest. She still manages to look beautiful.
  • Virginia Lewis in The 10th Kingdom makes a shepherdess' costume from a set of curtains. (One can only assume that she found a magic sewing machine.)
  • This was how Bruce Campbell's character in Jack of All Trades got his alter-ego disguise in the first place.
  • In one episode of The Vicar of Dibley, Alice's mother makes her a dress out of curtains. Sadly, she leaves the drawstring in the sleeve.
  • In Drake & Josh, Drake rips off a curtain and wears it over himself to hide the theme park shirt he's wearing to get out of trouble.
    Drake's Mom: You're wearing my drapes...why?
    Drake: Well y'know, it just got a little chilly in here.
    Drake's Mom: And so to get warm you thought—
    Josh: —Dad! Did you win the weatherman award!?
  • In Porridge, veteran lag Fletcher reminiscences about the time an escaped convict was recaptured wearing a green baize suit. Apparently the warders only twigged when they saw what had happened to the snooker table in their rec room.
  • One episode of Scrubs mentioned an incident in which JD dress his infant son Sam like Julius Caesar, as in cutting holes in a pillowcase for him to wear with a belt. JD's excuse was that he was unprepared, not having clothes for Sam at his place since Sam is usually at Kim's.
  • One episode of Seinfeld has Elaine pass off a down comforter she had expensed to her job (as president of a clothing catalog) as a tunic when an accountant audits her purchases.
  • In the first episode of every season of RuPaul's Drag Race, Ru challenges the drag queens to make dresses out of whatever random things she can throw at them. In the second season, it's curtains, and the episode directly invokes Gone with the Wind.

  • In RENT, Maureen remarks that Angel would find an old tablecloth in the trash and make it a dress, and before long it would be "rolling off the assembly line at the Gap."

    Video Games 
  • In Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, characters in urgent need of warm clothing can tear down curtains from windows and wear them as clothing. Not recommended as a permanent solution since their encumbrance value is high for all body parts, which severely penalizes your accuracy and speed. A more practical solution would be to cut up the curtains into pieces and then use the resulting rags to craft actual clothing.
  • During the prologue of Bayonetta 3, Bayonetta sneaks onto a boat hosting a wedding party and blends in by stealing a piece of the fabric decor and using it for Gorgeous Garment Generation.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Little Mermaid (1992), Ariel attempts to make a dress from a sail on a wrecked ship. The result is more comical than anything.
  • The Grinch, in the animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, makes his Santa Claus suit from a set of red curtains.
  • Hey Arnold!: When Rhonda's family loses their wealth for an episode, she eventually figures out to get by without money and makes a casual dress for herself using a shower curtain.
  • On the Tom and Jerry short "Zoot Cat", Tom makes a zoot suit out of a hammock.
  • A gag in Avatar: The Last Airbender involves Aang, Sokka, and Lord Momo of the Momo Dynasty improvising robes out of curtains and affecting posh accents to practice infiltrating a royal feast.
  • In an episode of Sit Down, Shut Up that sees the cast dealing with a flood, normally meek Willard (now in charge) wears a cape he said Ennis made from curtains.
  • It's stated that Leela once made a prom dress from carpet samples on Futurama.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Rarity Takes Manehattan", Rarity's designs and custom fabric for a fashion show get stolen by a competitor, forcing her to make a new line from scratch out of whatever she can scavenge from the hotel. She ends up winning the competition.
  • In The Critic, Alice's sister attends one of Duke's parties in this kind of dress; Duke says he could tell because she left in the Venetian blinds (which are mounted on the back of the skirt). She seductively offers to pull the cord, prompting Duke to remark "Whoo, baby got back!"
  • In the Steven Universe episode "Familiar", tiny servant Gems called "Pebbles" make Steven a pretty convincing copy of Pink Diamond's outfit out of fabric in his bag and the curtains in Pink's room.
  • The Loud House: 11 Louds a Leapin is a Christmas Episode, Leni's idea for gifts clothes...made from the drapes. When anybody asks she goes shush.

    Real Life 
  • In real life, it was Maria Franziska von Trapp, one of the Von Trapp children whose story inspired The Sound of Music, who made clothes from curtains, according to her sister, Rosemarie von Trapp.
  • World War II examples:
    • In addition to winter clothing, German soldiers plundered white bed sheets, white tablecloths and white curtains in Russian homes to use as improvised snow camouflage, since they were not prepared at all for the surprisingly early winter of 1941 when invading USSR.
    • Beatrice Jackman, a Danish secret agent in World War II, had a stunning red dress made from a stolen Nazi flag.
    • Major Claude Hensinger, a pilot who bailed out of his B-29 after an engine fire, kept warm overnight using his parachute and was rescued in the morning. His fiance, Ruth, had his life-saving parachute made into her wedding dress, patterned after a dress in Gone With the Wind. Ruth Hensinger's dress, which was also been worn by her daughter and daughter-in-law for their weddings, was donated to the National Museum of American History.
    • In a similar example, Temple Leslie Bourland, a radio operator on a C-47, bailed out under enemy fire in 1945. Injured, Bourland and a comrade spent two days in a foxhole using his parachute to stay warm before being found by Allied troops. His fiance, Rosalie Hierholzer, had a wedding dress made from the bullet-ridden parachute. Rosalie Hierholzer's parachute wedding dress is in the National Museum of American History.
      • Wedding dresses made from retired parachutes were fairly common in those days, since the parachutes were no longer being used as such but were still large amounts of precious silk, in a wartime/post-war economy when such resources couldn't be allowed to go to waste.
  • There is a long-standing joke among the Russian LARPG community about newbies making "elf cloaks" out of curtains. Perhaps some time ago, they actually did.
    • In Finland, the items used are likely to be sheets.
      • In Sweden, it's an Army surplus blanket.
  • The original Star Trek series was made on a shoestring budget. The environmental suits seen in the episode "The Naked Time" were made from Art Deco shower curtains.
  • David Tennant's Badass Longcoat from Doctor Who was made from car upholstery.
  • Surprisingly popular among many historical costumers. Drapery/upholstery fabrics are usually wider than fabrics woven for clothing use, which means you can make a seriously Pimped-Out Dress without needing to piece the fabric together. (You can also get a set of drapes at the Goodwill for less than the cost of equivalent yardage at the fabric store.) Additionally, drapery and home decor fabrics are often available in weights, weaves, and patterns that are closer to accurate for historical time periods.
    • Even normal tailors can make clothes out of curtain fabric or bedclothes, since it's cheaper than buying similar fabric by the yard.
    • A variant occurred in Project Runway, when the designers had to use items purchased at a grocery store. At least two contestants used shower curtains.
  • Sportscaster Don Cherry is famous for his outlandishly styled suits. Turns out he buys the raw materials at Facricland and then has them tailored.
  • Technically, you can make anything into a sarong, as long as it's a big enough piece of fabric, other than a towel - that's just silly.
  • This South Carolina bride made her own wedding dress from Anthropologie shower curtains for her 2009 wedding.
  • Eccentric Australian composer Percy Grainger designed and wore towelling clothing. Samples can be seen here.
  • At age fifteen Sophia Loren would have attended a beauty contest in her first evening gown, which her grandmother sewed with her own curtains because they couldn't afford to buy a dress.
  • Due to the economic hardships of The Great Depression, some women actually resorted to making clothes out of sacks of flour or feeds, hence they were called "feedsack dresses".
    • The companies that sold flour and feed realized this and started to produce flour and feed sacks in bright, cheerful patterns. They reasoned that the more attractive their feed sack cotton, the more likely a woman would be to purchase it over an un-decorated competitor when she took into account the clothes she could make from the fabric.
    • This trend continued into the 1940's, when good quality fabric for clothing was rationed due to World War II. Sewing companies even produced patterns that took into account the narrower fabric width & pre-existing seams women had to work with when repurposing flour sack fabric.
  • In 1850, during the California Gold Rush, a seventeen-year-old German immigrant named Levi Strauss carried a supply of tent canvas with him to San Francisco, hoping people would be interested in buying it to make tents. As it turned out, there wasn't much interest in new tents, but there was a need for durable trousers for miners and other workers. Strauss proceeded to make trousers out of the canvas, which became known as Levis and were very popular among miners. Later he replaced the canvas with denim, which was as durable but more comfortable, dyed them with indigo so they wouldn't show soil stains as visibly, and ultimately invented blue jeans.
  • Marilyn Monroe once wore a potato sack as a dress for a photo shoot. The shoot was inspired either by a columnist who chastised Monroe for wearing a low-cut red dress at a party and claimed she would look better in a potato sack, or by an off-the-cuff statement that she could make a potato sack look sexy. Either way, they probably had in mind the above-mentioned "feedsack dresses".


Video Example(s):


Bayonetta's Party Dress

Bayonetta blends into a wedding party by improvising a fancy dress out of the decor.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / CurtainClothing

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