Half Canopy Tutorial

by | Jan 25, 2010 | home improvement, Sewing, Tutorials | 31 comments

I have received a huge response from my half canopy, so I am following up with a tutorial.  I try to keep all of my posts from being too wordy, but this one will be the exception.  Now, I did not take pictures while sewing, but I’ve included a drawing and I’ll talk you through it.  The sewing part of this tutorial assumes that you have some sewing skills and can figure it out.  If you don’t sew, never fear!  Try making this with some pretty cotton sheets or some premade curtain panels.  This project looks fancy and complex, but it’s actually very simple.  All of the sewing is just going in a straight line.  If you can sew in a straight line, you can make this.
Ok, here’s the fabric you need to replicate this look on a queen sized bed in a room with 8′ ceilings. 
10 yards of toile, 54″ wide
4 1/2 yards of coordinating fabric, 54″ wide
6 yards of piping
6 yards of fringe trim
3 1/2 yards of lining fabric, 54″ wide

The back and inside of the sides is made of 2, 2 yard panels and 2, 3 yard panels of the toile that are simply sewn together.  When working with a fabric with a repeating pattern, make sure the pattern lines up.  The 2 yard drop will only reach the top of a standard mattress.  If you have a headboard, you do not need to worry about the next step, if not you will want to sew some lining fabric (or whatever extra fabric you have on hand) to the bottom of the toile panels to weigh it down.  This will not be seen, since it’s behind the mattress.

I ended up cutting my side pieces from the back, because I have reading lights that I wanted installed inside the curtain.  If you don’t have lights, you can keep it all one piece.  I only hemmed the edges that would be exposed and left the rest raw.  The outside of the side panel is made of 1, 3 yard panel that is cut length wise down the middle out of the coordinating fabric.  Each piece is attached to the toile side of the panel with piping at the seam. 

The header is 3 pieces of 54″ wide x 18″ long coordinating fabric that were sewn together and then lined.  Again, I left the top and side edges raw, since they would not be seen.  Once all of the pieces are sewn together, you’re ready for the construction. 

From this point, you can use the pieces you’ve sewn using the directions above or you can use premade curtains or sheets.  All you need is a staple gun, a glue gun (if you want trim), and a 62″ x 12″ board. 

Paint the bottom side of the board in a color that coordinates with your fabric.  I painted mine in a pale aqua color.

Flip the board over to attach the back.  Measure and mark the center point of your board.  First, staple each end of your fabric panels to the ends of you board.  Pull the fabric back to find the center and staple the fabric to the center of your board.  Pull out the fabric from the center to the right to find the center and staple it to the center point between the center and right end of the board.  Got it?  You can just eye ball where the center point is; it does not have to be exact.  Repeat this on the left side. Keep repeating that method in smaller increments until you have the fabric stapled in 8 places.  This ensures you have the fabric distributed evenly.
Then, start to pinch the fabric together and staple it to the board.
Check your work on the underside to make sure you’re getting a nice looking gather. If you’re not confident in your gathering skills, you can always use header tape. 
Attach your sides to the board using the same method.  This picture shows the fabric stapled at each end.
I pulled the fabric back to find the center point and then stapled it to the center of the side of the board.
For the header, I decided to do 3 pleats along the front and one on each corner.  This took the longest time.  I had to find the center of the fabric and play with the pleats until I got it right.  I also had to position the pleats to hide the seams in the fabric.  Once I had the pleats where I wanted them, I pinned them in place and ironed the header.
The ironing also makes the fabric lie flat over the lining.  The iron is your friend when you are doing a project like this.  When you’re ironing shirts?  Not so much…go wrinkle free. 
Staple the freshly ironed header into place.
You ladies who don’t sew will love this part.  You get to whip out your glue gun to glue on the trim.  Notice the band aid on my finger?  I cut part of the pad off using scissors…again.  I also burned myself on the iron. 
This is where I started getting giddy…
So, it’s all constructed.  Now, you need to get it installed. 
My hubby was in charge of the installation, so he’s going to tell your guy (or you, if you’re a handy gal) how to hang it.  Take it away, babe…
“Okay, husbands. I’ll try to make this as quick and painless as possible.
When it comes to installing this canopy, there are essentially two options: (1) attach it to the vertical wall using L-brackets; or (2) attach to the ceiling using nails/screws. I did option #2, and it took me only 30 minutes. Keep in mind, though, that I was fortunate in that I had good access to the attic space above our master bedroom. Though this is not necessary, it is certainly helpful. In my case, it was necessary because the wall that the canopy was being installed on was parallel to the joists in my attic. This ruled out being able to use a stud-finder and secure it solidly into two joists, which I would have been able to do if the wall had run perpendicular to the joists. And the canopy was too heavy to use only drywall anchors. So I had to get creative. Here is what I did step by step.

1. In the bedroom, mark exactly where you want the canopy. For us, it was in the center of the wall. The easiest way to do this is to mark the center of the wall, then center of the board, and then line the center points up. Now you have your exact placement.

2. So I had the center point in the room, but I needed to know where it was in the attic. I went to the attic, removed the insulation from between the joists, and had my wife, who was standing in the bedroom right below me, measure out 12” from the center of the wall (12” is the depth of the canopy) and gently tap a nail straight up through the ceiling. Bingo! I immediately saw the nail and knew the exact location of the front-center of the canopy.

3. Then I had to come up with a way to be able to screw the canopy into the ceiling with more than just drywall to hold the screw. Here’s what I did. I essentially made a plywood backing to receive the screw, sandwiching the drywall between the canopy board and the plywood backing. I measured the distance between the joists (22” in my case), and then cut a piece of plywood 4’ long X 21” wide. I laid the board down between the joists, centering it on the nail. To hold the board down, I cut six blocks out of scrap 2X4 and placed them equidistant, three per side, along the board’s length. I then simply nailed the blocks into the sides of the joists, so now the backer board was ready to receive the screw. I relaid the insulation over the board and went back down to the bedroom.

4. My wife and I held the canopy firmly in place, making sure that our center points were lined up. Knowing that I had 2 feet on either side to work with, I didn’t have to measure anything—I just eyed it. I have a nail gun, which is awesome. I just shot 4 nails in on each side and then it was held in place so I could come back and secure it more firmly with screws. If you don’t have a nail gun, here is what I would recommend. Before you and your wife are on ladders holding the canopy awkwardly in place, you can drill four pilot holes on each side of center, so eight holes total. Then start each 3” wood screw into the canopy board, so that when you are up on the ladder holding it against the ceiling, you can just whip out your cordless drill (a must for any man married to a DIY’er) and finish those screws off.

That’s it! You’re done. Quick and painless. I’ve learned a few things being married to Miss Mustard Seed, and I’d be glad to answer questions about alternate installation procedures if you’d like. Good luck!”

You gotta love a man who is not only willing to sleep surrounded by toile, but will actually hang it up for you. 

An additional thing we had to do was put a board behind the bed, so one of us wouldn’t fall back in the doorway we covered.  We just nailed an extra piece of wood into a couple of boards that were attached to either side of the door trim.  Hubby got a little carried away with the nail gun and shot a nail into an unused light switch.  So, we ended up having to do some electrical work, but such is DIY.

We were both thrilled with the outcome.

Make sure you come back on Wednesday for Decorative Painting 101 – Part 3.  It’s going to be good stuff.

Miss Mustard Seed


  1. The White Farmhouse

    It looks great! I am such a sucker for box pleats. I just love them! The room looks like it is shaping up nicely.

  2. Rene


    Thanks so much for the tutorial. I'll need a cup or two of coffee before my brain can embrace this.

    After the week you've had, I know you are just sitting there looking at your beautiful new bedroom!!

    Hope the family is well now.

  3. The Inspired Nest

    This is just gorgeous! I just happened upon your blog and am in love! Thanks for such a great detailed tutorial.. I think this will definatley be my next project! I have that exact same fabric as the valance in a sage green! Thanks again for the inspiration!

  4. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions

    Great tutorial! This is great and I love it. You forgot to add one thing to how great your hubby is: sleeping with toile around him, hanging it up AND then explaining how to do it! He's a sweetie and a keeper! ; )

  5. bj

    Gosh, girl…you are the most talented little thing. I am always just amazed at what you do.
    This is stunning ! I would never, in a trillon years, be able to do this but it sure is pretty.

    I wanted you to come over and see my "new" desk and chair..it is the post just beneath the current one.
    I got such a good deal on it, I nearly p'd my pants !! 🙂

  6. Kim @ Cheap Chic Home

    Wow, I'm glad to see you got it up. It looks just wonderful. It's nice your man is such a great sport.

  7. Stephanie

    I LOVE this pattern … what is it called??? I've been looking at something similar, but I like the sweet little sheep. 🙂

  8. Denise

    I have to admit, when you first mentioned that you were going to do this, I was unsure if I would like it. I don't like it….I LOVE it! It looks fabulous! If my ceilings weren't about 20 feet tall, this would absolutely be on my project list.

  9. Sarah

    Oooh, lovely, lovely, lovely!! What a gorgeous statement piece!

  10. Funky Junk Interiors

    Gorgeous outcome! It'll take me another couple reads for it to sink all in as well.

    Now, I just need detailed drawings by the hubby on the ceiling part. I want to hang a ladder above my kitchen island. Maybe you guys are just due for a visit… road trip anyone?!? 🙂


  11. SueAnn

    Gorgeous!! I am going to have to read this several times to get the full picture. LOL!! Well done and so beautiful! Thanks so much!


    Wow! This looks gorgeous!!!

    Anette, Norway:)

  13. jenibee

    So lovely! I wonder if I could ever get my hubby to sleep beneath toile?! 🙂

  14. Lei

    So lovely!!!

  15. Melissa Miller

    ~WOW! That is truly a thing of beauty. Great job! 🙂

  16. Ellen

    it's a stunner! no wonder you wanted to kick the poor sick amnout of bed…smiles.

  17. Michelle@Fromhousetohome

    This post must have taken forever. You are a sweetie for typing that all out and showing us. Thank you, it looks beautiful!

  18. Amanda @ Serenity Now

    Hi there! Thanks for coming by for a "visit" last night. 🙂 This is such a great, detailed tutorial. I love how you have spelled out each step! Sometimes tutorials gloss over some of the important stuff. I love the fabrics and patterns you chose…lovely. 🙂 Your Decorative Painting 101 class sounds great!

  19. SewCalGal

    Thank you. I've been wanting to do this for years, but have been nervous to give it a try. You just gave me the inspiration to do it. Can't wait.


  20. Frugal Home Designs

    That looks awesome. I want to do this my little girl room. I love it.

  21. This Little Nest

    Love this! I'm all about the DIY over at This Little Nest Blog!

  22. Jenn

    You make it look so easy!!!
    Thanks for sharing!

  23. Anonymous

    Amiable dispatch and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you on your information.

  24. Anonymous

    ups sorry delete plz [url=http://duhum.com].[/url]

  25. Willow Decor

    This is a fabulous tutorial!! I have put it in my saved files. Thank you so much! Great post!!

  26. Anonymous

    Opulently I assent to but I think the post should acquire more info then it has.

  27. Anonymous

    My husband and I just got out of the Marines, tired of not seeing his children grow up. We found a harsh reality in civilian life but have managed to pull through. Your blog is like a little inspiration. On a day when I was fealing droopy and not counting my blessings, I came upon your blog and it has inspired me to make my home a wonderful place for my family and I. Thank you for sharing your gift.

  28. Kathrynne Willhoite

    Oh my gosh, I have been looking FOREVER for a DIY tutorial on this kind of canopy! In the process, I did find out that it is called a half tester and I’m so glad you did it to cover a door (I have to cover an off center window). Thank you again!



  1. Mirrored Side Tables - [...] a follow-up post with the details, so stick around.  If you’re interested in making my bed canopy, you can find…
  2. decorating delimma | wonky windows & neutral blahs - […] to a board, pleating them, and then screw the board into the ceiling.  (Similar to how I made this…

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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