Even though I don't consider myself that crafty a person, these are simple to do and give great results!
Is a Mosquito Net Bed Canopy Right for You?
Mosquito net bed canopies evoke the romantic images of the 1940s movies and are easy to make. They're also great at keeping out mosquitoes, and in colder climates, keeping in a little warmth at night! In addition, a bed canopy is a subtle way to add a little privacy in shared sleeping spaces, such as a dorm room. So whether you want to add a little ambiance to your room, or you have a more practical purpose in mind, a bed canopy is easy and quick to make.
You can also use this as a gift to make a little girl feel just like a princess! Or if you typically camp at Renaissance faires, you can hang this from the roof of your portable shade canopy to give you an extra layer of privacy (we promise, bed canopies are authentic back to the 1300s, and were not used, as is commonly thought, to keep debris from falling through the thatched roof, as thatched roofs made in former centuries are still tight today—but rather for privacy and warmth).
A Renaissance Bed Canopy
Supplies for Your Canopy
- Netting, illusion or other fabric (thicker for privacy or warmth). Commonly-used light fabrics include chiffon, organdy or organza. Heavier fabrics can include up to tapestry-weight weaves (try looking at the upholstery fabric for ideas).
- Trim (optional)
- Hoop at least two feet in diameter, made of lightweight wood or metal. If you want a square or rectangular look, then a sturdy picture frame is the way to go, or just make a square or rectangle from small, lightweight pieces of wood. (Balsa wood leftover from modeling projects is a good material.) If you are making your own, sand the wood to a smooth finish, and stain or paint the wood, then use a finish to get the look you want. You can also use lightweight metal and bend it into shape.
- Sewing machine
- Hook for ceiling, such as those used for hanging plants (called a swag hook)
- Small circular ring, at least two inches in diameter, like those used on keychains (called a split ring)
- Monofilament fishing line or decorative chain
If your material ravels easily, your first seam in the french seam process should be done with a zig-zag stitch.
Prepare to Make Your Bed Canopy
- Measure the height of the area you will need to cover: from the bottom of the mattress to the ceiling. Add at least 6 inches to this measurement, so that you can tuck in the mosquito net bed canopy under the mattress. (Most rooms are eight feet high, so unless you have high ceilings, your measurement should be under eight feet.)
- Now you will need the circumference of the mattress. Measure crossways and lengthwise along your mattress, add those measurements together, and multiply by two. (If you have an unusually-shaped mattress, such as a heart-shaped mattress, you will need to measure all the way around along the edge. If you have a circular mattress, simply measure across the center, and multiply by π.)
- This will tell you how much material you will need to buy. For example, for a bed that is in a room with an 8-foot ceiling, the bed is normally about three feet off the floor, so you would need 5 feet (from the ceiling to the top of the bed), plus the depth of the mattress, plus 6 inches. (This is a little under 7 feet if you have a thick mattress.)
- Armed with these measurements, you will know how much fabric to buy. Go to the fabric store and find your material. This can be tulle, a fine-grained cheesecloth, illusion, chiffon, or any other sheer fabric. If you are making a mosquito net bed canopy for privacy or to block light and noise, you may want a thicker fabric. Fabrics normally come in 45" and 60" widths, but materials such as tulle come in widths as wide as 120 inches, so if you are not familiar with figuring fabric yardage, ask the clerk in the fabric store to help you. You will also need a small circular ring, 1 inch or more in diameter, like those used for key chains.
- Go to the hardware store and buy a hoop at least 24" in diameter. This can be made of any lightweight material. Also get a swag hook, such as those used to support hanging baskets, and your monofilament fishing line or decorative small chain.
Assemble Your Canopy
- If your fabric has a right side and a wrong side, identify which side is which. You may want to mark the fabric with a vanishing marker, push a pin through the right side, or mark the right side with chalk, or even with a post-it note.
- If you have woven material, it will likely need straightening. Don't skip this step or your canopy will not hang evenly.
- Now lay out the fabric. In our example, we need pieces that just under 7 feet long. So we will cut enough 7-foot-long pieces of our fabric that, joined side to side, they will completely go around our mattress. This will depend on the flexibility, stretch, and lightness of the material. You will have to add 1¼ inch to the overall measurement for each piece of fabric that you use, to allow for sewing the panels together.
- Starting at one end, lay two pieces of fabric together along the sides, wrong sides together. If this is a sheer fabric, you will want to make french seams, which will involve sewing each seam twice, but leave you with an elegant finish.
- Sew the edges of the fabric together on your sewing machine, ¼ inch away from the edge of the fabric. If you have chosen a fabric that ravels easily, use a zig-zag stitch at this step for added security. (It will not be visible at the end.)
- You will want to leave two openings, one on each side of the bed, so continue sewing the panels together until you've done half of them.
- Sew the other half of the panels together in the same manner.
- Now press all the seams to give a crisp edge. Bend the fabric back the other way (right sides together), and sew all the seams 3/8 inch from the edge of the fabric.
- Press all the seams to the same side.
- Once you have finished this step, you will have four edges that aren't attached to anything. Press a small crease along each of these four edges towards the wrong side of the fabric, fold it under, and press again, and then sew these edges up.
- Now hem along the bottom of your two pieces of fabric, making sure the hem is turned to the wrong side of your fabric. You can make this a small hem, turning it under the way you turned under the edges before.
- Hem along the top edges of your two pieces of fabric in the same way. Leave a tunnel to thread it through the ring.
- If desired, add trim to the hems and seams. Adding trim around the hoop is a bit more complicated and should be done after the canopy is fitted to the hoop in situ.
- Press both panels carefully along each seam, the hem and the top edge.
Install your Mosquito Net Bed Canopy
- Decide where you want the mosquito net bed canopy installed in your bedroom. While this is sometimes in the center of the room, you want to make sure that your mosquito net bed canopy does not get caught up in a ceiling fan or light fixture. If you have incandescent bulbs or halogen bulbs in your ceiling light fixture, you will want the mosquito net bed canopy hung as far away as is practical from the hot bulbs, to avoid the possibility of a fire. A mosquito net bed canopy, in that case, can be hung near the head of the bed, or, if your bed is not against the wall, even behind the bed (in that case, you may need to add some additional fabric to the bottom of your mosquito net bed canopy to allow for the extra distance between the mosquito net bed canopy and the mattress).
- Install the swag hook in the ceiling, following the directions that come on the package.
- Suspend the hoop from the split ring with monofilament fishing line, chain, or whatever will go with your style. You can use tiny screw eye hooks to attach links of chain to the inside of the hoop, or to tie monofilament fishing line on.
- Now take the top edge of your fabric where it was hemmed, and run it through the split ring. Repeat with the other piece.
- Place the split ring on the swag hook. Adjust your fabric panels so that they cover the hoop evenly, and provide two exits, one on each side of the bed. (Otherwise, you'll have to crawl out from underneath!)
- If you wish to trim the fabric at the place where the hoop lies, mark where the fabric meets the hoop, remove the split ring from the ceiling hook, remove the fabric from the split ring, add the trim at the place marked, and then replace the fabric on the split ring, and hang the split ring from the swag hook.
- Now your net should fall evenly around your bed, long enough for you to tuck in under your mattress. Adjust the panels so that there is an opening on each side. Otherwise you will have to crawl out from underneath!
- Once the panels are in place, if desired, secure the fabric to the hoop with a needle and thread. You may also choose to use fabric ties or some other method to make sure that the fabric is secure to the hoop.
A Renaissance Bed Canopy
Embellish Your Mosquito Net Bed Canopy
You can make a separate "cap" or overhang (as shown in the painting above) for your mosquito net bed canopy. This can be in the same fabric, a matching fabric, or a contrasting fabric, and can be made very simply. Take the circumference of your hoop circle (using the diameter of the circle times π), add ten per cent (to allow for seams), and cut out four fabric rectangles, measuring from the swag hook to the hoop plus the desired amount of overhang for the length, and the circumference plus ten percent for the width. Cut the rectangles on the diagonal, and then sew the straight sides together (using French seams if necessary). This will give you fabric triangles, which you then sew together, wide sides at the bottom, to make the overhang. Trim with fringe or other hanging fabric trim and you have yourself a decorative overhang for your mosquito net bed canopy.
Choose a Trim for Your Mosquito Net Bed Canopy
Fabric trims are a way to spice up anything you make, and mosquito net bed canopies are no exception. From the subtle and sophisticated to swanky, from fun to seriously flashy, the fabric trim you choose for your mosquito net bed canopy can completely alter your mood and décor. Take a look at some of these fabric trims to get ideas for trimming your mosquito net bed canopy, and just imagine what some of the wilder fabric trims, such as ostrich feathers, or wooden beads, or even fabric tassels or flowers, might do to liven up your bedroom décor! (Even if you don't end up using those trims, come on, it's fun to spend a little time imagining them!)
Lace, gimp, or ruffles are great fabric trims for mosquito net bed canopies in more serious decors, but if you're going to go all out, put some thought into some more unusual or exotic fabric trims for your mosquito net bed canopy. You might be pleasantly surprised at the result!
Your Mosquito Net Bed Canopy is Done!
Now that you have finished and hung your mosquito net bed canopy, all you have to do is check the fabric regularly, and clean it. If you have chosen a washable fabric, you can wash the fabric by hand, or if you have not secured the hoop to the fabric, remove the hoop and split ring and run your mosquito net bed canopy through the washing machine (I use a lingerie bag for mine to make sure it does not snag). Then run your mosquito net bed canopy through the dryer or hang on the clothesline to dry for a fresh smell, and reattach the hoop and split ring, and you are ready for another great night's sleep!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 classicalgeek