Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Layout Curtains from Landscape Fabric

Layout curtains are one of those things that nag you, but you never seem to get around to. They're great for hiding all the benchwork - not to mention the various sundry items that collect beneath our layouts - but they can be expensive and a pain to install.

But I read somewhere recently (unfortunately, I don't remember where) where somebody idly wondered whether landscape fabric would work. And that little rhetorical question was just enough to light the bulb above my head. Fortunately, as I was at the local Wal-Mart helping the Missus find some stuff for her garden, right there in front of me was this roll of landscape fabric. So I figured for a $7 investment, it was worth trying out.

The roll languished in my basement for a few weeks while I mulled how to attach it to the fascia. But during my recent scenery base build, I began eyeing the spring clothespins I was using to secure the cardboard webbing while the hot glue cures. "Why not use those?" I thought. Why not, indeed...

I wanted a little break from cardboard strips and plastercloth anyway, so off I went with glue gun in hand and a bag of clothespins. 20 minutes later, here's what I had - clips glued to the back of the fascia.

And another 10 minutes after that - with a little help from the Missus (more than 2 hands required) - here's what it looked like under the Saybrook Wye.

Not bad for 7 bucks and half-an-hour - and there's enough material for 50 linear feet of layout - but the verdict is decidedly mixed. I don't like seeing the clothespins, the fabric itself isn't wide/deep enough (looks like high-water pants), and it's also very "curly."

So what would I do differently?

  • The fabric really has no weight of its own so just tends to curl in on itself.  So I cured the "curly-ness" a bit by taping the ends of the fabric to the wall.
  • You can see in the 2nd photo that the lever ends/tops of the clothespins hit the bottom of the benchwork/girders. That, coupled with a fascia of this particular depth, and the result is clothespins that you can see. This can be easily fixed by just cutting off part of the "lever" ends so the pins go up higher. Unfortunately, they're hot glued so I don't know how tough it'll be to remove & replace them. If too difficult, I can just paint them black. But I won't make this mistake again.
  • Finally, given the overall height of my layout, I'll see if I can find landscape fabric that is 4' wide rather than 3'. That would get me down to the floor with a little to spare (maybe for a hem with a weight in it, so it would hang better?). I suppose I could just cut 4' lengths of fabric and hang 3x4' sections around the layout, but that seems like a lot of work - and a lot of curly edges to have to secure.
But for now, it results in a look that's just a bit better than before. Certainly not my final product here, but definitely worth the time and money to try it out.

If you or someone you know has used landscape fabric for layout curtains, let me know! I'd love to hear whether folks use it differently (and not just in the garden %^)


  1. Chris

    For some time I have used a strip of N scale cork glued to the back of the fascia with the cloth staple-gunnned. It work but is a pain to install and doesn't do the cloth any favors. Thus I like and will try the clothes pin approach. Thanks. Roger

    1. Hey Roger - glad you'll be able to use at least part of this tip. Send some pics when you can! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  2. Hi Chris, I like the way it looks it keeps your eyes from being puled down o all the "stuff" under the layout.


    1. Thanks Jim! But admittedly, there's nothing under that section of the layout right now. I wonder if the "high-water" curtain would be as effective if there actually WAS a lot of stuff under there! Further experimentation needed I s'pose! Thanks much for checking in!