After I ripped down our beige linen curtains on the main floor, I was left with the blah, slightly dingy looking honeycomb shades we use for privacy, light, and thermal control. (We get the sun in the front of the house all morning, and it beats in the back windows all afternoon).
I stared at the nearly naked windows a number of weeks thinking maybe I’d get used to the idea of minimal (albeit better looking) window treatments. Eventually I was forced to admit I’m a traditional curtain gal.
I just really like the way curtains soften up the big windows as well as the light. It’s also a really nice way to hide a rather unattractive alley view AND add more playful color and pattern to our house (which has been my goal recently).
I browsed various retail places and internet sites for something appropriate. But I was not finding anything that met all our requirements. They had to be super low maintenance (i.e., machine washable and not very wrinkly – or look good kinda’ wrinkly), they needed to be a fun print, they needed to not be too long (even though I love that look) – since Mac seems to want to yank on them every opportunity he has. . .And they couldn’t cost much.
Yeah. I came up empty.
So I ordered a large-scale yellow Suzani print fabric from Amazon. I think I ordered 6 yards of a 54″ wide fabric. (Our windows are quite large for the size of our house). Then I had Chris dismantle the original heavy wood rods and finials we had been using, and despite his complete confusion, opted for very simple, very cheap, nearly non-existent visually brass toned rods.
I’ll share the back window treatment at a later time. Here’s what I did for the front:
We previously had the curtains hung at near ceiling height. But after a while, I became disenchanted with this arrangement because I couldn’t see our stained glass all that well. So I asked Chris to hang the new rod below the stained glass. This not only allows the stained glass to ahem shine but it also saved me some fabric yardage.
While I toyed with the idea of a simple short valance-type arrangement, I decided it would look best inside and out, if I made two basic panels.
1. I determined the size the panels should be. Common sense would dictate you would use a measuring tape for this. . .I just held up the pre-washed fabric to the already installed rod and folded/marked a rough spot to trim.
2. I also washed and cut some muslin I had on hand the same size as the two panels. The muslin will be the backside of the curtains. (Since these face the street, I wanted them to look somewhat finished from the outside). If you can’t get your hands on some muslin or find it cost prohibitive, a bed sheet or two will also do the trick. Hell, if you can find a pattern or color you like, bed sheets would make perfectly acceptable curtains, as far as I’m concerned.
3. I placed the muslin on top of the “right” (aka patterned) side of the fabric, pinned into place, and sewed every side, leaving then entire top open, so I could pull the entire thing right-side out through that opening.
4. Pull the curtain panel right side out and press lightly so the seams are neat and the corners are pointy.
5. Take the top of the curtain, fold it over maybe a 1/4 inch and press (horizontally). Then fold over again, creating a larger pocket to allow the rod to slide through. Sew the bottom of the fold to create the pocket, making sure to sew along the original 1/4 inch fold you made so the rough edge of the fabric is completely tucked under and secure.
6. Follow same steps for the second panel. (I didn’t worry about matching up the prints where the curtains would meet since I knew I had enough fabric to make them look a little “bunchy” at the center. If you are a perfectionist or want a less full curtain, you’ll want to take the time to make sure the prints line up on the edges where the panels meet. This could also mean you’ll need extra yardage depending on the print you choose and the original width and repeat of the fabric.
7. Slide the curtains through the rod. Shake, fluff, slide arrange.
You could also definitely make a no-sew version using heat activated fusing tape. Although, it would probably work best if you opt to omit the muslin layer. . .And if you plan to launder infrequently.
If you want to get all fancy and add more interest. Or if you perhaps miss-measure and come up a little short, just add some decorative trim to the bottom of the curtains. I’m picturing some fringe or fluffy little balls. Know what I’m talkin’ about? You can get even fancier and make yourself some nice looking tie-backs if you plan to keep the panels open most of the time. . .You are really only limited by your time and patience level.
Happy hour. . .err. . .sewing!
Apologies for poor photos and perhaps even worse writing. . .Wordpress ate this post twice this morning for some inexplicable reason and well, I need to make the kid some pancakes before he gets awake in about 2 minutes!