Hey Kids, Don’t Try This at Home

Posted on October 21, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies, Home |

I don’t know what it is about women and curtains, but I’ve caught the bug. Can you tell by the second consecutive post on curtains?

Yesterday, I shared the curtains we picked out for our master bedroom. “Picked out” are golden words. And I don’t say them casually. There’s nothing like being able to buy pre-made curtains at an affordable price.

For the den, it was a different story. I wanted some yellow and white patterned panel curtains. You can check out the color palette we’re going for here.

There was an overwhelming amount of apple green and tan in the room so I thought the best way to bring in some yellow was with window treatments. Unfortunately, all the pre-made yellow window treatments I looked at were very juvenile. I suppose it’s a pretty popular and androgynous nursery color. Then one day, I found this image on Pinterest from this lovely blog:

These curtains happened to be made out of the very same fabric I was eying on fabric.com. Coincidence? I think not! I ordered two samples of fabric so I could be sure before I ordered 20 yards of it. Here are the samples:

Hmm… Adam and I both scratched our heads. Eenie, meanie, miney, moe. The one on the top was the winner due to the ratio of yellow to white and it had a more even pattern. I also knew what this fabric would look like 8 feet high and 4 and a half feet wide.

We have 3 windows in our den which means I would need to make 6 panels. Figuring in hemlines, shrinking from washing, fabric for coordinating throw pillows, and some extra “oops” fabric, I ordered 20 yards of fabric and 16 yards of lining. We want the curtains to be good blockers of light since this is our TV room. The fabric was approximately $160 with an online promo code and sale – down from over $200! Adam had sticker shock at first, but I think it’s because he’s still learning how much home-related things cost. If I’d had these professionally made, it would have cost a couple hundred bucks per window. If I purchased them pre-made from the store, it would have cost $300+. So even though Adam thought it was pretty expensive, and one hundred and sixty doll-hairs isn’t something to sneeze at, we’re still saving money. And yes, we need curtains in there in order to watch movies on Sammy in the D.A.R.K. Plus, they make a room look so much better.

I inspected the fabric for imperfections and cut out my 6 panels at 8 feet exactly giving myself plenty of extra in case of shrinkage. I thought about washing the whole bolt in one piece, but decided my washer would not appreciate 300 square feet of fabric in a single load. I washed it on a cool gentle cycle with Woolite; it recommended a mild detergent. I washed the lining in a separate load. I gently dried the lining, but my drapery fabric instructions said “DO NOT DRY”. I let it line dry overnight and put them through the dryer on air dry for a couple of rounds. When they still weren’t dry, they went a few rounds of the “less dry” setting on the lowest heat setting our dryer has. The point was to pre-shrink the fabric before sewing. And let me tell you, that 100% cotton fabric shrank. All of the panels shrank by about 6 inches. Thank goodness they weren’t any shorter. But they’re all set for Spring Cleaning time when I’ll take it down and send it through the wash again. Here’s a toast to wishful thinking!

I think it’s imperative to let you know that I logged about 5 hours on a sewing machine before this curtain project. It’s safe to say that I have absolutely NO experience. I cut the lining 2.5 inches longer than my finished panel length (84”+ 2.5”=86.5”) and 3 inches narrower than the existing width of the fabric – 51”. I worked with the width the fabric came in, a standard 54”. Then I really got started. If I knew sewing required so much of my least favorite household chore – ironing – I wouldn’t have been so eager beaver. Really, my Saturday went like this. Wash. Dry. Dry. Dry. Iron. Measure. Pin. Iron. Measure. Pin. Iron. Sew. Repeat. So here is what I did step-by-step. I followed the advice of Midwest Magnolia and Orange Sugar. My method is a mish mash of their methods, so I give them all the credit. Check out the links. They took step by step pictures. I didn’t.

Curtain Panel How-To

*all stitching was with a straight utility stitch

  1. Cut fabric to length. Adding 2” total for top hem (1” folded over twice) and 4” total for bottom hem (2” folded over twice). If you’re pre-washing after cutting it, read your care instructions and add some extra inches for safety’s sake.
  2. Double fold bottom hem. Wrong side up, fold bottom hem over 2”, pin and press. Fold over again 2”, pin and press.
  3. Stitch bottom hem close to hemline – about 1/8”. Be sure to reverse stitch beginning and end of seam.
  4. Measure and cut lining. Lining should be cut 2.5” longer than your finished curtain length and 3 inches narrower.
  5. Double fold bottom hem in lining. Wrong side up, fold bottom hem over 2” and press. Fold over again 2” and press. Pin in place
  6. Stitch bottom hem in lining close to hemline – about 1/8”. Be sure to reverse stitch beginning and end of seam.
  7. Placement of Lining onto Fabric.
    1. Place fabric right side up and lay lining on top of fabric, right side down. Wrong sides out.
    2. Line up bottom of lining 1.5” above bottom of fabric.
    3. Line up right side and pin.
    4. You should have 2”+ of fabric at the top hem. This is good
  8. Sew right side of lining to fabric using a .5” seam. Remember to back stitch. It’s a long curtain. So be patient and go slow.
  9. Pull the left side of lining over to line up with the left side of the Fabric. Remember that the lining is 3” skinnier than the fabric and will need to be pulled and pressed into place. This is okay because the fabric will overlap on the lining side once you turn it right side out. Pin in place.
  10. Sew left side of lining to fabric using a .5” seam. Remember to back stitch.
  11. Turn fabric out and iron — This will take some maneuvering to get an even amount of fabric on the back side of the curtain, but it is pretty easy. Press edges in place.
  12. Miter bottom corners. Take the bottom corners of your sides on the inside side of the curtain and fold them under. Press and blind stitch them in place.
  13. Double fold top hem. Fold top hem over 1” and press. Fold over again 1” and press. Pin in place. It should cover the lining now.
  14. Stitch top hem close to hemline – about 1/8”. Be sure to back stitch beginning and end of seam.

So here are my yellow beauties in all their sunshine and glory:

Things to consider:

  • Patterned fabric requires more work. I did not get too particular about matching up my patterns. For instance, all 6 of my panels do not start and stop at the same point in the repeating pattern. I did, however, make sure that my hemlines were even based on the repeating pattern. This wasn’t too tricky. I made sure to cut my fabric as straight as possible. The only panel I had trouble with was the first one off the bolt that I’m guessing some cross-eyed idiot at the warehouse cut. No bitterness here. I just had to spend a lot of extra time cheating some hemlines on that panel to make it look straight.
  • Use painters tape to clearly define your seam allowance on your machine. This was so helpful. Having a giant piece of bright blue tape to guide me instead of a teeny little tick mark was one secret of my success.
  • Forget about sewing 7 foot long curtains at your little sewing table. I set up shop on our dining room table. I needed every bit of the surface.
  • Take a page out of Sherry Petersik’s book and use an area rug as a straight edge for cutting your fabric. Such a great trick!
  • After sewing the sides of the lining to the fabric, I laid the whole curtain on the floor, lining side up, and pulled at it until I had a 1” border of fabric on each side of the lining. I pinned it in place so I could press the sides easier.
  • THESE CURTAINS TOOK ME FOREVER. FOREVER AS IN OVER 30 HOURS OF LABOR. I was probably a lot slower since it was my first rodeo, but just be warned…
  • Materials you will need:
    • Sewing machine
    • Extra machine needle
    • Thread
    • Fabric
    • Lining
    • Rotary cutter – good for cutting the lining, but wasn’t sharp enough for my thicker curtain fabric
    • Cutting mat with measurements
    • Sharp set of sewing scissors
    • Straight pins
    • Measuring tape – not the kind you get at the hardware store. The ribbon kind.
    • Iron and ironing board
    • Seam ripper – if you mess up, it’s no big deal. That’s what a seam ripper is for.
    • Tape measure – the kind you get at the hardware store for cutting out really long pieces of fabric

Not to toot my own horn, but I am super proud of these babies. They were time consuming yes, and frustrating, but they turned out so well and I did them all by myself. I know that yellow isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Heck, I’ve already said I don’t like yellow walls. But I really like these curtains. They cheer up such a rustic room with all the wood paneling.

Do we plan to paint the wood paneling? No. I really like our paneling. It has these fluted grooves and it feels more solid than a lot of paneling from the mid-century. Plus it’s in a basement room, so I think it’s rather fitting. You know? It’s lodgey. And that’s not a word. It would kind of be a shame if us youngins’ came blazing in there and painted 50-year-old wood paneling. I mean, who do we think we are? It would be no easy task, either. I’ve heard about the horrors of seepage, not to mention that this room is humongous. No thank you.

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3 Responses to “Hey Kids, Don’t Try This at Home”

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[…] Made, bought, and hung curtains and rods for the master and the den […]

[…] think I wouldn’t be so eager to go through this again after I lost 30 hours of my life on the last set of curtains. But here I am. It’s almost like I have a sick […]

[…] to focus on and pour all of my energy into that whether it’s planning a trip, training a puppy, whipping up some curtains, launching an exercise plan, or plotting our next home renovation […]


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