Showing posts with label curtains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label curtains. Show all posts

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snug as a bug, slub as a mustard

Since spending an ungodly amount of money on having the house insulated, we've noticed a drop in our heating costs. The house is less drafty than before, which really helped when the temperature dropped to 6 degrees. The one exception has been the bedroom, where we have sliding glass doors with a broken thermal seal. The old curtains had thermal liners but they weren't big enough to cover the whole expanse of glass, and as a result this room was freezing.

I wanted new drapes anyway and I wanted to try something I'd seen on various blogs: curtains made from dropcloths. I bought the heavier weight canvas cloth in the largest size I could find.

I had to wash them three times and then air them out for about a month because they smelled awful. I wanted to do pinch pleats on my drapes but, due to a poorly situated seam in the dropcloth, I didn't have enough fabric. I had picked up a roll of 54" thermal blackout fabric this summer on clearance, so I used that as a guide for making sure the curtains were square. I have a terrible time making things square, which is why most of the baby blankets I've made have been trapezoids. But I think these turned out pretty well!

They are fully lined, so they're HEAVY. As you can see, "sewing a straight line" is not in my grab bag of skills.

Wonky seams aside, these things really work. Our bedroom is a black pit when they are closed and the room is about 15 degrees warmer. And since they cost me less than $100 to make, I bought a new duvet cover.

Ignore the uneven artwork, I was just experimenting.

I've had my heart set on mustard since before I painted the room. I saw an image on Pinterest of a dark moody room with a tufted mustard armchair. I loved the image so much I didn't even pin it and now I can't find it. It was that good.

Greg really doesn't like this color and I am deeply in love with it. I get it, it's a divisive color. I look at it and see curry and goldenrod and deliciousness. Greg looks at it and sees baby poop and old mustard. Tomato, tomahto.

We both agree that this duvet is incredibly soft. It's Coyuchi organic cotton and it's the first time I've opened a package of bedding and smelled . . . nothing. It's dreamy. I recommend it, if you're in the market for a new duvet (and they come in lots of colors if you hate the mustard).


The last step before I declare this room "done" is to replace the bedside lamps with better task lighting. Those lamps suck for reading or drawing or anything detailed. And since I do everything from bed (I'd cook dinner from there if it was possible) I need good light.

On the upside, Greg really like the colorful pillow I sewed! It has a zipper in it and it's pretty square and I'm pretty darn proud of it. So, are you with Greg or with me? Help me convince him it's good. How can you hate on a color called "slub mustard?"

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Me and curtain panel sewing are breaking up.

Our dining room has always been a design nightmare with half wood floors and half ugly carpeting and a mishmash of furniture. It's such a fucking nightmare that of the 40,000 pictures I have taken of the house, there are about four of the dining room.

Shortly after I moved in.
Dirty, broken, plastic blinds

Now it's a fucking nightmare WITH DRAPES! And Ikea Enje shades.

The Enje blinds let in a ton more light during the day, while allowing us to keep our privacy. Ask me about the time I wandered out to the kitchen in my underwear and spotted Greg's step-dad outside my kitchen window, hefting a rocking chair over his head. It's not as weird as it sounds but it was super embarrassing.

I've been searching craigslist for three years, trying to find a large scale table (preferably something in the farmhouse family) to fill this room. This one woman has been listing her Restoration Hardware table, which currently sells for $2395, for $1900.

She's had the listing up for two months. That makes me crazy. Why would I buy your used table that I can't return to RH if it ever develops a defect or doesn't look right in the space? Why not save an extra $500 toward a brand new one that comes with delivery to my house? I don't believe that you should ever ask more than half the cost of a brand new item that is available online, especially from a mass producer like Restoration Hardware. The table isn't special or unique or an antique. I tried to negotiate her down but she wouldn't go for it. So I guess she'll just keep listing her table that no one will buy and we'll keep watching for sales.

This kills me because I hate consumer culture and I always prefer to buy used, preferably older stuff that wasn't produced in a factory in China where the employees are treated terribly. Someone recently remarked that we are horrified when we hear about slavery in the south. How could people do that? We would never do that! But we buy cheap consumer goods knowing full-well that the factory workers are operating under inhumane conditions. Future generations will frown on us.

But that lady on craigslist really makes me dig in my heels. I don't want to buy from her and I don't want to buy new because it will get assembled by underpaid workers, shipped from somewhere very far away, and jammed full of chemicals that will off-gas in my house. And whoa Heather, why don't you talk about feline AIDS as long you're bumming everyone out?

But yeah, curtains! I finished the curtains. They took days to make and I never want to make another panel again.

I think they make the room look closer to finished and I'm pleased that I can finally cross them off the list. Now we just have to find a table and chairs that don't fall apart when you sit on them. Chairs are so pricey, you guys! When did it get so expensive to sit?

Sorry about that shame spiral detour in the middle there. Sometimes I feel embarrassed by the abundance of riches in my life. Then I have a glass of wine and I make fun of The Bachelor and everything is okay again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Little improvements

When I decided to make curtains for the front rooms of the house I bought the entire bolt of fabric, or 20 yards. If I'm going to go to the trouble of making curtains that I'm just "meh" about, well I'm going to make 600 of them, damn it. You don't change course mid-stream or something.

I finally got around to making panels for the big window in the dining room and hanging an Ikea Enje blind. I ordered more hardware from JC Penny but screwed up and ordered one fewer than I needed. I also ran out of fabric, so this corner still has ugly, broken, dirty blinds.

Even though the room looks a little silly with just one set of curtains, the amount of extra light that pours through the Enje blind is dramatic. Our house is south-facing and having extra sunshine during the winter (when we can get it) is fantastic.

I think I might actually dye the curtains in this room, even if just to an off-white. I know, exciting times 'round here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Much better

Our dining room is kind of a mess. When Greg moved in we put his dresser in our bedroom and transferred mine to the dining room where it served as a buffet. It worked great for storing table linens and big bowls, but it couldn't store any of our alcohol out of site. 

We already have a lot of bottles of random stuff that we rarely use but might need for cocktails down the line. Then our friends moved to India and left their bar supplies with us, so we suddenly looked like full blown alcoholics. You can sort of see that in these two photos, which show the state of our dining room on a daily basis. Computers! Shoes! Cans of paint for no reason!

Boxes! More paint! Oh my god.

Enter the new bar storage and my attempt to style a shot.

I found this deco-styled buffet on craigslist for $100. I waited and watched and the price dropped to $80 and, miracle of miracles, Greg actually liked it. Guys, we never agree on furniture. Ever.

I want to replace the hardware, but otherwise it's exactly what we need. All of the extraneous bottles got tucked underneath and we can keep just a couple of bottles handy up top. I know, the carpet is fabulous. Someday that will go away.

Then my dresser could go where I really wanted it: in the living room. Previously we had a mid-century style corner table and a cheap pressboard TV stand.


Ignoring the fact that I'm still waiting on the delivery of the last rod for the left-hand window, this is making me like the curtains I made much more. They don't take center stage, they provide some contrast and texture, and they don't offend me. I also hung Enje blinds from Ikea, which give the room a wonderful gauzy light during the day.

I know the TV is awful. We only watch it if people come over for a movie night, or I'd huck it. I prefer to watch TV in bed, like a fat, lazy American.

One! million! pillows!

Now I just need a big-ass farmhouse style table for the dining room, some curtains (*sigh*), and to refinish the floors and maybe I'll be happy with that room. It'll still look like a tornado hit it, but it will be a stylish tornado.

Dream table, from Restoration Hardware

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to make your own French-Belgian linen drapes

Well, the curtains are done.


If you'd like to make your own version of CB2's French-Belgian linen panels you just have to follow a few easy steps.

First, fall in love with an expensive fabric. The hallmark of a good sewing project is thinking you're going to save money by making it yourself, then spending a TON of money and wondering if you should have hired child laborers instead (kids with ADD can sew a straighter seam than me). I chose a Tencel "linen-look" fabric that drapes beautifully and can be dyed.

Next, cut off eight foot lengths from your bolt of fabric. Don't vacuum or swiffer the floors first. You want the fabric to catch as much dust and hair as possible. Ideally you should be muttering, "Oh my god, what is wrong with me?" every couple of minutes.

Starch and iron all your edges. The rolled hem foot on the sewing machine is a bitch to use and if all the stars are not aligned correctly everything will go to hell and you'll be ripping out stitches for hours. A crisp fabric really helps in this case. Practice using your rolled hem foot until you feel confident using it. I bought a smaller piece of my fabric and sewed the edge, cut it off, then sewed it again and again and again, for what seemed like forever.

Start sewing on your real fabric. So far so good.

Oh my god, what is wrong with me? Son of a . . . bitch . . . shit. I hate the rolled hem foot.

Rip out the seams and redo it when this happens. Start to wonder if it wouldn't be faster to use a regular foot, even with all the pressing you'd need to do. Run your finished panels through the washing machine before hemming the bottom, just in case they shrink (pros do this before they ever start sewing but I have issues). Notice that a lot of your seams now look like hell when they seemed just fine pre-washing.

What is wrong with with my rolled hem foot? Blerg.

Spend an exorbitant amount of time at JC Penney (sorry, JCP) trying to special order the stupid corner bracket for your curtain rods. They have a new system and the clerk is 1000 years old (but nice! so nice!). Pull up the part on your phone and show her, as you realize that you could've just ordered online, in your pajamas no less, and saved everyone the headache.

Wait for freaking EVER for your hardware to arrive. Learn that JC Penney screwed up charging your gift card twice, so your order never shipped. Also, they processed the order under the name "Haether."

Hem your panels. You'd think by this point you could reasonably sew with your rolled hem foot but YOU ARE WRONG. Decide that the lack of overhead light in the living room is probably a good thing.

Hang up your panels with simple clip rings and realize that you can't really see the shitty hems, so maybe everything's gonna be okay. And you know what? They do vaguely resemble the inspiration panels.

Congrats! When they are closed they look like you spent a lot of time and money to hang white bedsheets.

Also, you screwed up the length.

So. Greg thinks they need some color and I'm worried about the sun bleaching any color we put in them, which is why I wanted white curtains in the first place. We're going to live with them for a while and I'm going to get more Ikea Enje blinds so I can get rid of the current situation:

This attractive option was installed by the house stager from my reveal. She was *so* worried I'd peek at the room that she posted signs everywhere and glued (OH, SO MUCH GLUE) those awful looking blind inserts into the window casing.

And then she emailed me, admonishing over and over not to peek. My friend told me I should peek, just to spite her, but I am a rule follower. I didn't peek. And I didn't remove those god-awful blinds until now.

I have a couple of options now. The first, to dye the curtains navy. We have a lot of blue in the room currently.

Second: dip dye the bottoms dark blue. The blue wouldn't bleach out because it would fall below the window. This is on-trend right now but it will eventually go out of style. Of course, if that happens I can just dye them navy at that point.

It might look something like this.

Or this.

So I guess the last step in making these panels is crippling self-doubt. Tada! Any opinions are greatly appreciated.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Curtain prototype is done

Last year I found the perfect mid-century pinch-pleat draperies at JC Penney. Pam at Retro Renovation said her readers found them to be a good source. At Christmas my parents gave me a gift certificate to JC Penney for so I could buy some . . . and JCP immediately stopped producing the style/color/length I needed.

Image from Retro Renovation

So I've been buying (and returning) curtains left and right, trying to find something I liked. Then I saw this post on Emily Henderson's site about where to find cheap but good curtains. I liked these "French-Belgian linen panels," but at $60 a pop I'd need to spend $600 just in the living room.

I am so sorry for these terrible photos. Do you know how hard it is to photograph a window with natural light streaming through? I picked up some "linen-look" tencel fabric, which is dyable, and used a rolled hem foot to zip a 3mm hem around all four sides. The real deal will be a floor-length panel with a more substantial curtain rod.

I have an Ikea Enje blind behind it, which is wonderful during the day but it provides zero privacy at night. I wonder if all the people who have installed Enjes in their house realize this? Wait for the sun to go down, turn on your lights, then step outside and see your life on display.

So now I start the laborious process of doing the prep work for a bunch of panels. The fabric is so thin and malleable that it has to be starched and ironed (and any stray threads trimmed) before running it through the rolled hem foot on my sewing machine. My hope is to get one panel prepped after work each night, then sew like crazy this weekend and get them hung. I figure that gives JC Penney enough time to magically start producing the pinch-pleat draperies I wanted in the first place.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Because nothing can ever just be *easy* with me.

So, about those bedroom curtains.

I ordered a swatch of the fabric I posted last week, only to find that it really has an olive undertone that makes the bedroom paint read really minty.  It was disappointing.  I was holding up different swatches to the wall and *all* of them were making the paint read mint, actually.

The boy was like, "Why don't you just paint your bedroom?"  Oh Greg, you can't put ideas like that in my head or it riles up the home improvement demons!  So yeah, now I want to paint my bedroom.  Again.

Now, the path of least resistence would be to paint the room something that goes with the curtains I currently have but no, goddamn it, I love this fabric and I want to waste my time and money sewing new curtains. And the fabric looks really nice with the paint in the spare bedroom!

Effing home improvement demons.