Monday, March 4, 2013

Curtains from sheets

Since I was using curtains as a cover for my new bench, I figured it was only right to use sheets to make some curtains.  I cannot claim full credit for this idea since my mother did the same thing in my room when I was about 11. My mom sent me those curtains when she rediscovered them a few months ago and they have since become sheets again, this time for my son's crib (Until I started writing this I never really thought about how many things I make out of other things).

It turns out buying linens is a really cheap way to get a lot of fabric. There is a limit to the colors and patterns, but I feel I got lucky with this find. I purchased a twin set of Room Essentials sheets for around $16 with a grey and yellow leaf pattern.  I really like grey and yellow together. Grey is honestly becoming a favorite color, but I have to admit it is rather depressing on its own. Yellow is the sunshine on a cloudy day and makes a sophisticated but drab color into a cheerful room. I also really like the leaf aspect because it allows me to decorate with natural elements, such as branches, which are something I really like and really cheap (also known as free). Finally, I do like stripes, and this has that look going as well.

Another great thing about making curtains out of sheets is there is less sewing to do.  In my case, my window was quite wide, so I decided to use the whole twin sheet width for one side.  Thus, I cut the sheet in half (the cut going the short way) and hemmed the raw edge. If I had been making a different kind of curtain, I may have just folded the top over into a tube to stick the curtain rod through.  My husband had other ideas.

Patrick is an electrical engineering student (my parents were also both engineers as well as my grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, and soon to be brother-in-law), and like many engineers he values function.  So, when I told him I was making curtains, he asked me to make the kind with the tabs on the top. Evidently they are a lot easier to open and close.  Now that they are done, I have to admit he is right.

Blue lines are sewing lines
Unfortunately, the difference in the amount of time to make tabs on the top of curtains instead of just sewing a tube is considerable. Fortunately, the print on this fabric ended up working in my favor.  Because it makes its own kind of grid, I didn't really have to measure things out quite as much. Instead, I just cut the fabric in the same place in the pattern.

I cut out four rectangles that were four times the size of the finished tabs plus seam allowance from my fitted sheet (it was a lot easier when I cut off the elastic). I folded them right sides together lengthwise (hot dog) and sewed along the long edge.  Then, I pressed them flat, folded the raw edges inside my new tube about 5/8 inch on either side and pressed them.  I then folded these in half around the top edge of the curtain so that each short edge of the tab aligned with the hem on the curtain.

 I sewed one tab to each corner of the curtain by sewing along the curtain hem and over the two sides of the tab (small blue line) and pinned the other two in place at equal intervals.  I then threaded my curtain rod through the tabs and hung it up to assess how many tabs I thought I would need.  I decided I wanted to put seven tabs along each curtain, which left about a 6 1/2 inch gap between tabs that were about 2 1/2 inches wide when finished. I cut out and sewed 10 more tabs and then attached them to both curtains at equal intervals. It took a while, but it made Patrick happy and I kind of like them as well.

My new curtains are much more cheerful than the brown ones that came with the apartment.  I do love a good brown curtain--in fact I have two in the bedroom--but the living room was white walls with a monochromatic brown theme for all accents when we moved in. I am happy to be changing.

In other news, I also made some for the window in the door.  They do not have tabs, just tubes. I am pretty sure tabs would look awful.  Patrick agreed. They are also double-sided so the pattern can be seen inside and from the doorstep. 

Making double sided curtains required matching up the print on the two sides of the curtain before sewing. Otherwise, the leaves would show through the fabric with the sun and you would see double patterns. I made these curtains much like a pillowcase with a tube sewn into what would otherwise be the open end. I top-stitched around the whole edge as well to keep them as a flat curtain. Unlike the original curtains that were on the door, which were the same color as the door in cleaner times, they are made from two separate panels, which means they can open. This was another request from Patrick.

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