Saturday, November 05, 2011

It's curtains, sheee?

I am ashamed, loyal readers, to admit that until about, oh, three hours ago, we had no curtains in our bedroom. This wasn't a problem, since the house next to ours is set further back, so they were unable to see in our windows--a perk of living in the country. But now the house beyond that one has been renovated from a summer cottage into a year-round residence, and that one, loyal readers, is evenly set back from the river with ours. Giving those neighbors an unintentional front-row seat to our bedroom, and making curtains a priority.

Oh, sure, we covered up our windows, we're not heathens, after all...

Not shown: the English flag Nicki used during the 2006 World Cup, used for covering up the right window

...but somehow using a British flag seemed so...collegial.

(For educational purposes, must just point out that this flag is actually known as the King's Colours...we use this flag when we're reenacting. This flag was created just after the union of Scotland and England...St. David's cross, a red "X" was added later when the monarchy realised that they had Wales as well.)

So, curtains. I have been halfheartedly looking for something--anything--but the availability of curtains in my price range is depressingly limited. It's hard to pay $30 for some cheap polyester thing that I could make myself for half the price. I can sew, after all! But there again--I get distracted so easily. If I can't do a project in two hours, forget it. I think that's one of the reasons I'm not "crafty." I build things out of sheer desperate necessity, usually weeks after a deadline and only then if I can't buy it somewhere.

Today, after watching the neighbors enjoying their dock (the rockfish are running!), I finally decided to make some damme curtains already. I started by surfing around the internet...and quickly ran across this site. Using drop-cloths as curtains seemed right up my alley. However, I had a different set of criteria: first of all I wanted to spend no money. With the amount of fabric and notions we have floating around this house, there was no reason to go out and buy fabric. That included, secondly, a new curtain rod. There are several of the boring "cover up with anything that has a channel" variety of curtain rods out in the garage, and I was determined to use one to save money (see previous statement). Curtain clippies are nice, but they do require a curtain rod that is not ashamed to be seen. Thirdly, I had no drop cloths. And I have an inherent dislike of sewing projects that involve no actual my humblest, most polite of opinions, if you're gonna be crafty, you're gonna have to put in a hem every now and then.

So, to start with. I had no drop cloths, but I have sheets. Lots and lots of random sheets. I pulled out a plain white one with a bit of satin edging at the fall and thought "great." Except this sheet didn't belong to me, and, while I was totally willing to slice it in half and hem it, I wasn't sure that Jeff's mom would appreciate it. Also, a curtain that opened to the side would mean revealing an ugly curtain rod. Roman shades perhaps? But, urgg, that would require measuring and sewing rings and being fiddly and perfect and that just a lot of work.

In the end, what I ended up doing was this. I folded the top of the sheet down enough so that the fall of body reached the top of the window almost to the floor. Then I ran a straight seam using a basting stitch along the seamline that held the satin detail in quick seam that can be ripped out easily. This created a channel that was 17 and 3/8" deep...hiding the ugly curtain rod.

Now what I had looked like this:

Not shown: piles of clean laundry that haven't been put away for three days.

Usually I get annoyed when chirpy crafty people go "I used some buttons I just HAPPENED TO HAVE LYING AROUND for this next step!" but in this case, that's exactly what happened. I used some buttons that I just happened to have lying around, tacking them on to the sheet at the level of the seam. Then I cut a length of jute twine, knotted it to make a loop, and whipped it to the back of the sheet, again at the level of the seam. I used jute twine to try to achieve a "shabby chic" look with the white fabric and the bronze buttons. When the loop is pulled under the curtain and buttoned on to the button, it polonnaises the curtain like an eighteenth century dress. And it has the unexpected effect of looking like a sail.

Not shown: Nicki doing the happy dance when she realises she has an awesome curtain that LOOKS LIKE A SAIL.

So what do you think? I'm pretty pleased. Not only does it fulfill all my requirements: cheap, using materials I have, hiding ugly curtain rods, bonus sail-like qualities, but it's easy to get up and down and it's clean looking. I'm hoping to get permission to cut a sheet in half soon so I can do the same thing to a dormer window facing the front of the house...but judging by how long it took me to get around to making these curtains, don't hold your breath.