Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ready to Sew Curtains? Or not.

Sewing curtains is not really that hard. Not compared to, say, making a tailored suit. It's just making large flat rectangles, in most cases. That's what curtain panels really are.

So why do I have to think about it so much?

I just do. I think thinking about it too much is really an underrated step in any sewing project.

At this point, I know I want to take this fabric:

And create curtains out of it to hang on this window:

Really what I'd like to do is somehow hurl the bolt of fabric AT the window and have it magically hang itself on the curtain rod and done, so I can pick up my glass of wine and admire the results. Sort of like how the birdies made a dress for Cinderella in the Disney version, but less annoyingly cutesy-like. Because I can hurl things like nobody's business.

Sadly, neither hurling nor animated songbirds are going to get this thing done for me.

It's going to take some scratch paper, some measuring, and some figuring out. Isn't this diagram neat, tidy, and exhaustively precise?

Yeah. I'm not any of those things. 

Here's what I know: 
1. I'm not washing the fabric. That was one decision where my innate caution (it's wool fabric) and my innate impatience (are we done yet?) merged nicely. 

2. I'm sewing it with a liner, with the idea that it can cut some drafts (winter) or block some sun (summer), and reduce sun fade. This is where my innate caution and my innate patience did NOT merge nicely. 

3. The fabric is a coarser weave, thick, and heavy. It's also a really busy and bright fabric design-wise. So, this is not the time for showing off. No pleats, ruffles, or fancy stuff. Two plain panels. Plain is simpler. Another score for that impatience thing.

4. Because of 3, I also don't need bunches of fabric gathering up on a rod pocket. I'll be using ring clips on a cafe rod, and I am toying with the idea of using 1.5 times the width of the window for the total width of curtains, instead of the usually advised twice the width. But I'm on the fence about that. 

5. There are several options for length of curtain:
  • Just skimming the top of the sill, good for areas which might be construed as a domestic combat zone, like over the kitchen sink, or in a child's room. 
  • Just covering the bottom of the apron, which still keeps the curtain from being in the way of furniture/pets/radiators, but covers the entire window. 
  • Just skimming the top of the baseboard, which makes it easy to vacuum, but dooms your curtains to perpetual nerd-dom, like the guy in too-short pants. 
  • Just missing the floor, which looks classy but is also good for picking up pet hair and if you have small kids, makes a handy living room napkin.
  • Pooling on the floor, which is for people who have no children, no pets, and don't do their own housekeeping. In fact, this isn't even a real category, except for magazine pictures of Houses Where Real People Do Not Live. 
Floor length in a kitchen is nuts. But I also want to cover up the window completely, because the wood trim is pretty ugly (and right there is a what a copy editor would call a "deliberate oxymoron." Enjoy!) So, I'm going to the bottom of the apron.

So, after measuring up all these different dimensions, doing the math several times in that great "measure twice, cut once" tradition, and after spreading the entire length of the fabric out on the floor and staring at it several times..... I fold it all up and put it away. Seriously. This kind of thing needs to stew.

Step one to sewing curtains: Measure your windows
Step two to sewing curtains: Measure your fabric
Step three to sewing curtains: Stew about it for a few days.

I'm hoping to be done stewing by the weekend, when I'll have both time to sew, and daylight to shoot decent photos. Check back next week for progress.


  1. I pinned this a while back-- --thinking I would someday sew some curtains, but maybe it was meant for you instead of me? I know just what you mean about the stewing time. Cutting is commitment, baby. You can do it! :-)

    1. I took a look and it gives me a whole 'nother set of ideas to think about. I've never seen back tabs, but it may be just the "look" I'm searching for. Thanks for the link!