Saturday, October 1, 2011

Burlap Curtains

We've lived in our house for about 4 months now, and we now have finished (almost) curtains over the front bay window! Progress! Unfortunately, the neighbors no longer get to see me nursing the twins on the couch whenever they pass by. Shucks. I'm sure they're heart-broken. 

One of the reasons it took me so long to get curtains up is that it takes me a while sometimes to figure out what I want. And since I always want something cheap that doesn't look cheap, that takes a while to find. Blinds are nice, but they're expensive, don't add much decoration wise, and wouldn't be very kid-friendly since the windows come all the way down to the window seat that is only 12 inches from the ground. Also, the front windows together are about 115 inches across. Large windows make curtains difficult because panels don't usually come any wider than about 52 inches, and certainly not discount curtains. And since a curtain rod that long needs to be supported in the middle, you can't even just get a third panel to cover the extra. You need four panels. So even if you get a set on sale for about $50-60, that's still over $100 to cover just one window. Anyway, I don't think you need any more of my thought process. Suffice it to say that was more than I wanted to pay.

Burlap crafts seem to be the rage right now, and I saw burlap curtains at The Old Painted Cottage that I wanted to give a try. By the way, I also TOTALLY want to do a sideboard similar to hers with shelves above it in my kitchen...all in good time. But just panels of burlap was too blah, so I wanted to add a ruffle accent as well. Here's what I did.

I measured the window and got enough burlap for four panels across. I rolled the burlap out on my floor and measured four lengths of about 93 inches. Then I sewed two panels together for each side. I then sewed a large 3-4 inch hem at the top and a small hem along the bottom. I didn't bother turning the edge under, because the burlap is fairly stiff. I just folded the fabric over once and hemmed. I also bought some 90 inch wide muslin for lining since we want a lot of privacy in that room. I measured it as well and hemmed the top, sides, and bottom. I did sew these together with a pocket to slide the rod through, but the muslin is too stiff to gather well when I want the curtains open, so we're just hanging the curtains with ring clips.

 Here's how I did the ruffle. Your ruffle fabric will need to be twice as long as the width of your curtains so that once you've "ruffled" it, it will still be long enough. I had four yards of fabric. Leaving it folded so I could cut two ruffle lengths at a time, I cut 4 inch strips. I don't mind a bit of a frayed look, so I didn't need extra fabric for turning the edges under for a hem. Since I don't have a rotary cutter and mat, I just laid the fabric on the ground. Using my tape measure, I made small slits along the edge at 4 inch intervals. Then moving the tape measure up, I cut up to those same increments on the tape measure. Once I had the strips started, I folded the strip up, keeping it flush with the left side of the fabric, to use as a guide in continuing to cut the length of my strip on the right hand side. I hope that makes sense. As you continue to cut, it goes much faster because you have more length on your strip to use as a guide. I cut four lengths. One for the top and bottom of both panels for my curtains. You may have to cut more strips and sew them together to get strips long enough to span the whole width of your curtain.

 I then separated my strips and sewed a 1/4 inch seam all around the strip to control the amount of fraying.
  To create the ruffle, I sewed down the middle of each strip, folding the fabric up about 1/4 inch, sewing 2-3 inches farther down and then folding the fabric under the opposite way. Then I sewed for an inch or so before starting the process again, creating a ruffle that has fabric in front and then behind if that makes sense.

 I then laid my burlap curtain on the ground and marked notches (with pencil right on the fabric since it will be covered by the ruffle) in a line 17 inches from the top and 14 inches from the bottom. I then sewed my ruffle down the line adding a thin blue ribbon detailing down the middle of my ruffle.

 Here's one of the panels while the curtains are open. How to deal with that big, dark fireplace decoratively will be future posts I'm sure.

 I hung the curtains with curtain rings by clipping the rings to the back of the curtain about 4 inches from the top.
Here are the panels closed for the night. The pictures aren't great, but the curtain turned out pretty cute. It's a really wide curtain, but I'm pretty pleased with the result. I'm shocked at how well the lines of ruffles match up. Sometimes things work out despite my mediocre skills. Huzzah! The burlap gives a really fun texture to the curtain and pattern when the sun shines on them.

A warning about working with this much burlap: It has a pretty strong smell that will need a few days to air out. It also will leave hairy fuzz all over the floor while you're working with it. But now that they've been up a while, the smell is gone, and I don't notice a problem with the fuzz.

So here's the end cost for the curtains across this enormous window and then across our french doors in the back. About 17 yards of burlap for $3/yd. (50% off coupon at JoAnn's) for $51. Muslin lining for for the front windows for $17 (Another 50% coupon). Four yards of ruffle fabric for $2/yd (on sale) for $8. The ribbon was on sale for $.50 for 10 yards. I used 2 spools for $1. Total cost: $77! Not too shabby. Another reason this project took so long is that I wanted 50% off and had to wait for those items to not be on sale so that I could actually get a better price with my coupon. I had one set of extra curtain rings from a previous project and bought a second set for $4 on sale. Then I had to buy a simple curtain rod for the french doors for $4 at Lowe's. It will be totally covered up all the time, so I could buy a simple rounded one. So even with the hardware, it was a pretty cheap project. It did take more time than I thought it would (projects always do for me), but even though that's a precious commodity for everyone, it isn't a commodity that comes out of my bank account. :)


Kate said...

So cute, Hil! What a great idea. We have a similar funky window in our kitchen that I need to cover. We don't necessarily need to privacy (it looks over the backyard), but the direct summer sun really heats up the room. This may be just the ticket. Thanks for the great tutorial!

Molly said...

I LOVE those curtains, Hillary! They are so cute! You did an awesome job. I'm so impressed by both your creativity and sewing skills. This is a great tutorial too. Thank you for sharing.

Curtain said...

They look very pretty. Do you have any other colors available?

Gaddzooks! said...

I'm afraid I only made the one set for my own living room. Something I've since learned is that burlap will yellow in the sun. So if you plan on making some, I wouldn't suggest it for a window that receives direct sun. The portion that receives direct sun through my window has started the yellow. Really disappointing.

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