Making Curtains on a Budget – Part One, Getting Started

Making Curtains on a Budget – Part One, Getting Started

 

 

My bedroom has plain, dark brown, dull curtains. They are blackout curtains, and were the only ones we were able to find that didn’t clash completely with the rest of the bedroom; we got them when my husband was working nights. I’ve wanted different ones for ages. He’s on dayshift now, so I’ve been looking. The curtains I’ve found in stores around here are all some combination of too expensive, too ugly, not enough available (for the ones on clearance), not matching, or too shoddily made. So I’ve started a new project to make bedroom curtains. I mentioned in my sewing book that I’d be doing this; I’ve started.

Supplies

I’ve got most of my supplies together. I have a 19.5 yard bolt of pale green fabric I found at a yard sale few years ago; it cost about $5. I’ve sorted out all my green and beige fat quarters, remnants, and scraps. I’m not sure how much they add up to; I have a basket I keep quilting bits and pieces in as a collect them. I’ve got thread, a rotary cutter, a tape measure, a cutting mat and rulers, and sewing machines.

Supplies for making curtains – rotary cutter and mat (ruler is not visible, under the cloth), fabric, pins.

Friday I’m going to the fabric discount superstore to get cotton muslin to use as a backing fabric; the sun is strong through the windows, and my living room curtains have faded badly – they’ll be another future project. I want that not to happen to curtains I’ll be spending time and effort getting just right. Backing the finished curtains with muslin will protect against fading, add a neatly finished look to the curtains, and let them block out a little more light in the mornings.

Sewing Machine

I’ll be using my Singer 401A on this. My husband got it from a guy at work for me; his coworker said, “Your wife likes to sew, right? Would she want this machine my daughter doesn’t?” They worked out a reasonable price ($150, including the table,

Singer 401A (and small detail scissors)

and drawers full of tools, like the little scissors in the picture, and all the accessories and cams.) I like using it. And I like sitting at it to use, because of my chair.

I found a chair that matched the wood of the table and the style; a neighbor had left it by the road with a “free” sign. The upholstery on the seat was ugly and dirty; as I stripped it off, I found layers of re-upholstering going back to the 50’s, based on the fabric. I stripped it and cleaned it, then redid the seat with a new foam cushioning ($6 at craft store, and much more comfortable than ancient excelsior) and some dark denim fabric I had in my stash. It’s the perfect height for sewing, comfy to sit on, and I feel kind of proud of my first attempt at refinishing an old chair.

Anyway.

The machine is fun to use, even though I’m still figuring out the decorative stitches, for straight stitching, it’s easy. It’s strong enough to go through layers. I might use my Singer 221 if I want to sew while I’m elsewhere; it’s nicely portable and good for piecing.

Steps So Far, and Future

So far,I’ve prewashed the large body fabric. This is necessary for a few reasons: it gets any shrinkage done, and tests for washability; I got the fabric second-hand, and it’s always a good idea to thoroughly clean any used things you get; and it’s been on a shelf for a couple years and was dusty. I thought about dying it, but decided I like the light green; it will brighten up the bedroom, and will be balanced by the darker pieced border.

I’ve measured the windows (45 inches tall) and decided I need 10 curtains – 5 pairs – to cover all the windows in the bedroom. I’m going to first cut ten 50-inch pieces. This will be the main body of the curtains. I’m finding it a bit tricky to work with a large piece using a rotary cutter, but I want the edges to be perfectly straight. This length will allow for hems and pockets, but barely; however, another 8 inches from the border will make it just about right.

I’m going to be adding a row of piecing along the borders, using all the scraps. I’ll probably just use an easy pattern that takes half-square triangles. I still have to decide for sure on the piecing pattern, and cut out the shapes.

I’ll post updates as I make progress. Right now, my goal is to have a few of the curtains ready for backing when I get back home with the muslin.

 

For more about sewing without breaking the bank, get my book, Sewing on a Budget! Available in paperback and for Kindle.

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