Monday, 12 April 2010

One Room At A Time

I am making an attempt to create all those finishing touches which I hope will make this flat more homely. One room at a time.

I started last week by making the second curtain for my bedroom window. Every time I have previously attempted curtains, once I finish one side of the curtain I get bored and leave the other side bare. Thus I leave my boyfriend to the perpetual torment of having half blackout and half full daylight streaming in through the bedroom window. I have however now completed one full set.

The fabric is a dark brown with what look to me like those decorative cabbages you can get in a floral bouquet. The effect is quite nice; a heavy fabric that hangs rather dramatically in my plain room. These cabbage things I have carried on through the decoration of the rest of the room, I will post about that another time. But first...

A few tips for making curtains:

  • With heavy curtaining fabrics, gathers look a little bit rubbish. You need lots of fabric so that it falls and looks heavy when you pull them closed, but if you're using a conventional 3" curtain tape do not gather the fabric at the top. It creates an ugly appearance where the top looks really small in comparison to the bottom which hangs flat instead of billowing like it should. It gives the effect of having a skirt hanging over your window. Not good.
  • When using light silky fabrics absolutely gather with the small pleats on 3" curtain tape, it looks lovely and creates an extra dimension to a soft fabric.

Blocking out light:
My boyfriend is obsessed with having a completely dark bedroom for going to sleep. So when I replaced the (half) curtain that I first made for the room I decided to be good to him and buy blackout lining.

However effective these are however, I'm not entirely convinced its entirely worth the £4.50 per metre in comparison to about £1 per metre. No matter how clever you are, shafts of light are always going to come through the sides, top and bottom of the curtain and if you have magnolia walls, (like everyone who lives in a rented flat in the British Isles does) the light bounces off all the walls making it just about as light as it would be with conventional lining. Especially as the fabric itself is very heavy anyway. Obviously its completely different with soft curtains but even then the heaviness of the blackout lining would pull on the light fabric ruining the soft effect.

Measurements and Lengths:
I have one plea to make to anyone out there who is out to buy curtain fabrics. Please take as much information as possible, maybe a photo of your room, an idea of the colour your looking for. You dont have to be strict on this it just gives the person on the other side of the counter an idea what to show you so you dont spend all day looking at every colour in the spectrum.

Measure everything! The length and width of your window frame, the length and width of your desired curtains. And the width of your curtain rail. You cannot have too many measurements but you can absolutely have too few. It will save you alot of hassle and money in the long run if you don't have to keep coming back to the shop with measurements, or if you buy the wrong amount.

Generally you need about twice the width of the curtain rail and an extra 9" or 23cm for hems.

Making Up:
When making the curtains remember that although most curtain linings are slightly smaller to allow for the turnover on the sides, some are not. This I found to my own detriment and had to sit and unpick 2 1/2 metres of curtaining apart.

When shortening the width of the lining, you need it to be about 2" less than the curtain width on either side. This should mean you won't see the lining of the curtain at all.

After that its pretty simple
  • Sew a bottom hem on the lining
  • Put the right side of the lining against the right side of the curtain and sew down each side.
  • Press the curtain and the hems apart, so the turnover on the sides is fairly equal and then sew the top together.
  • Turn out, press and attach curtain heading tape to the lined white side, leaving the strings free on one side if you are gathering.
Next time I make some curtains I will add a step by step picture book of these instructions.

My last tip, although you have hemmed the lining in advance don't hem the bottom edge of the curtain until you hang them up. Hang both curtains next to each other, figure out what length you want now that you can see it and then either pin, take down and machine sew or leave hanging up sit on the floor and hand stitch.

The sit on the floor method was my preferred one, mostly because it's very hard for a small person like me to keep lifting a heavy pair of curtains and hoop plastic curtain hooks that are about a metre above your head.

I hope this has been useful, and I will be posting again soon! Please let me know if this helps or if you manage to make any curtains, or if you have any comments.


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