And thus begins the tale of what has felt like quite the saga…
Our apartment is fantastic in almost every way–it was such a find that we ended our previous lease early just to snap it up. We’re in a historic quadriplex that was built in the 1920s. It’s got everything: hardwood floors, 9′ ceilings, fireplace with huge mantle, the works. Our bedroom is my favorite room in the house because two of the walls are basically just windows that look out into giant magnolias and oaks. So much light and fresh air when the weather is favorable. When the weather isn’t so favorable, those gigantic 1920s windows get a bit drafty.
Back in November, because she is amazingly thoughtful and generous, my grandmother asked what she could get us for an anniversary gift. Although we do live in South Carolina and winters are fairly mild, I knew colder temps were on their way and that those windows needed dressing. So: curtains! Lined curtains! And, because I am who I am and also because this is prime blog fodder, I would make them myself! AKA draft my mom into making them with my help!
DIY Lined Curtains
Materials and equipment:
- However much fabric necessary
- Thread to match
- Sewing machine and some sewing know-how
- Measuring tape
- Iron and ironing board
I went to a couple of different fabric stores, including the most amazing fabric store I’ve ever been to Mary Jo’s, to see what was available and affordable. After some careful deliberation, I went with a Nate Berkus fabric from JoAnn’s partially because I really like print and partially because they routinely have good coupons/sales. For the lining, I wanted something that would insulate but not be too heavy, difficult to work/live with, or actual plastic. Luckily, JoAnn’s had the coziest flannel in a neutral color that also happened to be the right price.
Using some IKEA curtains we have hanging in the living room as a basis for comparison, I knew I would need about 98″ in length and 54″ in width. The fabrics I chose came in the right width, so my main calculation I took to the store was that I needed 11 yards of each fabric. (1 yard=36″)
(98″ x 4 panels) = 392″ / 36″ = 10.88888 yds.
I also knew from talking to my mom about the project that I need to add on some length to compensate for some hefty hemming, which helps properly weight the curtain so that it hangs nicely. I figured 11 yards would be plenty, even after taking the hem lengths into account. Guess how much 0.1111111 yards is? That’s right, only four inches. Not nearly enough to compensate for hemming four panels at the top and bottom! Alas, I didn’t figure that out until after I had bought and paid for the fabric. Oh well, I thought. Not that big of a deal if the curtains don’t come all the way to the floor.
And it isn’t a big deal to me that the curtains aren’t all the way to the floor. I actually kind prefer it for this situation because they hang behind furniture and we open and close them every day. If it is to you, double check your calculations and add some to it just to be sure!
So, I had the fine women at JoAnn cut 11 yards of flannel and order what I needed of the Nate Berkus fabric. Unfortunately for me and my precise calculations, that fabric only comes in 8 yard rolls. As a result, I could get 8 uninterrupted yards and 3 yards cut from another roll. I’m not sure if JoAnn would have been willing to give me 5.5 yards from each roll, but I probably should have asked. Since my calculations were several inches off, it doesn’t much matter anyway!
Once I got all of the fabric home–22 yards is a LOT of fabric–I then had to cut it. Luckily for me, I’ve got a pretty good space to cut on: my freestanding dining room table. I calculated that out of 11 yards, I could cut 99″ panels of the flannel fabric. The print fabric was a slightly different story because of the whole 8 yards and 3 yards situation. Out of the 8 yard section, I could get three panels of 96″ each. We cut the 3 yard section into one panel the same length as the other three panels. Luckily for me, the two fabrics were the same width and exactly what I needed to cover the windows with a little extra.
When cutting, I tried to approximate what I have seen fabric store employees do several times. Cutting can get incredibly technical…I was just trying to get a straight edge with panels that were approximately the same length. I didn’t iron or wash my fabric before cutting it. Rather than complicate and confuse anyone by linking to a tutorial, here’s what I did:
- Roll out a length of fabric and try to line up the cut (or end) edge to be straight with whatever you have to use as a guide. I used the edge of my table.
- Measure that length and, if you need more, pinch the fabric at an easy to add length. Mine was 40″.
- Pull that pinched bit to your guide edge and roll out the fabric behind it.
- Repeat the previous two steps until you have the length of fabric you need.
- Carefully cut the fabric using sharp, clean scissors (the longer the better). I used my measuring tape and the fabric roll as an approximate guide to keep a straight line.
To be honest, I was winging it. I’m not sure if I just don’t know any better, but I think everything turned out relatively fine. Just take your time.
Once the cutting is done, the procedure is fairly straightforward. There are a couple of decisions we made that had an impact on how we went about it:
- I knew that I was going to be using curtain clips, as opposed to running the rod through the curtain. However, we decided to go ahead and make a pocket in the top hem of the print fabric in case I ever wanted to have that option.
- That choice was enabled by the choice to not sew the print fabric and the flannel lining together. Because of the clip situation, it is very easy to just clip the two panels together and move on. Those IKEA clips are pretty strong and I picked up an extra pack to distribute the weight better. By not sewing the panels together, I can take the lining down for the summer (or whatever) and the fabrics are able to stretch separately.
- I knew that I would be opening and closing these curtains every day and curtain rings with clips make it a lot easier to manage. And, I have found that the heavier the curtain is, the better they slide.
- Determine your hem allowance. For the front panels, we did 3″ on the bottom, 2″ on the top, and about 1 1/2″ on the sides. For the lining, we did 2″ all around. (The larger hem on the bottom of the front panel helps give the bottom some weight, which helps the curtain hang nicer.)
- Iron each hem on each panel of fabric and pin the hem down as you go. We did them in sections because I was able to iron while my mom sewed. So we did all the tops and bottoms and then all the sides. Or something like that, anyway.
- Sew the hems. Take breaks.
- For any cut edge, make sure to use a zigzag stitch to prevent future fraying. This will use more thread in the long run, but it is worth the trouble! Selvage (not cut) edges can be sewn with a straight stitch to save yourself some thread and time.
- To create the pocket along the top hem on the front panel, we made sure to sew the side hem first and then fold the top hem over. If you do the top hem first, you will sew the pocket shut when you sew up the side hem.
Once all the hems are sewn up, the curtains are made! All that remains to do before hanging the curtains is to make sure you have cut all your loose threads and completely iron each panel. I set up the ironing board in front of the television and watched a show for the hour it took me to press all eight panels. It is a time-consuming, but critical, step!
Now that the project is finished and our wonderful curtains are hanging, the only thing I may do is hand sew a couple of stitches along the sides to connect the print and lining panels just to hold them together a little better. They hang together quite nicely, but the hem on the front panel keeps falling open and I think that just a few stitches will solve that problem. I can always cut them if I want to take the lining down in the future. Other than that, I think they look wonderful and have made a difference in insulating our old windows.
Those curtain rods are from Target and, for as inexpensive as they are, I’ve been very satisfied with the quality and appearance.
If we want to nitpick, the lining on the left side is a bit longer than the front panel. It doesn’t bother me, but if it starts to, I’ll probably just swap it out with one of the curtains that hangs behind our bed. I’m not sure why that happened…well…beyond not measuring the fabric accurately. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (This emoticon might just be the Patronus of all DIYers.)
I know this is a very long post, but I made mistakes that can be learned from and I think it is valuable to include that. It has been a bit of a saga–taking almost two months to complete–but I’m so glad we did. On to the cocktail!
When looking for inspiration for a cocktail to go with this post, I took a look at the history of flannel. Although the origin of the word is slightly obscure, the Oxford English Dictionary (which I cherish having access to) conjectures that it is of Welsh origin. The production of this Welsh fabric was well known by the 16th century, but the first use of the word is from that time and found in France. Up through the 20th century, the fabric was predominantly manufactured in the British Isles.
Once I found the recipe for this Welsh Coffee, I knew it was just what we needed: something warm and comforting and strong. I made a few adjustments: much less sugar and scotch in place of the Welsh whiskey. Positing that the Madeira-finished whiskey used in the recipe would be oak-ier than your average whiskey and that Scotland is still a British Isle, I thought the scotch would serve as a fine substitute. The result was pretty delicious and very decadent.
- 1 oz. (or so) scotch–I used Famous Grouse
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- about 1 cup strong, warm black coffee
- 1/2 heavy whipping cream
- 1-2 tsp. granulated sugar (for the cream, to taste)
Combine the sugar and cream and whip until soft and pourable.
In a tall glass, mix the sugar and the whiskey, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coffee. Spoon the cream on top. Garnish with nutmeg, coffee beans, or chocolate shavings. Try not to drink it all in one go, I dare you.