Monday, September 9, 2013

Curtain time!

I am sick of living in a fish bowl. We have been in this house over three months and it is time for curtains in the living room. Not that we are doing anything we need to conceal. We don't run around without clothes (oh my, not at this age... plus we have young adults coming and going at all hours). It would just be nice to sit down and watch "Orange is the New Black" without wondering if Elvis is looking in. Yes, I said Elvis. We have an honest to goodness Elvis impersonator who walks our street pretty much daily (and nightly). A few weeks ago we were sitting at our dining room table and my friend Ron, who was eating with us said, "Elvis just walked by." Elvis seems nice, a bit flirty but harmless. I just don't want him looking in on me in my PJs. So it is Curtain Time! (at least for the front window).

This is a pretty big area to cover. 103 inches across. We could do 3 separate curtains but I want to be able to open them all the way evenly on both sides. The linen I plan to use is 54 inches wide. They will look flat when pulled shut but I am good with that.
The texture of this linen is luscious. It is a very white (what happened in the photo, I know not), which I think is a great choice for window treatments. Even if I choose to use a fabric with a pattern for another curtain I will go with white for this house since I want it to have a very clean, fresh feel.

The first issue was what type of curtain rod to use. And mostly, where to get them? Locally? Maybe that's not possible. I think these inexpensive rods are fine if the fabric is going to stay covering them. Hardware stores like, Beechwold Ace carry these guys. But I want to be able to pull the curtain back and see something more finished looking in a rod. I was a bit disappointed by the selection at Lowes. They are nice and sturdy but most of the finials are huge. I wanted something simple and minimal. Also, keeping in mind how far you want your curtain to sit out from the window, the Lowe's curtain brackets sit out about 4 or 5 inches, not the look I want. I wanted the curtain to sit in close.

 Looks like Two snakes spooning... not pretty!

I like to shop local of course, but what local retailer sells decent curtain rods? If you know please tell me. I did some browsing on line and I really liked the look of the Crate and Barrel rods. Problem with these is you can't just go pick them up at Easton. The Crate and Barrel rods have to be shipped. You can see them at the store at Easton but they have to ship them. I just ordered them on line and am keeping my fingers crossed.

I was very pleased when these babies showed up by UPS!!

Since we have really nice wood trim I want to let as much of that show as possible. I will hang the rod about an inch below the opening and as close to the edge as possible. (that old bracket is about to be removed).

Another problem with large areas is bracing in the center. The rod I got will expand to 120". I only need 103" but it still needs to be braced.

Because I decided to hang the curtains lower on the window frame I could not use the center support bracket that came with the rods. It needs to be in the wood. We put a single nail in the wood above the rod in the center and supported it with wire. It is hardly noticeable and we get to see lots of wood.

A bit about curtain making...

1. Always remove the selvage from the fabric. The selvage is woven tighter and if you roll it into your side hem it will not drape the same as the body of your curtain and over time the weave of the center will sag and the side seam will stay tight. This is easily avoidable by just trimming.

Cut it off just past the holes. Using a rotary cutter is fast and you get that nice straight line.
2. Sew the side hems first. If you sew the top seam first you will close up your sleeve. A very skinny side hem will do. I first turn it 1/2 inch with my iron...

and then turn the raw edge under as I sew. This helps me avoid burning my fingers while doing a tiny hem. Linen takes a finger pressing beautifully. I highly recommend sewing something with linen. You will fall in love with this amazing fabric. Did you know linen is very durable??

3. I did a fairly tight casing (sleeve) because I like how it looks bunched up around the rod. 3/4 inch rod and 1 1/2 inch casing. If you want the curtain to slide very easily you need to make a bigger casing. You can sew a basting stitch first to see how it will slide.

Simple and clean looking rod, finial and bracket. Sweet!
4. I only sew one seam for the casing. In the olden days I would sew a seam about a quarter inch from the top, along with my bottom seam. It makes a ruffly feature at the top of the curtain, but I like it better without the top seam... less "country."

5. I hang my curtains with the hem unfinished to allow the fabric to settle for a few days (or years). I'll hem them next weekend. (These curtain hems are hidden behind the sofa. Who knows when they will actually get done?)

See that fuzzy vertical line in the window. It is not my photography. It is our glazing ready to fall off. All of our windows in this old house need re-glazing. Yuk!
 6. A nice fullness for curtains is a measurement 1 1/2 times your window width. You can do 2 time the width but it can look too full sometimes. Play around with it. Think about if the curtain will be open or closed most of the time. A flat look is very "Parisian."

They are sheer but enough to keep Elvis from seeing in at night. I love how they add just a bit of warmth to the room but no heavy feel to this small shot gun style living room.
Oh, I do love this linen!!!
I am only getting started on this old house. I hope you will come along with me as I add my Sew To Speak touch to each room. And King, if you read this... I really am a fan. I remember the day they said you died. I was working in our neighborhood drug store and it was announced on the radio. "Media ploy," I thought. The King lives on... in Clintonville. Just tell me one thing... "How do you like my curtains?"

If you need curtain help... stop in at the shoppe. If you have your measurements it is easier for us to assist you.
Rock on and keep sewing!