Window Treatments, Part 1; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just buy Fabric by the Bolt!

Welcome to the first of my two part series on my first home DIY!  The first (of many, I’m sure) house project is done!  We now have bedroom curtains!  And it is amazing to sleep in the dark instead of basking in the sodium glow of the streetlight that seems to sidle right up to our window the minute it gets dark out.  OK, it’s across the intersection, but still, that’s pretty darn close.

Once we got moderately unpacked, we decided to look at what to put up on the windows.  In the interim, we’d hung a couple sarongs in the bedroom and bathroom windows (very classy!).  We figured it would take us a weekend, maybe, to get curtains or blinds or whatever.  Hahahahaha.  Do you have any idea how many “window treatments” are out there?  And how expensive they are?  When you have almost two dozen windows that need something, it adds up really fast!!  I was shocked, to be honest.  I mean, as an apartment dweller, mini-blinds were always standard issue so I bought decorative IKEA curtains when it suited me (mostly to cover up the eyesore [but free!] mini-blinds…how I hated them).  They make strange snick-ey noises, and aren’t all that awesome about blocking out light.  Plus, they get so gross and dusty.

So buying window treatments is a new thing.  Based on my general dislike of mini-blinds we’d had in apartments, we eliminated those right away, and were left with faux wood blinds (hideous and obviously not wood, at least at my price range), wood blinds (hella spendy, and the white ones look totally fake!), cellular shades (which John hates with a passion, so those are out), vertical shades (see my feelings on mini-blinds and multiply by a factor of 2), roller shades (they always look kinda tacky, plus they tend to have a mind of their own), roman shades (hello, 1970s!), and curtains.  Maybe we’re just picky, or maybe I don’t know how to deploy the window coverings we eliminated, but it started to look like our only option was curtains!

Curtains are nice because I can pull them down and wash them periodically, they can be bright and colorful accents in a room, and (properly lined) they can block out a LOT of light (take that, Streetlight!).  And there are some budget options out there (bonus!), and lots of different styles, from stiff formal to sheer casuals.  So we settled on curtains for the bulk of our windows and went shopping.  We briefly looked at ready-made curtains in places like JC Penney, Target, & IKEA, but I was aghast at how much a ready made curtain panel cost, and how little bang you get for your buck!  I mean, yes, there is a certain amount of material cost, but I can do the maths, and my math says they make a bundle on curtains!  But, we went out and looked at the curtains available, figuring maybe the time/effort saved by not making them ourselves would be worth the extra cost.

It was really when we went out and saw the curtains in person in the wild that I started thinking seriously about making my own.  Now, maybe I don’t have sophisticated home decorating taste, but I found 98% of the curtains we saw rather hideous.  Heavy dark fabrics, ghastly prints, many many shades of beige, and sequins?!?!?  I also wasn’t super impressed by the light-tightness of the linings on supposed blackout curtains (what? you don’t go curtain shopping with a flashlight and a spot light-meter in your purse?).  Some panels weren’t even cut or sewn straight (yes, I take them out of the package before buying them…especially at IKEA).  So, deflated, defeated, and standing, curtainless, in the underbelly of IKEA at 8:30pm one night, we declared drapery independence.

We decided to make our own damn curtains.

There were a couple other factors that went into this decision…

  1. I like to sew.  I can’t imagine how daunting and frustrating it would be to make curtains if you didn’t like sewing.
  2. I have time to make them.  We aren’t in a huge rush (I mean, we’ve been living in the house for how long completely curtainless?!)
  3. I have a good source of inexpensive fabric.  SR Harris is a fabric warehouse just outside the cities that has TONS of fabric for half price, regular coupons, and a huge selection of linings, trims, etc.  It’s a hike out there, but generally very worth it!
  4. We honestly didn’t like ANY of the curtains we saw for sale enough to live with them for 2-3 years.
  5. I could make exactly what I wanted, tailored to fit my windows perfectly.  What’s not to love!

So yesterday, we headed to SR Harris and bought more fabric than I have ever bought in my life, I’m sure.  12 yards of an orange print for curtains in the living room, 6 yards of a coordinating turquoise print for the bedroom, 8 yards of a grey and white geometric print (yes, I know the link is green…pretend it’s a nice medium grey) that John immediately dubbed “star wars fabric” because it reminds him of thai fighters (not sure on the spelling…clearly I don’t know what he’s actually talking about, because it does not seem star wars-ish to me at all).  And an entire bolt of Roc-lon blackout drapery lining.  Yup.  An. Entire. Bolt.

Pushing a cart out to the car with 4 giant rolls of fabric/lining in it was kinda surreal (and all the fabric bolt-lifting was a pretty good workout, too…I’m kinda sore today!).  But we got everything we needed for just over $300.  As a bonus, I love all the prints, we have some funky colors for those dreary winter grey days, and I will get to make my awesome curtains!

I did get the bedroom curtains made last night, but more on that soon–it’s too much to cram all into one post!