My adventure with curtains

I consider myself a seamstress, even though I haven't used my trusty Brother sewing machine in years. My parents bought me this machine when I graduated high school, which was... a long time ago. Let's just say Pluto was still a planet and leave it at that. 

Anyway, we've been in desperate need for bedroom curtains ever since we moved to our new house. We're next to a condo building with an emergency light that shines directly into our window all night. It's a problem. 

What's a rational person to do? Buy curtains online or at a store, right? Right-o!

Sadly, something got a hold of me, and I decided the best course of action was to sew my own curtains, having sewn exactly zero curtains before in the past. This might have been a reasonable pursuit, had I decided to make simple, unlined, rod pocket curtains in a solid fabric. But I did not.

Instead, I went for a bold patterned fabric with 27" repeat, with blackout lining, and -- for good measure -- 2-fold tailored pleats (which I didn't even know was a thing until I saw the Restoration Hardware catalog). The internet can be a dangerous place for the ambitious. I found DIY blog posts like this and this, extolling the possibilities of pleats! Pleats, I decided, were a must. 

So I ordered 10 yards of fabric, 7 yards of Ron-Loc blackout lining, bought some thread, and got started.

Step 1: Iron  

I like my iron, but hate ironing, and both of these things are clearly stated in my Amazon review of my iron. So I was nonplussed to discover that before I could do anything, I had to iron about 500 square feet of fabric.

Step 2: Sew large pieces of fabric together

I have two side-by-side windows that measure 43" across, each. In order to get the proper fullness to support pleating, I needed an 80" width panel. My fabric was 54" wide, so I cut it into 3 10' pieces, and cut one piece in half (hot-dog style) to get the extra width I needed for the main two panels. Dear god. Just writing about this is exhausting. 

As you can see, I didn't do the best job matching up the pattern. Whoops. 

As you can see, I didn't do the best job matching up the pattern. Whoops. 

After I sewed the fabric pieces together, I had two VERY large pieces of fabric, each measuring about 80" wide by 100" long. 

Step 3: The Lining

The nice thing about the lining is that it came wrapped up on a roll, so it was wrinkle-free (no ironing!) and required no hemming. At this point, I'm going to refer you to this blog to explain what I did.

Also, here's what happens at my house if you leave the room while lining your curtains.  

Step 4: The Pleating

Pleating is actually pretty fun because it involves math. You have to map out where the pleats will go, and measure equal spacing between each pleat. You're supposed to use a material called buckram at your curtain header to get crisp pleats. This is the material used in header tape. I didn't do this because when I tried to buy header tape at Joann's Fabrics and Crafts, it only came by the yard, and I didn't have time to stand in line to get it cut. This is because I have an actual job, and that job is not making curtains.   

So I just folded down the header over the lining, and pretended like I had header tape in there. It worked out alright in the end. Also, by this point, I had spent 16+ hours on these curtains, and my standards were softening. 

Here's how they turned out:

Not too shabby! Note to self: Never do this again.

Not too shabby! Note to self: Never do this again.

You can see how I didn't line up the fabric patterns evenly between the right and left panels, and my pleats aren't exactly crisp. Oh well. They block the light completely and look good, so I'm happy. And, given that we're currently sleeping on a mattress on the floor, they add much-needed class to our bedroom.