Thursday, August 05, 2010

"Curtain" Project

There's this one guy at work who paces the halls in the afternoons clicking his pen constantly clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick and by about 3:00 on Fridays I fantasize about grabbing that pen and stabbing him in the throat with it.

Then the moment passes.

(Speaking of annoying sounds I work with someone who washes her hands vigorously squelching the lather through her fingers very aggressively and it makes these really nasty squishy sounds and it upsets me.)

So I take myself to my happy space where I think about the lovely new blog posts I'm going to write and the projects I'm going to work on and everything is good again.

When I first moved into my condo it was November and it was going to get cold. I needed some curtains for my drafty windows, and fast! Now, I am all about slapping some fabric on some curtain clips and calling it a day. And when it's cold I have been known to put blankets on the clips instead because they really help insulate things. So I had blankets for the living room and my craft/library/second bedroom windows (actually, I liked the one in the 2nd bedroom so much that it's still up). And for my bedroom I made these:
I got this fabric at Sirs Fabrics in Fayetteville, Tennessee, for practically nothing. I liked the colors and the pattern and the little bit of gold in it. I still love that fabric.

I made them that length on purpose so that I could anchor the bottom to the window frame because the heat/AC vent is directly under one of the windows and I didn't want my heat just flying up the curtains. I also lined them so they'd hold the heat in just a little bit better.

Well, I love the fabric but I just hated those curtains after a while. Yes, they were functional and did exactly what I wanted them to do, but they just didn't go with anything in my bedroom. I was dreaming of something that would go with the color scheme, maybe a light robin's egg blue with a brown pattern, something pretty and light and long....

So I started pricing curtains and OMG y'all*. Curtains are outrageously expensive. And being a textiles person I cannot understand why. They have 2 layers of fabric (at most) and 4 seams. Some of them have tabs or a pocket for the curtain rod and maybe a fancy mitred corner but really the labor involved in sewing curtains is nothing and most of that is probably automated. The fabric in some cases is really really nice but for the most part it is just fabric! Something you could get at Walmart for $5! (Does Walmart even sell fabric anymore?) The company I work for sells pants that last for years with tons of labor involved and they are cheaper than 1 individual curtain PANEL at most major retailers.

Then I decided I could just make curtains instead so I started looking at fabric and that was a bust. I couldn't find anything I wanted that would really work. The colors I liked tended to be in quilting fabrics and those patterns were pretty small and the curtains would definitely need to be lined because the fabric was so light weight and it was a conundrum.

I went to Lowe's this evening to get some black spray paint (there isn't much that can't be improved with some black spray paint) and as I was walking down the curtain aisle I had an epiphany.
They are heavy enough that they don't really need to be lined.
They are plain old unbleached cotton canvas.
They come in HUGE sizes.
They are cheap cheap cheap.

So I got two packs of 4' by 15' drop cloths. When I got home I threw them in the washer and then in the dryer (they did shed a LOT), and ironed them while they were still damp. Then I sliced each one in half so I had 4 panels that were 4' wide by 7 1/2' tall. I hemmed the ends I cut (I was so slack on this project that I didn't even change the thread on my machine) so they wouldn't unravel everywhere.

Then the serious part- I moved the existing curtain rods. Now, I might be slack because I didn't change thread colors but the previous owners of this place were so slack they just stuck screws in the drywall for the curtain-rod-holder-thingies. So I got out the drill (which I finally used for the first time- the battery powered drill!) and put in drywall anchors like a responsible adult. And I put them way up by the ceiling so now I have huge light airy curtains that go from maybe 6" below the ceiling all the way to the top of the baseboards. I think it makes the room look better and the windows bigger.

Curtains in the night time.

The only drawbacks to this project were:
- I wish the color of the canvas had been slightly lighter but honestly who cares? (There is more contrast between the curtains and the walls than is showing up in the pictures.)
- One of the drop clothes was pieced together and has a big old ugly seam in it but really... I don't care too much about that either. I just put that panel on the side that no one is really going to see.

The major advantage? I have 2 pairs of curtains for the grand price of $28. That is what one decent panel costs at Walmart or Target. SCORE!
Curtains in the day time (sorry about that blinding sunshine there)

Now that I've been doing some looking around on the good old internets, it seems that I am (again) way behind on the trend. A lot of people are making curtains out of drop clothes for all the reasons I did. I am intrigued by the idea of getting a really huge drop cloth to slipcover a chair... that might be my next sewing project. And yeah, with the brown walls and unbleached curtains the room does look a little blah, but I am making a huge bright quilt that might be done in a couple of years! It will really pop against the neutral colors.

*I was explaining some project details at work and I said, "Your guys's spreadsheet... okay that can't be grammatically correct." And someone said, "You could just say y'all." I discovered the time when "y'all" is an acceptable form of speech.


Anonymous said...

Interesting about the curtains but we all want to know more about the clicking pen guy.

Why only at 3:00 pm on Thursdays.

What brand of pen is it?

And why have you chosen to stab him in the throat as opposed to, say, his heart?

Heather said...

I never noticed the pen clicking until someone pointed it out to me, and now I hear it all the way down the hallway. Fridays (Thursdays?) are when my tolerance for irritating noise is running low.

The throat seems more efficient. I could stab him in the heart with a spoon but I don't want to hurt the guy, I just want him to STOP CLICKING THE DAMN PEN!!!! (I guess if I were really thinking it through I could just stab him in the hand and avoid the whole violent messy death thing. But that doesn't make for a dramatic story.)

And, considering my office environment, go to Staples and price retractable ball point pens. When you find the cheapest ones possible you've found the brand. :)