Customize curtains in less than an hour

Curtains can certainly be pricey, but what they do for a room is amazing—they add depth, privacy, texture and style. I’ve made no-sew curtains before, but this time I wanted something different, even simpler (if you can imagine).

I bought these very inexpensive sturdy-weight, linen-like curtains from Ikea.

CurtainsTo dress up the curtains and give them a more custom look, I added this velvet trim to the leading edges using heavy duty Stitch Witchery, a nonsewer’s best friend.

Black velvet trim

Because I was inspired by these I saw in Elle Decor.

Curtain inspiration

Here’s how:

1. Iron the panels.

2. Lay one panel out on the ironing board, right side up. Roll out a small section of the Stitch Witchery (like 12 inches) and place it on the panel where you want the trim. I adhered mine right up to the edge.

3. Lay the trim on top of the Stitch Witchery, cover with a damp—not wet—white cloth (colored towels can bleed).

4. Set a steam iron on the wool setting on top for 10 seconds. Don’t move the iron. Note: Don’t cut the Stitch Witchery or the ribbon. Unravel each as you go—until you reach the bottom of the first panel.

5. Repeat all the way down and cut the edge flush with the curtain using good-quality fabric scissors. Then continue down the other edge and on the rest of the panels for the room.

Here’s how ours look.

Our curtains

And here are a few other ideas:

Curtain trim options

How have you customized your curtains?


Make easy, versatile curtains in less than an hour

DIY curtains
I have a few go-to places for fantastic, inexpensive curtains—Ikea makes great basics that you can embellish, Urban Outfitters offers whimsical prints, World Market sells a mix of solids and ethnic patterns and Target gets the timeless patterns right. But when I have already created what I want in my head, even these resources sometimes come up short. That’s when I make them.

Let me begin by saying I am not a sewer. Before the beginning of 2012, I didn’t even know how to operate a sewing machine. But I had to learn quickly (taught myself, thank you very much) when I was unable to find the perfect curtains for a client’s salon’s manicure room.
Thomas Paul Dahlia fabric
I owned six yards of this fabulous Thomas Paul Dahlia fabric that I bought on an incredible closeout ($3 a yard) when I still lived in New York. (Yep, I moved this across the country!) It was the perfect color and the right print for the salon’s organic modern feel.
Measuring the curtains
The fabric started at 54 inches wide, but the windows I was covering were small interior windows that would have been swallowed by 108 inches of fabric, so I cut the fabric in half lengthwise to make 27-inch panels. I planned to make each panel 88 inches, so I measured 90 inches, then lined the edge of the fabric up with my rug to ensure it was straight and cut four 90-inch panels of fabric.
No pinning
Instead of pinning, I used my boning tool, and worked in small sections to create a ¼-inch fold on all four sides of each panel, ironing each section as I went. Then I folded each section over again to make finished edges and ironed the seams on all four sides of the panel.
Sewing the curtains
I sewed each panel and used ring clips to hang them.

I did the same thing to create these curtains in the bachelor pad I decorated.

Make a simple, inexpensive window treatment

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a project I had done. I made a pelmut box to hide vertical blind hardware that we couldn’t remove in a client’s rental.

A neutral and bright living space

And I promised you the how-to instructions. Truth be told, I lost the pictures of this project somewhere in our move. Luckily, my mom wanted to make a pelmut box for her laundry room, so I walked her through the steps, and she took photos. Thanks, Mom. You’re the best!

* You will need one piece of large foam-core board. You can get it at Michael’s or Target. I think the thicker stuff works better for this because it makes a more substantial final product.
* Quilter’s batting (the kind you can roll out)
* Hot glue
* 1 piece of poster board
* 2 small 1.5-inch L brackets
* 2 small flat straight brackets
* 5/8 yards of fabric (home decor fabric that is at least 54 inches wide)

Supplies for pelmut box

Instructions 1 for Pelmut Box

1. Decide the length, width and depth that you desire for the pelmut box. This one is 44 inches long, 5 inches wide and 4 inches deep. Mark measurements on the foam-core board. Remember to add at least one inch to the length of your window for a bit of overhang. And measure for the two sides (how far you want it to come out from the window).
2. Cut the foam-core board using a utility knife.
3. Because my mom’s pelmut box needed to be 44 inches long and foam-core board is typically 30 inches long, we needed to add a 14-inch piece.
4. Hot glue the seam.
5. Add two flat brackets for additional support and glue in place.

Pelmut Box instructions 2

6. Hot glue the sides at the seams.
7. Cut the batting to cover the entire pelmut structure.
8. Wrap all sides and hot glue in place.

Pelmut instructions 3

9. Cut the fabric to size (enough to wrap the entire pelmut box), wrap and adhere with hot glue.
10. Cut the posterboard to cover the back of the pelmut box (you want to hide the unfinished edges), three pieces all together–one for the length and one for each side. The pieces should be slightly smaller than the pelmut box frame. Wrap the posterboard pieces in fabric and secure with hot glue. Then glue each of the pieces to the pelmut box frame, unfinished edge to unfinished edge.
11. Measure the length of your completed pelmut box, then hang L brackets on the wall, ensuring the brackets are level.

Pelmut box 022

Finally, glue your pelmut box to the L brackets you just hung. And voila.

Help select the fabric for a window treatment


Behind this pretty window treatment lurks dated vertical blinds and a hideous valance, but this client’s a renter and didn’t want to do anything that wouldn’t be really simple to take down/remove when she and her beau move. So we concealed what was there completely.

Because this installation is temporary, we wanted to keep costs low and materials light so I wouldn’t have to make too many holes in the ceiling. I constructed this pelmut box using foam-core poster board, 1/2 yard of Thom Filicia’s Burnet fabric in Shadow, hot glue and L-brackets. The complete how-to will follow in another post next week.

Michelle was so happy with the effect that she asked me to help her spruce up her mom’s rental house in Encinitas, California. The renovated kitchen lacks color, so we decided to put a pelmut box above the small window over the kitchen sink. We’re currently picking fabrics to complement the cabinets. The adjacent dining area will feature this print.

Swimming pool print, Zazzle

I’ve narrowed the sea of pool-blue choices to these four. Which one do you like best?

Fabric selection

Clockwise from top right: Lewis & Sheron’s Beacomber in Teal, Calico Corner’s Zebra Skin Outdoor in Aquamarine, Nate Berkus’ El Toro in Aquamarine or Lewis & Sheron’s ODL Doodle in Caribbean Blue?

© Copyright Wendy James Designs - Website by Newton Designs and powered by Wordpress