Billowy Curtains (On The Cheap)

October 11, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Sunroom, Windows   //  By: Emily   //  one response

Officially 10 months behind schedule with the sunroom curtains.


It would have really been nice to have them all summer long to improve the curb appeal when there was more foot traffic in the neighborhood. Those flower pots didn’t stay in the sunroom very long; once July hit, the room was like a sauna and my plants would have baked, so really, envision the room totally empty.

Front of the house. Post siding, pre-attic update.

Back this thing up to January, when I wrote about my vision of using nice patterned fabrics to complement the gray siding and eggplant front door so that it looked phenom and all matchy from the road. It had potential, but what had occurred to me over the course of the springtime and summer when I spend hoards more time in that sunroom, is that any dark curtain or pattern wouldn’t really look that great from the inside.

I really love how bright and open the room is, all white-walled with huge windows, and even though I wasn’t going to make curtains that would functionally cover the windows entirely (hold that thought, I’ll explain further down), adding anything dark to the corners of the room would… I don’t know… weigh it down? And not only that, before I went and spent upwards of $70-100 on 10 yards of fabric, I wanted to be completely at peace with my decision.

The sunroom with lots of natural light.

My gut instinct to hold off on curtains remained as I plotted to repaint the sunroom ceiling. And then the sunroom floor. And installed the IKEA lantern. After all of that, I decided that dark curtains, or even most light curtains with a pattern seemed completely off the table. Whomp.

No worries though, by that time I had a plan B.

It wasn’t until I was working on my bedroom curtains (the first curtains hung in the house just last month!) until I really explored el cheapo window treatment options. While I ended up using a heavy painter’s canvas in the bedroom, muslin had been on the table too; inexpensive, lightweight, probably easy to dye, what’s not to like?

I decided to revisit it in the sunroom, where the light, airy fabric would only add to the room instead of distract from other details (blue ceiling, sunburst-y floor), so I scooted on over to JoAnn Fabrics to scope out my options. Because I had a 50% off coupon that could be applied to a single “cut” of full-price merch, I wanted to make the most of my savings and buy a full 10-yard piece in one swoop. And sometimes getting one nice long piece out of one of their bolts can be a challenge.

So… dare I admit… I got sneaky.

I knew that the following morning the 36″ wide white muslin was going to be a door buster clearance (priced at 50% off – the same price my coupon would yield) and before the rest of Rochester stocked up and left me with none, I went in with a plan to tap into that overstocked-for-huge-sale fabric, but instead devoured what ended up being their only bolt of that 36″ muslin. Don’t ask me why they were so low-stocked for a big event but I know this to be true because hunting down the 36″ bolt ended up being an hour-and-a-half long exercise for 4 employees who, as I left seemed very shaken by their store’s lack of preparedness. Yikes.

At 99-cents a yard, my total buy (and buy-out of their inventory) came to $9.90.

Sorry ladies who didn’t get their muslin at 8AM. And even more sorry for how long you probably waited in line at the cutting counter before you realized that they were out. 

Muslin home, I started by doing two things: cutting the fabric into even thirds, and washing/drying it to preshrink the material. It’s still in the back of my mind that I have the option of dying these somewhere down the road, and for that reason I wanted them to be shrunken before I did any hem work in the chance that they end up being washed again.

Dried and ironed for the first (of two times) the three panels hung in the sunroom.

Three panels of future sunroom curtains. Letting the light shine through.

Because I had tried (and liked) the no-sew Stitch Witchery for the bedroom curtains, I used it along the top hem of each curtain panel to provide a smooth, slightly stiffened edge.

New sew excitement ensues. Fold fabric, iron, place new-sew, re-iron on crease.

Along both long lengths of each panel, I had considered trimming the roughly frayed-from-the-wash muslin but instead opted to bring out the Singer sewing machine and neatly sew a hem. Zip, zoom, the whole ironing-no-sew-and-then-sewing took all of an hour of my weekend. A very subtle result, which is exactly what I wanted.

Hemmed curtain edge.

Further up the post I mentioned how the curtains weren’t going to be functional; I’ll be honest about this rationale:

The sunroom is a glass-encased room, and while we have the house well-secured and all, let’s face it, it’s a porch. I don’t keep valuable items in there, but I have a fear of someone trying to break into the house through the sunroom access, being able to get away with thievery. By not installing functional blinds or curtains, I’m locking those future burglars into a state of doing what they do in a glass bowl, still fully visible from the street and my watchful neighbor’s kitchen window. If there were blinds that could be shut or curtains to be drawn, I imagine people (this is so horrifying to think about) being able to get away with something more easily.

Now that I’ve thoroughly scared myself again, moving on.

To hang the completely static, non-functional curtains, I was inspired by an episode of Home by Novogratz, where the popular HGTV designers hung curtains on their country home’s front porch on basic eyelet hooks to add effect; in my case, less effect, more clean-lined functionality. I started by adding 4 hooks to each of the three corners of the room I was installing within:

Four evenly spaced hooks will hold the curtain panels static.

Side note: Lots of holes have been drilled in the window frame over time. Lots. Someday they’ll all be cleaned up with filler and the walls will be freshened with a new coat of paint.

To install the panels, simply cut (with a razor blade) four evenly spaced holes into the top hem of the panel through the Stitch Witchery for added strength. Each hole loops over the hook, and leaves me with a trio of consistently hung curtain panels.

Four evenly spaced hooks hold the curtain panels static.

Billowy curtains on the front windows (facing the road).

The third panel I was working on was hung in the back western corner of the room, opposite from the door out to the deck. It actually helps to disguise one of the 4×4 posts from the pergola that was visible against the window.

Third curtain panel. (Oooh, new ottoman. Nice.)

From the living room perspective, the sunroom looks great. Note that I didn’t hem the bottoms, so they’re pooling. That kind of stuff doesn’t really bother me, except that I know that in no time at all these will be converted into fur traps, at which time I’ll settle on a length (I’m thinking just barely resting against the floor).

Bright corner of curtains.

From the outside it looks nice too. Although in this photo the curtains on the left look narrower than those on the right, be assured they’re A-OK. It might not seem like much, but the pop of white (and light) actually does a lot to make the space look inhabited.

Subtlety from the front yard.


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