I Just Dyed in Your Arms Tonight

After hemming and ironing longer than I would have liked, I finished the curtains yesterday.  And I’m now convinced I need to invest in a higher quality iron.  Apparently, the ten-dollar one I have isn’t fit to iron curtains, hence the hours of ironing.  But let’s start at the beginning.  As I pointed out yesterday, we needed a way to take the curtains down without removing the rod.  Why?  This might explain it.

Rather than going the conventional rod route, Ben and I agreed it would look cool to use galvanized pipe for the living space.  Once attached to the wall, it will be difficult to remove just the rods.  The living room window is 125 inches wide, which means we need a looooong curtain rod and extra wide curtains.  When looking for 144 inch rods, its slim pickin’.  Target didn’t have anything longer than 120 inches.  Home Depot had 144 inch rods, but all are more traditional looking that we wanted, like this one that was $45.  However, our Home Depot doesn’t carry that same rod in a shorter length.

So I called Ben while shopping to see what he thought of pipes turned industrial curtain rod.  Luckily, he was down for it.  We discussed the sizes available and came up with three flanges, three 3 1/2 inch nipples (I can tell men named these parts), two 90 degree elbows, and one tee, all 1/2 inch diameter per window.  The larger living room window needed 72 inch long pipes, while the shorter dining window was fine with 60 inch pipes for the rods.

Using a flange, nipple, and tee in the center of each window gives an extra support and allowed us to use two shorter lengths of pipe.

Ben was apprehensive about using drop cloths for the fabric, but I told him it would be okay, so he trusted me.  I walked out of Home Depot $163.76 lighter (dang pipes are expensive) with curtain and rod material in hand.  Now the pressure was on.  I actually had to make these look good.  A quick stop at Joann fabric for three boxes of black fabric dye and I was ready to get to work.  The process of sewing wasn’t difficult, just time-consuming, including a ton of measuring.

With the top, sides, and snaps done, I decided to dye the panels before ironing and hemming the bottoms.  I really wanted a medium gray color, but Joann had light gray and black dye.  Black was my best bet to get a mid saturation, so I mixed one and a half boxes of powder dye with a huge bucket of hot water.  I’m not sure how many gallons, but trust me when I say it was huge.  Then I soaked each panel, one at a time until the colors seemed uniform.  Because I was alone with the boys, I didn’t time anything, just left each panel in a while until it seemed to reach maximum saturation.  Then into the washer for a short, cold wash and a toss in the dryer.  Quite pleasantly, all panels seemed to match and didn’t have uneven spotting.  Success!

And here are the washed, measured, sewn, tabbed, snapped, dyed, hemmed, and ironed curtains in place.  Looking lovely, if I might add.

Each panel barely grazes the floor.

Back tabs are the shiz.  Look how nicely the panels bunch and hang.

But there is one small downside.  Even though the drop cloths are marked 9 by 12 feet, they’re actually about 8 1/2 by 11 1/2 feet.  Straightening up the edges and adding about one foot of rod length makes the large window panels look short when closed.  Oh well, the window is covered and that’s what really matters, right?

The dining panels are perfect though.

You can kind of see that I didn’t make panels for the French doors out to the deck.  When we replace the windows (which will probably happen next summer), we’re changing things up.  No more door there.  Muhahahaha (that’s my evil villain laugh).

Now if we could just get a dining table.  And a light.  Ha.

Can you tell I’m excited about the new curtains?  I’m loving the warmth they add to the room.  Just makes it look lived in.

Mission accomplished.  We’ve got (pretty) curtains.

And here’s what it cost us:

For living room:  $33.90 for two 72 inch long pipes, $2.24 for one tee, $18.72 for three flanges, $3.12 for two elbows, $4.38 for three 3 1/2 inch nipples, $21.98 for a 9 by 12 foot drop cloth, and $2.29 for one box of fabric dye for a total of $86.63

For dining room:  $27.40 for two 60 inch long pipes, $2.24 for one tee, $18.72 for three flanges, $3.12 for two elbows, $4.38 for three 3 1/2 inch nipples, $21.98 for a 9 by 12 foot drop cloth, and $2.29 for one box of fabric dye for a total of $80.13

If I had bought two standard curtain rods, I would have spent 90 bucks on rods, so basically four curtain panels cost about 75 bucks.  Not too shabby.  But I’m not completely done yet.  I think I’ve decided what I want to do, so I’ll be back with more details when I actually get around to that.

Do you have odd sized windows to work with?  Have you used pipes for curtain rods?  Drop cloths for curtains?

30 thoughts on “I Just Dyed in Your Arms Tonight

  1. i love the curtain rods! and isn’t ironing the worst?! i can count on one hand the number of times i have ironed something in my life.
    unfortunately, i made new curtains a few weeks ago that all needed to be ironed before hanging. after an hour and a lot of cursing (and my husband making fun of me for knowing where we even keep the iron), i gave up. i gave all four panels a quick pass over with the iron and hung them. after 3 weeks, i’m still keeping my fingers crossed that the humidity and gravity pulls the wrinkles out. ha!

    1. Hey Lizzy!

      Oh yeah, ironing was the worst part of all. I can’t stand it. I hoped the dryer would get more of the wrinkles out, but that didn’t work. Hopefully yours will work out on their own. 🙂


    1. Hi Julia!

      Oh yeah, I love your curtains. I thought about adding ribbon details, too. I think I’m going a slightly different route, but I love how yours look.


  2. Super idea to use the rods! We plan on using them too in different widths for a variety of purposes in the new house we’re building: stairwell handrail on the back staircase, curtain rods for the boys, shower curtain rod, and toilet roll holder. I just made the toilet roll holder this morning that’s been circulating on pinterest from the Ace Hotel. I made ours long enough for two rolls. The black pipe is way cheaper than the galvanized. Using the 1/2 ” pipe it all cost under $10! The color is pretty cool so I’m just going to spray it with a clear varnish to seal it.

    1. Hey Karyl,

      That’s an awesome tp holder idea. I looked for black pipe and found everything but the flanges, so I stuck with galvanized. 🙂


  3. Amanda, the curtains and hardware are amazing! You’ve outdone yourself here. Yes, they were a lot of work, but you got exactly what you were looking for and at a much better price. Way to go!

    1. Hi BeeforeAndAfter!

      Thanks so much! I’m impressed they all look presentable. Haha.


  4. These look awesome!! I would love to see how you made your back tabs… will you post a tutorial? I’ve been thinking about doing the pipe rods as well because we have huge oversized windows, but I didn’t even consider that I couldn’t take the curtains down once they are up (duh). And love the drop cloths with dye – never even occurred to me (duh #2). Love it 🙂

  5. Great job! They look wonderful! I did something similar, but used Stitch Witchery (hem tape) to hem the dropcloth. I trimmed them with a pretty fabric on the inside edge (also Stitch Witched) and hid the seam with grosgrain ribbon. We also used 1/2 in. electrical conduit (sprayed with oil rubbed bronze Rustoleum), $6.00 drapery rod supports, and cheap but attractive glass finials from IKEA to hang them.

    1. Do you have a picture?! I am wanting to do the oil rubbed bronze on the conduit as well (and the drop cloths). We have a sun room /patio that is our main hang out as all our computers are in here – but there are windows on 3 sides and it’s a good sized sun room! There’s no way I can afford nice drapery for all that, but the light makes it so hard to see the monitors, especially in the late afternoon. I actually have paper dropcloths pinned with the Ikea clips – you know- they aren’t that bad. It was $4 a panel for the paper and they have a nice look believe it or not! But it’s time to upgrade to the canvas. I would love to see how yours turned out.

    1. Hi Tiffany C,

      We plan to replace all the windows in the house (which should start soon!). Because a few of the window sizes will change, we’ll replace the wood trim for MDF and paint it white. Neither Ben or I are fans of the honey colored wood, but all the trim is kind of wimpy for the space. Good question!


  6. I love them! We have odd windows and ordered some custom bamboo shades from jc Penney (wicked cheap, but 6 week wait :)) and they’ve held up okay…I love the look of your curtains!

  7. I totally have an odd bay window that I need curtains for. The previous owners left fluffy 80s curtains that were horrific. I’m so glad that I decided to read your blog today! You’re a genius and thank you!!

  8. Hello! I am so impressed with your lovely curtains! You really out did yourself! I’ve done a lot of sewing in my time so I can only imagine how many seams you had to sew. Amazing! The pipes look wonderful. That’s something you could find in a high end restaurant in New York! Your home is delightful and it sounds like you have a great family. How lucky they all are to have such a creative Mom! Thanks for sharing your fun ideas! Lucy Beliveau in Dallas!

  9. Everything about these curtains is great. I’ve been thinking about using lined drop cloths in our living room for the french doors but not sure my OH will go for it. The more afters I can gather to convince him the better! I like the back tab idea, too as it gives the look I’m after really simply. Your curtain rods are fab too although I already have some. I’m not even sure we can get those supplies here in the UK?

  10. I love that I saws your post about dyeing drop cloths for curtains…I am unsure if I will be painting a decal or adding some color!! I love how your curtains turned out. We have 4 huge windows in our living room and love your ideas! Thank you!! I will keep you posted to when I can get them completed 🙂

  11. They look great! I was wanting to maybe bleach them and add gold duct tape stripes -but I’m chickening out lol. Plus, that duct tape would add up to a LOT for all the windows we have in the sun room.

Now it's your turn! Share your thoughts and opinions, stories and links. We love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s