Earn Your Stripes

I know, I know.  Stripes are a huge trend and I’m the last to jump on board.  But I love the look, so I did it.  Back when we made the offer on the mountain house, I immediately thought of a green wall color with white and gray striped curtains in the boys’ bedroom.  Green because it’s V and E’s favorite color.  And stripes because they’re bold without being girly.  You saw my 20 yard pile of fabric on Monday, and I’m happy to say we’ve got hanging curtains as of last night.

For the past week, we’ve lived with white mini blinds and old hardware from vertical blinds.

The blinds blocked some of the incoming light, but not enough to let the boys sleep past 6:30.  I love curtains, the look, function, and ease, so I decided to make blackout curtains, hoping for precious sleep.  I bought 10 yards of white blackout liner and 10 yards of a plain cotton liner to use as my curtain.  Joann had drapery fabric on 50% off sale, so the blackout cost $3.49 per yard and the cotton liner was $3.99 per yard for a total of $74.80 for four 54 inch wide floor to ceiling panels.  To get started on my sewing endeavor, I first cut the fabric into 7 foot 4 inch lengths.  Once I had four of each fabric, I pinned the manufacturer straight lines together.

Using a known straight edge helped me keep the curtain panels as square as possible.  After I smoothed out the fabric, I rolled my long edges over twice, keeping a one inch margin, to make a clean back edge.

I did this to all four sides, then started sewing.  And sewing.  And sewing.  I was the energizer bunny of the sewing world that day.  Two Everett naps later, I had my four panels ready for ribbon.  Most often, I make a rod pocket when I sew curtains.  But the thick blackout fabric doesn’t bunch much when pulled to the side, so I needed to fix that.  Curtain clips are an option, but I’m too cheap to spend 28 bucks (four packages at $7 each).  Instead, I used white grosgrain ribbon I already had in my stash, not to be confused with a ‘stache; I don’t have that kind.  I cut my ribbon into 6 inch lengths, then pinned the edges over twice to prevent fraying and to add strength.  Five ribbon loops per panel was perfect for my hefty fabric.

One ribbon loop on either end of each panel first, pinning in the corners.

To place my other three, I skipped measuring and folded my fabric in half, marking center with a pin.

Pin first, then sew three strips, the first forward, second in reverse, and last forward.

With those ribbon loops, the curtains became functional.  Finally time for the fun part.  After folding the edges over twice, my 7 foot 4 inch panels became 7 foot panels, which is perfect for 12 inch wide stripes.  A yard stick made quick work of marking my stripes.  Starting from the top of each to make sure the stripes lined up, I made tick marks at each foot.  Just a light line and I started edging with my paint.  Then I realized my paint dried too quickly and it was going to take an eternity this way.  I busted out a roll of plain masking tape and tested the crispness of the line it made.  Lucky for me, the tape worked perfectly.  So I started using the tape for a crisp paint line, running it along my pencil line.

To ensure a tight seal, I used the end of my paint can opener to really press the tape down.

To get my gray stripes, I used a can of Pewter Tankard, left over from painting the inside of the drawers of our first home’s kitchen.  While at Joann buying fabric, I looked at Fabric Medium.  I decided against using it for a few reasons.  1.  I needed a one to two ratio of medium to paint.  2.  Each 2 ounce bottle cost $2.99 and I’d probably need 4 or more bottles.  3.  I’m painting curtains, so a rough texture won’t be a problem.  No one is sitting or sleeping on it.  So I started painting with my plain latex paint and a brush.  Pouncing along the tape line helps prevent paint bleeding, too.

Working in one foot sections, I edged along the tape, then quickly filled in working from the edge toward the center.  It took about 4 hours to tape and paint twelve stripes (three on each panel).  Vincent and Everett colored near by, occasionally stepping over to see my progress and chat.  I painted two stripes per panel, moved them to the floor to dry and started on the next.  I worked through the panels until my first dried and I painted the last stripe.

I finished painting and remembered I couldn’t use the curtains that night if I didn’t have rods to hang them on.  Originally I wanted to use galvanized plumbing, but parts were more expensive than I anticipated.  Each fixed five foot rod would cost about 30 bucks.  Maybe I can find an adjustable curtain rod I liked more under $30.  The boys and I made a Target run, where I found this Umbra rod I liked.  Our Target only had one, so we looked for another simple option.  Then I saw this one with two in stock.  We grabbed them and headed home.

Last night, Ben and I hung the rods after tearing down the old vertical blind systems.  I didn’t bother patching the holes because we don’t have paint to touch up.  That will happen when after scraping the popcorn off and repainting.  Each bracket is 10 inches outside the window trim, allowing the curtains to fully open.  Here are the new striped curtains:

I did some furniture rearranging to make opening and closing the curtains easier.  Neither window is centered on the room, which is annoying.

V’s bed is about 6 inches away from the wall now, and I turned E’s crib, putting the long side along the window wall.

I smile when I walk in there now.  Oh, and the blackout fabric makes the room super dark.  Mission accomplished.  It’s worth mentioning that the painted curtains aren’t soft and supple, but they sure are pretty.  Even Ben thinks they look cool.  That’s saying something!

I really can’t wait to get a few coats of Refined Tan on the walls, but for now the swatch will do.

How about a before and after?

One thing checked off this room’s to do list, about 846 to go.  Are you on board with the stripe trend?  Where have you added stripes to your home?  Which trend are you loving most these days?  Hate the most?