Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nursery progress: DIY no-sew curtains: mission accomplished

We just got back from a fun, low-key weekend in Amishville (aka a small town outside Lancaster, PA -- not its actual name) with my high school friends and their husbands. We thought we had escaped Hurricane Irene, who thankfully did not accomplish too much in our neighborhood here in Virginia, only to wake up this morning in our rental house in Pennsylvania with no electricity and no water. Still, no biggie, and now we're back. Tomorrow I return to work for another school year -- teachers are back though kids don't return until the day after Labor Day. With summer vacation coming to an end, before we left for our short, final summer trip, I was determined to create the nursery curtains, and I'm happy to report I did it!

I will admit that I was pretty scared of tackling this project, mostly because I was afraid of messing up my expensive fabric. Fortunately, that did not happen, and I've learned that this is one of those projects that falls into the category of, "If I can do it, you can do it."

I started here with the Young House Love post about their DIY no-sew nursery curtains. Their measurements wound up being a little different from my own, though, because I wanted to make curtains 84" long for the nursery window which is 64" long and 33" wide. I did follow the advice of Sherry from YHL and added 3" to each length of fabric so that I could have a proper 1.5" hem on each end of each curtain. So, I laid out my long fabric on the floor and got to work cutting two 87" panels. I used a light gray oil pastel to mark off my fabric and easily cut a straight line.

You'll also notice I bought Heat N' Bond hem iron-on adhesive in super strength. (Way better price on Amazon! Good to know for the future...) I originally bought one roll at Jo-Ann Fabrics for $2.99, but it turns out one roll is almost exactly enough for one curtain panel, so I had to turn this one-day project into a two-day project once I was able to return to the store to buy a second roll.

I followed Sherry's tutorial on how to use the hem tape. Unfortunately, in doing so this is where I made my one significant mistake. Apparently the tape Sherry uses has a paper side and a fabric side. I thought mine did, too, but mine really has just the fabric. So, Sherry talks in her video tutorial about putting the iron directly on the hem tape to allow it to get warm and adhere. As soon as I did this, I got gluey goop all over my iron. Then I read the back of my Heat N' Bond package and saw where it expressly says, "DO NOT apply iron directly to adhesive tape." Lesson learned (after taking a wet sponge to my iron): always read the package, and don't just rely on another blogger's know-how.

Once I discovered the difference between Sherry's tape and my own, I went a little rogue (Ok, I disregarded the rest of Sherry's tutorial). I put my hem tape onto my curtain fabric. I placed it about half and inch from the top.

I measured out exactly enough hem tape to run the length of one side of curtain. Then I used books to hold down the curtains and the tape as I folded the fabric over itself so that the hem tape was secured inside a little curtain sandwich.
With my iron on a medium setting, I started applying heat to the hem. The hem tape definitely gets hot even when it's sandwiched between two sides of fabric. I held the iron for about three seconds at a time in each spot along the hem. Another thing I learned is that you do not want to slide the iron across your fabric. Doing so runs the risk of creating a bunched up hem. Instead, be sure to lift your iron as you work your way across your curtain. Below you can see the portion of the hem that had been ironed against the portion waiting for the iron.

I simply repeated these steps for the three other sides of each curtain. Between figuring out what I was doing, cutting the fabric, messing up, fixing my mistake, and then hemming four sides, it took me about an hour to finish the first curtain panel. The next day, when I had purchased my second roll of hem tape, it only took me about 30 minutes to complete the second panel. So, if you do this right, this is an hour-long job for two curtain panels.

As for how we'll hang these curtains, we're using the type of curtain clips that simply attach to the top of each panel and require no addition sewing, holes, etc.

Now that I know how to do this, I plan to make curtains for our master bedroom using the same method. That's a project for another day, though. For now we're prepping the nursery for painting, which will get done this week. Once the walls are dry and we hang the curtains, I'll share how they look in their finished state. For now, though, I am also quite happy that they are the right length with no visible imperfections (and when Matt and I held them up against the window in a test run we were really happy to see that they achieved the black-out effect we were hoping for in the nursery). Remember, if you're wondering whether or not you can accomplish this project, the answer is yes!

1 comment:

  1. YAY! Glad you overcame your fear. Can't wait to see it all complete, you are being a tease ;)