The Grand Gigantic Curtain Experiment.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ya know, sometimes things don't always go as planned.  As you have it in your head.  Sometimes it takes a little extra to get where you wanted to be.  Or, you get kinda close.  Or, sometimes you might not get there at all.

Take for instance this jumbo curtain I had in mind for our master bedroom.

It's not quite there yet but it's kinda close.

I purchased, oh gosh in September 2014 yeesch I'm pathetic, a large piece of white theatrical gauze, a remnant at 9'-10" x 15'-0" to be exact.  Seamless.  Large and in charge.  Only fifty bucks!

a pile of theatrical gauze
Wad o' fabric.
And the perfect dimensions for this one spot in our master bedroom for a floor to ceiling curtain.

bedroom window area before
Beeeefore.  Yup, there's the headboard, yay!
It's smart to incorporate your home's architecture as much as you can, use it to your advantage, especially strange bump-out's, weird spots, odd corners.  If you integrate those elements by painting, decorating, etc. rather than ignore or attempt to hide the quirk, it will magically fit in and work with everything else.

Not that this particular area in our bedroom is weird; it provided an opportunity.  One I wanted to take advantage of.

So, but, put it off, put it off, dug out the fabric probably six or seven times only to set it down to go do something else.  For some bizarre reason I have to be in Sewing Mood and no sooner otherwise errors abound.  But I planned and schemed in my head in the mean time.

At one point I purchased half inch diameter cooper pipe, two five foot long pieces and these little copper plated bell hangars for the curtain rod aspect.  It all sat and collected dust.  At another point, filler fabric was acquired as 9'-10" was a tiny bit short in height.

copper plated bell hangars
A copper plated steel bell hanger.
Finally the itch to stitch burgeoned and I set to a-workin'.

First I installed the bell gizmos and the pipe.  The pipe pieces needed to be trimmed; no biggie:  grinder.  Yeah baby.  Power tools, mmmmmmm.....

hanging copper pipe pieces at ceiling with bell hangars
Spiffy new copper curtain rod.  Woo hoo!  Mike said, hey uh, maybe paint the copper?  I said uh, I bought it for the copper.
Anywhoooo, the bells and pipe went up without too much of a fight.  After those were up, I measured from the top of the pipe to the floor to figure out my filler fabric.  9'-10.5".  Mmk, cool.  I'll make the strips, the top pocket sleeves, at 1.25" finished height.

Next I cut the fifteen foot length in half, stitched up the sides.  Unfurled and cut the filler fabric.  That's when I noticed how white white my filler fabric was in comparison to the white-ish of the gauze.

Hmph, mmk.  It's clearly a synthetic this filler fabric, won't take regular dye.  Ah ha, Mike drinks coffee!  Hey, my prop days revisit!

Ran a full pot of water through his recently brewed grounds, let it cool, dumped it in the sink, dropped the fabric strips in there, swish swish and a few seconds later I had the perfect off-whiteish.

As those air dried, I had this whack-a-doo notion to put a metal zipper at the top, zip the two panels together.  A nutty impulse.  I know, it seems odd but I thought hey, what the hell, try it.  Who knows, it could be super neat.  Or, who knows, maybe I have a few screws loose.  Zipper* was purchased.

Tie backs, yeah, I figured might be a good idea.  Originally I was thinking something along these lines but eh, obviously seen it no need to do it.  I happened to randomly see these spiffy cabinet pulls* in a Menards flier and knew I had to get them.  So I did.

A minor bump in the road:  figure out how to get the lions on the wall 'cuz ya know, they're meant for a drawer or door.  Thankfully I found this online, which was mostly my solution though using my spiffy grinder again.  Sweet!  I picked up these metal clips* as well but had no clue on the tie back itself.

lion head drawer pull installed on wall
Roar!  Awesome, right?!?!
All righty, it was time to really roll.

Assembled the pocket sleeves, attached them to the gauze, stitched on the zipper halves to each side, popped upstairs to ugh, um, errrr, grrrr, yeah, these sleeves came out much too tight.  Opening and closing the curtains, yeah, not gonna happen.

zipper experiment for the curtains
The zipper.  Which was actually quite cool if I do say so myself. 
theatrical gauze curtains hanging and closed

Oh.  And look.  Somehow I have a two and half inch gap at the bottom.  Huh.  I don't get it.  Arrrggg!  Rats.

theatrical gauze curtain bottoms
Well, maybe I can make this work as-is, I delusionally weighed.

With the zipper zipped and the fabric tied back, it was starting to look too......    "pretty."  

theatrical gauze extra long curtains pulled back
Attempt 1 to salvage as-is.  The zipper was getting yanked too.  Sad face.
Pretty isn't necessarily my thing in that I prefer fun, edgy, modern, clean, sharp, weird, unusual, unpredictable, unique.  I like things that make me think.  My taste and style are kinda all over the map, hard to nail down into specific terms at times, but I do know "pretty," per se, is not invited to my party.

I unzipped the zipper, tied the fabric back.  Ehhh, nope, still too pretty.  And now the zipper disappears.

trying out ways to tie the curtains back
Combo of attempts 2-3.
Scrunch the fabric all the way over so the panels hang straight down.  Much better.  But that kinda renders the tie backs, the lion heads, the zipper all useless.  Humph.  Well.  I'll figure a kooky tie back of sorts and let it dangle there unused.

theatrical gauze extra long curtains in bedroom pushed open
Attempt 4.
But I'm standing there staring, thinking, head-tilting, knowing curtains that are unable to move and are too short, yup, ain't gonna fly.  Ah siiiiigh.

Finn helping out

I took a brief time out to goof with my silly omnipresent assistant.

Part of my overall dissatisfaction stems from those blah eh blackout curtains.

There will be many o' time when design and practicality clash.  Such as this moment.  I've got those not-hugely-attractive blackout curtains in the windows because I am a vampire and like it dark dark dark dark dark until I tumble out of bed.  Then it's let-the-sun-pour-in time.

It is a constant predicament for designers, and regular folk as well -- how to combine practical, functional living's desires and needs with a designed environment.  A major reason why designers exist really.  It can obviously be tricky but definitely doable.

But the blackout curtains have to stay.  Granted it doesn't make for the entire look I want but so it is. This is a design battle I won't win.  It'll be great when we go to sell and I take the blackouts down for showings!  Heh, whatev's.

Ok.  So a few days later the curtains came down and I spent forever, no joke, like an hour+ per panel, seam ripping.  A least favorite task of mine, seam ripping; I like to stitch things as I like to wire things:  permanently.  Hence over an hour per.

An entire redo of the whole process ensued:  cut filler fabric, coffee dip it, dry, stitch, and I was set.  And set I was.

the bottom of the curtains at the floor after adding a pocket at top
Yay!  Perfect perfect!  Or darn close enough.  No, I didn't put a pocket or hem the bottom as I didn't want either to cause the fabric to bunch or lay weirdly.  The gauze is as gauze is, lightweight.
Somehow my math was uber spot on this time!  Utter craziness.  And the curtains move freely now too!  Yay!

extra long theatrical gauze curtains in bedroom

All that's left is some type of funky tie back and maybe tweaks to the whole shebang.

Was it all worth it?  Yeah, I think so.

But a coupla' great tips:

Looking for large pieces of seamless fabric at not outrageous prices?  Try theatrical fabric suppliers, especially their remnant section.  Our handy one in town is Chicago Canvas and Supply who will also ship everywhere.  The largest is Rosebrand but maybe there's one local to you.  An excellent resource for excellent fabrics.  Typically you can get swatch books for free or a nominal fee to check out the fabrics before purchasing a big wad.

swatch book of theatrical fabrics
Swatch book from Chicago Canvas.
And surprises.  Surprises are always good.  By that I mean add something that's not typically your style, or necessarily "fits" with everything else in the room.  My case in point, the lion head pulls.  It brings a different dimension, visual interest, texture, variety, and keeps the eye moving about the room.  The lion head pulls are not my style normally but in this setting they are interesting, quirky, metallic adding shine, bring a wee bit of pattern, and are fun.

And hey, if it's not fun, it's not worth doing!

Have a great holiday y'all and c'mon back as the kitchen backsplash is next!

*The zipper is a Joann Fabrics affiliate link.  The lion head pulls and trigger snaps are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab above for more info.


  1. They look great so far Becky, good job! I wonder if you could sew some other type of fabric over the top of the black black-out curtains... if it's the black that bugs you... or maybe it's the whole idea of another smaller curtain being there? idk.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mike, and Finn!


    1. Thanks so much Tania! Great idea, to stitch a fabric over the black outs, thank you! It's the little curtains tucked in there behind a bigger curtain but maybe another fabric over the littles will fix the issue. Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving too! Thanks!

    2. Hey kiddo Why don't you grommet the rod pocket, (you probably have a hole punch and grommet tool, don't you?) get some attractive large rings? Then the curtains will slide easier and might give you the length you want. Metal, glass, even plastic rings. If you want to hide the rod you can build a valance, with contrasting fabric. Plywood "C" shaped soffitt padded or not covered in fabric.

    3. I wanted a clean look of all fabric from very top to very bottom which is why I opted to go the route I did. I also am one a' those weird noise-aversion people -- the rings sliding across would likely make me nutso. :) We need to come up and see you sometime soon! xo

  2. Found you through Hometalk and am relieved to find another flipping the flip person. We've been "renovating" our flipped house for five years. So much cheap and crappy stuff to undo! Anyway, love the zipper idea, I'm going to take that for my somewhat edgy daughter's room. I don't have a blog or anything so this will likely show as anonymous. Keep on keeping on!- Mitzi

    1. Oh my gosh, you are? I am so thrilled that you commented, thank you! I'm so sorry we share the same pain! We shall overcome though! So excited you found an idea to try! Please feel free to share photos, I'd love to see. Thanks so much Mitzi!

  3. Love the curtains, but love your ditzy style more! Keep on going! ;>)

  4. Great idea with those bell hangers! I'll remember those.

  5. Great idea with those bell hangers! I'll remember those.

  6. Great idea with those bell hangers! I'll remember those.

  7. Great job, Becky! They look fantastic. Thanks for the shout out.

    1. Oh how awesome! Thanks so much! Please, I have loved your store for years. Thank you very much for leaving a comment, you made my day!

    2. They make white blackout fabric.

  8. Love your website and all the ideas . Hate the facebook twitter pinterest google etc banner down the right hand side of the page that blocks being able to read your posts properly . I dont know why it has to be right in your face and I dont know if it bothers other people but it sure bugs me. I usually dont go back to sites that have this as I enjoy reading but dont want to have to dodge the banners in order to be able to do so .

    1. Thanks so much for the compliments and taking the time to write with this concern. I completely understand as I’m frustrated by pop up’s and such as well. Someone else contacted me about this recently and it turns out it’s a browser issue. Are you using Chrome? If you try a different browser, it should alleviate the problem. Please keep me posted. Thanks!


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