How to make the easiest curtains ever

Perhaps you’ll recall the idiotic dancing that took place recently at Gabriel Brothers when I discovered the store had high-end decorator fabric on sale for less than $2.50 a yard. (If you live near a Gabe’s, run to the store right now to get some if you need it.)

I purchased four yards of fabric (totaling less than $10) with an idea for how to make easy curtains and pillows.

Gabes-fabric

So one evening last week, as I was starting dinner, I thought, “Gee, this seems like a great time to make a valance for above the kitchen sink.” The hubs was at a meeting and the kids had disappeared somewhere temporarily (probably plotting their mutiny).

So between stirring mac and cheese and putting together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I created a spring-worthy kitchen valance. (I’ve never claimed to be sane, people.)

Of course, because I’m, well, me, this project had to be quick, easy and super cheap. I thought I’d share the details with you so you can whip up one, too (although I wouldn’t recommend doing it during dinner prep ;)).

The fabric at Gabe’s was sold in two-yard segments. I used one set of two yards and didn’t cut the fabric at all. I started by simply folding it in half with the inside facing out.

Inside-out-fabric

After I folded it in half perfectly, I used my sewing machine to hem just the bottom all the way across, but not the sides. (I eyeballed about a 3/4-inch hem; I didn’t mark it.)

First-hemAfter I hemmed the bottom, I turned the “curtain” right side out again. This left me with a hemmed bottom and two openings at each side.

Hemmed-valance

From there, I decided how wide I wanted my finished valance to be. Then I measured what my current width was.

Total-width-of-curtain

I figured out how much I needed to reduce each side in order to arrive at my desired width.

Math

I needed to reduce each side by 4.75 inches. So I simply tucked the raw fabric in toward the middle on each side, until each fold was a total of 4.75 inches.

Reducing-width-illustration

After I had both sides tucked in properly to give me my desired total valance width of 36 inches, I sewed a half-inch hem on both sides, leaving a 2-inch opening at the top for the curtain rod to slide through.

Rod-pocket

Again, I eyeballed this hem. One trick for keeping a hem straight: I line up the edge of the sewing machine presser foot with the edge of the fabric and use that as a guide as I sew.

Eyeball-hem

After both sides were hemmed (with a 2-inch opening at the top), I ironed the whole “curtain.” I also created 2-inch accordion folds (starting from the bottom) and pressed them down with the iron, too.

Ironing-pleats

Next, I hand-sewed my makeshift accordion folds together using a few quick stitches straight through on both sides, about 5 inches in.

Sewing-pleats

Stitching-accordion-folds

To make sure my accordion folds hung perfectly, I ironed on hem tape between the folds to keep them together.

Stitch-witch

After that, my valance was done!

Kitchen-valance-sink Kitchen-valance-environmental Kitchen-valanceYou may notice I sewed an extra hem at the top because I wanted to raise the valance up a bit on the window. This step is optional, not mandatory.

Curtain-closeup

Here’s a summary of the project steps:

  1. Fold fabric in half, with the inside facing out.
  2. Hem the bottom (not the sides) where the raw edges come together.
  3. Turn the “curtain” right side out.
  4. Fold in the raw edges on both sides until the valance reaches your desired width.
  5. Add a half-inch hem on each side, leaving about a 2-inch opening at the top for the rod pocket.
  6. Create your desired accordion folds (starting at the bottom) and iron them down.
  7. Hand-stitch the accordion folds together to your desired valance height.
  8. Iron on hem tape if necessary to make the folds hang perfectly.
  9. Install your valance and enjoy!

What do you think of this easy spring curtain? Have you found any great deals on fabric lately?

I’m linking this up to Craft DictatorMy Repurposed Life and Love of Family & Home.

DIY stenciled bee pillow

Here in Pennsylvania, we have been waiting a really long time to see those first signs of spring. Despite the ongoing chill, I decided to whip up a fun spring craft project with the hope that warmer weather is right around the corner.

Bee-pillow-porch-environ-2

I made this whimsical bee pillow using the Royal Design Studio Beehive Allover Furniture Stencil.

I started with a cream-colored twill curtain I bought from a yard sale a few years back. I paid $1 for a set of four curtains. Other materials I used for this project included: Royal Design Studio stencil cremes in Bronze Age and Pearl Oyster, and a stencil brush; gold-colored acrylic paint for the bees’ bodies; beige-colored acrylic paint for the inside of the honeycomb; and a textile medium (used to help paint properly transfer to fabric).

Bee-pillow-materials

I cut two 22″ squares out of the curtain, one square for the front of the pillow and one for the back of the pillow.

Bee-pillow-fabric

I mixed up the beige paint and the textile medium (two parts paint to one part medium).

Textile-medium

Then I started stenciling the honeycomb pattern onto one of the squares using the honeycomb stencil, stencil brush and paint. For tips on how to get the best results with stencils, check out this post.

Honeycomb-stencil

After I stenciled an entire square with the honeycomb pattern and the paint dried, I placed the bee stencil on top and taped off the wings, so I could paint only the bee’s body and legs.

Bee-stencil

I used the Bronze Age color for the bee’s body, but if I did this project again, I would use a darker color like black.

After I stenciled multiple bees’ bodies on the pillow square, I taped off the bodies and used white paint for the wings. I got a little impatient during this part and a few wings weren’t as crisp-looking as I would have liked. So remember to go slow and offload your brush. Finally, I hand-painted yellow stripes on each bee.

I sewed the pillow together using my half-hour jiffy throw pillow technique.

Here’s the final result:

Bee-pillow-porch

Bee-pillow-porch-environmental

Bee-pillow-Living-Room

Have you done any spring craft projects yet?

Disclaimer: At my request, I received the Beehive Allover Furniture Stencil from Royal Design Studio in exchange for showcasing it on my blog. As always, all text, opinions and projects are mine.

I’m linking this up to Home Stories A to Z.

Transforming a plain coat rack using stencils

I was tickled when the folks at Royal Design Studio recently contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing their stencils. (They also want to give one of you lovelies one to try out, too, so read on for more deets on that. :))

It was so stinkin’ hard to choose, but eventually I settled on the French Numbers Stencil because I had the perfect project in mind for it.

stencil-French-Numbers_1_mediumCourtesy of Royal Design Studio

I started with a wooden coat rack that was in our garage collecting dust. I decided it would be a good idea to strip off the urethane topcoat where I planned to stencil – so the stencil would adhere properly. And this is also the moment when I almost ruined the entire project!

Removing-varnish

The stripping product I applied lifted the finish off only in spots (even though I attempted to spread it around evenly), leaving me with a blotchy, cheetah-spotted coat rack that I then had to spend an hour sanding down to get looking semi-normal again.

Finally, after that fiasco, I was ready to start stenciling. I lined up the first stencil and kept it in place using painter’s tape.

Royal-Designs-stencil-cream

I used a Royal Design stencil brush and Royal Stencil Creme (in Pearl Oyster) for the project.

One thing I was very careful to do was follow the instructions. I have attempted stenciling in the past and have had trouble keeping the paint from bleeding under the stencil and ruining my crisp edges.

So I made a note of the fact that you are supposed to seriously offload your brush before you apply any paint to the stencil. I used the pouncing technique (where you basically bounce the brush up and down rather than sweeping it) and applied the paint so lightly that is looked as if the piece had a dusting of powder on it. This technique is one of the keys to avoiding paint bleed. 

Painting-stencil

Stencil-closeup

After I stenciled the entire coat rack (I applied multiple coats of the stencil creme), I brushed on a light coat of wiping stain in a walnut finish. This softened the look of the white paint and gave the piece a bit of a vintage vibe.

Applying-stain

Then I used my orbital sander to distress the edges of the coat rack.

Distressing-edges

Finally, I applied two coats of Modern Masters MasterClear satin topcoat. This is when the last of the blotchiness disappeared. Whew! 

MasterClear-topcoat

And this is what the coat rack looks like now:

Finished-stenciled-coat-rack

Finished-stencil-closeup Fnished-stencil-2

Finished-stenciled-coat-rack-2

What do you think of the result?

Next week on the blog I’ll be hosting a giveaway when one of you lucky ducks will get to choose a free Royal Design Studio stencil of your choice. So head on over to the site and pick out your favorite, then don’t forget to come back next week and enter for your chance to win.

I’m linking this up to Craft Frenzy Friday and Love of Family & Home.