Tag Archives: curtains

More blackout curtains

When we visited Ohio in September 2013 to buy fabric for our bedroom curtains, I originally planned for four curtains. Unfortunately, the store only had enough of the fabric Kay and I agreed on to make two curtains, so for almost two years, two curtains was what we had.

While the single curtains were just enough to cover the windows, the gap between the window and the curtain rail above was enough to let some light in through the sides, so we started leaving our shutters closed all the time to block out more of the blazing streetlights. It was too much of a pain to pull the curtains aside, open up the window, close or open the shutters, close the window, and rearrange the curtains every morning and evening.

I decided in April to pull the trigger and order more fabric, international shipping even! And then I let that fabric sit in my house all spring and summer while I nervously worried how on earth I would make two matching curtains to my current 2.77m ones. I was always hoping for a weekend when Kay would be away, but those kept getting cancelled too, so finally this weekend I decided to be brave and figure out how to do the whole thing again.

I’m very happy to say that I succeeded with some almost perfect curtains!Thank God for detailed measuring notes in my planning book! I didn’t have 100% all the details down, like the important part of trimming 10cm off the sides of the blackout fabric on the back so that the patterned fabric would wrap nicely around to the back, but after 8 hours of intense labor, these babies are done!Not to be underestimated, the bobbin did run out in the home stretch, and I had temporarily “forgotten” how to rewind it quickly because it had been months since I’d used my machine which I am still getting used to. And the needle broke after that. Why do all these problems occur after midnight?Still, I was able to wrap them up and put them up before we went to bed and I have to say… the effect is awesome. It’s sooo dark in here now.

I think we will continue to leave the shutters closed on weekends to sleep in, but the curtains now work so well that I can leave the shutters open all week and then just open the curtains quickly in the morning when we get up. I’m so jazzed I finally got this big bedroom project done!

What was one of your most satisfying home projects to finish?

Spring Cleaning Monster Windows

Kay and I have been in our flat for nearly two years now and have yet to have washed the windows and shutters that face the street. We cannot just set up a ladder outside on the balcony like we do for the other windows, so I was putting these off for, well, about a year to be honest. But look how dirty they were!Bleach!

It was easier to maneuver in the bedroom and bathroom to get to the windows, but for the office, I had to squeeze the ladder in and out between the desks. We can open the windows easily, but they don’t exactly have a lot of room around them for bulky, heavy ladders that I do not care for at all. (Somebody wants a new step ladder, can you tell?)

For the windows and shutters I cleaned them in phases.First I wiped them down with damp rags, then I soaped them up, then I washed them off with water. Then for the windows, I cleaned them with glass cleaner and a towel and then another round with my special glass-cleaning cloth that has two sides.

After six rounds of wiping split in two sections for the ladder portion, these babies were as “done” as I felt like doing. I mean, let’s be honest here, it’s going to rain and continue dropping pollen down for awhile, but I’m not going to eat off these windows.

They look nice enough now that I don’t feel ashamed to open the curtains and I’m not so worried about the curtains getting dirty if we leave the window open and they blow against the banister.

What’s your big spring cleaning project that you avoid?

Swiss Features: Rolling blinds

There are a few features in our new house that I feel are fairly Swiss or European compared to US homes, so I wanted highlight them as I have time to take some photos.

First up are our automatic rolling blinds.

I had these at the first house I moved into in Switzerland but I have not had them in every house or flat I’ve lived in. I consider them kind of luxurious. They are basically big blinds on the outside of your house so you don’t have to deal with all the muck and dust on blinds within your home… and they are a lot more sturdy and hard-wearing than traditional American blinds.

Some Swiss houses have manual rolling shutters that you have to crank by hand, but these ones have buttons for up, down and stop in the middle of the switch. They are sooo convenient and I kind of love them.

I honestly wish we had had the option to have them in the bedroom because it would be SO much darker with them. They are really great for blocking out light.

My only complaint with ours are that there are two sets of shutters in the living room and the switches are not together so if you want to open or close both of them, you need to walk the length of the hallway and switch each shutter individually, which can be slightly annoying if you are heading out of the flat and want to shut off everything from the door.

We also have two for each set of windows in the kitchen. If we had gotten a flat on the side of the complex we actually would have these shutters everywhere, but we strangely landed on the side of the building with green plantation shutters on the bedroom side of the units. More on how those work later!

How do you shut out light in your house? Do you have different treatments for different rooms?

Hemming Ikea Curtains

While Kay was in the army last November, I decided to spontaneously visit IKEA after work one day. It was the first time I ever went by myself. I went in search of curtains, but I may have bought a sofa as well…

OK, I did buy a sofa, and I sure hoped that Kay would like it because I forgot to ask permission before pulling the trigger! But this post is not about our Karlstad. It is about office curtains. I was sick of not having any curtains in the office or the master bath and I knew that the sheer material I bought would not be adequate for either room without some proper curtains, so I bought four sets of cheap curtains to hem: Two for each office window and four to double up for privacy in the bathroom window.

I decided to go for this red pattern in the office, to match the orange/red sofa and I was also nervous to be buying fabric without Kay. We had such a hard time deciding fabric for the living room and bedroom and we rarely make home decor decisions without each other, but he thought the fabric was fine, so I went ahead and started hemming.

A friend mentioned that I should try hanging them and basting to see if the curtains would be the proper length and then I found this tutorial for hemming IKEA curtains on Charm Stitch.

I decided to try out pinning and sewing the curtains directly at the window as the tutorial suggested, but I opted to hang the curtains up backwards so that I wouldn’t be flipping the fabric over and possibly screwing up my hem. I also had more room to work in the living room than the office, so it was easier to set up an ironing board and sewing machine out there. Since I was going to move the curtains anyway, putting them up backwards to hem and sew was not a big deal.

First I pinned and it was good to check because IKEA curtains are sewn pretty poorly and unevenly and it was necessary to adjust a lot.

Once I was happy with the hanging I lifted the curtain up on to my ironing board and ironed the hem.

Below you can see how sometimes I needed to adapt the wonky IKEA curtain to form a straighter line.

I’m not saying my line is perfect… I just tucked it in a bit so that it would appear straight from the front side of the curtain.

Once I had ironed, I would let the curtain hang and check how even it was.

Below is an example of a curtain pinned that needed reworked.

And here was the re-pinning and ironed hem.

It didn’t have to be 100% perfect for me, but close enough.

When the hem was OK I sewed in the weights at the bottom. Then I got lazy and started straight up stapling the lead weights in because I was just that lazy… and I figured that nobody is going to tell if I stapled them or sewed them, so why expend all the extra effort?

I plopped my sewing machine up on the ironing board and sewed my hems then.

Finally when the curtains were done I took them down and re-hung them in the office with the hem facing the window.

At some point I’ll take you some nice daytime pictures of the office windows. I was happy I got these done before my little sister spent the night on our sofa bed.

After the office curtains I hemmed the four bathroom curtains and layered some plain white curtains behind a patterned white curtain that wasn’t quite opaque enough on its own.

Have you got some IKEA curtains in your home? Did you have to hem them to fit in or did you leave them long?

Curtain burnout

After I bought my fancy used Bernina, I got straight to work and sewed seven (7!) curtains the first week I had it. That included two blackout curtains for the bedroom, four semi-decorative curtains for the living/dining room and one sheer curtain.

The reason why I stopped at seven was because that last curtain, the sheer curtain, didn’t turn out well.

It was perfect on both sides, but in the middle it was about 2″ longer than it was supposed to be so it drags on the floor in the middle. I am not pleased.

I called it a day and took a break from sewing to put the dining room back together for early Thanksgiving with friends and the next weekend I attempted sewing another sheer curtain. This time I planned on gathering the fabric up at the top and doing a better job cutting the fabric straight so I wouldn’t have this uneven hem problem.

Well, suffice to say, I had problems handling the sheer voile and I don’t think I used the correct gathering stitch on my machine. My bobbin finished in the middle of my gathering seam, which didn’t really help… and then I had difficulty pulling the gathering in.

When I finally got it around the right width for our windows, I had trouble sewing the curtain rail tape over the gathering. I put the finished curtain up and was disheartened to see that I’d accidentally pulled some of the curtain into the gathering in spots and as a result, my hem was super uneven and looks horrible.

Sooo I’ve given up on curtains for awhile. I am trying to muster the will to attempt them again, but this voile is so slippery and unmanageable!

Have you attempted curtains in your home? How did they turn out?