Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Blackout Curtains Made Not-So-Easy

This is a tale of curtains gone awry and then promptly, against all hope, brought back to life.  It's a tale where everything was going so well until it wasn't.  Where a very pregnant woman would not let go of her dream to make blackout curtains for the nursery.  Particularly not when she'd been holding onto a cut of fabric for 6 months and a move.  Not even when the move resulted in a window a completely different size then she'd measured for the cut of fabric she bought online.  No, she was going to make Fidget blackout curtains regardless of time, energy, and money.  She would recommend that you not be like her.  This is the tale of those curtains.

This would be the glorious pirate fabric a friend so kindly (or perhaps cruelly) pointed me to online where it was on clearance.  Knowing what a complete pirate fanatic I am I promptly decided then and there that I would make curtains out of it regardless of whether Fidget was going to be a boy or a girl.  The original plan was to make a roman curtain for the single narrow window in what would have been the nursery.  If I had been able to stick with this plan all would have been well and we would have come out ahead cost wise.

I'm not sure if mistake #1 was moving or ordering fabric online, on clearance, where no more of it could be obtained.
Once we moved and the nursery suddenly had a large double wide window to be covered the roman shade kit was out of the question and the use of the pirate fabric became difficult.  It was decided that horizontal stripes would be the solution.  I would create simple curtains hung high and wide with stripes of pirate fabric and something coordinating that I could buy from a local store.  And thus the measuring and cutting of stripes began.
I relied very heavily on this tutorial from View Along The Way which listed everything out so nice and concise, step by step.  I'll direct you there if you want to make your own as well as to the bottom of this post for what I will do differently the next time I make blackout curtains for there will be a next time.  Of this I am certain. 
Nice and straight stripes, how much hope I had in you.
Even here, as the hemming process, the world was full of hope.
And still there's hope.  One panel front has been completed and it's now on to the second, checking at every step that the stripes would line up. 
Always checking and rechecking before sewing anything.
And yes!  It appears we have stripes that will line up and thank goodness for railings and stairways that allow us the room necessary to determine these things.  
Hemming of the top and bottom began with the helpful aid of an Amazon envelope so that the hems were ironed absolutely evenly all the way across.  And still there was hope.  
The blackout backing was successfully attached and there was a slight sinking feeling of a small possibility there had been a mistake made very early on.  Regardless these curtains must be completed.  Ribbon was carefully measured, cut, and sewn to form tabs along the back to provide the maximum amount of blackoutedness.
And....the heart sunk.  They were long!  Miracle of miracles the stripes lined up!!!  But um, there's still a lot of light leaking through that window.  The sun rises through that window whatever could we do?  What had gone awry?  As it turns out the method of adding the blackout lining takes approximately 2" of fabric off of each side.  Why had no one said anything?!  Why was I left to discover this myself?!  Beware, I tell you, beware!!!
After a night to sleep on it (which really meant being awake for hours on end pondering how to fix this mistake without having to redo the entire thing) a possible solution presented itself.  What if the length could instead be used for the width?  If both panels were turned on their sides, sewn together, and cut down the middle would the curtains hide the light?  I'd be sacrificing length but at this point creating a room of almost complete darkness was far more important.
It turns out that they could!  Yes, this meant that the middle stripe was not as wide as the others but when the curtains are closed it still appears even.  Light is banished and peace is restored.  New ribbons were measured, cut, and sewn to the new top and we rested happily ever after.  Or at least as happily as a family with a newborn is able to rest.
Nice and dark even in the middle of one of a rare sunny day.  The line of light across the middle is what was the bottom hem before the curtains were rotated and so did not have any blackout material behind them 
Voila!!  They make me so happy :)

Tips & Tricks:
  • In the tutorial it mentions measuring what you want your finished panel's width to be and then subtracting from that to figure out how wide your blackout lining needs to be.  In the future I'll do the opposite.  Take the width I want my panels to be and use it for the blackout lining and then add inches onto that in order to create the finished width thus ensuring they are wide enough to cover my windows completely.
  • When looking for tutorials on how best to sew curtains with horizontal stripes every single post I read had you start with one solid piece of fabric and sew alternating stripes onto it rather than sewing strips of fabric together.  This would have been infinitely easier and not a whole lot more expensive had I known about it before having purchased the pirate fabric and moving.   
  • Ultimately this project did not end up being cost effective after I special ordered fabric, had to buy additional fabric, and blackout lining despite all of those things either being on sale or bought with a coupon.  If in fact I had succeeded in making them as long as I initially wanted they may have been more cost effective.
  • In the end though, every time I walk into the nursery and see these curtains I am filled with pride and do so love the patterns so they were worth all the time, energy, sleeplessness, and tears. :)
Have you ever had a project that you spent hours or even days on just for it to not turn out?  Where you able to fix it, or did you have to scratch the whole idea?

Thanks for reading and happy crafting!

***This post is linked up at Living Well, Spending Less***


  1. Wow, I love how they turned out! Beautiful!

    1. Thanks! I really am happy with them, now just to make the next pair as long as they should be. :)

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