Painfully Beautiful, Dream Curtains.

April 6, 2012

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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

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The curtains are taking far longer than I expected and even imagined curtains could take.  Needless to say, I miscalculated how quickly I could tackle the steps involved.  But the backtrack for a second, I showed you the overwhelming options I was considering as far as curtains go for our family room a couple weeks ago in this post (in which we learned an overwhelming 47% of you like to dress your windows in patterned prints).  I ultimately decided to stick with something more neutral since we have so much going on in our built-ins.  On the original mood board, I picked out white curtains with a simple black border. 
And then last week, I happened upon this photo of more natural-toned curtains lined with a double row of ribbon:

It was curtain love at first site and I knew that I was in for a treat trying to recreate them.  I needed thick, thick natural fabric and about 60 yards of ribbon.  Spoiler alert–I obtained both for cheap! And although I am not done with all of the panels–I do have two to show you!  I wasn’t about to leave you hanging all weekend.

The light is really washing out the thick and heavy canvas drop cloths that I used.  Hmph. That have a very creamy, natural look to them.   My miscalculation started when I took on ironing all four 6’x9′ panels.  I thought I could iron all four in about 30 minutes, but it took hours!

I am averaging another 90 minutes per panel attaching the ribbon trim.  Wasn’t expecting that.  My right hand is more claw-like than ever and my fingertips are burnt and blistered.  But I love them.  I really really love them.  Someone needs to teach me how to take photos in the direction of windows without washing everything out so you could appreciate them fully, too.

This weekend, I’ll finish up the other panels, write up a full how-to, and  try to get some better photos for you.  Anyone else stay up too late, inflicting themselves with pain for the sake of curtains?  We should start a support group.

P.S.  I was serious about photography help when it comes to snapping windows.  Anyone have any tips?

What do you think?

  1. Zoe says:

    LOVE these – and thank you so much for posting the tutorial! I have some really blah, awful (but light blocking) curtains in my guest room that need some extra zip now that I’ve got the rest of the room finished. This is PERFECT – and will be my 4th of July task!

  2. Shirley says:

    I love what you did! I just added drapes to my dining room and they make a big difference in framing the windows.

    I wanted to share my ironing tip. I recently purchased a new iron, the Rowenta focus. Even though it was pricey ( almost $100 I think), I got a great deal on it since i had a return and a store coupon. By far superior to other irons (lower priced Rowenta) that I’ve owned. It seriously makes ironing a breeze and I like to iron sheets, pillow cases, when I have the time. I tried a steamer (shark) but also not really great.

    I used the iron to heat and bond the hem and now I am thinking of adding trim to the curtains as well. My curtains are grey so I am thinking white trim. I really wanted Greek key but it’s at least $10/yd for the kind I want :(

  3. I’m not going to scroll down and see if anyone else has answered your question, but when I was reading your bamboo blind blog, I was thinking…I should show her how focusing can help the white window look. On most all digital cameras, holding down halfway is how you focus before you snap for the shot. This is also called “metering light” Its measuring the light, and getting the right exposure. You have a function on your camera called “spot metering” that will let you focus on different parts of the picture. I could explain it over Skype or look it up in your camera manual. Focus on the window, you’ll see everything outside come through, but the rest of the room will go dark. Focus on the wall, and the window will go white. The key is to find a middle ground, and get about a 50/50 exposure happy spot between both.

  4. Christie says:

    Great job! They look fantastic and I am seriously in awe of how much patience you have to do this. :-)

  5. braelin says:

    Wow- I love them! Totally worth it. No tips on the photos… if they look this good with washed out photos I can only imagine what they look like in person!

  6. Marcumr says:

    My talented daughter-in-law strikes again! Beautiful!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow, they came out great!…can’t wait to see how you made them.

  8. Lauren says:

    Time of day with the photos will help, but you could also take multiple photos and lace them together HDR style in photoshop if you’re up for it. A tripod would be best. Take one photo with your camera set for the light coming thru the window. Take another photo of the exact same place- no moving the camera at all- with the settings for the light in the room you’re in. You can google HDR to learn more about it- just beware that most of the images you will see are going to be really intensely colored landscapes and not home decor :) There’s also and iphone app that makes it ridiculously easy called Pro HDR.

  9. Jane Metcalf says:

    really really cool! i am so impressed. good work/execution.

  10. Kate says:

    Oh Julia – these are so, so lovely! The fullness and drape are gorgeous. You must be so pleased! And I’m seriously considering using your tutorial to make some of my own! Hope you get a chance to step away from them for a bit and enjoy your weekend!

  11. Funny about the ribbon. I originally ordered navy, but it looked more royal blue when it arrived, so I exchanged it for safe black. Ah well.

  12. Rachel Danjkov says:

    Photo tip – try at early morning or on sunset. Play with TV or AV setting on your camera and adjust the ISO settings from 100 up to 400. (Take a few photos to see difference). Adjust F-stop to around 3 or 3.5.

    I learnt on photo course I was just on, that if you want detail around windows (ie true colour) with light from behind – would take a good software program and a number of photos at different ISO- settings virtually pasted on top of each other.

    But my cheater way – turn all the lights on the inside – stronger than the light from behind. If you have a really automatic camera – there is a setting for light fill and the camera itself uses flash to light up the subject in front with strong source of light coming from behind the subject. So early morning or at dusk is a good time for capturing.

    Hope you have fun – and read the camera manual for hints and tips.

  13. I’ve played around with the ISO and f-stop, but I’m thinking you’re right–mid day, with the bright sun probably isn’t the best time to shoot. I’ll try to take some more this evening. Thanks for the tips, Rachel!

  14. Amanda @ Our Humble A{Bowe}d says:

    Yep, so very pretty. :)love the detailing and drama they add without being overwhelming.

  15. Hahaha. You’re so sweet, Nicole. It is no-doubt a time-consuming project (I’ll give you the full detailed run-down next week), but very inexpensive for the luxe look achieved.

  16. meaganbriggs3 says:

    Mama liiiiiike!!!!!!!! So gorgeous, and so nautical!!! Is the ribbon black or navy??? I love it! Go you. Holy cow, my poor sewing machine is collecting massive dust and I have absolutely zero motivation. I really want to pull it out this summer,so maybe when school is over, we are settled into our new apt, ill have the motivation to sew some new pillows or something!!! A girl can dream right???

  17. Nicole says:

    I LOVE them. LOVE LOVE LOVE them. Seriously. I am so impressed, again. :) ps. did I tell you how much I LOVE THEM?!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Wow, they came out great!…can’t wait to see how you made them.

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