No-Sew Success + A Finished Headboard

September 26, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, Decor, DIY, Windows   //  By: Emily   //  13 responses

I set out with a mission to finish the bedroom curtain project pronto because taping the curtains in place wasn’t working. I couldn’t have the blue painters tape releasing, dropping heavy canvas on me in the middle of the night.


I left the taped up curtain in place just long enough to make sure I really liked it against the brown shiplap wall in the bedroom. And I’m happy to report that I still likey what I see.

Oh phew, the curtain doesn't look totally bazurk.

The curtain panels that flank the window directly behind my bed consisted of matching 3’x9′ canvas that I cut after dying the fabric last week (a dramatic experience that you can read about over here if you missed it). The fabric dying was the hard part; I wanted to keep the installation and finishing touches easy as could be.

I’ve traditionally machine or hand-sewn the hems and edges of curtains (that being previous apartment window treatments – these are the first curtains I’m actually hanging in my house, unless you count the simple sunroom door curtain). But on these curtains, the tall edges of the cut canvas were fraying, so something sleek and easy needed to be done.

Fraying curtain edge. Problem.It struck me to use a no-sew-iron-on hem tape to solve this; I wouldn’t necessary say that it’s easier than zipping the curtain through the sewing machine, but I wanted a nice, clean finish that isn’t always¬†achievable¬†with the sewing machine. Not to mention, it was a 9′ length that I had to hem, and I imagined any err in the straightness of my stitching would have been visible.

I’ve never used Stitch Witchery (fusible bonding web, which sounds like something Spiderman also approves of), and for this job I selected the 5/8″ “super weight” model with a 40% off coupon from JoAnns. At less than $2 for 13 yards of no-sew tape, I’d have a little extra in case I messed up.

A no-sew virgin, yes. I may have been the last one on the planet. The best recommendation I received was to iron the crease in the hem first, and then follow back through with the tape in position. Perfect the first time, without a doubt.

Curtain tape, lined into the pre-ironed seam.The freshly ironed panels were ready to be hung; before I had gotten busy with the no-sew tape, I spray painted a curtain rod that I already had on hand (the previous owners left me with at least 12 when I moved in). I removed the finials completely for a clean, straight-bar look and doused it with Espresso Brown, a Rust-Oleum Universal paint-and-primer-in-ine product that had a nice satin finish, and was also dark enough to disappear against the stained wall.

A quick spray job turned this originally black curtain rod, espresso brown.

The curtain clips that I’ve long-favored are available in a dark bronze (from Wal-Mart, bargain-priced at $3 for a package of 14).

Walmart curtain clips. In an oil-rubbed bronze to blend right into the new brown curtain rod.

They’re pinchy strong as can be, even on this canvas. And they hang so subtly that you can barely tell they’re there. Hands down my favorite.

Curtains clipped up. I love the subtlety of the hooks I use. And the price can't be beat.

The curtains balance out the bed, make the window seem subtly larger than it really is, and really help to anchor the layout.

Curtains, hung.

Little do you know that there’s about 1.5′ of extra fabric resting on the floor. I decided to leave it put in case I ever have a reason to move the curtains into a room with a taller ceiling.

Hold up, let’s get all decisive with that art while we’re at it. The whole room is even more anchored with those RIBBA frames with Pixies/Frank Black posters hung above the side tables. Hung intentionally low because the box spring and mattress sit low-rise style on the ground, they help to make the room feel tall, even if it’s not.

Curtains AND art, up.

I’m not much for the heavy opening and closing of the drapes, but as accent pieces (which could be fully functional) they’re serving the room well. Yay? Yay.

Bedroom, improved, thanks to some simple DIY'ed curtains and inexpensive art.

Sunroom Light-age + More IKEA Lovin’

September 23, 2011   //  Posted in: Helping The Economy, Lighting, Sunroom   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses

It’s not everyday that the man calls while traveling for work and says “My hotel is near IKEA. Email me your wish list.”

That proximity, it never happens. The Land of Neverdom. Bordering the town of Pigsflyhere. And let me stress this: He sacrificed the first half of a Monday Night Football game after 9 hours in the car to go to IKEA.

Godly. And send Pete a list, that I did. Not that I needed much, and not that I wanted to keep him from a man-night of beer and football, but I’ll never pass up the opportunity to acquire a few new RIBBA frames (same as the ones that are hanging above the mantle in the living room and, in brown, flanking the bed). Also a few small $2.99-er models for good measure.

Because a girl can't have enough RIBBA frames. It's a sickness.

I had him snag a few more GOSA ASTER pillows too, because at 26″x26″ and $6.99 each, they’re nice to have around; the last one that I bought has been serving as the seat cushion on this chair that I’ve been meaning to refinish for two years. What can I say, time’s gotten away from me, but the pillow makes working in the sunroom on that laid-back chair muy buen.

More IKEA Pillows. Because I can never have too many.Best of all, having to make my IKEA wish-list in 45 minutes forced me to narrow down on some items that I might otherwise have dilly-dallied-the-decision-making-on.

You know what I’m sayin’. More time to think usually = more time to talk myself out of buying something.

So I bit the bullet and asked him to bring me a simple paper shades and a light kit to use in the sunroom.

IKEA VATE paper light.

The inexpensive VATE (with umlaut) paper lantern shade ($9!) and electical kit ($3!) were just the ticket for lighting up the sunroom. The ceiling was recently painted blue, which really warmed up the space and has encouraged me to work out there more often, but now that the sun is setting before 8PM (say what!) I’ve been wishing for a little sunroom lighting more and more.

New IKEA VATE shade. Notice two things about that shot:

1) I hung the shade upside down. It was going to be positioned closer to the ceiling in the sunroom, and I wanted to appreciate that little pop in the paper. Cute complement to the swooping shape of the shade, which has a more flattened surface on the top (of my picture) or bottom (of the website picture):

IKEA VATE pendant shade recommendations.

2) There’s an enormous hole in the ceiling. OK, not enormous, but as I’ve pointed out before, it’s something that I’ve been meaning to cover up. At one time or another, my guess is that there was a fan or light installed, but it’s not there now, so I patched it quickly with a piece of thin plywood cut to size and painted it light blue to blend in as best as it could. Voila.

Patched. Voila.

There’s a single outlet in the sunroom, but no light switch, which makes it an ideal space for one of these non-hardwired IKEA lights. I purchased 1/4″ coaxial cable staples to secure the exposed cord to the ceiling and wall, a small $2 investment on my part (and true story, I’ve still got 19/26 left for future cord wranglin’).

1/4" coaxial cable staples to hold the wire taut against the wall.

I lucked out in a big way too; the cord from the middle of the room, along the ceiling, and down the right side of the door frame left me with just enough length to plug the thing into the wall.

The cord was within an inch of it's life, er, an inch of being long enough to plug into the sunroom's sole outlet (to the right of the door).


The fixture, which stands 10″ in height (and 22″ in diameter, wowza) was allowed to hang an extra 8″, giving me enough room to walk beneath it easily, but not make it appear to be a more close-to-ceiling light model.

The light, hanging 8" from the ceiling from a simple hook.

At night, it’s a nice sight. Maybe even too bright. Crazy CFL bulbs.

The sunroom, bright, for the first time ever.

Did you hear in your travels that there’s an iPhone app of the latest 376-page IKEA catalogue? Be forewarned, it’s 82MB of data over 3G, but totally worth it (if you’re crazed like me).

Dye Drama

September 22, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, DIY, Windows   //  By: Emily   //  8 responses

Back when I had begun to envision how my room would look with its new full-blown wooden headboard, I had also considered anchoring the bed beneath the window with simple curtains that would disguise how much narrower the window is than the queen-sized bed. The sketch-y looked something like this:

Headboard sketchiness.So far, so good. I’ve stayed pretty true to plan (plus two lobster-red bedside tables).

For the curtains, I planned to make something myself. After all, with the cost of finished curtain panel set pushing $75-100 and beyond, I knew I could do it less expensively, if I found the right material. Searching high and low for raw yardage, I spent most of my time on etsy looking through indy shops and their vast array of fabric. I loved the breadth of the options: wool, sheer, printed, imported, designer, and handmade, but I couldn’t land on anything within my budget; I knew I needed at least 6-12 yards of fabric depending on width, which narrowed my options down immediately. And when it came down to patterns, textures, weights of the material, and the actual colors, I got myself stuck in the mud. It’s hard to not need to see and feel the fabric you’re going to be using, and I just felt like I could blast through ordering dozens of sample swatches and still not find what I (didn’t know I was) looking for.

My goal was to spend less than what I would have if I bought new panels straight from the store, and the fabric pricing (not including shipping) varied with availability, and especially, quality.

So, I decided to make it easy for myself and buy heavy painters canvas (a weight and texture that I was sure to be pleased with because I do love the feel of a more natural, authentic fiber). I also considered muslin, but this product from Lowe’s is just the run-of-the-mill painters drop cloth, of which I bought two 9’x12′ pieces in the 8 oz. variety as opposed to the heavier option of 10 oz.

Future canvas curtains. A.K.A Painters Dropcloth. On the cheap from Lowe's.I intended to hang curtains on either side of both windows in the room, not just behind the bed, which is why I splurged on the second canvas – just to make sure I had enough to do the job, yo. I wasn’t sure one pack would cut it but at $21/each, it wasn’t breaking the bank and it was also returnable.

The next thing I picked up was a packet of iDye, a fabric dye that I was pleased with once before (when I made this Orla Kiely wall art). The color I was hoping to emulate was the wall color in my bedroom, which is a rich, dark gray with oh-so-subtle purple undertones. The Gun Metal Gray option sold at JoAnn’s (only $2.47 post-40%-off coupon) appeared to be the perfect color. After all, I didn’t want the curtains to compete with the carpet (my favorite Pebble Rug from West Elm which totally shined in last weekend’s Secrets From A Stylist, eek, so pretty in the 9’x12′ size. I’m totally driftin’ off topic now.), and moreover, I didn’t want it to detract from the shiplap paneled wall that I finished 1.5 weeks ago (was it only that recently?)

Gun Metal iDye.Fun fact: These will be the first curtains hung in my house. I generally like the clean look of the bright blinds and window trim, but I’m exploring my options these days, starting with the bedroom.

I followed iDye’s directions with my top-loading washer; water, 1 c. of salt, wash cycle twice, rinse, gentle detergent cycle, complete. But what came out of the dryer was not gun metal. Not as I know gun metal. It was surprising close to the blue/gray Pebble Rug, actually.

Chambray denim? Or Gun Metal Gray?Which means… it was not even close to an exact match to the wall paint.

Pressed to describe the color and resulting texture, I suggested “grandma’s chambray denim” to Pete on the phone. No, he didn’t know what that meant but hopefully my lady-readers will get the idea.

More blue than gray, and kind of a washed-out denim texture, it would have been a real pop-of-color against the stained brown wall. It might have made a better bedspread. And I do like the modern chambray look if we’re gettin’ all Lucky magazine up in here, but this didn’t have that same structure or smooth finish as the newer designs in stores. Drifting off topic again.

Chambray denim? Or Gun Metal Gray?Never fear, this dye drama can be corrected, right? If it was anything like Sherry’s seat covers, the full 9’x12′ sheet of canvas should easily absorb a different dye and transition to a shade (hopefully) closer to the wall paint. Fingers crossed.

Back to JoAnn’s, and home with two additional dyes, Silver Gray and straight-up Black. After all, the shade I was wanting was just a light black… as-in, gray, right? Yes, I had more coupons, so the total dye haul only cost $7.50. I was still hoping to return the black. Ooh, can you smell that foreshadowing? But really, now do you see why I was so optimistic in the Gun Metal Gray pick all the way on the left? That’s my wall color exactly!

Dye arsenal; Gun Metal Gray, Silver Gray, and Black.As I began to re-dye the canvas Silver Gray, I was once again optimistic; the dissolvable dye packet showed signs of having red undertones, although lots of blue too. Maybe I’d end up with a more purple-gray tone like I needed?

Silver Gray Dye Packet, up-close.No. Not so much. I did snap a photo of dye-job #2, although it seems to have vanished off the face of my camera or iPhone and computer, so maybe I dreamt the whole night long dye job. I do recall that I photographed the fabric in a wound up lump on the staircase, hoping to compare the blue to the gray stripes the in painted stairs, but alas, who knows what happened.

In any case, the Silver Gray wasn’t potent enough to lighten the slightly darker blue color of the Gun Metal Gray. And that is today’s life lesson. Onward with the black.

Because I was horrified about the potential of dying the fabric as black as the night, I only allowed the dye to soak in for the duration of one wash cycle. (I also used less salt, probably only a half-cup… but that was because I completely depleted my at-home supply.)

It came out, it dried, and I was skeptical. You would be skeptical too if it were your third go-around with the dye and an enormous piece of fabric. It was definitely still a wee-bit blueish, even purple-ish in the right lights, but not in a bad way. Gun Metal Gray dye is apparently the almighty strength, but it was subdued finally.

Subdued dye job, post-black dye.Content as I was with the color, I was more worried about how it would look against the shiplap headboard, so I laid it out flat (on the deck yesterday when it was dry, my only available large surface) and used a simple yard stick (that my grandpa always likes to make sure I have on hand, thanks much) to measure out a 3′ strip on the 9′ length; do some math, and realize that if I cut the full sheet into quarters, I’ll have four 3’x9′ pieces of curtain.I didn’t even feel the need to mark on the fabric, I just kept lining up the yardstick with the edge of the fabric and trimmed away slowly.

Slowly cuttin' away at the bedroom canvas (on the deck, where there was room to spread out a 9x12 panel).Next, I brought it upstairs and literally blue-painters-taped the single-cut panel to the wall to see how it would look.

The result?

Oh phew, the curtain doesn't look totally bazurk. Oh, Hurray. I’m liking this. Being against the brown backdrop definitely breaks up the gray curtain from the rest of the gray walls, so much so that it looks like a color match. I did pull the panel over to the gray wall to see how close it really was, in similar light. Not quite close, but definitely passable. If you’re not picky.

See, there’s way more blue in my fabric, and more red in the wall gray. And such is life.

Comparing the curtain color to the wall color.Because of this, I’m probably not going to hang the curtain on the window on the opposite wall, because the gray-on-gray is just not close enough to work as fluidly as I hoped. Even though you can’t see that full window in this picture, can you see what I mean? Conflict. Boo hiss.

Putting the curtains along the gray wall window would really be hard.But the curtains I did end up with. Ooh lala. OK, they’re not actually quite done, and I haven’t gotten beyond just taping them up to scope out the situation, but they will be properly hung (and ironed) soon.

Check back for more curtain fun… and less dye drama.