Category Archives: curtains

A shower curtain and bath mat


midwest-modern-bathroomI said I wasn’t going to do anything else with this bathroom I hate, but I guess I caved. The peach tile and the icky tub still don’t do it for me, but at least I have a new shower curtain and bath mat. Since I’d made myself a shirt out of the fabric that had been destined to trim up the rest of the bathroom after I’d finished the window treatments (see link) I had to order more. This is Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern and it works remarkably well with peach tile. I can love the fabric even if the tile does give me hives.


To make the shower curtain I sewed three panels of fabric together to match the width of my ready-made shower curtain liner, then sewed a folded-over band of fabric along the top and made buttonholes in all the same spots as the holes in the top of the liner. Making so many buttonholes got a little tedious but it was a simple project.

tub-matI ordered a new bathtub mat but then dressed it up by crocheting a border along the edges out of KnitPicks’ cotton Dishie yarn in Heat Wave. I thought the yarn I got had a truer red than the yarn in their product photo, but it still looks okay in my bathroom. I sewed loose stitches of yarn all the way around the edge and then made a simple scalloped border using a J size hook. The mat seems much more special now and it didn’t take long to do. Now I have one fewer thing to hate about my bathroom! And the mat is big, so it covers  up a good amount of the tile…

In which I wear my curtains


On the main floor of my house is a perfectly nice bathroom. It has white tile on the walls that is old but in good condition, and the slightly offset placing of the vintage black and white floor tiles has a quirky, unique look I really like. It was the first room I painted and made curtains for last winter after we moved in. It looks pretty and clean with minimal effort–a good quality in a bathroom. Unfortunately the bathroom upstairs does not share the charm of its main floor cousin, and of course it is the one we use primarily. The tile in this bathroom is a dirty-looking peach and the floor is an even dirtier-looking peach, with icky stained grout and a bathtub that appears to have stretchmarks I cannot scrub off. My husband is fond of some of the “historical” features of the bathroom, such as an old toothbrush holder that is recessed into the wall, hidden by a chrome panel, but then swings out into view when you push on it. The kids call it the toothbrush bat cave. I’ll grant that the toothbrush bat cave is kind of neat, and I generally have an appreciation for things that have withstood the test of time, but seriously I hate this bathroom. I’ve bleached and scrubbed and cleaned but it still looks dingy and gross. Plus…dirty peach. Ick. And did I mention that awful tub? Bleah.

So I’ve basically ignored the existence of this bathroom long after our other rooms have been freshened with paint and shown some homemade love. My generally paint-averse husband actually scraped and painted the peeling ceiling himself a couple months ago, so I guess I now know exactly how long I can avoid doing something until he finally gives up and does it himself. I hated to put any effort into this room because I really just want to wait until we can afford to gut it and get a new, clean, nice one put in. But then I’d found this pretty fabric that kind of brightens up the dingy peach and I figured I might as well go ahead and paint the walls (white) and put up curtains so I can stare at them while I’m brushing my teeth instead of that nasty tile until our bathroom redo budget gets met. The Amy Butler Midwest Modern prints kind of hearken to a time when a home renovation might have included hiding something necessary but unattractive such as a toothbrush holder.

I’d bought more of the fabric than I needed for the valance and I was thinking I’d make some strips to sew on the edges of towels, maybe make up a bathmat, decorative hand towels, stuff like that. But after I’d make the curtains and hung them in the much-despised bathroom I decided I actually liked the fabric too well to waste more of it on a bathroom I dislike. It’s unlikely I’d want to use the same fabric in the new bathroom when I’d have every pattern in the world to choose from (since I wouldn’t pick peach tile!) and I didn’t want to sew the fabric onto things I’d want to keep in the new space, like towels. So I switched gears and used the rest of the fabric to make a shirt for myself instead. Now I match my ugly bathroom, sort of, only I can leave so it’s different. I used New Look 6871 but did my own things with the sleeves. I had just enough left over to hem a strip just the right size for tying in my hair. Worth thought it was hilarious that I’d set the tripod up to take a photo of myself–I’m watching him laugh at me in the photo. I like the shirt and I think it was a much more satisfying project than the curtains. It’s a brighter, bolder print than I would typically choose for myself but it’s springy and fun. Sometimes I don’t like wearing shirts like this because they look homemade–you don’t generally walk into Target and see a similar item for sale. I tend to prefer patterns that draw less attention to their homemade-ness, but this one actually makes a good story. So far at least three people have asked if I made it and I told them all that I match my curtains.

Curtains and Christmas crafting


Our family room has been late to get the love that some of our other rooms got months ago. I’ve had the fabric (Kiki Pinata) picked out to make the curtains for months but could never find the time to start them. I finally got fed up with not having curtains one night recently and stayed up until 2:00 a.m. sewing, but my sleepy brain screwed them up and I spent most of that time trying to fix my own dumb mistakes. Curtains are pretty easy–mostly straight seams–but for some reason that night I couldn’t hack it. I did finally did finish the set for this one window and I really love the print, even though it is not the most appropriate backdrop for the Christmas tree we just set up in front of it. Now one down, one regular and two double windows to go. Yikes. But this room is really shaping up. Here we were right after move-in last year, with the unlit last-minute Christmas tree thrown in the corner next to a pile of boxes. I’m thankful every day that we are not moving this year! This year we set the tree up on a table to keep precious ornaments out of reach of kids and puppies, and my crafty Grandma’s memory is honored by the use of her handmade felt tree skirt and complete felt nativity. A much more peaceful scene than moving boxes.

After enjoying the seasonal pillow cases I made for my sofa a few weeks ago I decided I needed new ones for Christmas. I used wide strips of Christmas fabric (which accidentally found it’s way into my shopping cart when I was buying the curtain fabric) of varying widths to make intentionally non-matching pillows for each side of the sofa. The kids keep taking all the cushions off to make a mouse house with them and some blankets so I was unable to photograph them on the sofa, but here is one on the floor in its more natural habitat. I did some decorative machine stitches where the strips are joined and it looks cute. The final product looks cheerful and seasonal and kid-friendly both on the sofa and off.

My other recent holiday project was to make Rob a new stocking. His previous stocking was small, and Dorothy noticed this year that it seemed a bit plain next to the others. (This year we’ve also added an Etsy-purchased personalized stocking for Belle the dog.) I was under the impression that Rob’s old stocking was one of those emotion-infused items that came with my husband and Must Not Be Changed, but it turns out he didn’t even remember who made it for him so I was able to stick it in his Thou Shalt Not Throw Away box downstairs (we have issues with him being a keeper and me being a tosser–but that’s another story) and upgrade his stocking by the fireplace. I wanted to make it myself since I love him better than the dog. I used a rather manly green and gold stripe print I had left over from a project a couple years ago and lined it with some green corduroy, also from my stash. I stitched his name in gold thread and then sewed on some red jingle bells for color. My favorite part of this project was the way Dorothy fussed over unveiling it for him when he came home from work–she’s so glad Santa can now treat him with adequate generosity!

Aunt Stephanie’s Room


I’ve been working on the guest room, otherwise known as Aunt Stephanie’s room.  (Stephanie was my college roommate, is honorary and beloved “aunt” to my kids and is my favorite and most frequent houseguest, hence the room is named for her.) The walls are a creamy yellow that look more or less intense depending on the light. I hung simple white shades in the window for nighttime privacy, then made slim curtains with tie-backs so they don’t obscure the view. I love the crazy orange bird print, which is Pretty Bird Spice by Michael Miller.

The rocking chair was a thrift store find, $12.00, and it was your basic old wooden rocker with an awful, dusty cushion. I ditched the cushion, painted the rocker black to tie in the picture frames and curtain rods, and free-handed some orange flowers on the top. I love the way it now looks like it was made for the room.

For most of the rooms in the house I’ve chosen a group of favorite fabrics as a starting point and this room was no different. The Michale Miller Pretty Bird fabrics appear on the lamp shade, the pillows (here and more to come), the bedding (stay tuned), and the curtains. Gluing homemade bias tape on lamp shades is slightly addictive because it’s so fast and it looks good.  Now I’ve got my mother doing it too. The funky candy dish was a vintage eBay piece because I just had to–how could I do a room in orange but not have something made out of that crazy fiery retro glass? Other bits of this room are still in progress and will be done soon–so if you’re thinking of visiting me and staying in my guest room, pick a date!

The living room


More house progress!  Removing the living room wallpaper was a serious pain in the ass. My mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, daughter and husband all worked with me (and in the case of my mother, much more than me) to get the wallpaper off this wall.  There was a thin liner underneath the regular wallpaper that had to be steamed and scraped away shreds at a time.  Ouch.  But now it’s off!  Mom and I primed the newly-bare walls, which had never been painted in their 71 years, then painted them a perky green called spring cactus. I made the curtains from fabric I found online and posted about previously, from Heather Bailey’s Pop Garden collection. This is a room we needed some furniture for when we moved into this house.  I fell in love with the Eames-inspired tulip chair from an online discount store, and we bought the light fixture and white sofa (below) from IKEA. This room is meant to house my collection of hobnail milk glass, and the bumpy white lamp and chair are really just accessories to my beloved dishes.  I have a less-is-more attitude toward some things, but dishes are just not one of them. I love dishes.  I have way too many.  But hey, better dishes than drugs and booze, right?

After I hung the new curtains this weekend  Dorothy came into the room.  She immediately noticed the curtains and rushed over to the windows to admire.  “Wow!  These new curtains are so pretty!  They are going to look beautiful at my birthday party.”  My husband came home an hour or so later and his reaction was not as satisfying.  I had to drag him into the room to see the curtains, which I doubt he’d have noticed on his own.  He glanced and said, “oh, those look nice.”  He might have said the same thing if I’d hung paper bags in the window.  If I hadn’t prompted him he might never have noticed they were there. This is why I’m so grateful to have a daughter.  🙂

My over-the-sofa art is going to be supplied by my children.  I purchased artists canvases at a craft store and covered them with more of the Pop Garden fabric using a staple gun. I have a can of low-tack spray adhesive that I’m going to use to adhere a rotating collection of the kids’ art to the screens.  This felt like a formal but fun way to honor their artwork. I have admired framed child art in other people’s homes, but I’m thinking this will be easier to peel off or stick up art as their talents and interests change.

Now all I have to do to finish this room is patch and paint the ceiling, paint all the trim, mop off the bits of wallpaper that seem to have stuck to the floor, buy a coffee table, sew throw-pillows, buy a coordinating shade for the milk glass lamp (not shown), sew a Pop Garden scarf for the piano, find or make an entry-way rug, paint or replace the plant stand that doesn’t seem to match, and find the rest of my milk glass in a box downstairs.  It’s a good thing my baby sleeps through the night and I have nothing else to do all day, right?  Oh wait…

And today is my daughter’s actual birthday.  She gets to bring a treat to school to share with her classmates, so we made cupcakes with lavender icing at her request. I love this recipe for vanilla cupcakes and have made it several times, even though the method of adding the butter to the batter seems rather unorthodox. The cupcakes don’t turn golden-brown until they are over baked–you have to do the toothpick test to get them out in time–but they come out really moist and they hold their shape nicely so you can eat them without having most of your cupcake dissolve into crumbs all over your lap.  According to Dorothy’s birthday wish the cupcakes needed to have her classmates names on them, so we did that too.  I printed the names onto a sheet of card stock and we just cut, glued and folded the little tags onto toothpicks. Hopefully the birthday girl will feel like she got all her birthday wishes granted today. She woke up pretty excited!

Bird curtains for the bathroom


Dorothy and I both spent some time today sewing.  Worth spent some time today being a nuisance.  I think we’ve officially ended the sweet baby stage and entered the terrible toddler era.  He’s not walking yet, but his combination of seal-hop crawling and cruising gets him around quite well, and his toddler-esque curiosity is proving to be a menace to his health and the safety of everything in his path.  Here is a cute picture of Dorothy trying to sew (before you get too impressed with my preschooler’s skills, let me casually observe that there doesn’t seem to be any thread in the machine) while her brother hovers annoyingly around her, using a thread cone as a megaphone and trying to figure out the best way to get his fingers poked with a needle.

And the very first befores and afters of the new house!  Here is my downstairs bathroom before a paint job and new curtains…

and here is after.  I wouldn’t call the room “done,” because I’m still going to sew a coordinating bathtub mat, commission some frame-able bird art from my resident young artist, and find some sort of tray to coral toiletries on the back of the toilet, but the painting is done and the curtains are hung.  I used this fabric for the body of the curtains, and this for the scalloped edge, which I made using the very fancy (ahem) technique of tracing around a jar bottom.  The paint was left over from Dorothy’s old bedroom in our old house, and is Pastel Sage by Glidden.  I love how much fresher a room can feel after a new coat of paint!  Now when I get discouraged about the in-progress state of the rest of the house, at least I have one room I can visit to view progress.

The fun stuff


All over my house are signs of progress!  Or actually there are taped-up fabric “samples” I’ve printed off the internet and swathes of paint choices.  Here are some Heather Bailey prints I like for curtains and pillows in the living room, and we like the top shade of green.

The dining room, in which I’ll make curtains from this awesome old tablecloth.  Rob and I are both loving the bright shade of blue on the top, although we’d not expected to choose something with that much intensity.  He did ask if I was trying to bring the camper look indoors.  (I’m not, I’m just enjoying bright shades of blue right now!)

And the family room, which will be the same buttery yellow we’ve grown attached to in our last two houses.  I like the fabric print I had taped up here but we decided on a different one for the curtains, one that brings in punches of brown and black to tie in our mish-mash of furniture.  It’s very large-scale (think plate-sized flowers) and tropical, but this huge back room needs something big, bold, and warm. 

A friend of mine has a theory about interior house colors corresponding to the colors a woman likes to wear, but my history of using mostly fall colors inside (and on me) seems to be giving over to a new era of springs and summers in this house.  I’m excited about all the bright happiness, and I’m glad that all these choices are easy to change if we tire of them.  If we reach a day when we decide we simply can’t eat dinner in a robin’s egg blue room one more time, at least no wallpaper removal will be involved!