Kitschy Curtains & Shoddy Sewing

Let's talk kitchens. First- big news- we've ordered the ranch house kitchen! Installation is scheduled to happen during our upcoming trip next month. We're going to attempt it ourselves, which means a cabinet-installation-DIY-post is coming your way.

But until then, there's another kitchen that's in need of some love. You guessed it, our current one in the Georgia house. What's wrong with it? Nothing, functionally. (Other than the bad light switch placement and burnt out bulb.) So how do I say this the nice way... Basically, she's getting along in years and her two most predominate features are blue speckled linoleum flooring and orange slab cabinets.

I like to pretend these unmatching tiles are a kitchen sink rug.

And these over here get hidden by a real rug.
Thane slapped a big VETO on any sort of painting or flooring. (Flooring in a rental, you say? Our neighbors laid carpet down in their kitchen, and it looks amazing! Not happening here though.) And here's the thing; not only are we talking blue speckled linoleum flooring and orange slab cabinets, but we're talking GRUNGY blue speckled linoleum flooring and orange slab cabinets. No amount of sweeping, swiffering, scrubbing, and/or sweating will put a dent in this kind of dinge. So, what's a devoted stay-at-home-wife/mom to do with the shabby heart of her home?

The bible says that a good wife is like "a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house" {Psalm 128:3}*. In comes the beginning of my little makeover. Hopefully the "fruit" of my efforts will indeed bring some new life to this little space. (By the way, the rest of the verse talks about little vine sweet peas grow on vines? Hehe.)

So anyway, we'll dub this my "Kitschy Kitchen" redo; from dingy and outdated to funky and eclectic. Or that's the goal, anyway. If it can't be fancy (and who wants a stuffy kitchen anyway?), we might as well make it fun!

First up- curtains! If we can't hide the not-so-chic features of our little space, we'll do the next best thing; divert attention elsewhere. To something bold and fun, like red geometric flower print window treatments. I found this fabric at Hancock on clearance. (And what do you know, it's got coral- pink- in it.)

Now for the shoddy-sewing portion of this post. I have the most basic, rudimentary skills when it comes to using a sewing machine. Which means I can make anything as long as it doesn't require a pattern. This is how I got my valence, crib skirt, bumper, and decorative pillows for Asher's nursery. The common denominator is that they're all super easy projects! Not only do I stick with what's easy, I don't even do a good job when it comes down to it. I'm extremely lazy about doing nice hems or correcting mistakes. The faster I get something sewn, the better.

That being said, here were the few simple steps I took to making some very very easy curtain panels.

First, I did a little photoshopping to figure out how I wanted the curtains to hang, and thus what their measurements needed to be. We have these really big, old school windows and window frames, so no standard size was going to work. These are definitely the best features of this kitchen.

These curtains aren't meant to shut, just to hang as if "open" and look pretty. Which means their width will be very skinny. We live on the second story and privacy isn't really an issue in this case. So I decided on panels that would be 46 (L) by 18 (W). To account for rod pocket at the top and the hemming on the sides and bottom, I added some inches and cut two panels that were actually 50 (L) by 20 (W). That gave me plenty of wiggle room for the hemming.

So out came the supplies... fabric, scissors, measurements, tape measure, pencil, iron, and a flat surface. And of course a sewing machine and straight pins.

Measuring and cutting a straight line was easy since I could follow the pattern. (Went straight down the center of a row of flowers. I wish all fabric made it this easy!)

(I got a little scissor happy before finishing my measurements.)

I used a regular pencil to mark the "corner" of the rectangle.

After cutting out my 50x20 rectangle, I ironed a quarter inch hem and secured it with pins.

Here's one panel- the sides are cut, ironed, pinned, and ready for sewing!

Once the sides were sewn, I started on the top.

I folded the top down three inches in prep for sewing. Since I had four total inches of fabric to use for the hem (I cut a 50 inch rectangle in order to make a 46 inch panel), that meant I would have one inch left over to hem on the bottom.

I also ironed the fold down so that I'd have a smooth crease to work with. See it? Once I had my crease, I then ironed down a very small sliver before folding the big portion over again. This made a smoother hem. And let me just say that this is the first time I've actually "double-hemmed" anything. Usually I'm too lazy to go to the effort so I have very sloppy, stringy hems. I guess I was feeling fancy and extra motivated today.

Before sewing the top of the panel closed, I used pins to secure it and actually hung it on the rod to test it. It hung exactly like I planned, woo-hoo! 

See this angled corner? This is the only special sewing trick I know (and I'm sure it's not all that special to someone with real sewing skills). This prevents the folded edge of fabric from peaking out (to the front) once it's sewn. It doesn't require any special treatment on the machine, just sew from the edge like you would even if there was no angle in the fabric.

First panel; check! I followed the same steps for the second panel, except I only hemmed one side. After hemming the first side, I laid it on top of the already-completed panel to see how well they matched up. It turned out that they matched perfectly with only the one side hemmed. Which meant my two fabric cuts weren't exactly the same size... But lucky me, since this fabric is technically meant for outside, it's a little stiffer than normal and didn't fray. SO I skipped hemming the opposite side of the second panel altogether. I'm all for a good shortcut when opportunity strikes! 

Speaking of shortcuts and overall shody-ness, here's a great example of my less-than-stellar-technique; Can you see how I totally missed the hem here? The line of thread runs right off of it...

The right thing to do would be to redo it. But who has time for that? Asher certainly doesn't, so it stayed this way. (My Grandmother, the master sewer, is probably laughing and shaking her head, ha!) Speaking of Asher, usually he would be demanding to be in my arms right about now, but he happened to take a super long nap today. How else do you think these got done in one afternoon?

Alright. Two scrappy-but-functional curtain panels, coming right up! Take another look at the "before" windows.


And now for a curtain montage;


The fact that these things are hanging exactly where I wanted them- in line with the bottom of the window trim- must have been a stroke of good fortune. As you can see from the rest of my sewing practices, clearly it wasn't skill that made it happen.

Once the curtains were up I made one more small improvement. I traded out our black dish-drying rack for this red one. We had it sitting around being unused. It's smaller and little less functional than the black one, but so much funner. 

Alright, as always, let's talk cost; I bought 1.5 yards of upholstery fabric on clearance for $6/yd. I used a little over one yard for this project, so the curtains went up for about $6 and some change. And now I have some left over for a project that's yet to be determined. Suggestions?

This little makeover is just getting started. I'd like to find a good deal on a microwave cart so that we can better utilize the empty space to the right of the sink, as well as free up some counter space. It would be great if we could continue to have a trash can there, but disguise it so it's not in plain sight. And of course I'd also like to add more fun decor... So stay tuned for hopefully near-future updates!

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*Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table.
{Psalm 128:3} NKJV

-P.S. Kitsch. -noun. "something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste." Derived from the German word kitschen which means "to throw together" (a work of art).

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The LeVan family said...

Cute curtains! I'm about to attempt sewing kitchen curtains and basement curtains....perhaps if that goes well I may try to sew master bedroom curtains! Wish me luck :)

Sarah @ModernRanch said...

Thanks! There's really nothing to it, I can't wait to see how it goes for you!

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