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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Making Homemade Super Frugal Tab Top Curtains From Imperfect Fabric and Scraps

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One of the things I hated most in how my house looked before our super frugal home makeover was our blinds on our window in the living room part of our main room. They were given to us by friends who no longer wanted there, they were a color I hated, and they were half broken. I knew that one thing that absolutely needed to be done in our makeover was getting curtains for this window, pretty curtains that matched our color scheme.

However, I didn't want grey curtains since it would be right above our grey couch, and I thought that that was a bit much. And as much as I like orange, I felt orange curtains would be a little garish and a little too "retro" for my taste. So that left me with blue.

I didn't want the curtains to feel to heavy- I wanted something fresh and lively and light, so when I spotted this light blue fabric at the fabric store, I knew it was perfect. I loved that it was patterned yet not, so a little more interesting than just plain blue fabric, but not too busy looking either. And it was light enough to allow light through, yet thick enough to give us a little bit of privacy. The fabric was discounted- which was a plus, but the reason it was discounted, less so; it was just one yard long, which I thought would be enough... but was not. I mean, when I took it home and measured it, it was the right size to cover my window, but not to reach to the curtain rod a few inches above. On top of that, it also was cut unevenly, so it would need to be hemmed a good few inches shorter to hide the jagged edges.

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Testing out the fabric to see... Nope. not long enough.

I had a problem. I could either scratch the idea of making curtains with this fabric, something I really didn't want to do also because I didn't want to have wasted money on this fabric, and also because I really loved it, and it was so perfect, other than its imperfections, that is... or I could try to figure out a solution to use the fabric somehow, so that it would cover the window entirely.


One solution was to turn the fabric on its side, because it was wider than it was tall. However, I was loathe to do that because the shape and angle of the triangles made me feel that they needed to be that way; it didn't look "right" to me turned 90 degrees.
The other solution was to extend the fabric somehow, and at first I thought to maybe add a panel of another color, either at the top or the bottom, but when I thought about that, that just sounded so horrible and tacky looking, and the whole point of this home makeover was to make the place look good, so if I didn't have the best feeling about an idea, it wasn't going to happen.

Then I realized that I had a little bit of grey fabric left over from making the couch slipcovers, and since these curtains would be hanging right above the couch, I thought having the grey in the curtains would work nicely and not look bad. But I didn't have enough for an extra panel, not that I wanted to do so anyhow, because I still felt it would look like a "fix" and not something I'd intended from the start.

And then it hit me- top tabs for the curtains- long enough so that the blue would only need to hang over the actual window, and not reach the curtain rod at the top. It would need less fabric than a panel would, and look intentional, not as an afterthought. I just had to make sure I had enough grey to make the right amount of tabs to not look skimpy, but I wasn't sure if I would.

I cut the fabric into rectangles and then folded them in half and sewed them, then flipped them inside out until I got this. (Actually, to be perfectly honest... my 8 year old son, Lee, did them.)

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I had enough fabric to make 9 of them and I hoped it would be enough! I then ironed the tabs so they would lay flat and that the seam would be facing the inside.

I then cut the curtain in half to make two, and then hemmed them both as little as possible while still making sure the edges were even, so that they'd remain as large as possible even after the hemming.

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I tried out the tabs on the curtains, and putting four on each side seemed to work fine spacing-wise, not looking too crowded or too sparse, so that was perfect- I had one extra.

I folded them in half, positioned them so the wider half  (if there was one) was in front, then pinned them down and sewed them on to the curtains.

I did it too both sides, and voila! I love it! Totally matches and doesn't look like the tabs were to fix the problem of a too short piece of fabric!

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But then... I thought I probably need something to tie back the curtains if I wanted them open, and then I wasn't sure what to do them with, since I didn't have any more grey fabric, but putting other colors wasn't really what I wanted to do...

Then a friend suggested that I open up that last tab that I'd sewn but wasn't using, and then cut it in half and sew it into two thinner strips. Terrific solution.

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Then there was the question of how to attach these curtain tie backs, and I saw a picture of tie backs with a loop on either end, which were then hung on hooks from the wall. Well, I didn't have the "right" type of hooks, and didn't want to go out to buy some, but Mike and I scrounged around the house and found a few key rings which do the job.

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We didn't have four exactly the same size, but had two of each size, which are similar enough in size that when hung on opposite ends of the window you can't tell that they are different sizes, so that's what we used.

After flipping the fabric inside out so the seam was on the inside, I then ironed it flat, and then folded over the edges down over the key rings on each side, pinned it down to secure it, then sewed it across each edge.

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And here's how they look, right side up, excess threads removed.

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For the wall, hanging up hooks isn't so easy, since our walls are problematic and making holes in the wall doesn't work well- either the wall crumbles or the nails or screws don't even go in. They make these special hooks meant for this type of wall, and we had 2 in the house already, I decided to use those. They work terrifically!

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When not in use, I simply am hanging the tie backs from the hooks. Ideally I'd want them hidden behind the curtains, but because of the position of the curtain rod, it isn't possible to do that, so this is the best that can be done.

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Here's how it looks together with the couch, etc... when not tied back.

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And when tied back:

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Total cost for the curtain? $4.25 for the blue fabric, the rest was free since it was using things lying around my house and/or scraps that otherwise would have ended in the garbage.

I LOVE these curtains and am really excited about them! They add the cheer to the room that was missing beforehand. Total time it took to make them? Probably less than an hour of active work, and that was with my kids nagging me every 5 seconds that they wanted me to stop sewing because they wanted to do another craft.

If you like this, you'll like my other home makeover posts as well:

Have you ever sewed homemade curtains? How did you make them?

Have you ever had a project that you wanted to do, but the materials weren't exactly how you needed them to be, so you problem solved how to do the project anyhow with the materials you already had, making lemonade out of lemons crafting style? What was the issue and how did you solve it?

2 comments:

  1. Nice!

    Here I'd been thinking that "tab top" was short for table top. Sure there was a couch under it, not a table, but there was a table in the room. That counts, right?

    But tab...Tab Top! Got it now!

    It looks great. With those tabs.

    Now you just need some blueish purple...

    ReplyDelete
  2. The curtains look lovely and refreshing, Penny. Kudos to you for solving your problems with a little creative thinking!

    ReplyDelete

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