Wednesday, October 1, 2014

DIY Smocked Linen Curtains

While I was deciding what kind of window treatments for our Great Room windows, I came across a few options that I really liked.  Pottery Barn sells these cute smocked curtains.  I'd never seen anything like it before and loved that about them.  Drawback, curtains are pricey, even when they don't come from Pottery Barn.  I decided to go with Roman Shades for our Great Room windows simply because they work well with furniture and don't hang in the way.  Check out my post about how to make Roman Shades.  I recently completed and hung the 3 Great Room Roman Shades and will have to update that soon.  It was a big project but they are finished and I am pleased to have dressed windows for the Great Room.  I made a total of 5 roman shades- 3 for the great room, 1 for hall window and one for lady genevieve's room.  They all turned out pretty good.  It was a cool process to learn, and I now understand why Roman Shades are a bit more expensive than other window treatments.  They have a lot of parts and are more labor intensive than other hanging drapes.
Once that project was completed, the Laird was questioning why I didn't make curtains for our bedroom instead of the Great Room.  His logic was that we really needed something to block light where we sleep, and the Great Room curtains will likely never be closed, so they were more for looks than function.  His logic was quite right.  So I decided I would start making curtains for our bedroom.  I searched DIY smocked curtains and found a number of blogs of people who have made their own smocked curtains.  My favorite blog for DIY smocked curtains included a link of a detailed tutorial on honeycomb smocking.  If you're interested in making your own smocked curtains, definitely check these blogs out.  The smocking is actually quite simple, and something done by hand.  Easy enough to work on while watching a movie or relaxing.  The labor intense part was hand sewing the edges and top, as I did not want a seam.  I did machine hem the bottom, which was very quick.

1)  Make each panel slightly larger than the width of the whole window.  The smocking causes the width to shrink and be about half as wide as the material you start with.  Initially I figured I would cut each panel the width of the window, figuring that would be enough.  And unfortunately it wasn't.  My panels were not wide enough to cover the window and block out the light.  If the panels are simply a decorative feature for your windows, and you have another treatment behind the curtains like blinds, then this isn't as crucial.  Thankfully, I was able to use this first set of curtains to cover a smaller window in our bedroom.

2)  Figure out how you want to hang your curtains.  Ring clips, a bar....  Then plan for enough material on top end to meet your needs.  I decided to enclose the top for a curtain rod- which gives the top a scrunched appearance.

In the beginning...  You can see the pencil "dot grid" and start of smocking
First attempt at curtain smocking.  This is an upside down view of the curtain panel.

I just finished hand sewing & hemming all 4 curtain panels.  They turned out quite nice, though not perfect.  But for a first attempt at honeycomb smocking, I cannot complain.  I still have to make or buy some curtain rods.  I really like the DIY Plumbing Curtain Rod look, though the Laird isn't sold.  He thinks it will look to modern & industrial.  I just love the solid & unique look of them, easy and inexpensive to make.  All yet to be determined- in due time.  We've been without curtains this long (10 months), a little longer won't hurt.

These curtains involved a lot of hand sewing- which means they took a lot longer than a typical machine sewed curtain.  But the detail of the smocking is so beautiful.  Simple yet elegant.  The appearance of the smocking varies depending on the thickness and type of fabric.  These curtains look quite different from the Pottery Barn one's I first discovered, because the Linen I used is thicker material than the Pottery Barn Version.  I love the linen look, and the sharp lines that the smocking creates.  Many people have used Burlap and utility Drop Cloths (from the Home improvement store).  If long enough, you could even use a bed sheet- which would already have finished edges and save a lot of time!  I imagine you could even smock your existing curtain panels if you had some you wanted to experiment on...  I can't wait to get these hung and see what the look like in our bedroom.

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