how to sew curtains

I had purchased the fabric for our new living room curtains awhile back, but I’ve been putting off actually making them because frankly, I was a little intimidated.  It wasn’t even so much the sewing part, but more the measuring and cutting STRAIGHT lines with that much fabric.  Up until now I’ve only sewn small projects with manageable amounts of fabric.  I finally sucked it up and started them this past Sunday and finished them last night.  No, it didn’t take me four days to make them….it took me three days to recover enough from the stress of the measuring and cutting I did on Sunday to move on to the sewing part :).

Our old living room curtains weren’t particularly horrible in any way. (These photos were taken last fall, hence the pumpkins on the mantel.)

There was just nothing special about them.

The cream color was pretty blah, and Devin and I both agreed (surprisingly) that we needed curtains with more oomph to them.

Enter, Magnolia Home Fashions Java Ikat Fabric in Yacht Blue.  This is one of those patterns that you’ll either love or hate, given that it’s pretty bold.  But hey, go big or go home right?  Thankfully, we both loved it.

There’s really no set formula for making curtains since the measurements and rod pocket size are really up to you.

Have enough fabric to cover the length that you want your curtains to be plus additional length to allow for the top and bottom seams.  I wanted my curtains to be 89″ long.  I also wanted 3″ wide pockets for both the top and bottom.  Accounting for the first 1/2″ that I would have to fold over each end before folding over again for the 3″ pocket, that equated to: 89″ + 3.5″ + 3.5″ = 96″ length for each curtain panel.  For the width, the fabric I chose was 54″ wide and that ended up being just the right width per panel for our big front window.  (If you want your curtains wider than the width the fabric comes in, you’d have to sew two lengths of fabric together side by side, or conversely, if you want it narrower, just cut the fabric down to the width you prefer.)

As I mentioned above, it took me forever to get the measurements right.  It came in one super long piece that was enough for both panels so I had to cut it down to size, and then I had to make sure the cuts were STRAIGHT which was difficult given how wide the fabric was.  Lastly, since I wanted the pattern to flow continuously across when the two panels were closed, I had to make sure I cut each panel at the same point in the pattern.  I’m not even going to tell you how long it took me to do this.  It’s pretty embarrassing.  If any of you sewing pros out there have tips for measuring and cutting huge pieces of fabric, PLEASE bring them on!

Three days later (last night) I finally got to the sewing part.

First I did the side seams.  I folded the fabric over to the wrong side 1/2″, pressed, then over another 1/2″ and pressed again (you could do whatever width you prefer here, though I hear 1″ is the norm.)  I pinned this down every 4-6″, then I sewed a (fairly) straight stitch all the way down the length of each panel.  Then I repeated this with the other sides.

Next I did the top and bottom pockets.  Starting with the top end, I folded over 1/2″ to the wrong side of the fabric and pressed then folded over another 3″ and pressed.  I pinned this down too every few inches.

Then I sewed a straight stitch along the inner fold where I pinned, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end to secure it all in place.  When I was finished, the pocket looked like this.

Here’s a close up of the corner where I backstitched over the side seam.

Then it was time to hang them up. I took some photos last night right after we hung them so excuse the lighting.

How’s that for some oomph?  Notice, after all of my work, they’re STILL not perfectly straight..the ends of the bottom turn up a little.  No idea where I went wrong, but you know what?  I can live with it :).  Also, the slight sag in the middle of the sheer curtain rod is due to the dogs sometimes stepping on the curtain when they look out the window.  We’ll be screwing that rod into the top of the window frame so it doesn’t sag anymore.

Here are the curtains during the day.

I love how that side of the room has such a big pop of color now.  Our next living room project is to paint the fireplace (again ha) to match the trim color which is Behr Ivory Mist.  The fireplace being a neutral color will give me more room to add more pops of color to the space and to the mantle.

I’m sort of super in love with them.

Turned up bottoms and all :).

 

 

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fabric covered lamp shade and my new orleans bachelorette

What do you think of this spray painted thrift store lamp base and Bettina fabric covered shade that I did for my office?

Do you love it as much as I do?  To read about how I did it, please hop on over to Tiffany’s awesomely creative blog Living Savvy where I am guest posting today as part of her Spray Painter’s Anonymous series.

In other news, I’ve spent this week nursing a cold that I caught at the tale end of my bachelorette party in New Orleans last weekend.  It was well worth it, and I had an amazing time with my bridesmaids…but let me tell you…as I near my 30th birthday it’s painfully apparent that I’m getting too old for three day benders!  I’d love to hit up New Orleans again, but maybe with less drinking next time :).

We rented a condo in the French Quarter right off of Bourbon street, and I HIGHLY recommend it.  It was much cheaper for our group of 6 than staying in a hotel plus we had an awesome balcony, beautiful digs and all of the amenities that come with a hotel combined with the comforts of home.  It was perfect!

My bridesmaids came up with a couple of games to keep me on my toes.  They had Devin answer a bunch of questions about me prior to the trip (sneaky!) and I had to guess how he answered them.  If I got it right, they all took a shot…if I got it wrong, I took a shot.  I still came out winning in the end, but let’s just say I drank more than I expected to :).  The second game was to find other people named Devin in New Orleans.  1 point if it was a girl, 2 points if it was a guy, 3 points if it was spelled the same way with an “i” and 4 points if it was a “hot” Devin.  Wouldn’t you know, the doorman at Pat O’Briens our first night out was named Devin…AND he even let me keep his name tag!  Best souvenir ever…and I won that game 🙂

Add to that a great jazz show at Preservation Hall, private walking tour of the quarter, a rum distillery tour, shopping in the French Market, taking the streetcar to the Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery….

…mix in some adult beverages at Pat O’Brien’s, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, French 75 and Coquette

…plus dancing and all around revelry on Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street

…and THEN top it off with all of the delicious food we ate at Cafe Du Monde, NOLA, Johnny’s Po-Boys and Cochon among others…

…and you get a pretty amazing weekend with the best Maid of Honor (my sister) and bridesmaids a bride could ever ask for.

I’ll leave it to Instagram to sum it up in photos for y’all :).

sweet glazed butterflied chicken and tater asparagus toss

I always assumed that butterflying a chicken was one of those things that “fancy” chefs do.  Until I saw this recipe on Food Network one morning and it looked SO good that I just had to try it.  As it turns out, butterflying a chicken isn’t so difficult.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.

How to Butterfly a Chicken

  1. Place chicken on a flat surface, breast side down with the drumsticks pointing towards you.
  2. Using kitchen shears, cut along either side of the backbone and remove completely (you will hear a crunching sound as you cut through the ribs).
  3. Use a sharp knife to make an incision down the center of the gristle or cartilage running down the breast bone in the now open cavity of the chicken.
  4. Turn chicken over and using the palm of your hand, press down on the center of the breast until you hear a crack and the chicken lays flat.

Not so hard right?

This chicken is DELICIOUS.  The meat is moist and juicy, and the sweet tangy glaze in particular is finger licking good.  Seriously, this stuff should be bottled.   I’m not exaggerating one bit.  In fact, next time I’ll be doubling, maybe even tripling the glaze recipe so that there’s extra to go around.   The Tater and Asparagus Toss goes perfectly with it and can easily be made while the chicken is roasting in the oven.

Sweet Glazed Butterflied Chicken (recipe from Sunny Anderson)

  • 1 (5 pound) whole chicken, butterflied
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP onion, grated (I used a microplane zester)
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP stone ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Allow to rest on the counter for up to 2 hours to come to room temperature.

Heat a large cast iron skillet (or other oven safe pan) over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Just as the oil begins to smoke, add the chicken, skin side down. Press gently while cooking and sear until skin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Flip the bird over so that the skin is on top, place the pan in the oven and roast about 30 minutes.

While the chicken is roasting you can make the finger licking good sweet glaze.  Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic and allspice, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Sweat the onions for a few minutes, but do not brown. Add the brown sugar, mustard, hot sauce and vinegar. Cook a few more minutes to bring the flavors together, then remove from the heat.

Remove the chicken from the oven and brush on the glaze.  Don’t be stingy and make sure you get that deliciousness in every nook and cranny.  Return to the oven and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F, about 15 more minutes. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving and try not to drool all over it.

Tater and Asparagus Toss (recipe adapted from Sunny Anderson)

  • 2 strips bacon, chopped
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 4 yellow potatoes, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • grated zest of 1 lemon

In a large pan over medium high heat, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add butter to the remaining bacon fat and add the potato slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook until crisp on one side, then toss and cook on the other side until crispy.  Add the onions, garlic, scallions and asparagus.  Cool until the asparagus are bright green and tender, yet still crunchy, about 3-5 minutes.  Season with salt to taste, and sprinkle with lemon juice and lemon zest.  Toss in the reserved bacon.

 

 

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before & after: painted house exterior

The thing about short work weeks is that while it’s fantastic to have an extra day off, that also means that all of the work that was supposed to be done in five days still needs to be done in four days.  Which equates to a crazy short work week.   Add to that two long evenings of helping my sister move and what you get is my not having written a post since last Friday.  Ah well, better late than never eh?

I’ve finally taken some photos of the house exterior, though it’s not quite done and won’t be for some time.  Because “done” to me means:

  1. Spray painting the door hardware
  2. Choosing a new light fixture for the front porch
  3. Building a wooden railing and banister for the front porch
  4. Get a new front door
  5. Get a new roof

Those are in order of “most likely to happen fairly soon” to “maybe once our unborn child goes to college.”  As many of you homeowners may know, getting a new roof ain’t cheap.  We’re not talking about adding another layer of shingles on top of what’s already there.  We’re talking rip the whole enchilada out and start afresh.  The roof doesn’t leak (thankfully) so it’s not the greatest sense of urgency.  Though it’s become much more obvious now that the rest of the house looks nice and refreshed that the roof is pretty sad.  Whenever we do take the plunge, we’ll replace the brown shingles with some crisp dark gray ones.

Here’s the house before. (This was also before we put the front island in.)

I don’t even know what you’d call that color.  Pale pink?  Blush?  Whatever you call it, it was pretty BLAH.

Now, Devin and I have been talking about painting the house for the last three years.  It’s taken us THAT LONG to agree on a color.  Hey, don’t look at me.  Look at my fiance aka THE MOST INDECISIVE MAN IN THE HISTORY OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE.  We’d settle on a color, then he’d be all “Eh, I don’t know about that one anymore…it’s too brown/gray/blue/green/light/dark, let’s go look at more paint colors.”  Repeat eleventy hundred times.

We finally settled on Behr’s Fashion Gray for the walls, Graceful Gray for the accent and Gallery White for the trim around the windows and doors. The shutters and front door are Myth, also by Behr.

What do you think?

I love the blue of the shutters we made against the new wall color.  They look so much better than the old white louvered ones.

You can see that we also tore out the wrought iron railing that used to be on the porch, which as mentioned above we’ll be replacing with a wood railing soon eventually.

We debated for days about whether the window and door trim should be the Gallery White or the Graceful Gray like the peak and the garage door.  My vote was for white, Devin’s was for the gray.  I knew I was right, but let him have his way and we had the trim painted the lighter gray.  After which, he decided it was too much gray and not enough contrast (as I knew it would be), so then we had it painted over again with the white.

I’m not going to say “I told him so”…

…but I did. 🙂

By the way, that little sliver in the front curtain in all of the photos would be Echo trying to see what was going on outside WITHOUT HER HOW DARE I.

I neglected to take a before photo of the front door, but it was a light cedar wood.  I HATE the carved detailing in the center and wanted to fill it in with wood filler, but everyone warned us that it would still show through so I settled on just painting it for now.  Eventually I’d love to get a nice craftsman style door with maybe some windows across the top.

As you’ll see, no light fixture yet since we haven’t decided on one.  I like one on Lamps Plus, but I’m still trying to sell Devin on it because he doesn’t like that the glass is clear.  Give me a little bit of time :).

I also need to brighten up the porch with a couple accessories and need to spray the hardware with some oil-rubbed bronze (which is why the knocker is already removed).  I think it’ll really make it pop against the blue.

The copper rain chain was a gift from Devin’s dad and stepmom.

We’re pretty happy with the results.  Even Mr. Indecisive now comments every time we come home that “the house looks nice.”  Hallelujah.

 

 

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