Fabric Crafts

Fabric crafts: how to sew beautiful accents and decorate your home using bed sheets. Including curtains, shower curtain valances and swags, pillow shams and more.

Our house is small and cozy. The living room is paneled with real pine tongue and groove, an effect that we love albeit dark. Dark that is unless you have large illuminating windows to brighten the room. We do not. Our living room windows are twenty-four inches across by fifteen inches long. They give one the feeling of peering through a porthole. For years we left these windows bare, staring at the cold and uninviting wood trim until I could take it no longer. I decided to make curtains for these windows, not for privacy (we could hardly see out of them, certainly no one could see in) but to try to soften the look, the decor of the room. If you are fortunate enough to have any talent and practice in purchasing fabric for an endeavor such as this you must know that materials can cost almost as much as buying curtains in the first place. Or, if you have windows similar to mine you will never find curtains that will fit. Fortunately, I am a pack rat. I save almost everything and will accept anything that anyone may want to give me always keeping in mind that it may have a future purpose. I was very fortunate - some time ago I had been given a large collection of various bed sheets from a family member. This is how I made curtains, not only for my living room but for my kitchen, bedroom and bathroom as well. I guess I got a bit carried away.

At this point I must stress that I really cannot sew. But, I was determined to do something practical - make curtains for these windows - and clean out my linen closet at the same time. Believe me, if I can do this, anyone can. I made my curtains using the simplest of stitches out of twin bed sheets. By following these simple directions, you too can achieve lovely window treatments at little or no cost as well.

Measure your window and decide what style curtain you want and how much of the window you want to cover.

Swag: Cut the sheet twice the width of the window plus one inch. This will allow you to gather the curtain along the rod and allows ½ inch on either end for your hem. I decided to get a little fancy as I wanted a swag tapered at the ends to fall over short, breezy panels. For the swag, cut the sheet to achieve the desired height plus three inches for the top and ½ inch for the bottom hem. Using my eye I brought the ends of the sheet down to a point for the tapered ends. (Keep in mind that since this will be gathered it does not have to be exact.) Stitch the top of the curtain first by folding down the three inches you allowed. Pin in place. Find the center of this flap you have folded down. It should be 1 ½ inches from both the top and bottom. Stitch along this line in a simple up and down motion from one side to the other. This will be the top ruffle. Next, stitch at the bottom of this fold. This is where the curtain rod will go. You have now completed the most difficult part of this project. To finish, simply measure, fold and stitch a ½ inch hem on the remaining sides and your valance is finished. To make panels, measure and cut the sheet to match twice the width of the window as well as the height desired. Remember to add ½ inch along the sides and bottom when cutting for you hem and allow 1 ½ inches at the top for your curtain rod.

Hourglass: Another very simple an attractive window treatment is a curtain made in an hourglass design. This curtain is a simple square or rectangle and can be done in no time at all. First, measure your window. Measure and cut your sheet 1 ½ times the width of your window. Cut the sheet the same length as your window plus 6 inches. 1 ½ inches for the rods at both the top and the bottom plus three inches to give you enough curtain to work with when gathering in the center. Fold and pin the material down 1 ½ inches from both the top and bottom. Stitch along this line. Fold and stitch ½ inch on either side for your hem and hang. To secure in the center you can use some additional sheet fabric to create a bow, or use your imagination. Pretty much anything can be used to compliment the curtain. I've even seen silk flowers used for a lovely garden effect.

Shower curtain valance: For my shower curtain valance I salvaged the remaining material from the sheet, cut a simple rectangle slightly longer than the shower and stitched my hem (the 1 ½ inches at the top was not necessary since I was not using a curtain rod). To hang I punched small holes along the top and pushed the shower curtain holders through. Pillow Shams: I love pillow shams. Those rufflely, soft pillow covers. Unfortunately, I don't own any. I have simple standard pillow cases that on some occasions even match my sheets. So I made my own and guess what I used - SHEETS! Please note that these do not necessarily have to match the pillow cases but compliment them. Lay your pillow case flat and measure the four sides. Cut four "rectangles" from your sheet 1 ½ times the length of these sides, angling the edges (see illustration below) and six inches high. As with the curtains stitch a hem ½ inch on all sides. On the one side which will become the inside, the side you will attach to the pillow case, pull your stitches tight so that the material gathers until it is the length of the pillow case. Do this to all four ruffles and pin in place to make sure the fit is correct. Sew ruffles to the front of the pillow case. Remember to attach the ruffle to only the front of the opening of the case so that you can fit your pillow into it. Sew together the angles to connect the four ruffles together.

So far we have made curtains and pillow shams out of sheets. Continue to experiment on your own. Until now have you ever thought of doing anything with a sheet but make the bed? Play a little. Recover a pillow, make a linen tablecloth, the possibilities are endless.

You see, it's really quite easy and can even be fun. Once you get the knack and those creative juices flowing you can turn pretty much anything into something new, special and exciting.

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