I have always felt like windows are the eyes of a house. From the outside you can look in and feel like you get a glimpse of what is going on inside, and from the inside you get a vivid –though sometimes distorted- view of the world going on around us. Well, if windows are the eyes of the home than curtains are definitely the eyelashes. Yes, they have function in the form of protection from the outside, but more than that there is something so utterly luxurious about a well-dressed window that they can change the whole feel of a space.
Our home centers around a great room crowned by a soaring, two story ceiling. While the open feel is great, as a friend of mine once put it is “A lot of wall.” I can see where they were coming from, it really is a lot of beige, designer-beware, no-man’s-land. Too high to hang art, and honestly, too much of a pain in the butt to paint. Instead I opted to add a splash of color in the form of curtains that would cascade down from the top of the second floor windows and fall down almost to the floor.
What I finally set my heart on was a sheer, slub knit fabric- preferable something natural like linen or cotton- with a teal ombre gradiating from darkest at the floor into nothing at the top, in the hope of grounding the living room while at the same time flaunting the height.
After exhausted searches I was unable to find ANYTHING like that, not to mention anything similar would have been a fortune. Heck, just that much fabric was EXPENSIVE. I don’t remember how I stumbled on the idea but a lightbulb finally went off.
Cheesecloth. Fine quality cheesecloth is pure cotton and shows a beautiful loose knit weave. So how did I do it?
1. I bought a 60 yard box of unbleached grade 90 cheesecloth from http://cheeseclothfabric.com/ , it was a beautiful natural linen color and was exactly what I was hoping for.
2. I failed to pre-wash the fabric and that was a major mistake on my part. The cheesecloth shrank after I hemmed it so don’t be a goober like I was!
3. I measured the length I wanted my curtains and then added an additional 10 inches.
4. For the top I folded it twice, first 1 inch under, and then folded another 3 inches and sewed it just inside the edge of the hem. For the bottom I did the same thing but went 5 inches. *
* Make sure you are using cotton thread so it will dye the same as the fabric!
5. Now the curtains are done! Unfortunately they are boring. Now it’s time to start dying!
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1. After fiddling with dying scraps of fabric I finally got the mix of colors I wanted down. If you do this I strongly recommend you test your dye and very carefully mark your desired mix of colors and strength.
2. To get enough liquid in the trash can to begin the process I really needed 6 gallons of water, so I needed the equivalent of 8oz (or 1 bottle) of liquid Rit dye.
a. For my color mix I used 4 oz Teal, 2 oz Kelly Green and 2 oz aquamarine with 6 gallons of water
* I used luke-warm water straight out of the hose
4. Now that everything was setup I dipped the bottom 12” into the trash can and stirred and set a timer for 5 minutes.
5. From here on it was a very slow and time consuming process and the speed and amount of fabric you will add will depend on how long or short your fabric is. Here is the time table I used:
a. For the first rough 4th of the fabric I wanted dyed, every 5 minutes I would add another gallon of water and submerge roughly another foot of fabric.
b. When I got to the second fourth I cut the time down to two minutes in between, still adding a gallon of water and another foot of fabric
c. Once I hit the mid-point I started adding two gallons of water
d. When I was at the final fourth I put the hose on low into the trash can and started lowering the fabric in every minute or less until I was done
7. At this point, stretch your fabric as flat as you can and let it air dry (since there is still probably some wet dye you don’t want to use the dryer, when the wet fabric splashes against the white fabric at the top it will stain it)
8. Once it is dry, iron, hang and enjoy! You have some beautiful custom curtains you can really be proud of!