Sitting on the screened porch with the sounds of my pool’s filtering system humming, birds calling, and squirrels rattling the leafy branches above me, project plans race through my mind. I have been at a stand-still on my kitchen ever since the post with the before pictures in January. Between homeschooling, my daughter, teaching a chemistry class at our co-op, driving a child back and forth to college classes for the past two months after his car inexplicably decided to die, leading a ladies’ Bible study through Esther (AWESOME!), working 12 hour days on weekends (even some extra shifts) taking care of MORE people at the hospital, and just generally trying to keep my house going, I had not found time to sew my curtains and finish what we started. (Lazy. That’s how I felt when I had any spare time. Flat out LAZY. My husband says it’s called TIRED.) Until now.
Last week, I had a ball sewing the cutest ruffle curtains to go in my kitchen. And at last there is color. I still have a few things to do to the kitchen, but here are my curtains along with a little tutorial on how to make some yourself, if you get an urge. If you do find yourself with an urge, I would like to encourage you to act on it quickly. Summer has a way of sucking us into a heat-induced semi-coma that leaves us sitting on the front porch sipping ice tea and watching those afore-mentioned squirrels playing tag in the yard. At least that is my idea of a nice evening here in the south. Y’all might have different plans if you are not so fortunate as to live here. Anyway, here is the finished product, along with the pictorial.
So, let’s get started. This is not a hard project, even for a beginner, but it does require a little patience to get all these ruffles ruffled without getting a little ruffled yourself. Sorry. It was too easy.
- Step one is really just cutting a basic flat panel to the measurements of your window that serves as a backdrop for all those pretty little pieces of fabric that make your ruffles. I used a piece of white heavy cotton that I had in my sewing cabinet left over from who-knows-what. I don’t have a picture of this because I was not concentrating on making my blog post when I started this project. It just occurred to me as I got into it that someone might want to make one, and I should tell them how. So hopefully, you are comfortable cutting a rectangle to the measurements that you want and hemming it all around. Fold down the top and make a pocket for your rod. So don’t forget to allow room for said hem and pocket when you measure and cut. Now, let’s get to the fun part.
- Step two- Think about how many ruffles you will need to fill your panel. If you want to use several colors, like I did, lay out your fabric and see what order you think looks best. Don’t put two tiny prints together, or it may look too busy. I separated my checks and polka dots with a bigger print. The measurements for the height of each ruffle can vary, but a good height would be 7 inches tall. I cut two 7″ strips across the width of the fabric for each layer of ruffles. (For the one on the back door, I did 10″ tall strips because I wanted it to be longer and cover the window. I don’t like people seeing me in my jammies drinking coffee at 10am when they come to my door. I mean 6am. Definitely not 10am.) My fabric was 45″ wide, which is pretty standard for cottons, and I had to sew two strips end to end for each layer. You need each ruffle to start out being about two and half times the width of your panel so that when you gather it, it will be nice and fluffy. Wimpy ruffles just aren’t as appealing. Again, sorry about the lack of photo evidence for this step. In the next step, my brain kicked in for a blog post, and I began to take pics.
- Step three- after you have sewn the strips end to end (see previous step), it’s time to get out ye olde iron and begin ironing down a small hem around the sides and bottom of the strip. Don’t bother hemming the top. I never bother to measure, fold, and pin the hem on things like this, because it is so much easier and pretty accurate for me to just use my left hand to fold/roll the hem as I follow it with my iron. Unless it’s a dress. Then it freaks me out not to measure and get my hem straight. But not for this project, because ruffles are so gathered, you aren’t going to be assessing the hem for perfection. Anyway, here’s a photo of me, ironing a piece. Because you might want to look at it. And now is a good time for a break for your eyes from all of these words anyway.
- So now that you have ironed nice, crisp edges, you can hem them all around using matching thread. Use matching thread. We don’t want tacky hems. Then comes the fun part. Set your sewing machine’s straight stitch to the longest stitch, because now we are going to make a basting stitch across the unfinished top edge. When you reach the end of the stitch, don’t back-stitch. Just stitch right to the end, leave a few inches and cut. Oh! And I did this in two sections because that is a really long way to stitch and pray that it doesn’t break. To reduce the chances of such an occurrence, I stitched to the seam where I had sewn the two pieces together to make one really long piece. Remember that step from above? In other words, I would stop at about the half-way mark with the baste stitch and then start another one.
- Now comes the fun part. You now take one thread- the bobbin thread- and gently begin to pull it. Now you are a wizard. Your straight, flat strip begins to pucker and gather into an adorable little ruffle. The trick here is to pull slowly so that your thread doesn’t break (don’t even think it!), and stop to carefully move the fabric along the thread, pushing the gathers back to beginning of the piece.
- Once you have it all gathered to fit the width of your background panel, and you are happy with the way your ruffle looks, (you may need to spread them out a little if you have areas that are flatter than others) it’s time to pin it. For this part, flip your sweet little ruffle wrong side up and upside down on the panel. For the first ruffle, make sure you have place it with the raw, gathered edge just beneath the seam for the curtain rod pocket. It would be a darn tragedy to sew that shut at this point. I would do something crazy like that if I was hyper-focused on something else, like taking careful pics for my blog. I didn’t because I wasn’t. I’ll try to think of you more next time.
- You can check the pins on the back of the panel and see if you have it on straight. Now that you have it pinned, carefully sew it to the panel. Don’t forget to shorten your stitch setting on your machine so that it will hold to the panel. A basting stitch wouldn’t do a good job of that. Then all this tedious ruffle making would be down the drain. And you would be mad. And your curtain would be a Pinterest fail, which might at least be good for a few good laughs. Also, when you get to the subsequent layers of ruffles, be careful not to sew a ruffle that folded back on the panel to the back of it. Picking out errant stitches is a pain in the you-know-what. Ask me how I know. I guess I was thinking of my blog some. And no, there is no picture of that moment.
- For the next layer, pin the piece again, face-down and upside down. Have it overlap the edge of the one above by just a little bit so that the panel behind it is covered. I should have overlapped my top two pieces just a wee bit more, but it turned out okay. The bottom ruffle should hang just past the bottom of the panel.
- When you have sewn your last piece on and all the fluffy adorable-ness delights you like a flamenco dancer, you can lay the whole panel on the ironing board and iron down just the top, teensy edge of each ruffle so that they lay nicely. Like maybe the top quarter inch or so. you don’t want to iron the whole thing. or you’ll end up with a bunch of mashed down, creased fabric that looks like someone slept on it when you weren’t looking. And just like that, you have a cute new window treatment!