It’s curtains …

… for curtains

The sheers, to be pretentious, or the nets to be accurate. Anyway, living in a terrace house rather close to our neighbours opposite we finally decided to join the net curtain twitcher brigade.

I bought some extremely expensive French stuff, around £50 a drop (there were five drops) and promptly made them up. Not so cleverly, I didn’t wash them first so they shrunk. Oops. They had a rather nice swirly design and matched the pattern on the main curtains.

Here are a couple acting as a fly screen at the finca.

50 a drop
A new life for sheers as a fly screen

Next I bought some rather nice Sanderson ones for the bedroom. A very tiny fine dot design. I made five or six drops. Even more expensive than the French swirl ones.

Newly installed in Gib they lasted nicely. I’ve washed them a few times. This week we decided to get rid of the mould and damp spores in the flat and that included washing the black, previously cream, net curtains.

I put them on the special curtain wash today. I think that was a mistake

Maybe not the right wash cycle?
Maybe not the right wash cycle?

I put the main curtain on the wash too. That survived. Phew. That was seriously expensive fabric.

With my aspirations and my partner’s desire for overspecification, I had bought the fabric for the sitting room in our fairly small 1930s terrace house. It had white walls so some rather striking curtains provided the colour and impact.

The carpet was cream – went well with two black-haired dogs (!) – and the sofas were a sort of stripey blue. Um, not too good a match there, but we both liked the curtain fabric which was a plus.

I don’t like curtains that finish in the middle of the wall, somewhere below the window. I like nice opulent curtains with lots of volume, draping on the floor (puddling I think it was called at the time), and that = lots of money.

I think the fabric was around £700 some however many years ago, say at least 15.

Out of interest I asked about having them made up for me, with no intention of that, as I figured I could do a better job. I did.

I calculated the fabric needed, and the lining. I tend to allow some spare just in case I stuff up on the cutting. It’s pretty much like hanging wallpaper. You need to position the pattern correctly so you don’t cut through the main feature at the top. It needs to be slightly down from the curtain rail.

Join extremely large pieces together using sewing machine. Do same with lining. Hand stitch hems and mitre corners. Looking good.

Mitred corner
Mitred corner

Then lay curtains out on bedroom floor, because as usual, there is no bed, which helps for needing a large surface area for making curtains. Pin linings to curtain every 12 inches or so. Tack lining to curtain. Then, taking tiny prick stitches, sew lining to curtain down the same line. Finally sew lining to curtain at edges and hem. No-one ever does this commercially. It is seriously time-consuming and produces far better curtains. They hang beautifully.

The tiny prick stitching between lining and curtain

Sew whatever tape of choice with machine – and – the pièce de résistance – the little pocket for the drawstrings. So neat. It saves having those tedious strings hanging down and distracting from my creative masterpiece.

Curtain tape and little pocket to hold the strings

When we sold that house, our purchaser wanted us to leave the curtains. He’d already agreed to pay extra for the carpets, and offered serious money for the curtains. If I’d even thought about it, I would have had no chance. My partner flatly refused to sell them.

Our curtains moved to our next house, where it was a good thing we had overspecified as the room was higher and the windows longer. They reached the floor. Thank goodness for that.

belle vue sitting room
1930s semi, curtains happy in new home

Next they travelled to the finca where we didn’t need them. Small rustic houses in Spain don’t do opulent curtains. But they fit nicely in Gibflat, one at each window.

As ever, our neighbours take pity on us in Gib because we are poor, so the other day we were given a goody bag of clothes for him and they included a set of curtains. These came in handy given the shredded nets, and the bedroom curtain in the wash/hung on the line.

Freebie curtains, nice green but not my style …

But now the dilemma is – do I retrieve more of the swirly ones from the finca, or buy some new expensive Sandersons for Gibflat? To be made by hand as the sewing machine became cantankerous a few years ago. Unless we get it fixed of course.

Note: Apologies for the lack of captions as the latest WordPress fuck-up totally eludes me. I tried to add them but no.

ETA – I went back to HTML and added captions.

34 comments on “It’s curtains …

  1. I love curtains..Yet, ironically I have none in my current apartment. In my former home they hung in every room but since I am only in my current place 6 more months (moving day) I have left them all in boxes.. Thank goodness for my Mother’s wonderful tastes in window treatments as I learned much from her..I know I could never make any curtains but I love those ..


  2. LOL, we like our curtains. All the front windows have heavy lined curtains because a) they face onto the road and neighbours houses an b) because the sun rises at the front and the bright light used to wake the kids up even earlier than normal which is also still too early for E and myself on a weekend when we want a lay in ;-)

    We don’t have anything on the rear windows but then the back garden is private and not overlooked.

    Anyway, for the captions you need to type into the caption box which is between the title and the description boxes on the new media loader thingy BUT remember to cick out of the box onto some of the white area outside it which will trigger the onblur event to save the text THEN add the image. If you don’t click outside the caption (or description boxes) when you save the image into the post it loses the text as I found to my horror after uploading about 30 pictures the other day!! They might have fixed this by now though……er yes OK I’m being optimistic here :-)

    Regards, Ian


    • I think I’ll just add the captions via HTML !

      I am seriously sick of their messing about and have managed to moan on the forum and the blog :)

      I love curtains too. They aren’t a Spanish thing but they def work in gib.

      Ironically our heavy lined ones faced west, but maybe cause they brought that nice cosy feel. The last lot I made, I couldn’t even be bothered to get out the machine, just sewed by hand. Must put them up somewhere :D


      • So what do the Spanish use for privacy and at night then? Shutters?

        I guess where you are the weather is reltively warm all year? Over here right now it is just above freezing and we find the heavy lined curtains keep the heat in better even though we do have triple glazing.

        Is it just us Brits that feel the need for privacy? When we have the wood burner going in the lounge (in addition to the Rayburn in the kitchen) the house is like a sauna in the evenings and we generally walk around in very little clothing, I’m not sure the neighbours would appreciate that if we had no curtains up!!! (Well OK they may appreciate E walking around like that but not me) – even when we have nets on the windows we still use curtains over them when it goes dark.


        • Yup, shutters. I’ll try and find the link to the relevant post.

          It feels cold here now, but compare it with 30+ degree summers, it’s Edwina Currie, wrap up time rather than put heater on time. So I’m wearing trousers, knee high boots, cashmere pully and hollifil jacket. A is, of course, wearing shorts :D

          I found heavy curtains a great way to keep in the heat. We never had any sort of fancy glazing, it was more the sort of pretty jack frost on the inside of the windows (I didn’t like heating in the bedroom :D)

          In our street in Spain, when it goes dark you get to see nothing. You don’t see much during the day either. I have been known to walk around scantily clad in Spain (qv the every pic bikini post) but I doubt anyone can see. Well I don’t think so anyway :D

          I find Spaniards and Gibbos equally as private as Brits.


  3. I’m in awe of your curtain making prowess, as I have neither the skill nor the patience required to make my own successfully. We have curtains for warmth and privacy in the UK, but shutters and blinds in France, except for the living-room. Nets are reserved for the very few overlooked windows as we much prefer a clear view out of the window. I once bought a huge roll of rather nice material to make curtains for a big patio window and I’m ashamed to say it’s still lurking untouched in a box somewhere….


    • When I started curtain-making, I had already done some pretty serious dress-making (Vogue Designer patterns) so rectangular bits of material were pretty straight-forward in comparison. We only have shutters in Spain. Curtains would just get dusty and are totally superfluous, although some of our neighbours have them.

      I’m not overly fond of nets, but they are good for privacy.

      I guess you’re not going to be posting up about your new patio curtains in a hurry then? :D


  4. Like you I had nets in the front of my Oxford terraced house.
    Now, I have just curtains, and I’ve only ever drawn my bedroom ones!
    The ones in my two ‘living rooms’ aka study cum dining room, and lounge cum sitting room [no idea what the correct names are now!] I have never ever drawn as not over looked.
    Each evening I put t-lights or as I know them night-lights on the window cills instead.


    • I only use sitting room because I read somewhere that is what middle class people call it! And lounge was very 60s ish, or something like that. But it does make sense to call it a sitting room, like dining room, bedroom, bathroom. Kitchen is about the only exception. Cooking room? :D

      It’s nice not to be overlooked. Can’t remember ever living anywhere like that though.


  5. Very talented sewing skills and kudo’s for patience which I do not have, not that it would help – I can’t sew for beans. So bamboo blinds are as stylish as it gets around here – easy to clean, simply throw them over the washline and spray them down with the hose-pipe – and then when they don’t work anymore it is back to bare windows. Fortunately the lack of neighbours (we are embedded in the bush currently) and the nice views make this ok! But perhaps consider handwashing as an option next time?? ;)


    • I find sewing amazingly relaxing. I must be getting old because I even like mending now (that could have something to do with time and money however).

      Handwashing I can not do. The only items that get washed by hand are a few big pullovers and some scarves. Otherwise it is a serious no. It would have been a good idea with the curtains – but – too late!!


  6. Such patience, I guess it’s just a square of material, but all the little finesse finishing touches. WOW!! I just love that little pocket for the cord :-)
    All mine are ready made, I just wouldn’t have the patience at all, but I loath sewing (a throw back to schooldays).
    My curtains downstairs are full length (half mast wouldnt look good on full length windows :lol:) I can now tell all those who keep asking when I’m going to turn them up to the right length, they are puddled…..I like that :-)
    I used to have nets at my windows too, until Ben thought he’d got hold of a door to door salesman who was knocking on the door. Nets and dogs don’t go ;-)


    • Ha! Patient? Me? Rectangle actually. And in fact it is an extremely long piece when you buy it prior to cutting (in four – two pieces for each curtain). Same for the lining although obviously you don’t have to calculate pattern for the drop.

      I love the pocket too :) It’s so cute. And practical, and discrete. Of course, I have been so keen to finish the curtains and get the tape on, that I have forgotten to include the pocket!! so had to unpick the tape to add it.

      Sewing is practical – should be one of your skills ;) I hated it at school too. Largely because we made baby doll pyjamas :( And my mother seemed to be the only one in my year who did not have a sewing machine at home. So everyone else’s mum basically rattled up their nightwear between classes while I was still on tacking up the basics. It took all term for me to make some orange flowery outfit while everyone else had moved onto skirts and dresses.

      There is no right length for curtains. Above skirting, floor level or just slightly above, or opulent puddling :) So much easier.

      We had a stupid neighbour who thought it was fun to bash on the sitting room window to annoy our Ben. Ben would jump up and bark like mad. Never mind ripping the curtains, he managed to smash the window once! Idiot neighbour.


  7. I can do curtains and cushions – and alas, there my sewing skills come to an unglorious end… They can make a huge difference in a room, and can be hideously expensive! I like how you can take matters into your own hands…


    • Curtains are pretty easy really, just depends how you want to make them up, unlined, lined, interlined etc I’ve not tried cushions though so you are one up on me. I have thought about upholstery however, to recover sofas and chairs. Never got round to it. Yet. I’ve got the curvy needles courtesy of my mum though.


        • I’d probably start with the sofa first – it would give me a nice long run rather than fiddling with chairs. Mine is unlikely to get translated into action quickly either! I did rip off the tassle fringe think at the bottom. That’s the nearest I’ve got to a revamp.


    • I had to fish you out of the spam. Again! Improvements is a personal perspective. Anything that takes more clicks or longer to produce a post, is deleterious IMO. But yes, no way was I ironing those :D They found their way to the bin fairly rapidly!


  8. Brilliant addition MS with your string pockets, I love that!
    You look like you know what you are doing there I am impressed’ So very professional.

    I have had the same thing happen enough to me with window coverings I no longer do the laundering of them myself unless by hand, I even had a warranty on a bedroom set that guaranteed them to machine wash safely.
    The directions were followed by myself. , Still shredded curtains were the result.

    I wish I could learn to like the look of shutters sometimes….. just saying.. But I like the softness of fabric window coverings too much to give them up. .
    By the way, great score on the bedroom curtain MS! Love when that kind of thing just falls into place.

    I have a German Mahogany rocking chair that is over 100 yrs old that I want to recover,the seat to; I even bought this almost bronze hue colored tapestry yardage that I am so smitten with I purchased extra for a footstool I don’t even have yet.

    The chair has all a set up of complicated springs, and metal reinforcements under the seat that I will need an engineering degree to get the seat apart from the rockets I’m thinking.

    Let me know if you discover anything better than fabric window coverings I’d be into not having to hand wash yards and yards of fabric,
    My winter curtains are heavy and heavily lined for insulation to ward of the regular below freezing temperatures once the sun goes down they are a serious pain in my neck to launder,.

    Delightfully surprised by what I learn about you MS
    ]~ BB


    • I have a good soft furnishings book. It does extremely basic unlined curtains (for which you don’t need instructions) and goes up the scale to quite fancy ones, including the tiny pockets. I guess the ones I made were one down from the top level of complication and fiddliness. But thank you.

      It’s the first time it’s happened to me. to be fair, I’ve had them nearly 20 years and they did have a few rips in them anyway (I’m not good at throwing things out), so it’s hardly as though they didn’t last. I even wondered if I could salvage anything from them, but I sadly realised it was a lost cause :D

      All my main curtains are washable. It was one of the first things I looked for as soon as I was anywhere near selecting a fabric. The ones featured in the pix (the string pocket ones) are also treated against mildew, which in our damp climate in Gib, is a real plus.

      The second one has been washed – and is now on the line. Except it started raining in the night, so it will be going in the wash again later!

      I think shutters go with the house. So when you have small windows (as we do in Spain), and it is rustic, wooden shutters complement it and actually give it a cosy feel. If you follow the link on my last comment to mud4fun, there is a pic of our shutters. I did think about putting up curtains in Spain, but it would just look cluttered.

      I don’t think that chair sounds quite the ideal first upholstery project!! Must have a look at my books and see what they say about chairs with springs.

      There is no way I would be washing my main curtains by hand. I’d need to trample on them in the bath like treading grapes.


  9. In the clutter of my In-box on our return from TA I almost missed this, but as I was processing a photo with curtains in it, something tinged in my brain & sent me looking.
    You are talented, despite downplaying the skill & creativity necessary for decent curtain making.
    Sewing machine skills, even though on both sides I have family who were seamstresses & tailors, have eluded me so far but I plan when I ‘retire’ to remedy this (my Dad did school sewing assignments on my behalf).
    And the curtain tape… Dad also had to show me how to use, and only a few years ago at that.
    Our rented apartment has vertical blinds which I hate with a passion but I must admit are effective… so long as I don’t have to admit them being my taste.
    TA was curtained when I arrived but I have replaced several via a lovely curtain making woman in South Australia who I found via the ‘web, and upcycled some myself with a bit of hand sewing/ironing tape. As it’s an old house even though it has holland blinds it would look odd without curtains.
    I ‘made’ curtains from bargain shop Australian flags for over the G.O.’s ‘dunny’… which prompted my hilarious uncle to quip he had difficulty managing to do his business & salute the flag simultaneously…oh dear, there’s one in every family, and he’s it.
    The photo of your washed curtains triggered a memory… I’m sure the same thing has happened to me.
    I’m not a fan of net curtains but they suit our house and have their uses – keep us out of nosy neighbours vision but let light & air through.
    We also hang cane blinds on the outside of the western windows in summer to keep the sun out – they are fantastic, letting light & air through, keeping the sun out.
    I’m venturing an opinion her re new expensive Sandersons for Gibflat or swirly ones from finca… if you love your curtains you’ll get the enjoyment & value out of them, and that’s what matters.
    I’m also working my way through the nuances of the new WP image uploader…


    • It’s not so much a question of talent as of patience and not rushing the most important bit, which as ever, is the initial cutting. I always tend to overcut, just in case I have made a mistake in calculations, but so far so good. And then, it’s just poco a poco, because most of the ones I make are sewn by hand. All the hems nad the lining attachment.

      The last pic of the freebies that are temp in the bedroom doesn’t show the detail (or lack of), but they are sewn with green thread. The trouble is, when they got to the cream section at the top, they didn’t stop and change for cream thread, so there are glaring cream stitches on the cream. Much to my annoyance. I’ve never had these tab-style curtains before and would NOT recommend them. They are a pain in the neck to pull back. Give me curtain tapes, hooks and rings any day. I planned on using them for dog throws. They may still end up on Pippa’s sofa.

      I dislike vertical blinds too. Horizontal (Venetian) ones aren’t much better as they attract the dust. I had to look up Holland blinds – roller blinds? They are ok, and work well with curtains I think.

      I’m not a fan of nets either, probably due to their nosy neighbour and twitching associations but they do serve a purpose. At the moment, the mosquito netting has gone back in the sitting room (window opens outwards) for our window that is permanently open for air circulation, and the bedroom has nothing. I’m probably going to leave it until A decides he wants some again :D There is more light without, which is nice in winter.

      Well, you managed to sort out slideshow which they hadn’t added as an option so either they have now, or you wrote it manually in your posts.


      • That will be my downfall… I have no patience.
        The green thread on cream would drive me insane…
        I would have to pull them down.
        I have a set of sheer silver tab top curtains that I decorated with multicoloured heart ribbons pinned on with felt flower brooches, just for fun, hung over a white linen curtain on the louvre window which doesn’t have a blind, in the back room (where the G.O.’s grandkids sleep when they stay) but other than that I rate them with vertical blinds.
        Yes, Hollands are a type of roller blind – old fashioned but effective.
        Desiring to understand WP’s new media options I Googled, and thankfully saw that you can type in [slideshow] manually… but really? WTF?


        • LOL! But although my middle name begins with P it most definitely is NOT P for Patience. Curtains are like any domestic task, they just need time, which anyone working a city life does not have. I probably took leave to make mine.

          As for green on cream, they will be coming down as soon as they other is dry. I’m not sure which is the most annoying, green on cream or the way they don’t pull back properly. No wonder we got them as cast offs!

          I haven’t made roller blinds, although I did get as far as considering it. Seemed a bit on the carpentry lines to me with all the bits of wood and other clart that was needed. I had visions of A finishing them off for me :D

          I tend to work in text mode rather than visual (I used to do that in blogger too) as I think it gives a lot more control and understanding of the blog layout. When WP is messing around it helps to know the commands. And sometimes it is just easier to type em and strong for example, rather than highlighting and clicking on italic and bold. I just don’t see any improvement at all. There is no added functionality, and while they are faffing, it means problems for people. Talk about making work for the sake of it. Anyway I did my bit by complaining on the forums. They don’t like naughty dissenters though …


  10. Ah curtains…… Washed the ones way back we inherited in 1984 and happily we had to replace the shrunken ones…….vile seventies golden yellow . Now all I have are cream blinds roller style. Can’t do with nets either. Been away from Internet way too long sadly and all my blogs are private……and it took a total age to find what you have been up to! I have new email ad too cos our computer blew up so lost yrs. would like to be in touch again even tho we may be howling at the moon…….try Jeannie…. At somewhere in the sky……dot co…….m


    • Cream blinds sound extremely nice.

      I’m not sure I have been up to much. or if I have, I’ve forgotten. The good thing about a blog I suppose is that it does record things you would otherwise totally forget.

      Sorry to hear about the computer blow-up. Not good. Especially losing everything. I thought you got a new one after previous problems, or did that not happen? You see, memory loss setting in again :D


  11. what a clever pocket! how brilliant is that. sad to see how the net curtains came out in the wash :(
    Blinds are very common here although I have never had them. Currently use what we call sheers, probably similar in definition to net curtains, although those don’t cover the entire window pane. Most of ours cover the bottom half of the window – a privacy thing as neighbours are quite close on all sides. I used to have an image at webshots I could have referred you to. Might post it at p&k one day. Anyhow we got them in Germany, where they are very commonly used. In fact probably always used. I guess privacy is a big thing there, too.
    and I love the term ‘puddling’! :)


    • They did become called sheers at the time I was making them, they may well still be now. It always stuck me as being a rather pretentious term for what were basically net curtains (when I grew up) so it was a struggle to call them sheers. Nets were very Victorian, and also in a lot of cases, quite working class, because again the houses would be close together and no front gardens (terrace housing), so people could look into your front room quite easily so you would be in a goldfish bowl.

      In our last two UK houses, we had small front gardens but people could still see in, so we bit the bullet and I made the nets for the upstairs and downstairs bays.

      I think the half window ones you are referring to are often called cafe curtains. Or they are in my curtain-making book!

      Actually they don’t puddle here. The flat is quite high, and they hand a couple of inches off the floor, but it works well as that is sort of skirting height. Anyway, I’m not dropping the hems, and they would only get dusty (rather than wet) if they ‘puddled’ here :D


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