We’ve been in our apartment for three months now and we decided it was about time that we got to work making our living room feel a little more cozy and relaxing. School starts in just a few days and we will most certainly need that relaxing space to retreat to after a long, stressful school day/week. Before this past week, our living room hadn’t changed much at all from the last time that I posted about it, when we got our couch, here. Then when we came home from our trip back to our hometown, we brought back with us our newly recovered couch pillows, here. That little change must have stirred something inside us to complete some more updates.
We started with more seating. Our living room is much bigger than we remembered it was when we picked out our couch last spring. (we picked it out before we even moved into the apartment–so we were just going on our memory from the original walk through of the house) We like our couch, but it is the only seating we had in there. If we invited friends over for movie nights or anything, we didn’t have anywhere for them to sit. I mean, even just Drew and I on the couch together watching a movie was a little cramped. We originally thought about getting a chair or two, but after searching several times over the summer for different chairs, we couldn’t find anything that we thought would go well with our couch. After thinking it over, we decided that our living room was big enough that we might as well just get the matching love-seat to our couch. So that is what we did.
However, we soon realized that in order for both the couch and the love-seat to work in the space, we would have to do a little rearranging. Because they were a little too close and cramped in the space that they were currently in.
Not to mention that we needed to get some organization going on the other part of the living room anyway:
So we did a little switcheroo and ended up with a layout that we liked a whole lot better anyway.
Did you notice that our love-seat came with even more of those ugly diamond weave throw pillows that I very much dislike?
We ended up moving the TV underneath the windows and Drew did a better job of organizing all the electronics this time. We obviously also need a bigger and more efficient TV cabinet to hold all those things in. Instead of that $10 white cabinet that I got at a flea market last summer and intended to sand and re-paint and use to hold art supplies last year. Obviously that never happened. But moving on.
Since the night was still young, we decided to take a little shopping trip to see if we could find a new light for the space (instead of the one in the top photo covered in hanging Mardi Gras beads from Drew’s old apartment) and a curtain rod long enough to stretch over all three windows. The ones above are what we ended up with–both from Lowe’s. We also ended up with two of these:
Two 6×9 foot canvas drop cloths. I’d heard of people making curtains out of drop cloths before and it had been on my list of projects to try in our apartment for a while. I hadn’t quite gotten the inspiration to complete the project until we starting switching things around in the living room. Does that ever happen to you too? One little change and you are inspired to change everything? Anyway, for the living room, I wanted 4 curtain panels to go in between each of the three windows, so I figured this would be the best room to try these out in since each drop cloth was only $12.85. Four curtain panels for our huge windows at only $25–I’m in!
I popped those guys in the washer and dryer and ended up with these nice little beauties.
Since I needed 4 panels, it worked out where all I would have to do is cut each drop cloth in half. I found the best way to do this was just to lay each of them out in the floor, measure out the middle, and cut right down the line.
Although, while doing this, I did realize that my drop cloths were only 69 inches wide on the shorter side instead of the 72 inches that they should have been. I didn’t measure them before I washed them, but since this fabric was made for painting/technical uses and not intended for making things out of, I’d imagine that it was not pre-washed or pre-shrunk. So by washing, my cloths shrunk a few inches. If you decide to make your own drop cloth drapes, definitely make sure that you wash your fabric before you start. (Honestly, a good rule of thumb is to wash any fabric before using it to make anything. That way you never have to worry about shrinkage issues after putting in all your time and hard work.)
I also didn’t realize until after washing my drop cloths, that they had seams right down the middle of the 9 ft length. 🙁 If I hadn’t already washed them and gotten excited about making my drapes, I would have probably returned them and not made them, since no one really wants a big ugly seam right through the middle of all their curtains. Especially such a wonky seam as this one. (the two pieces that they had sewn together were slightly different sizes–hence one is relatively flat here and the other is super gathered.) However, I decided to continue on and see how they would turn out in the end.
Since one of my drop cloths was a little wonky, I did have to do a little trimming to the sides of the top half to get it to line up a little more evenly. During this process, I ended up cutting off all the outside edge hems that came on the drop cloths, so that all my sides would have even and matching seams. This obviously made more work for myself, but in the end, I’m confident that it made them look better.
Before this post, you didn’t expect to be seeing this did you? Especially since sewing something was on my 20 Before Twenty list all year and I never got around to it. Even though this is my first sewing project on this sewing machine and the first one that I’ve completed in a while, sewing isn’t new to me. My mom is an amazing seamstress and I grew up sewing various things. I used to sew much more when I was younger. However, this is my first sewing project that I attempted 100% on my own. (I’ve made many things by myself before, but my mom was always close by to check to make sure I was doing it right. Or more-so to tell me I was doing it wrong and how I should be doing it instead. This time around she was a little more than 630 miles away.)
So I was more than surprised to find that I didn’t run into a single problem the entire time I was working on these curtains. (It seems like with sewing there is always some problem or another.) That was, after I figured out how to get the tension to work, since for some reason it was messed up, even though the knob was on the correct number and after I figured out how to get it to wind the bobbin correctly. The above site was a very welcome one. That was like my fourth bobbin winding attempt. (My mom’s sewing machine that I always used winds them much differently.)
I ended up with a huge pile of thread on the floor from the previous three bobbin winding attempts that I had to unwind. 🙁 But after I got that problem solved, the rest was smooth sailing. 🙂
Although, I think I spent more time ironing and pressing seams that I did actually sewing. But any good seamstress can tell you that the secret to good sewing is in the ironing. It keeps everything neat and in place and ensures that your stitches are exactly where they need to be and not messed up from wrinkles. In the end, it also makes your product look much more professional since everything lays nice and flat. Plus, if you do it well enough, you don’t have to pin everything. And I for one, would much rather iron than mess with pinning everything.
So I ironed over each seam for the sides of my panels, sewed them down, ironed them over again and then sewed them again. (If you wanted you could double over the seams the first time and iron them, then just stitch them once for the same effect, but since my material was thick and I wanted to make sure to avoid any potential problems, I just stuck to my routine.) Since this fabric is thicker than most normal fabrics, I would suggest using a slightly longer stitch length. I used a 3 on my machine and that worked out well.
That way I ended up with nice, neat inside seams with no raw edges.
And equally crisp and clean outside edges.
Then I repeated the process 7 more times for each side of my four panels.
Once I got to this point, I was a very happy lady. It took quite a while to get all the sides of my 4 panels completed with all the constant ironing. Not to mention that August is the hottest month of the year in New Orleans and the iron was heating up my house like nobody’s business.
Then I pressed over 3 and 1/2 inches to sew to create the tube to slide the curtain rod inside. This end I left raw because I didn’t cut the edges off the 6 ft section of my drop cloths and the ends were already sewn up where they wouldn’t fray. Also because my this point, I was tired and didn’t want the extra work. Plus, it was going to be on the backside of the very top of the curtains where no one could see. I went with just a tube for the curtain tops because 1. it was easier and I was tired and 2. because I wanted a little more of a subtle gathered effect that this provides. If you are doing this you could also make tabs for the tops, you could make back tab curtains if you didn’t want the tabs to show, or if you want to, you could just get rings with clips on them for your curtain rod and just clip them up (I love these clipped up ones from Young House Love).
Once I finished the top hem, I got my first look at what they would look like hanging. It was kind-of love at first sight.
While I had it up there, I also pinned up the bottom to see how far up I needed to hem them. It ended up being just about 8 inches, which was right above our tall baseboards, so I didn’t cut the bottom off and just hemmed them the way that I did the top. If you are feeling really fancy, you can try a blind hem, to make the seam across the bottom less noticeable, but it is really more work than it is worth. No one is going to be paying that much attention to the seam on the bottom of your curtains.
Let’s get to the finished product already. Once I finished all the top and bottom hems on the other three panels and got them up there (and ended up moving the curtain rod supports and tightening them), this is what I was left with:
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. They make the room look 1000 times more polished, cozy and make it feel bigger.
I absolutely love the soft, billowy, subtle gathers in them. Even though they are made of thick fabric, the light does still shine through them somewhat, which I think is really pretty. I didn’t make them to block sunlight–I just made them to look pretty.
I also think the color and texture is perfect as well.
I think the strong verticals of the drapery panels are the perfect balance to the repeated horizontal lines of the wooden blinds. Plus I like the mixture of textures and the mixture of soft and hard lines.
They are a lot more distinct at nighttime when the light isn’t shining through them. It is easier here to see the contrast with the blinds as well. In the end, each of my panels ended up being about 32 inches wide. I didn’t intend for them to close, I just want them to add interest to the gaps between the windows, however, I think they are actually wide enough that if they were all pulled out flat, they would actually cover the windows. Since we have blinds, there really isn’t any reason to do that though.
Although, as you can see here, the seam that I mentioned before that went through the middle of the drop cloths is pretty noticeable right down the middle of each curtain panel. 🙁 I would prefer that they not have those seams, but right now I love them enough not to care. It is more noticeable when the light is shining through them, but other than that it isn’t too bad. Most people aren’t going to inspect them close enough to notice or care. Plus as inexpensive as they were, I can’t really complain.
We were so impressed by how our living room was starting to look, that we even hopped right in the car to search for a new TV stand to make the living room look even nicer.
We looked at different furniture stores, but in the end liked this one from Target the best. Plus it was a little less expensive and on sale. It is so much better in both appearance and functionality.
Sorry for all the different lighting in all the pictures. I took them at various times during the day. This one shows the morning light coming through the windows.
Eventually I also might put something behind the glass on the TV cabinet doors to hide the DVDs and electronic equipment in there. Maybe fabric? It is a little too much black all in that area.
Even though we have another couch and bigger furniture in our living room, it somehow feels bigger. Maybe because we are using all the space better now? It most definitely feels more cozy, comfortable and relaxing. 🙂
View in from the foyer. We definitely need to add art on the walls next. 🙂 Eventually, we also plan to find end tables for the ends of the couch, add another small lamp on the opposite side of the room as the current lamp, and possibly upgrade our tiny table to a coffee table or tufted ottoman that fits the scale of the room better. But we’ll get to those eventually.
For now, we are enjoying the progress we’ve made on it so far. 🙂