10 June 2014

DIY: stenciled paisley curtains, part 1

With all the travel and worky-worky going on over here, it’s been a little while since I’ve had a DIY that I was absolutely thrilled to share with you. Don’t get me wrong, the marble tray is super nice (and easy!), but even the painted china cabinet had to grow on me before I could use the word thrilled. Today I’ll share a project that had me jumping up and down and clapping immediately!

It all has to do with the sad window in the sad office that lets in a very sad amount of light.

It might seem super bright, but then you realize that means the rest of the room must be super dark to be even dimly lit in this photo. (I metered the exposure for the photo on the rest of the dark room, which totally blew out the light from the window.) That’s about as good as it gets in photos, and it’s only slightly better in real life. Sigh.

This window, and the small amount of light resulting from it, has vexed me for awhile. At least I had a small breakthrough in this post, in which I realize how curtains can help. My realization was that, while I typically adore long white curtains in rooms bathed in light, windows in dark rooms need all the help they can get to draw attention to the light they provide. So, I thought the office could benefit from patterned curtains. Nothing too dark or busy, but a pattern that could draw attention the single light source in the room. And I thought this West Elm shower curtain (spotted originally at His & Hers) would be my inspiration.

cropped from source

Except... that shower curtain is discontinued. Also: did you miss that it is a shower curtain? Definitely not long enough for our taller-than-modern-standards windows.

So. I made my own, kinda. I started with some of my favorite extra-long curtains:

Technically I was going to use VIVANs, but they’ve been out of stock all over Chicago for a few dang months. So, I gave up and went with RITVAs because I’ve been poised to do this project for months and I was tired of waiting. Fortunately, the nice cashier used her IKEA Family card, so we got them for $20. Yay!

I also needed a stencil, which I purchased a while back. (Do you know how hard it is to photograph the design on a clear stencil? Ridiculously hard!)

It came from Cutting Edge Stencils, but not from their website. They have the same Sari Paisley design on their website for almost fifty bucks, but I found the same design, in a smaller scale, sold by the same company through eBay. And it was under twenty bucks! The larger scale would be more similar to my inspiration, but for half the price, I could deal with the smaller alternative.

And finally, I needed paint and sponges.

I picked these up during a rare trip to Walmart while desperately on the hunt for an unrelated birthday present. I didn’t find the present I was looking for, but I did pass by the craft aisle and decide to make the rather unpleasant trip worthwhile by picking up paint and sponges (“spouncers”, apparently?) for this project. Because they didn’t have the perfect navy blue paint I wanted, I bought something close, as well as black paint to make it the darker color I wanted. So, I mixed up my own custom colors and sampled them on the RITVA tie-back (which I never use) to see what the color looked like on the fabric.

THIS WAS A MISTAKE. Not that the paint came from Walmart (that’s another set of questionable choices) or that I tested it on the tie-back. No, the problem is that I needed WAY WAY MORE than one bottle of paint. Like... FIVE bottles. And I didn’t realize this until I’d already started painting with my custom color. Whoops! Consistently mixing the same color was impossible. Literally impossible – because when I went back for more blue paint (at TWO different stores, a different Walmart and a Michael’s) there were only two more bottles to be had. Fortunately, at Michael’s I found several bottles of a color remarkably similar to the paint I’d already mixed and used on the curtains, so all turned out well. But it was almost a disaster! Save yourself: find a premixed color you like and buy LOTS of it!

All right. Supplies are gathered! Let’s start prepping this project.

First, you gotta iron the curtains. It takes nearly and hour and I never ever remember to factor that time in. So, mark it down now: start ironing an hour at least an hour before you’re ready to go.

Then, I cut one of the RITVA panels in half. I did that because this office window is in a dormer without a lot of space on either side, and I wanted the curtain to ONLY flank the window (no blocking light!) without being too squinched up to see the design. To cut it in half I used my fold-in-half technique to ensure equal widths:

Did I bother hemming that unfinished edge? NOPE! It’s up against the wall. No one’s gonna notice. And just ironing the dang panels took an hour so I’m not about to spend even more time on something no one will notice.

Finally (we’re almost to the painting part!) I marked off the stencil placement with painter’s tape. Mostly I just moved the stencil around to get a sense of where I wanted the design, and taped out a code that doesn’t really mean anything to anyone except me. It’s difficult to explain, but suffice to say, the straight edge of the tape showed me where to align the edge of the stencil while painting, and the L-square kept the pattern straight.

But the tip I can give you is this: to ensure the same design on both panels, just put the unmarked curtain on top of the one you’ve already marked off! The tape will just barely show through and you can put the tape on the second panel in exactly the same pattern. (You might be able to see the blue tape on the bottom panel peeking through the fabric above, especially in the top row.)

Once it’s all taped off: finally, FINALLY you can paint!

(With a thick dropcloth underneath, obviously. Do I need to say that? To avoid designs painted into your carpet, I will, just in case.)

It’s after this row that I realized I needed LOTS more paint. But I was so excited about how the curtain was turning out that it didn’t seem so crazy to race around looking for it!

And keep going. And keep going.

Until nearly 1AM. And even when I was done, I had to spend time cleaning navy blue paint off all my supplies (it all came off with hot water, thank goodness).

But oh, dear readers, it was so worth it. It was worth the extra money for RITVAs and the mad dash for matching paint and the sore hips from crawling around on the floor for hours. The finish result is spectacular. And since I had to wait a day for the paint to dry to see the final product... I’ll show it to YOU tomorrow!


Janice said...

What a great idea! As I was reading I thought about the minimum amount of paint in the first picture and thought, "this might be a problem". Glad it did not turn into a problem! They also sell that paint in larger bottles so for those who are going to do a similar project, go for the bigger bottles to begin with. Anxious to see tomorrow's post! :)