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Seeing Stripes: Ethan’s Curtains

2013 October 7
by Becky

Extra Long Horizontal Stripe Curtains @

Remember back here when I was just dreaming of these of horizontal striped curtains for Ethan’s room? Well I’ve just been too out of commission to write about it, but they’ve been done for over a month now.

They are amazing.

Knowing my mom would be here for a while in September, I waited (a rare ability when I’m excited about a  project) for her to arrive before even attempting to make the curtains I had all planned out in my head. She brought with her some pretty cool tools, like her amazing sewing machine and rotary cutting gear. Most importantly, she brought her incredible sewing skills.

I was prepared with all the other materials which included fabric shopping, at which I am horrible, so it’s  good thing my friend Catrina came with me to help—I don’t know how she stays so calm when surrounded by all that fabric!

The process we came up with to make these curtains is in no way solid…we were really flying by the seat of our pants throughout the whole project, learning as we went along. But here’s how we did it.


– 57″ x 118″ Ikea Ritva Curtain panels ($34.99/pair!)
– Seam tape (cheaper if bought by the yard and cut into thin strips)
– Colored cotton fabric (8 yards for this plan)
– Matching thread
– towel
– iron
– sewing machine
– fabric shears
– pinking shears

Helpful Tools

– rotary cutting mat
– rotary cutter with pinking blade
– yard stick or metal ruler
– mom that rocks at sewing, cutting, and measuring

The Plan

I’m a very novice sewer and not a very confident measurer when it comes to sewing projects, so there was plenty of up-front sketches and even an InDesign layout of my desired curtains. I have to SEE it, full scale.


My plan was to attach grey fabric stripes to the Ikea curtains. There would be a 6 inch white space at the top, then six 11 inch stripes (spaced 6 inches apart), meaning I needed eight yards of grey fabric. Believe it or not, the beautiful heather grey fabric Catrina and I found was not only on sale, it was 58 inches wide, meaning I saved a little time and $$ using the bolt width for my stripe length.

Did that make any sense?

Nonetheless, the first step was getting my 118 inch curtains hemmed to 111 inches. I barely had room in my house to lay out the full length, so I kept them folded as they came in the package. These suckers are SO long!


The Steps

1. I measured, trimmed, and hemmed the curtains to fit Ethan’s windows, leaving them just skimming the floor. I had the hardware already hanging so I could actually hang one curtain and mark exactly how long I needed it. Somehow our 100+ year old floors aren’t too warped and this one measurement worked for all four curtains.

2. We (mom) ironed the curtains to make them nice and flat. This took a loooooong time with the extra long curtains.

3. Mom got to work on the stripes. She swears by rotary cutters, says they make sewing so much easier. I didn’t have a metal ruler which apparently keeps the rotary blade from going dull too fast, but a good old yard stick did the trick. Honestly, I was just so thrilled to know those stripes were being cut correctly! She kept the fabric folded and that blade just sliced right through the layers. Perfectly straight, 12 inch stripes.


**TIP: If you have fabric that easily frays, like ours, get a pinking blade for your rotary cutter. This will cut down on the stringy edges while assembling the curtains.

4. The next step was pretty tedious. We decided to use seam tape to secure AND hem the stripes at the same time. It meant ironing down a 1/2 inch hem on each raw edge of each stripe (leaving our finished stripes at 11 inches), then using the seam tape to secure the stripe to the curtain. We did it all at once, right there on the ironing board. We didn’t draw lines for placement of the stripes, just constantly measured as we glued down the stripes. A towel helped protect the fabric.

If that made any sense…

5. We stitched across the top and bottom of each stripe with grey thread to fully secure them to the curtain. We were a little nervous about the fabric moving around, but the hem tape kept it nice and straight. No pins needed.


Mom’s fancy machine handled this project with no issues. My artifact of a machine would have been choking on all this fabric and constantly breaking threads.

Before we knew it, they were coming together.


This project was pretty time consuming. We worked on them on and off between family get togethers, entertaining Ethan, and my surgery. I know I glued and sewed one, there is photographic evidence, but I really don’t remember doing it. I was clearly functioning well enough to sew a whole curtain correctly, alas the pain killers erased my memory of it all.


Again, pretty glad I had help, or these would have taken me months to finish and I’d bet their straightness wouldn’t be anything to brag about. I was just glad my “plan” (what I made up based on no real sewing techniques whatsoever) worked.

The end result was exactly what I’d pictured. A bold yet simple statement for the enormous turret windows in Ethan’s room. They really add so much depth to the space! I can’t believe the difference.

Here’s the before: 



Please excuse the messiness, this was in curtain-length-trial phase when I remembered to take a picture right before Ethan went down for a nap. Why is it always easy to remember this stuff while he’s sleeping?


Here’s the after:

Extra Long Horizontal Stripe Curtains @

The lovely carpet tile rug doesn’t hurt either. Sure beats the random iron-burned college-cast-off one we had in there temporarily. And the grey, orange, and blue color palette mutes the lavender-ness of the wall paint…no one would even know (yes, the wall paint has a little purple hue—it was there when we moved in).

Extra Long Horizontal Stripe Curtains @

The hardware setup in this room is identical to what we used in the living room, with the exception of two extra brackets to support these heavier curtains. Getting the rings spaced properly on the curtain and figuring out which side of the brackets they should go took a little fidgeting, but in the end I used around seven ring hooks per curtain panel.

Extra Long Horizontal Stripe Curtains @

While I’m still putting the finishing touches on the “construction” theme details of Ethan’s room—he’s a digger, cement mixer, and dump truck fanatic—I love how these decals are peeking out of the new curtains.

Extra Long Horizontal Stripe Curtains @

Down the road I may decide to line the curtains so we can lose the lovely metal blinds for good. Or I may convert the metal blinds into roman shades. When closed over the closed blinds, the curtains provide some extra light barrier during the day…but not total darkness.

Here’s the curtains closed with two window blinds open, one closed.


I’d say in the end, this project cost came to around $30 per panel. Not too bad. Especially since custom jobs like this run in the $100’s. And I got exactly what I wanted.

Bonus? I learned more about sewing and cutting fabric. Always a bonus when doing projects with my mom. That, and they get done.

Thanks to Catrina and my mom for all the help from conception to completion! Hope you love the outcome as much as we do. 

20 Responses
  1. October 8, 2013

    They line up perfectly!!! Who knew it would be possible. I dreamed about that. Nothing like a project that can be finished in a relatively short time. Thanks for letting me help. They look great.

    • Becky permalink*
      October 8, 2013

      “Letting” you help? More like Making you help!

  2. October 8, 2013

    Looks so good!!! We have plain ol white curtains for C’s room. Need some stripes in my life!

    • Becky permalink*
      October 8, 2013

      Thanks!! The other option is paint, but honestly it made me WAY too nervous after trying it on a test scrap. Too much room for error, I don’t trust painters tape! :) Let us know how yours turn out!

  3. Linda Johnson permalink
    October 8, 2013

    I love the curtains!! What a change they make in Ethan’s room. The digger and cement truck decals are darling!

    So nice to have Sandy there to help you out. I turn to my sister Cindy for all my major sewing needs.

    • Becky permalink*
      October 8, 2013

      Thank you!! And yes, Cindy could do this stuff in her sleep! She is so crafty.

  4. October 10, 2013

    Those look terrific.

    I’m about to tackle making F’s curtains for her room – I’ve had the fabric for six months now. It was NOT cheap, so I’m a little nervous to make the first cut. I plan to line them as well, which makes me a little nervous!

    • Becky permalink*
      October 10, 2013

      That’s what scares me about expensive fabric!!! Terrified I’ll screw it all up. I can’t wait to see what you come up with…everything you do is amazing.

  5. Lauren G permalink
    October 10, 2013

    Great curtains! Reminds me of the time and energy going in to a quilt!

    • Becky permalink*
      October 10, 2013

      Thanks! But NO way these were as crazy-hard as your beautiful quilts. You’ve got some mad skills girl.

  6. lisa permalink
    October 17, 2013

    They look amazing! Thanks so much for sharing what curtains you started with, I have been debating doing it this way or cutting both colors and sewing together. Can’t beat 30 bucks for a pair of curtains that size.

  7. January 11, 2014

    I LOVE your curtains. I was going to paint or stencil my curtains in our kitchen, but seeing your finished product makes me want to sew fabric on mine. Decisions, decisions…

    Question what color #/brand is the paint in Ethan’s room, that gray is stunning.


    • Becky permalink*
      January 11, 2014

      Thanks Betty! Go for the sewing, it really looks so amazing in person. Just watch the fraying of the accent fabric. I wish I knew the color of the walls! It’s actually a very gray lavender and was here before we moved in. It looks totally gray so we just left it!

      • January 12, 2014

        Yea, I think I will go for the sewing method as well. I have a toddler and a month old, and they never sit still. If I sew I can at least stop during the project. Thank for sharing!

        I was looking for a gray to paint our kitchen in, I think your gray would have been a little to dark. Thought I still ask.

        I will email you about something else… talk to you later.

  8. Jennifer Morton permalink
    April 9, 2014

    I saw you copied “A Thoughtful Place” ‘s DIY why curtain tutorial, too. They look great. I am about to start on the using her tutorial, too. It was good to read about one or two things you added as well. : )

  9. May 7, 2014

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  10. September 8, 2015

    PompomsEquipment/ Materials: . Pencil.Scissors.Wool.CardboardInstructions1. cut out two doughnuts from the cabordard and hold them together.2. Wrap some yarn round and round the doughnut until its completely covered.3. Push the point of the scissors between the two pieces of card , then carefully snip all the way around the doughnut. 4.Tie a piece of wool around the middle (between the two pieces of card).Remove the two pieces of card and fluff up your pompom. Now use it to make some cool craft!Cautions .if help is needed then then take an adults help IdeasStitch or glue pompoms to the shoulders of a jumper or tee.Glue tiny pompoms to hair clips. So cute!Tie three pompoms to a bag handle, then add a keyring.Hope you enjoy!

  11. October 8, 2018

    Love it! Can’t wait to try it.

    Where do you get the black out shade?
    I love the curtains!! What a change they make in Ethan’s room. The digger and cement truck decals are darling!

    • Becky permalink*
      October 8, 2018

      Thanks!! Since we moved, they are now hanging in our master bedroom—very versatile! I got the black out material at the fabric store. Good luck!

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