My very own Ikea hack.

Last year we took down the wood blinds in our master bedroom. We had inherited them from the previous owners, and in their place we hung double curtain rods and curtains from Pottery Barn along with some sheers from Ikea.

One year and one economic downturn later, we couldn’t afford to do the same for the two large windows and huge sliding glass door in our living/dining room. So we put it off, along with most all of the other home improvement projects that we’ve wanted to do since we bought our home in 2006.

We were inspired after I found the Young House Love blog. It seems that it’s been an inspiration to many and definitely to me. Their ability to be budget conscious but also do a fantastic job of making their home lovely had a huge impact on making me believe it was possible for us to do the same.

I found their blog just before the holidays last year (thanks Kate!) and not long after, Chet and I went to Ikea and picked out the Lenda curtains. We also considered the Vivan curtains used by YHL in their living room, but we liked that the Lendas were made out of 100% cotton. In retrospect, the Vivans would have be a LOT less work since I ended up modifying the Lenda curtain tops which look like this:

and made them look almost exactly this (the Vivan curtains):

(both images courtesy of Ikea)

I didn’t take photos as I was going along, but essentially I cut the back side of each of the tabs tops off, folded them over, trimmed off the excess  (anything that went past the hem) and sewed them down by hand. We considered cutting off the tabs completely and putting the rod through the top hem. But it was too scrunchy looking and doing it this way made for much cleaner lines, see?

Despite all that work, I’m glad we chose the 100% cotton Lenda curtains. Once the mods on top were done,  and after hanging the curtain rods (which we got at Target and are apparently out of stock now) I was able to start the hemming process.

I almost forgot to mention this and it’s very important! If you plan on washing these in the future, make sure you put them in the wash first before hemming the bottoms. I almost skipped this step because I had already ironed these dogs to perfection. But I went ahead and safety pinned them so they were just touching the floor before washing them just to get an idea of how much they shrunk, if any. IF ANY!!! Here’s how they looked (on the right) after the washing machine and laid flat to dry:

Okay, so you get the idea. Wash them before hemming. Oh, and these curtains do come with a sewless hemming strip that you can just iron on if you don’t have a sewing machine. I did a little test run with this stuff, and decided to use my machine in case I later wanted to modify the hems without ruining the fabric. Which turned out to be a good idea since this was one of the first ones I did:

It still looks like that now because I have been too lazy to fix it. I thought hemming would be an easier process than it was. I’m still pretty much a beginner seamstress, so I thought I could just figure out how much to take off, measure up all the way across and pin. However, these weren’t cut perfectly even so I had to 1) try it out several times and 2) pin and re-pin and 3) get really frustrated and get in a fight with my sweet husband who begged me to just stop and take a break already and 4) make the first four out of six panels before finally figuring out the right way to do it. And here it is:

So, the first four – I will probably need to re-do someday. But the last two, I’m really happy with. The best way to get them even (especially if you want them to just barely not touch the floor) is to pin them up to the desired length while they’re hanging from the rods and adjust the pins until everything falls just right. I had to go back and forth several times to get it right. From there, you can iron it flat and then sew across. I sewed my hems about 4.5 – 5″ above the floor.

So here they are – along with our adorable Labrador who kindly posed for me without even being asked – all ironed and hung and hemmed. I still may re-do the 4 that aren’t just so, but I need a bit of break from this project.

Total cost? $48.61 for six panels (two in a pack) + $86.41 for three curtain rods =  $135.02. That’s less than we spent on our curtain rods for one window alone in our master bedroom.

Next step: we’d love to replace all the windows and sliding glass door. And now that we’ve finished replacing our bathroom window, we feel pretty confident we could do them ourselves. Another obvious next step: furnish this room. Next post Once I figure out how to do a little mosaic/mood board, perhaps I’ll share a few of our hopes and dreams for the room.

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