House For Six

Office Curtains: Pattern and Color and Stripes, Oh My!

Deme Crinion5 Comments
Stripes, stripes and more stripes!  I might be a little obsessed (and have to restrain myself from decorating the whole house with them), but since we're starting from scratch in our office, I couldn't resist a chance to play with stripes in a creative new way.

I'm excited to share this project with you because it was a bit of a gamble.  It looked great in my head....I just wasn't sure how it would come together in reality. 

The idea:
I really love the look of a bold striped drape (like these from  The Nester, Amanda Carol At Home and A Thoughtful Place), and I also felt that our "His & Hers" office needed something to bring together all the colors we're using in the space.  So, why not kill two birds with one stone...or with a set of pattern striped curtains to frame my office desk? Oh yes.  Absolutely worth a try.

I already had two white curtain panels from a Target clearance rack and had recently picked up a great fabric with all of our office colors: navy, pink, green, white.  I debated applying the fabric stripes on top of the existing panels or cutting the panel into strips and sewing alternating stripes together. 

In the spirit of not fixing what isn't broken (and hopefully less work!), I decided to leave the panels as they were and apply the stripes on top. My patterned fabric was 44" wide and my curtain panels were 42" wide.  I knew I wanted the patterned stripes to be 12" thick, so I cut eight 13" strips (1 extra inch for hems) from the 4 yards of fabric I purchased.  So, I ended up with eight 13"x44" strips - four for each curtain.

*I apologize for the lighting in some of these photos - I was working at night for the first half of this*

I decided to use hem tape (Heat N Bond) to apply the stripes.  You could easily use your sewing machine as an alternative, but since my fabric has several colors, any color thread I chose would be fairly visible. I ended up using almost exactly two packages of hem tape for the project.

Start by ironing a 1/2" hem on the top and bottom (long side) of each panel.  No hem tape for this step, just get a nice, straight crease with a hot iron.

Next, cut a strip of hem tape the same length as the width of the curtain panel (42" for me) and line it up underneath the top crease.  Be sure the tape overlaps the raw edge of fabric on both it's sides.  This will seal that hem closed at the same time you adhere the stripe to the curtain.

My panels already had grommets, so I lined up my first stripe (one with the hem tape) along the seam under them.  Then, I ironed that side down according to the package directions.

Ensuring the curtain panel and fabric stripe are smooth, repeat the same step for the bottom side of your patterned stripe.  The ends will overlap the sides of the curtain (we'll fix those in the last step!). 

Up to this point I was able to do this on the ironing board, but as I started to move to the next stripe, I realized I needed much more space.  First I moved to the floor (be sure to put a towel underneath your fabric so you don't singe the rug.  Yes, this little tip is offered from experience), but I found the dining room table was the easiest place to work. 

The white top hem with the grommets was 4", which left me with 80" to space my stripes.  I had 4 patterned stripes at 12" each.  That covered 48" and left me with 32" of space for the white stripes (roughly 11" for each). 

Begin the second stripe by measuring 11" (or whatever the width of your white stripe) down from the bottom edge of the first stripe and mark it with a fabric pen.

Continue this all along the bottom edge of the first stripe.  I made a mark every 6-8".

Line up another piece of hem tape with the top edge of the tape on your marks.

Lay your next stripe over the hem tape aligning the top edge with the same marks. The hem tape should line up right under your hem.

Iron down that edge and then attach the bottom edge the same way as the first stripe...again, ensuring both layers of fabric are smooth.  Repeat until you get to your last patterned stripe.

This stripe is attached a little differently.  The bottom edge of my curtain panel was very uneven.  So I started by lining up the bottom edge of my stripe with the longest point of the bottom edge of the curtain. 

Hold that in place with your finger and then measure the white space between the bottom two stripes at that point by measuring the distance from the top edge of the bottom stripe to the bottom edge of the strip above it.  Mine was 11" so I measured and marked 11" down from the bottom edge of the second to last stripe (just as we did for the others) to ensure the bottom stripe would be even (regardless of the bottom hem of the curtain panel. 
Use another piece of hem tape to attach the top edge of the bottom stripe, lining it up along the marks.

Now, you have all hems of the stripes attached except the bottom hem.  To do this last edge, flip your curtain panel over.  You can see here just how uneven the bottom of my curtain panel was....

If yours is even, just attach like the rest. If not, instead of attaching the bottom hem to the curtain panel, use a piece of hem tape to hem only the patterned fabric. When you seal the sides in the next step it will help secure that stripe to the curtain.

Be careful to only iron over the fabric, not the uncovered part of the hem tape.  Melted hem tape on iron = no fun.

Once the hem is sealed, cut off the excess hem tape so that you don't accidentally adhere it to something the next time you go to iron.  You could also just cut your hem tape to size before ironing.

Now it's time to address those overhanging sides of the stripes.  With your panel still upside down, cut a piece of hem tape the same measurement as the stripe, for me, about 12 inches.

Line the hem tap up along the edge and fold the extra fabric over it.  Pull the fabric snugly so that it's flush with the side of the curtain panel...but not so snug that it bunches the fabric.

Iron that side down and trim the extra fabric beyond the hem tape if you wish.

This is what it will look like from the front. 
Repeat for all other sides and call it done!

Now the fun part - hanging them up!  I originally stopped here and hung them in the office but the curtain rod ended up just above the top of the window.  I really wanted more height but was nervous about adding another stripe.  I had in mind to start and stop with the patterned fabric but since these panels had grommets, the white ended up on ending with white wasn't a bad idea. 

I wanted to mount the rod about 3 inches from the top of the ceiling.  By using some extra white fabric from my stash to add another 11" white panel (same as the other white stripes), that put my rod at 2 1/2 inches from the ceiling.  Close enough!

The extra height made such a difference!  And I love the way they work in this space.

I was worried that the bright playful fabric would read a bit juvenile, but the bold fabric against the crisp white, together with the dramatic height, allow the curtains to still feel modern and sophisticated.

Yup.  I feel the same way, Jack.

Now that those crisp white stripes are in the space, that off-white desk is looking a little dingy.  It actually has a few stains on top, so a fresh coat of paint may be in it's future!

Either way, I'm so glad to have them done; so glad they exceeded my expectations; and so glad to take a day off tomorrow to enjoy family, friends, food and our freedoms.  Thanks to all who have and continue to serve our great country! Have a wonderful 4th!