DIY Lined Back Tab Curtains

September 8, 2014
Recently, had a sale on Premier Prints fabric in advance of Premier Prints’ permanent retail price increase.  I couldn’t resist and bought 5 1/2 yards of Zippy (big zig zags) Slub (looks like linen) in Navy to make new living room curtains.  zippy slub navy
There wasn’t anything seriously wrong with my living room curtains, but I couldn’t resist the easy room refresh, so I decided to make new curtains and fix a few things that did irk me about my old curtains.  Here was my list of “complaints”:
  1. They didn’t have back tabs, so they didn’t drape exactly how I like (I didn’t know what back tabs were when I made them).
  2. You could see the lining from the sides because the fabric and lining were the same width.
  3. The rod was too close to the window.
  4. The rod was too narrow.
  5. The rods had no finials.

Useful measurements

  • Curtain fabric: 55″ wide, including selvedge) x 100″ (2.75 yards plus an extra inch)
  • Lining fabric: Cut to 53″ x 100″
  • Each finished curtain: 53″ x 93″.

Step 1: Sew sides

Line up the right sides of the fabric and sew a seam down one side.  Then line up the other side and do the same.  Since the lining fabric is 2″ narrower, you need to move the fabric over to line up the 2nd side.

Flip your “tube” right sideout and iron both sides so that the side borders are the same width.  (Sorry, I am having trouble embedding this photo, but it’s pretty straightfoward.)

Step 2: Sew top, including tabs

Since my fabric is patterned, I needed to make sure the pattern started at the same place on both curtains so they’d look exactly the same.  To do this, I folded the top over about 4″ and then matched where that same pattern fold was on the 2nd curtain (about 6″).  Iron seams.

Iron a seam on the unfinished edge.

Cut 11 pieces of ribbon (about every 5″ apart).  The length depends on how wide your panels are.  Sew the wrong side of the ribbon ribbon to the right side of the fabric along the unfinished edge – both right sides are facing you.

curtain tab bottom

Fold the other end of the ribbon under and sew just below the 4″ seam.  Make sure you don’t sew it too close to the ironed seam because you don’t want the ribbon to show at all from the front.

curtain tab top

Fold 4″ seam over and unfinished edge seam under.  Flip to front of curtain and stitch across bottom seam.  This is the only seam that shows from the front.
Do the same thing with your second curtain making sure everything is the same because when they’re side by side, you’ll be able to tell if your two panels don’t match!

Step 3:

Hang your curtains up and mark where they’ll just hit the ground.  you can measure 93″ from the top, but I found actually hanging the curtains on the rod more accurate because the curtain may hang differently depending on where you put the tabs.

Iron bottom seam and raw edge.  Fold raw edge over and hem bottom with a straight stitch or if you want to be fancy, use a blind hem stitch at the bottom and fold in each end to make a small triangle.  (If you don’t know how to do this, google it.  It’s really not that hard and a good stitch to learn.)

Ta da!


(I know, I know.  Now that the curtains look really nice, our couch looks even worse.  It’s like when I painted the front door and then we had to paint our entire house!)

Budget for Curtains

  • Premier Prints Zippy Slub Navy, 5.5 yards – $40
  • Ikea Bomull, 5.5 yards – $11
  • 1 1/2″ wide ribbon – $1.50
  • Needles, thread – had these – $0
  • I purchased a new sheer curtain because my kids ripped the old one and buying one was the same price as making my own.  Ikea Vivan – $9.99
  • Total: about $63

Budget for Hardware

  • Curtain Rod for curtain – Ikea Hugad $5.99
  • Curtain Rod for lining (I could have spraypainted my gray one, but since they’re so cheap at Ikea, I just bought a new one) – Ikea Racka – $4.99
  • Curtain Brackets (The Hugad was too big for my old bracket, so I had to get new ones) – Ikea Betydlig- $1.98 x 3 = $5.94
  • Total: about $17

So overall not the cheapest makeover, but one that I hope will last a long time and way cheaper than buying such long curtains retail or from Etsy.

DIY Chalkboard Paint and Chalkboard Markers

February 12, 2014

pax wardrobeWe got an enormous Ikea Pax wardrobe with shelves so we could have a place to store our kids’ toys and my sewing/craft supplies.  It’s massive (39″ x 23″ x 78″).  Eventually, we’ll get or make doors (the ones available for sale at Ikea for this size are pretty ugly), but right now, it’s just a big open storage unit.  Not the greatest for concealing chaos, but at least the chaos isn’t spread all over the floor.  full

Any way, the point of this post is that chalkboard paint is easy to DIY and awesome, not that we have too much stuff ;P

Since the wardrobe is so big and there, I decided to paint the side (23″ x 93″) with chalkboard paint so my kids could draw on it and also so I could make lists.  I think if the lists are that present, I might be more likely to complete the items on it.  At least that’s the intention.

I was concerned about using regular chalkboard paint because I didn’t want a big, black, rectangle glooming up the room.  I found these instructions to make your own chalkboard paint and decided it was worth a shot.  I also considered magnetic paint so we could hang our kids’ paintings, but reviews are decidedly mixed on how well it works and I figure we can just use some double sided tape or museum putty.

So, the nitty gritty:

1. Since the wardrobe is enormous and already full, I didn’t want to have to move it outside to sand it.  First, I primed using Zinsser water based primer.  That did not work, so I gave in and used their oil based primer, Cover Stain.  This is amazing stuff.  I have avoided using it b/c it’s oil-based, but I am a convert.  The laminated furniture in our house should watch out – I might attack it with primer and paint at a moment’s notice!  Although the primer stinks, it seems to dissipate fairly quickly with some open windows.  I did two coats, but I don’t think it was necessary.  I just wanted to use the primer I had poured out instead of throwing it away.  I used a foam roller that was about $2 and threw it away instead of buying paint thinner.

painted side2. Then, I mixed about 1/2 c Benjamin Moore Gull Wing Grey (light gray) from a pint sample I had and 1 tbsp of unsanded delorean gray grout that we used to tile our bathroom way back when after the “great” flood.  I just mixed it on a coated paper plate with a fork to mix all the grout smoothly.  I used a similar action to beating eggs.  I used another roller to paint.  It only took one coat to get pretty good coverage, but I did touch up a few spots where a little primer showed through.  In some areas, the grout was not entirely mixed in, so I just used my finger to rub it in and then rolled over it to smooth it out.

3. Once the paint was dry, I used about 3 full pieces of chalk to condition the board, wiped it off with a microfiber cloth, and that was it!  One last suggestion is to use chalk markers instead of chalk.  chalk markerThey are WAY less messy and easier to write/draw with.  You can get them at Home Depot or art stores for $2 or $3.  Not cheap, but not dealing with chalk powder all over is priceless!

I’m thinking about framing the side to give it a more finished look, but am on the fence since I don’t want to decrease the write-able surface too much.  I’ll keep you posted.

Glider Makeover Makeover

October 22, 2013

No, that’s not a typo.  I did a glider makeover, wasn’t totally satisfied and made it over again, so this is a glider makeover makeover!


As you may have read in my Glider Makeover post, I didn’t love the dye job because it was a bit uneven since the fabric was originally faded/worn.  So, with some trepidation, because I am no expert sewer (or really even a novice sewer), I decided I’d give upholstery a go.

Tempo Indoor/Outdoor Fretwork BlackI measured everything and ordered 4 yards of indoor/outdoor fabric (easy to wipe up, which is key with toddlers running amok).  I decided I would actually use the pattern sideways because I wouldn’t need as many yards that way.  I didn’t want to spend too much on fabric in case it turned out to be a disaster.

Once I had my fabric, I just thought about it, read a million blog posts about how to upholster furniture and sew piping, and kept thinking about it.  Weeks went by, months possibly, and I finally gathered enough courage to cut the fabric 😛  More weeks went by and I finally decided that I had nothing to lose.  It actually turned out to be pretty simple!  Here goes:

Step 1: Deconstruction!

I went to town with my seam ripper and then my she-woman strength ripping all those seams.  It is SO helpful to have a sample to follow instead of creating your own pattern or trying to do it without a pattern, but keep in mind that different material stretches differently.  Since the original cotton was more stretchy, I cut my new fabric slightly bigger than the original pieces I was using as my guide.


Step 2: Measure/Cut Material

I had measured and cut the material in the early weeks when I had cold feet, but I cut a lot of extra just to be safe.  So now I trimmed it and used that trim to cover my piping.


(Doesn’t that fading look icky?  Now, you see why I had to makeover my makeover!)

Step 3: Piping

I sewed piping.  This is actually super simple, but seemed really scary before I did it.  You just pull the original cord out, wrap it in your new fabric, and sew (and trim if you didn’t beforehand).  Seriously, it’s that easy.


Step 4: Attach Piping

2013-09-24 22.28.57Sew the piping to the cushion material.  I started with the ottoman pillow because it has velcro and that seemed easier to sew than the zipper on the seat cushion. Sandwich your piping between the two sides with the wrong side out so that when you flip, you see the right side and the piping.  I used pins to hold it together and then removed the pins as I got close.

I crazily decided I was going to match the piping to the pattern on the pillow.  That was a huge pain because there was a level of precision that otherwise wouldn’t have been as necessary, but it does look pretty nice.  It was especially challenging with the back cushion because the cushion isn’t exactly rectangular, but I made it work.  If I had to do it again, I’d just use contrasting white fabric for the piping.20131022_150520

I read a lot about how you’re supposed to cut material for piping on a bias, but I also saw a few posts about how it isn’t necessary, so I took my chances because that was the only way to make the pattern on the piping and cushion match.  I think it turned out pretty well.

In order to cover a long piece of piping, you can just sew strips together at an angle.

The most challenging part was wrapping the piping around the rounded edges while still trying to line up the pattern.  You won’t have to deal with this if you use a solid color, which I highly recommend.

Step 5: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

After the ottoman cushion, I did the back part.  Since it was stapled to the frame, it seemed easier than tackling the zipper of the seat cushion.  Unstapling the back piece again was a pain.  I wish I had decided to makeover my makeover before I put it back on.  Oh well!

Then, I finally tackled the seat cushion with the zipper and it actually turned out to be easy peasy.  You just sew it on!  Well, it’s a little more complicated.  You can google it, but essentially, you stitch up to where you want to put the zipper, then baste where the zipper is going to be and stitch the other end.  Iron the seam down, pin, tape, or glue the zipper in place, flip over, stitch the zipper down, take out the basted seam, and it’s in!

This project was relatively easy (I can’t believe I can honestly say that!), but very time consuming.  It would have been easier if I hadn’t decided to match the piping 😛  If I used a solid color, it would have been a snap!  I think it took me a total of about 15 hours, not including the many hours I spent surfing the web to build up my confidence enough to start!


  • $28 – 4 yards of indoor/outdoor fabric
  • $3 (on sale) – outdoor thread

So, with the cost of the first makeover, my total was about $50.

I think I need a break from curved sewing.  Maybe I’ll make some pillows 😛

UPDATE: After all that piping I sewed, I realized that I should have used a zipper foot to make it easier to get right up against the piping.  Oy, guess I need a new project to try that out!

Glider Makeover: Fabric Dye

October 22, 2013

I know there are a million posts out there about making over gliders, probably because they traditionally come in very limited, ugly fabric choices, but this is different because it does not involve sewing or upholstery.  It involves fabric dye and is pretty simple.  (I actually ended up upholstering this glider, but more on that later.)

I inherited a very well made and very hideous Dutalier reclining glider and ottoman when my boys were a few months old.  The wood was stained a medium brown and it had denim covers that were faded in some parts and almost worn through in others.  It looked something like this, but with sadder looking denim.

Here’s a partial picture of the actual chair.  (I, paranoid mom, don’t like posting identifying pictures of my kids on the internet.)


I used it and I loved it despite it’s ugliness, but once I was out of my newborn twin-induced haze, it’s ugliness became increasingly apparent and now with more free time on my hands (hurray for sleeping through the night), I added this to my project list.

This glider makeover is a story of perseverence.  When I started, I had 4 projects going at once, a limit I had to set for myself b/c I was spiraling out of control with my project FOMA.  FOMA + inflated sense of DIY ability + minivan (to pick up furniture) = dangerous number of projects.  When I finished, I was sort of happy with the results, but a week or two later, I decided I wasn’t 100% happy and decided to upholster it (more on that later.).  I still think that dying is a great option for those with non-faded, lighter colored covers or dying to a darker color.

In any case, here’s how I did my glider makeover part 1.

Dying the Covers Teal

  1. I removed the covers.  Most of this was easy (unzip or unvelcro), but the back part required lots of unstapling, which was annoying.
  2. The back cushion cover had cardboard sewn on to keep the shape, so I removed that.
  3. I washed all the fabric, but didn’t dry it.
  4. Then I washed at hottest setting with 2 packets of RIT color remover.  Since I have a front loading machine, it uses less water.  RIT says not to use this on blue denim, but I did anyway based on internet advice.  It didn’t do anything discernable.
  5. I ran a full cycle with detergent.
  6. I washed the covers in hot water with 1/2 c bleach.  Nothing happened.
  7. I was trying to avoid using bleach in a tub by using the washer, but since that didn’t work, I put the covers in a tub with hot water and about 1c bleach.  I left it for 75 minutes.  It was definitely lighter.  Since I was dying to a teal color, I didn’t need it super light, but just light enough that the teal would cover the denim color.
  8. I rinsed the covers in hot water (34 minutes).
  9. I left the covers in the washer and added 2 bottles liquid dye, followed by 1c salt mostly dissolved in 2c hot water and then 4c extra hot water.  I used some of that hot water to rinse out dye bottles.  It seemed like quite a bit more came out this way.
  10. I then ran a regular wash with warm water.  The water was clear, so I didn’t repeat.
  11. I ran a regular dry cycle.

The dye didn’t cover the original fading.  I’m not sure why I thought it would – wishful thinking I guess.  This wasn’t actually a dealbreaker since you couldn’t tell unless the cushion wasn’t in the cover, so when you were actually using the chair, it wasn’t noticeable.  The color was more of a turquoise even though in the picture (bottom of post), it kind of just looks like it’s still denim!

Also, the bleach and washing/drying was too much for my covers since they were pretty worn out when I started, so there was a small hole on one seam.  I tried to convince myself it wasn’t that bad, but it was.


  • $5 for color remover, but it’s useless, so you don’t have to spend this
  • $1 bleach from the dollar store
  • Tub – You probably have something lying around you can use.  I used a cooler.
  • $4 (I used a 50% coupon) 2 bottles RIT Liquid Dye

Painting the Frame

I was really happy with how this turned out.  It really transformed the glider from a blah piece of furniture to something I might actually buy!

  1. I used a sander and 120 grit sand paper to remove the finish from the chair.  I wasn’t totally thorough because there were lots of small in between areas.
  2. I wiped the dust off with a microfiber cloth and hoped for the best 🙂
  3. Then, I spray painted the frame black with paint and primer in one in a semigloss finish.  I did it outside so it wouldn’t be so stinky.  I had time for one coat each night after my kids went to sleep before there wasn’t enough light out.  I would do one side (chair upright) one night, then another side the next night (underneath) and glide the ottoman so I could reach all the wood.  Then I repeated for each coat.  It didn’t take a lot of time at once, but the duration was long.  If I had done it on a weekend, I probably could have finished in a day.

Most of the chair took about 3 coats, but there were some areas that hadn’t been sanded that required more coats.  It all ended up well covered though using less then 3 cans of spray paint and there has been no chipping or flaking at all.


  • $2 sand paper for sander
  • $6 (on sale for 50% off) – 3 cans of black spray paint

So, after all that, it looked something like this (I had already started my 2nd makeover when I remembered to take this picture!).

2013-09-21 15.06.16

Initially, I thought it looked pretty good (it looks more faded/washed out in this photo than in real life because of the lighting), but I wasn’t entirely satisfied, so check out Glider Makeover Makeover.

If you have a white/off white glider cover that is in good shape, I think dying is the way to go.  If not, and you’ve got some time to kill, upholstery is actually not that hard!

DIY Shark Costume

October 17, 2013

As a parent of two toddlers, preparing for Halloween naturally revolved around making their costumes (see post here), but I needed something simple and comfortable to wear too!  I whipped up this inexpensive shark hoodie for about $15 (for the hoodie and felt) in a few hours (while watching lots of Scandal episodes on Netflix).

It’s really straightforward, so I don’t have step by step directions, but here are some tips/pics:

  • Cut the two sides of the chest together so they’re symmetrical.
  • Pin the white chest part on your hoodie and then try it on.  When I first did this, it looked great on the floor, but when I tried it on, the white was much too wide.  (I included both pictures below for you to see.)

2013-10-03 12.19.04 2013-10-03 12.33.31

  • Cut the teeth all at once so you can sew them to the hoodie all at once.

2013-10-03 12.33.462013-10-03 12.45.09

  • Cut your fin shape on a piece of paper and use a rotary cutter to trace it.  If I had to do this again, I’d use stiff interfacing like Pellon Peltex so the fin would stand up straight, but I forgot to buy any and wanted to get this done (aka wanted an excuse to keep watching Scandal.)

2013-10-03 12.33.58

That’s it!


(The 2nd picture looks weird, but it’s just so you can see the fin.)

Live and learn tip:  I saw a picture of this Old Navy hoodie (apparently my idea was not very original) and really like the red.  Even though my shark has a happy vibe, I dig this.  Next time …

It’s the Little Things – Front Door Refresh

September 18, 2013

A few weeks ago, I painted the inside and outside of our front door, which hasn’t been painted since 2005.  It made a HUGE difference and cost less than $35 (and that’s with a visit to the locksmith after I dropped the lock and couldn’t figure out how to get it back in)!  I didn’t even have to take the door down.

I picked Benjamin Moore Rapture for the outside and Benjamin Moore Gull Wing Gray for the inside.



I hadn’t actually been planning on painting the inside, but once I had the lock off, I figured I might as well.  Good thing I hoard paint samples in our hall storage closet!

It took a day, maybe three hours of actual painting and removing the lock, but I had to wait for the coats to dry and I didn’t want to leave the house with the lock out.  The outside took four coats of paint and the inside took two.  I didn’t prime either side of the door, but if I had primed the outside, it probably wouldn’t have taken four coats.  It still took less than 1 pint of paint with four coats!  The inside only took two coats because I was going from a cream color (or dirty white?) to gray.  I used an angled brush for the nooks and crannies and a dense foam roller to make sure there were no brush lines.

Check it out:


2101 Sacramento 031




I think it looks fantastic, but the unintended consequence is that I think it is now more obvious than ever that we need to paint the outside of our house!  That is on the to do list for next spring.

I forgot to take pictures while I was painting the outside, but did manage to get some in progress shots of the inside.

(1 coat)

2013-08-31 15.46.09  2013-08-31 16.27.25

(2 coats)

2013-08-31 21.45.24

I also spraypainted the hardware, which was a beaten down brass color.






$0 (I had a coupon, normally $5) Benjamin Moore Arborcoat sample pint in Rapture – that’s all I needed for 4 coats

$2.50 (on sale, normally $5) Benjamin Moore paint sample in Gull Wing Gray

$7 Rustoleum Universal paint and primer in one – Oil Rubbed Bronze (I’ve used this for many projects besides this one.)

$25 Locksmith help to reinstall the handle part of the lock (the deadbolt was easy and I’m pretty confident that if it was just a regular knob lock, I could have done it on my own.  It also didn’t help that I dropped the handle and parts came out.  Youtube, shockingly, didn’t have the answers on that one!)

Now go forth and find a project for this weekend!

Color Transformation – Toddler Table and Chairs

July 23, 2013

Here’s a quick rundown of my latest project – painting a kid sized table and chairs.  It is a solid wood set from Ikea that was passed down to me from a family with three kids.  They were in pretty decent shape, but were a blah medium wood color and the finish was not smooth in a lot of places because there were teeth marks, glitter, and other things you’d expect after a few years of use by three toddlers.


This isn’t actually the before picture because I forgot to take one before I primed and a picture of the set post-priming.

Leksvik Chair

Step 1:

Primed Table and ChairsI sanded the chairs with 120 grit sandpaper.  I used a sander for the seat and legs, but did the rest manually because it’s tough to get in all those nooks and crannies!  It’s not essential to sand everything, especially if you’re using oil based primer, but it helps with bonding.  I sanded more thoroughly in areas where there were bite marks or glued on glitter to smooth things out.  If I was being very thorough, I would have used wood filler too, but I didn’t care enough to do that.

Step 2:

I used oil based primer.  I’ve never used oil based primer before, but I heard it’s very durable and my dad had some leftover, so I gave it a shot.  Since it was stinky, I did this outside.  I think the primer was a little old and chunky because some areas didn’t go on that smoothly, so after it dried, I did some light sanding by hand with 220 grit sandpaper.  It wasn’t perfect and some of the texture showed through the paint, but I didn’t care enough to fix it.  Next time, I might try Zinsser Smart Prime, which is water based, but supposedly as durable as oil based primer.

Step 3:

I can’t resist buying paint samples when they’re on sale and last Memorial Day, I stocked up on some really fun Benjamin Moore colors from OSH.  They were only $2.49 a can!  I painted the table “Sun Kissed Yellow” and the chairs “Rocky Mountain Sky” (blue), “Calypso Orange”, “Fresh Lime”, and “Bonfire” (red).  BM’s paint samples only come in flat finish, which isn’t great for things kids are going to have their grubby hands all over, but I knew I was going to put a glassy protective coat over the paint, so that was okay with me.

The blue took 2 coats.  I think the other chairs took 3 coats of paint.  And I swear the yellow took a million.  Ok, not a million, but maybe 5?

I painted inside because the BM paint was virtually odor free and I got to watch a lot of episodes of Mad Men on Netflix while I painted.  Priming outside hurt my old lady back.

Step 4:

PolycrylicI applied two coats of Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic Protective Finish in “Clear Gloss”.  This stuff has the consistency of water, but is cloudy, so if you use too much at once, it doesn’t dry clear.  You need to apply very thin coats, which I found a little challenging because sometimes it felt like I wasn’t getting any on the chairs or table.  After the first coat dried, I was reassured that it was in fact adhering and that I could be very light with my application.


A bright and cheerful set that is very wipeable and will hopefully stand up to years of abuse.

Painted Table and Chairs

Painted Table and Chairs Pushed In


I got the table and chairs for free and had the sandpaper and paint, so the only thing I had to purchase was the Polycrylic Finish.  It was $20 at OSH and I used a $5 off coupon, so this project cost me $15 total.  Also, I have almost the entire can left, so I probably only spent $1!  I supposed you could count the 5 cans of sample paint I purchased for $2.50 each, so that’s $15 + $12.50 = $27.50 for a fantastic looking table and chairs.

Now if only I could teach my boys to sit on those chairs while they eat!