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.

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!

It’s Spring/DIY Vegetable Box!

February 6, 2011

Well, it’s not technically spring, but it’s been in the 70s and sunny the last couple of days in the Bay and our vegetable garden is responding.  Our radishes, kale, and broccoli are making a valiant effort to get to eating size.  I hope it stays warm or our veggies might get confused!
We built our raised vegetable box in the summer of 2009 when I was studying for the bar exam.  I guess I needed a distraction!  It was surprisingly easy and relatively inexpensive (about $200 for materials and dirt).  The only two things that didn’t end up as we planned were that we put wheels on the bottom, but it is so heavy that we can’t actually wheel the box around and that we were going to put mesh over the top to keep bugs/animals out, but it turned out to be unnecessary.  Here are some pictures of the building, “inspection”, and growing.

I can’t think of a better way for you to enjoy this amazing weather than to get out there and build your own vegetable box!

Biggest DIY Project EVER!

January 20, 2011

In March 2010, we had a flood in our house where the upstairs toilet ran for 6 or 7 hours and clean (bright side) water flooded our upstairs bathroom, closet, bedroom, and downstairs guestroom and bathroom.  This was the first time we’ve ever had to make a claim on our house insurance, so everything was completely new to us.

Damage Assessment

Guestroom (above) and Bedroom (below)

Our options were 1. use a State Farm contractor to restore our home to its original state or 2. take the State Farm money and get our own contractor.  Since I had a less than stellar experience with a contractor in the past (he ended up losing his license!), I wanted to do due diligence and hire my own contractor.  Also, the upstairs bedroom had grungy carpet, so we wanted to replace it with hardwood, which I thought we could do ourselves to save money.  My partner reluctantly agreed to help me and even thought I might have created the flood on purpose because I was so overjoyed at the prospect of a State Farm funded DIY project!

After fighting/negotiating with State Farm for about four months, we finally got started on rebuilding.  The major tasks were:

1. Replace walls and ceilings!  (We paid someone to do this, though in retrospect, we probably could have done it ourselves.)

2. Replace toilet culprit (Our new Toto UltraMax toilet is a dream.)

3.  Remove and retile downstairs bathroom (Definitely my favorite project so far!)

4. Install hardwood floors in upstairs bedroom (WAY easier than you’d think)

5. Install hardwood on stairs (WAY more complicated than you’d think)

6. Replace ruined hardwood floors in downstairs bedroom (A mystery we have yet to tackle because matching 100 year old floors is a b****)

7. Other – paint walls, ceilings, replace base moulding and doorframes, etc (very time consuming and seemingly endless)

While all of our projects have empowered me, made me feel very accomplished, and we have had only a few small missteps so far (my partner may disagree with me on this one), I am ready to be done and we are far from done.  We have, however, made a lot of progress and met some truly wonderful people in the process.  Stay tuned for more detailed descriptions of our projects that may inspire you to take on a DIY renovation.  (I recommend doing these one at a time if you have that choice!)