Ironing, Now With More Stabbing
Published On: April 10, 2011

This is how I made my curtains.  I’m telling you all about it because it’s what I did (instead of knitting) for much of last week.  That means I don’t have much knitting to tell you about.  It is likely not how you should make your curtains.  You should probably do it the proper way.  The way that involves lining, and special feet for your sewing machine, and possibly interfacing (whatever that actually is…I’m still unsure).  The way that doesn’t speak so poorly of your mental health.

1 – Buy an old house.  The older the better.  This ensures that your windows will all be different sizes so you won’t be able to just buy curtains.  It also helps ensure that your walls will be plaster (and thus a nightmare to put holes in).  It also works to instill the proper level of fear.  If you have a new house, you can feel somewhat confident that things like pipes and wiring aren’t lurking behind the surface of every wall.  You can likely have some assurance that teeny tiny projects will not turn into the sort of ordeal that involves calling in a host of tradesmen and getting estimates that look more like phone numbers than dollar amounts.  That sort of confidence is not what you need for this project.

2 – Wait a few years.  The longer the better.  During this time, think how nice it would be to have proper curtains instead of nasty plastic shades.  Be sure to undertake a few small home improvement projects so you can build up a proper understanding of just how dramatically wrong such things can go in old houses.  Fear is important.  Count up the number of windows in the space you’re thinking about (13 for me).  Consider the likelihood that all will go well when putting that many sets of holes in your house.  Decide against any rash actions.  Wait a few more years.  Just to be safe.

3 – Eventually, and for no discernible reason, decide you can abide the plastic no longer and take rash action.  Elect to use the rods that hold the nasty plastic shades to hold your curtains.  Rejoice as you realize this means you needn’t make any holes in your house.  Note that the incidence of household disaster increases dramatically for projects that use either hammers or screwdrivers (or, god forbid, drills).  Realize that this plan requires none of these tools.

4 – Go to your trunk and get the drop cloth that’s been living there for the better part of 6 months.  Bring it in, wash it, dry it, and rip off the seamed edges.

5 – Measure your windows.  Note with surprise and delight that you can squeeze all the dining room curtains and all the living room curtains out of just one tarp.  Measure again to be sure, as things just don’t usually work that way and it’s likely you did something wrong.  Wonder what it is you’ve been doing right to deserve such unexpected good fortune.

6 – Tear the fabric into appropriately sized pieces.

7 – Begin to iron.  Iron the pieces flat.  Be sure to curse yourself for leaving the tarp crumpled in the dryer for an hour.  Iron in the folds for the hems.

8 – Iron some more.

9 – Continue to iron as you feel  your life force drain away.

10 – Keep ironing.  No really, this part takes about three and a half hours.  All you do is iron.  You and the iron are one.  Embrace the zen of the iron.  Mind your posture, and don’t scorch the fabric.  The steam setting is your friend.

11 – Enlist the services of your resident cat to guard the freshly ironed fabric.

12 – Sew up the seams.  This part will take about half an hour.  Spend this time wondering why the hell they call this activity sewing.  It is quite obviously advanced ironing with some stabbing thrown in for extra danger.

13 – Insert strategically placed magnets in the corners of some curtains to allow them to be held open when desired.  Revel in the cleverness of this plan.  Other methods of curtain wrangling might require putting holes in the house.  This doesn’t, therefore it is the best possible way of achieving this goal.

13 – Iron one more time for good measure to get out the crumples introduced while stabbing.

14 – Take down the old shades, strip the plastic off of the rods they hang on, put the curtains on said rods, and hang them back up.  Note the total lack of tools required and thus the fairly low risk of disaster.

15 – Slip on the pile of plastic you’ve left on the floor, just to keep things balanced.

16 – Flit around like a loon reveling in the non-plastic qualities of the new arrangement.  Play with the magnets for a truly unreasonable amount of time.

17 – Realize that while one tarp took care of the living room and the dining room, you still have a sun room to take care of.  Further realize that the chances that the store will have the same drop cloth 6 months later are almost nil.  Become more or less sick at the thought of all that wasted ironing.  Dash to the store.  Boggle at your good fortune.  Grab another drop cloth.  Repeat steps 4-15.

Now I know these are the simplest curtains imaginable.  They are basically fabric rectangles in place of the previous plastic rectangles.  They are not examples of great sewing prowess.  They do have the notable advantage of not being sticky and not having crayon marks on them (the previous owners of the house had two small boys, and all attempts to render the blinds crayon-free and non-sticky proved futile).  They also incorporate magnets, which more or less doubles the entertainment value of anything.

I realize I should not find them nearly as satisfying as I do.  Alas, I must be simple, for I am deeply satisfied.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go talk myself out of painting the bathroom (the other project I’ve been meaning to do for five years and have somehow managed to put off).

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