crafts · house · Sewing

Do you sew for your home?

The first thing I ever sewed was a quilt:

(Yes, I promise it has a binding now!)

I now know how crazy I was, but it’s what I wanted to make.  So I sat down with my Viking Huskystar machine (which did not make it out of the ordeal alive,) a book on basic sewing techniques and a web tutorial, and I made this thing!  It took a few months, but you know what?  When I finished that quilt, I knew how to sew.  And that I needed a better sewing machine.  This is why I always ask beginners what they would like to make.  It’s like learning knitting – yes, I could set you up to make a simple garter stitch scarf, but if that’s not what you want you’ll go mad with boredom long before you finish.

After finishing my quilt I started making dresses and well… that was that.  In spite of the fact that I originally bought my machine to make curtains, the most I’ve done is a super utilitarian set of shades for the skylights in my third floor.

When I started my redecorating project this summer, one thing I knew I wanted was to sew my own things.  Storebought curtains are expensive and boring, which is the reason why my home only has roman shades and sheers from Ikea.  In addition, regular curtains and shades don’t fit my windows very well (I can use the ikea ones only in the extra long length without hemming, and all blinds/shades have to be custom.) I have a few questions for the more experienced among you:

1. Is it ever ok to use quilting cotton for curtains?  I love the prints, but I don’t use them for garments due to stiffness.  I’d imagine I’d need to line a curtain made of this fabric, but I’m planning to do that anyway.  I found mixed opinions when I went looking online.  My concern is that they might not drape well.

2. Do you have any sources for home decor fabric?  I have to shop online, and I’m not looking to pay crazy decorator prices.  I’ve ordered swatches from (some Amy Butler home decor prints and a few Waverly and Robert Allen fabrics) but I’m open to ideas.  I find the idea overwhelming, as I have the worlds most giant windows.  We’re talking tons of fabric here!  Since I have to buy so much I don’t want to make a mistake.  I’d rather not pay more than $16 a yard.

3. Any favorite resources for sewing curtains or roman shades?  When I made the curtains for my skylights I winged it, but I’d rather these look nice.  I’d love to make pinch pleated curtains, as I think those look much nicer than plain gathered curtains.

In addition to the curtains, I’m planning to replace my blinds (different window) with a custom roman shade.  I found this tutorial which uses the innards of a cheap mini-blind to make them.  This is brilliant!  I remember my Mom making them once, and I’m pretty sure it involved the use of dowel rods and a lot of cursing.  I can reuse my blinds, which would be great.

In addition to the curtains and blinds, I’m sewing one other project.  I found this tutorial on the Moda Bakeshop (a great place if you like using the packs of pre-cut fabrics.)

It uses one jellyroll (skinny pre-cut strips,) some piping, and 2.5 yards for the back to make two floor pillows.  I think calling them floor pillows sounds much better than what they will no doubt be in my house – cat pillows!  And it’s a good think it makes two, because they will fight over a pillow for weeks.  I’m going to use Amy Butler’s new Cameo line of fabrics. I found them when I was looking at home dec, and I was very sad to realize they don’t come in a sateen.

I think it will go really well with my new green wall.  I’ll be waiting on my order for awhile longer (they have been moving their warehouse) but I should have my jelly roll soon.

Update on the rest of my diy living room makeover:

This past weekend I replaced both the horrid ceiling fans in my living room.  This was an accomplishment, as one of them was hung over the open stairwell, and both were installed with a junction box that didn’t actually fit into the ceiling.  I replaced the junction box in both and changed the fixtures, trying not to look too hard at the wiring (our electrician assures me that it’s fine, but we do have some of that old cloth covered wiring – not knob and tube, just cloth covered, and it looks kind of scary!)

Here are the ceiling fans – from some past decade, they were noisy, leaked oil, and didn’t even come close to lighting up the room.

Ceiling fan #1 was replaced by my rehabbed chandelier.  Here is the before:

and the after:

It gives off more light than it appears in this photo.  I spray painted the chandelier glossy black.   The shades were replaced, and applied this faux mercury glass treatment to the glass.  I don’t know how obvious it is here, but they give off a pretty speckled light, like this only a bit less yellow:

The effect is very realistic.  I recommend that tutorial.  The key is to spray vinegar/water first, then the paint.  I sealed mine with heat resistant clear coat, and I use fluorescent bulbs which don’t get hot, and which don’t touch the shades, but I’m still not sure I’d do this around a candle.

The second fan was replaced with a basic track from Ikea.  I love it – you can see how nicely it lights up the wall (paint is Iron Mountain from benjamin moore, the color for my hallway) and it also makes the stairs easy to see.   Good lighting makes quite a difference!

I’m taking a break from dusty activities, so it will bit before more progress – hopefully I can figure out my fabrics in the meantime!

21 thoughts on “Do you sew for your home?

  1. Yes, I sew for my home grudgingly!
    I wouldn’t use quilting cotton for curtains. But, a lot of the quilting fabric designers also do a home decorating range in a heavier twill fabric which would be suitable. Amy Butler and Anna Marie Horner come to mind.

  2. Oh yes, I also sew for my home: curtains for the visible side of my stairs or for shelves, bed cover, pillows, pet beds, carpet for bathroom etc.
    I’m sorry I can’t help you for some good stores. Here in Rennes each fabric store has a large number of home decorating fabrics. With quilting cotton for curtains, I would be scared that the colors fade away because of the sun. I’ve always used home decorating fabric for home decorating projects, whether it is cotton or polyester.

  3. I have used quilting cotton for curtains. It was for a window that didn’t get tons of direct sunlight and I lined the curtains with real curtain-lining fabric made for the purpose. (I specify because I have read and been told in the past that the lining fabric isn’t necessary.) The curtains had a nice weight to them and they draped nicely. It wasn’t the super-cheap quilting fabric, so maybe that had something to so with it. And no fading that I could tell.

  4. I used that tutorial to make the roman shades from mini blinds and it was so simple! I used a print in the center and then a solid fabric border on each side so mine weren’t quite “no sew” but I love them. My only tip is to do a test spot to see how the glue shows thru on your fabric and be sure to spread it on with a cotton ball or q-tip. The first row I did I just squiggled it on in a line and it totally shows thru on the other side.

  5. I’ve used good quality quilting cotton for valences (I’ve never done a full curtain panel). I line them with inexpensive muslin, both to make them more substantial and to discourage fading. I’ve had great success with this but you have to choose your print/pattern carefully so it doesn’t look like there’s a quilt backing hanging on your window, if you know what I mean.

  6. I always make my own curtains and blinds. I haven’t used quilting cotton but I would if I wanted to! I always line curtains and sometimes I interline, depending on where they’ll be. I always mitre the corners and insert weights.

    I think it’s really up to you if you want to use quilting cotton. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t, in my opinion.

  7. I think quilting cotton would work for simple panels or smaller projects. It may not drape well enough for big fancy curtains. I like to order fabrics online, but sometimes I will go to Joann’s or some similar place and feel the difference between the brands. It helps me decide and see the color palettes in person. Also, when I do order I wait for a huge sale. For example when i redid my place I ordered during a sale that gave you a bigger discount the more you ordered. I ordered $200 worth and paid about $150. Every bit helps! I can’t wait to see what you do! Oh, for pinch pleats I think House of Hepworths did a tutorial a while back.

  8. I’m working on my first quilt to actually QUILT myself right now. So i’m wondering if you quilted your own or just pieced it. If you quilted it, I would love for you to tell me your technique =D By the way, it’s a gorgeous quilt!

  9. I found a great place to buy the heavy cotton sateens on line and at a great price! It is I couldn’t believe the quality of the fabric for the price. Their inventory changes, so not sure what is available now, but I was soooo pleased with what I got just had to spread the word….

  10. Between our house, my son’s and daughter’s homes, I have made lots of different drapes. I have used quilting cotton to make drapes but only for a small mindow. I always line drapes and curtains,even my Roman shades. The drapes hang much better and the fabric and the colors in the fabric last much longer. I like Rain No Stain lining.

    There are also Roman Shade kits at Joann’s. You do use dowels but they have the shade tape now and that makes it easy to get everything lined up. I just made one for my DD’s kitchen window. She wanted to be able to raise and lower the shade easily and I think that it will hold up much better with the dowels over the kind made with a mini blind. I needed to make her blinds 52″ wide and the widest kit they had was for 48″ wide shades but using some algebra I was able to make the adjustments for it to work.

    I just counted up and realized, between everyone moving, that I have made 28 sets of window treatments over the past five years, some more complex than others. I do not enjoy making window treatments. Usually once the math is done, and there can be a lot of math involved when there are oversized windows, and we all had some oversized windows. I find most of the sewing long and boring, especially since my drapes all had to be made a foot longer than any of the standards. However, once done, I love the custom look and how finished they make my rooms feel. To me, the work is well worth the results.

  11. It doesn’t matter how many floor pillows you have. The cats will all pick the same one and fight over it. I have three cats and three cat beds (all the same) and only one of the beds has ever been used.

  12. I buy my home dec fabric from I wait for a 25% off sale. Never do I pay full price.
    Now in my daughter’s room, I used quilter’s cotton under- lined with flannel to give it more heft, body and protection from the weather. I don’t think interfacing would be enough.
    Good luck!

  13. I love the floor pillows you’re about to make; they look very ambitious! I’ve made all kinds of drapes and roman shades for my home; I’ve always used home-dec fabrics. For roman shade how-tos, I’ve relied heavily on “Creative Window Treatments”, published by Creative Publishing, and I got lots of inspiration from Smith+Noble, as well as This site is especially helpful as they include dimensional details as well as finished look photos for all of their roman shade products. I’ve bought fabric from a number of sources, including eBay. If you know the manufacturer and product info, I would suggest that you call or email; I sourced the Duralee toile for my master at a price well below anything I could find online.

  14. I have been working on some covers for couch cushions that go on a wooden couch frame. I had a hard time finding fabric because many home dec fabrics are dry clean only and the whole point of the project was that I want to be able to remove the covers to throw them in the washer. I eventually found that Ikea sells some home dec-weight fabrics that can be machine washed and dried, and they are only $8-$9/yd. I am really happy with the fabric – good quality and a nice drape. The only downside is the limited selection. Can’t wait to see what you end up with! Good luck!

  15. I do a lot of home dec sewing for my home, too. My recent project has been throw pillows for the living room sofa and chairs. I buy duck down inserts from IKEA (cheap and great ‘squoosh’ factor when you sink into them) and then I’ve done a number of removable and permanent cases out of both decorator fabrics and trims and regular cottons, cotton-blends that strike my fancy. I had attempted to make slipcovers for my sofa and chair but that was more trouble than it was worth. It’s cheaper to buy on and sew the fun stuff (pillows). My recent big plan is to have neutral slipcovers for spring/summer and fall/winter, then swap out the throw pillows to change the look and feel of the room (I get bored, easily).

    I’ve also made curtains and duvet covers. Sheets (especially from outlet stores) are great ways to acquire large quantities of fabric for home dec projects that can be easily washed when necessary, and for keeping on a budget.

    Hopefully, you kept the bright cobalt blue room you always photograph yourself against when you’re finished with a sewing project? I love the paint color and it’s such a perfect backdrop for showing off your latest sewing creation. I think one of my favorite outfits of yours was the black and white one with the red obi belt.

    Side note, have you thought of covering the chain on the chandelier that you spray painted black with a fabric cover? Ballard Design sells them but they are super easy to make and a nice way to finish off a lamp. You could do something fun like a leopard or cheetah print for something fun and whimsical!

  16. I’ve only done a little home sewing so far, mainly due to not having a place to sew for. But my mom has used quilting cotton for several simple valance/cafe-type curtains in the house I grew up in, and they’ve held up really well for years. She generally uses the higher-quality quilting cottons, though. I’ve also used quilting cotton, and even muslin, to make door-replacement curtains for my closet, and recently purchased a length of quilting cotton to make my own kitchen curtains for my fiance’s townhouse, which I’ll be moving into after I get married next summer. So for shorter curtains, I think quilting cotton would be fine.

    Beyond that, I can’t give you too much advice yet. Good luck with it all!

  17. By, by old creaky ceiling fan. Hello to chandelier lighting! Good job. As for cloth/cord covered wire, once upon a time I lived in an old farmhouse where you don’t want to even touch that (though maybe the mice might like it). Your house looks like it is shaping up though just reading this makes me exhausted. Per the window covering, I agree, it would save a lot of painstaking work to just order some custom made blinds. On the other hand, you may not find the right fabrication. Is there another option like ordering the fabric and having it made for you?

  18. Love the post. Sometimes quilting cotton gets overwhelmed by linings, which I need to soundproof my noisy apartment. Lots of padding in the curtains help. the problem is, quilting fabric is so darn cute that it’s hard to pass up. Thanks so much for this.

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