Believe it or not, sometimes I stay indoors! And one of the things I do when I’m indoors is sew. When I got out of the Air Force in 1993, I signed up for my first sewing class from the city’s parks and recreation department offerings (they no longer do the classes :-( ). Would you believe my first project was a dark blue skirt?! I had to laugh when I realized I had basically made myself another “Air Force” skirt! But my inspiration to sign up for sewing classes was my desire to sew curtains for my house.

curtainbefore.jpgAfter my class, I made a practice set of curtains. I used peach fabric with cute little rosebuds all over and the shortcut of Wonder Under strips for the bottom hems and hung them in the bathroom. If they looked okay, I’d look for more exciting fabric and make the curtains again. Well my “practice” curtains remained there until today, nearly 16 years later! I took them down to wash them last week (I was a little worried about those Wonder Under hems!), and I decided I wanted to freshen up the bathroom with new curtains. (You’d be amazed how much dust can build up on the top of those curtains in 16 years….eww.) But what fabric to use….?

curtainclose.jpgIt didn’t take me long to choose a cute print I loved with little goldfish (in the plastic bags you take them home in) that I’d bought, having no idea what I’d do with it. When I’d seen the adorable names under the bags, I was smitten and just couldn’t help myself. I only had one yard, so I cheerfully headed off to my curtainveryclose.jpgfabric store planning to buy an additional yard. Sigh. It was my turn to be the one who could not find more of the fabric she loved anywhere. An online search using the fabric line’s name (Lightning Bugs and Other Mysteries by Heather Ross) led me to realize that these goldfish had been very, very popular. One vendor at Etsy was willing to sell me a fat quarter for $16 plus shipping – eek! So I took on the challenge of making curtains out of my one yard.

(Cue the Mission Impossible theme music…..)

Curtain rods’ length: 40 inches
Fish Fabric’s selvage-to-selvage width (after washing and drying): 43 inches
Length of current top curtain: 14 3/4 inches
Length of current bottom curtains: 23 1/4 inches
Fish Fabric’s top cut to bottom cut length: 36 inches

I wasn’t going to have the luxury of using the usual “one-and-a-half to two times the curtain rod length” of fabric, and a little math will tell you that the finished lengths of the current (“old”) curtains added up to more than the 36 inches I had of the new. And of course…that was even before taking into account seam allowances and having enough fabric to fold to the back for the rod pockets. I almost threw in the towel, but then those cute little fish stared at me with their…well…fishy eyes, and I got determined.

I would use a different fabric to create the rod pocket on the back of the curtains. I would add some contrasting borders to the bottom for length, and for the bottom curtains, I would use a trim binding along the center edges instead of doing a regular double fold seam allowance. I had to eke out every inch of that fabric for the curtains to be large enough!

Very carefully, I got to work. Any cutting mistakes, and I’d be sunk. (I should mention that after those initial sewing lessons, I took quilting lessons two years later and have mostly been a quilter ever since. Any cutting mistakes can usually be taken care of without too much heartache or stress. Not so with curtains.) I’m happy to report that my caution and refusal to rush (I do tend to rush when excited about a project) paid off! We now have fish in the bathroom and not a spare scrap inch of the goldfish fabric.

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