Monday, January 31, 2011

The cutest

It's a good thing I didn't see these before I designed the girls room--I would have HAD to have them, in that pink patent leather, and really, even at $69 from Home Goods, a pair of them would have been a budget buster.

I know these chairs have been really trendy of late, but made pint sized, somehow it doesn't matter. And seriously, this is the reason that decorating little girls' rooms is so much fun.

The verdict

I wrote last week about the hemming and hawing over the purchase of a new, custom loveseat, one of the most expensive purchases for this house (or any other house) that we have made. If you read that post, you know I was nervous because I almost always hate something new when it comes into my home, at least for the first 24 hours.

Well. The loveseat arrived Friday, and true to form, I hated it. I mean, I recognized it as a thing of beauty, particularly its sinuous, curved sides and the way the metallic thread in the fabric sparkled under direct light.

But I hated it in the room. The tweedy fabric felt, well, too tweedy on the stark, moorish tile pattern of the orange and white rug. The back felt just a little too high with the low-slung profile of the DWR bantam sofa, a little too proper with the slouchiness of the vintage danish armchair. The stupid thing is, I knew these things when I ordered the sofa. I had measured, and knew the back would be 2 inches taller than the sofa's back, but somehow thought it wouldn't bother me in real life. I knew that the tweed was a bit dull in flat daylight (though gorgeous in the bright sun and under the overhead.) I knew that the shape was more sophisticated than the two big pieces already in the room. I CHOSE it for its sophisticated and feminine counterpoint to those pieces. Which just goes to show, it's all in the mix, and the mix is more art than science.

Over the weekend, I stole many furtive sidelong glances at the little lady, wishing she was this guy,

and that I had snapped him up at the antique store and had him recovered in deep brown velvet. (In my pining, I conveniently ignored the fact that Dave nixed this piece on comfort, and that I had rejected deep brown velvet for sucking the light out of the room.) I think part of the problem is that the vibe of the room came together in my mind after I decided on the loveseat, and I had settled into something slouchy and bold and a little more masculine than I typically go.

Now, of course, I have visions of upping the sophistication to match this new piece, with a white shag beni ourain rug
and gold poufs (Nate Berkus peddles a version on HSN for just $99 each, compared to $325 for the John Derian ones),

maybe even some kind of round marble and bronze midcentury coffee table. But of course the whole idea of a new loveseat was to bring together everything I had already put in the room. This is the other trouble with bringing in a new piece: it changes the way you see everything else.

But another thing happened over the weekend, too. I fell asleep on the loveseat watching a movie, because it is super comfy. (The movie was Network, circa 1974, which has the most incredible 1970s furnishings and interiors). My girls snuggled in to it (and jumped off the seat one too many times.)

And I kept admiring its corner when I looked down the hall from the kitchen and dining room.

As things will, it grew on me. And I knew that a little styling might go a long way. Today was NOT the day to drive all over town, with 3-5 inches of unplowed snow on the ground, but I had a bee in my bonnet and persevered, like an idiot. One of the pillows I set out to get, the gilded grasscloth you see here

eluded me on the grounds that west Elm is closed for inventory today (it shocks me how often this happens to me), but the pillows I brought home were cheaper anyway, and it's possible (though I can't believe I'm saying this), that the gold thread in the pillow + the loveseat might have been too much gold. I think the white and the graphic zigzag bring the couch to life and play down the sophistication. In a good way.

Plus, the white flokati was $12 from Target and the brown and white zig zag was on sale for $13 at Kohls, and free to me, because I had a merchandise credit from Christmas!

What do you think?

p.s. These are the first photos of the living room on this blog, and I kind of can't believe I'm putting them up with the mess on the coffee table. Keeping it real, I guess. Keeping it real.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flashback Friday: First solo-apartment Bedroom

Love that space: Park Slope, 1999

The Vision: Tropical Mod

The Elements: bed on the floor, sheepskin rug, bamboo blinds, 1950s barkcloth in a tropical floral, leopard print throw pillow, plexiglass tulip chair with zebra print seat.

The Huh? Factor: a 1920s blown-glass lamp with a fringed shade--see it on the windowsill? (Total DIY, by the way. There weren't entire stores devoted to lampshades back then, so I bought a plain white cone shade and hot-glued 3-inch magenta fringe in a zig zag around the base!)

The Analysis: After almost two years sharing a 300-sf one bedroom apartment with my roommate and best buddy Jeff, I moved into an 850 sf park slope 2-bedroom, solo. I bought the full sized bed and ran out of money. The barkcloth throw had been the curtain in my old room, and dressed up the all-white bedding nicely. This was before there was a Home Depot and Lowes in every town, and the bamboo blinds came from Pearl River, an amazing Asian department store on the southern fringe of Soho. All in all, I have to say the room is casual and "undecorated," but has some style. Or maybe I mean guts.

What Remains: that exact sheepskin is in use in our bedroom (okay, actually in the closet.) The barkcloth calls to mind the bols tropical print on the curtains in the girls' room. I will always love bamboo blinds. And I wish to goodness I hadn't sold that rockin chair!

What did your first solo bedroom (or post-college bedroom) look like?

20x200 SALE

For those of you interested in trying out 20 x 200 to snap up some new art for your walls, now is the time. 20x200 is having a once-a-year sale, with 20% off orders of $50 or more. Might be the incentive to pick up those cake editions for the girls room....

Also, I should mention I've had some feedback that larger editions feel a bit like color photocopies, less like editions. I only have photographs from this site, which is a different printing technique. So order works on paper at your own risk, and let me know how the quality is if you do.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

On ordering Custom Furniture (and settee round-up)

Any time I bring something new into the house, I hate it. Hate it! No matter how much I loved it in the store. This lasts for about 24 hours, and then I start to acclimate to my true feelings, which are usually positive, often love. Does this happen to other people? Am I just that bad with change? A room--a home--is a very dyamic thing, and adding, subtracting, or rearranging changes everything. The way it looks, yes, but also the way it feels, the stories that the objects tell when put in a different relationship to one another. You can bring in fabric swatches, paint large samples, tape off the dimensions on the floor, but you cannot totally predict how a new piece is going to sit in your room.

Hence the nerves around custom furniture. It can't go back. Not only can you not see EXACTLY what it will look like when it is made, you can't see how it will play in your room, and you are stuck with it. And it probably cost more than your last 6 decorating choices combined. (at least, if you shop craigslist and Home Goods, like me.)

So. Our new loveseat arrives tomorrow.

It was, naturally, a saga to choose it. And of course it takes long enough to build the thing that it's easy to forget about it and move on with life. But now it's almost here! Oh, the suspense!

Why was it a saga? Oh, so glad you asked. The short answer is that it was the last thing to come into the living room, which meant there were all sorts of parameters to work around. First, the size. Most loveseats are really not that small. They tend to be at least 60" long and 36" deep, which is really just a truncated sofa and felt like it would encroach too much on the space in the room. We needed more of a settee. Or a sofette. Both of which are slimmed down in all their proportions, and more like 32" deep. After lots of searching on individual websites, I found this blogpost at lolalina, which offers a pretty comprehensive round up. I also found the Sutton Sofette from West Elm and the "mini Sofa" from Pottery Barn.

But most of the companies that make these smaller scale upholstered pieces do not have showrooms in Minneapolis. And my husband felt the need to actually sit on the thing before we paid a lot of money for it. Picky, picky, picky. At West Elm the manager told me they would "never ever ever" get that piece on the floor, but that it was fully refundable so long as I got one of the stock fabrics. (By the way, they now do have it on the floor, and it is incredibly uncomfortable. Bullet dodged.) At Pottery Barn, the mini sofa is catalogue only. I had an incredulous conversation with the customer service rep on the phone, where I kept saying. "so, just so I'm clear, it is impossible for anyone interested in this sofa to sit on it. Under any circumstances. Ever." For a moment, I considered ordering wither of these sofas in stock fabric, sitting on them, and then, if I liked them, sending them back and reordering in the fabric I wanted. But not only would that be insane, it would also take 16-20 weeks by the time both orders were processed.

On top of these difficulties, we needed the piece to be pretty from the back. Our living room is really lacking for solid walls, and the loveseat will mark the divide between living room and back hallway, which means we will look at the back of it every time we come in or out of the back door. Almost every model fails in this regard.

So, the frame. I will leave out the dozens of rejects, lest you think I am completely obsessed. These were the real contenders.

The Suffolk, like its name, felt a bit formal with the rolled arms and turned legs, though the contrast seemed nice with all the mid-century lines we've already got going.
I loved the feminine lines of the Azure, and the curved back, but felt that 60" long was pushing it for our space. (By the way, the lavender linen they now stock it in is totally to die for. I would pair it with yellow silk curtains and a white morroccan rug.) Also, you can tell this is not a popular item since they haven't even bothered to photograph the product. There's a rendering of the loveseat on the website, and a photo of the sofa version here.

This little sweetie from Lee Industries, on the other hand, was a bit small at just 50". (And the photo is TEENY. Sorry about that.)

This was better, also from Lee, but still a bit sweet in the arms.

And here we have a winner. Lee again.

Love the curved back and streamlined form, but it still has a more masculine tailored arm and base.

Didn't I make that sound easy? Well, it wasn't. Months, I tell you. It took months to pull the trigger. Partly because--guess what? We couldn't sit on it. So we have taken the exact leap of faith that we said we weren't willing to make from the get go. Like when I moved to Brooklyn in order to have outdoor space but bought an apartment without outdoor space. Yes, just like that.

And then there was the fabric choice. The room has an orange and white rug in a moorish tile pattern, the Bantam sofa from DWR (clean lines, tight back) in espresso, black side tables, and medium wood tones on a danish modern armchair and mid-century wood slat coffee table, along with art in every conceivable color (it works, I swear). So it couldn't really be about color or pattern; it had to be about texture. I told my designer Sister-in-Law about a Maharam fabric I had wanted for our sofa (which cost an arm and a leg.) It was a tweedy brown with glamorous gold thread woven in. Well, lickety split, Maud pulled out a fabric swatch from Kravet that did my description justice. Love at first sight.

But even then, I second guessed. Because while I could picture it on the frame, I couldn't actually LOOK at it on the frame, and the same way that a paint square changes when applied to a whole wall, a little fabric sample looks different on a piece of furniture, and what if I hated it? Even after the first 24 hours? I hemmed and hawed and thought that choosing the same color as our sofa in a different texture would be sumptuous. Espresso velvet. Usually when I come to these conclusions the thing I want doesn't exist, and then it's all, well, I'm off on a wild goose chase again! See you in a month, honey! But this time it did exist, and from the manufacturer who makes the settee, no less. But I'll tell you, in the room it felt a bit dark, like it sucked the light right out of there, and I love the way the gold fleck in the Kravet fabric reflects the light.

And so, tomorrow, I will have to report on how beautiful this thing is in person. And, presumably, how much I hate it. Over the weekend, I will come to my senses, and I will--knock wood--share the love next week.

Oh, and fingers crossed that the damn thing is comfortable. Otherwise, I will never be allowed to sit on our sofa again, having been relegated to the pretty but unusable loveseat for the rest of my days. And this will be just.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Throw in a headboard....

As I have mentioned, I'm a craigslist stalker. For a while I was stalking headboards, looking for an upholstered one for the guestroom that I could just recover with new fabric, as Jenny over at Little Green Notebook demonstrates in her girls' room, or a wooden one that I could build onto, like this one at High Street Market (love the nailhead trim). After a while I gave up and decided I would just build one from scratch, like I did for my girls room. I was thinking something like this

[via House Beautiful]

Awesome, no? But my carpenter (aka Mr. Heather) was not up for the challenge.

Luckily, just before Christmas my stalking paid off with a beautifully built queen headboard for $35--LESS than the cost of the raw materials to build it. Major score. It came from a total McMansion in the middle of nowhere, with rooms full of brand new showroom sets and zero character. The husband and wife each told me that it was custom built and that it was "very good"; I just nodded, thinking they might be sad to know I was planning to cut off the welting and staple some new fabric over their french toile.

But what fabric?

I love textiles, but I am cheap when it comes to yardage, and as I have mentioned a thousand times, I get almost everything from S. R. Harris, an amazing warehouse in Brooklyn Center, MN, where all fabric is 50% off and upholstery tends to go for about $7.49/yard. I made the mistake of going to Calico Corners this time, where I fell in love with some fabrics that fetched about 10 times that amount, like this navy chenille. It has this amazing texture like the navy fibers were sort of scraped away, revealing a gold base beneath. Delicious. This scan, of course, does it no justice.

But more realistically, I was thinking about this linen, Calais in Indigo, ($21/yard)

Or Ila from Annie Selke, in Chocolate, ($34.99/yard).

Oh, how I sweated those swatches! I only needed 2 yards of fabric, and thought I could splurge, but I took myself off to the warehouse and came home with samples that were truly all over the map.

This one had the texture of the pricey one from Calico Corners, but the floral pattern felt at odds with the graphic in the rug.

This one had the graphic, but read a little (okay, a lot) too Navajo.

To this one, my husband just said, "is that, like, silver zebra print?" Um, yes. Yes it is.

Our neighbor, who has a PhD in social psychology, recently told us that there are two types of decision makers: optimizers and satisfiers. I am wildly paraphrasing here, but a satisfier will look at a set of options and choose the best of those. An optimizer will continue to look, and look, and look, seeking the best possible choice. In the world. Guess which one I am? Right. But I am also trying to respect budgets, so I did what any CHEAP little optimizer would do: I went ahead and dyed some fabric myself. Obviously.

More on that tomorrow. And just guess whether or not that was the end of this quest?

Guest Room: Round 2

It always amazes me how changing one thing in a room can change everything. A strong piece--even if it is just a lamp, or a picture, or a bowl--can change the mood, refine the style, or throw everything off, just the right amount.

Two things shifted the direction of the guest room for me.
First, I abandoned the idea of a bentwood chair and started looking for an original Nakashima chair, kind of like one of these.
I had purchased the knockoff at Ikea for $34.99. In the space, the ikea chair felt too bulky, despite it's spindles. The rounded corners and thicker everything just overwhelmed the desk, which is the same era as the original Nakashima design.Room and Board makes a better knock off, the Thatcher chair, but at $299 it would have eaten up most of the budget for the room.

I found a pair on ebay, with spindles like this (gorgeous!)

though of course I only needed one, and the ebay ones were getting expensive. Enter my friend Sara, who bought a set of four Nakashima chairs on ebay years ago. One had a bum leg, and she only wanted two for her new space so--joy, oh joy--she sent me the last one!

Isn't it pretty? So much more delicate than the Ikea one, more elegant, a perfect scale for the room, and a match made in heaven for that campaign desk, don't you think? I still need to decide whether to strip it or paint it (I'm leaning towards matching the stain to the desk, but open to suggestions).

So there it was, one piece, upping the ante. Out went the yellow lamps, which suddenly looked squat and dull. Out went the striped curtains, which felt a bit stark. In came the lamp seen above, originally purchased for the Master (is it obnoxious to just say the Master, and leave off "bedroom"? Not sure how I feel about this), with its brown ceramic animaly-printy vibe, its sensuous shape, its black shade. Sexy.

So with this new vibe in mind, I headed off to West Elm for some curtain panels, thinking I would save myself the trouble of making them custom. I was going for a sot of subtle, tone-on-tone thing. Though, truth be told, subtle is not my strong suit and I tend to go for much higher contrast in general.

These chevron stripes somehow felt blah despite the fact that they are practically a golden zebra print.
These satiny platinum panels had some texture and depth, but they seemed to fade away. In this case, it felt like less was definitely less.

And then it hit me.

Raspberry silk. Elegant, sexy, not exactly subtle. They would pick up the red tones in the rug and the pillowcases, and add some shine to a room that was mostly matte and flat. I remembered that the previous owners had had a red lamp in this room, and the color was beautiful with the walls (which I have no intention of painting). Much to my delight, I managed to find the right color silk at SR Harris, during a month when silk was on special for 65% off. (I dragged the rug to the store with me and hauled it around in the cart. I did something one should never do, and bought up 5 yards without testing a sample at home first.) Meant to be, right?

More to come.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Guest Room: Round 1

When we moved in to this house back in August, there was so much to tackle, I felt like it would be helpful to have on finished room as inspiration. I (counter-intuitively) settled on the guest room for a couple of reasons. First, my in-laws' first visit was imminent, and I felt bad about their accommodations in our house in Boulder, where they slept on an air mattress on the floor in the computer room. Second, I was building the room around a number of pieces I already had, so I thought it would be quick and easy to pull together. You can see where this is going, can't you? Suffice it to say that 6 months have passed, and I am very excited to pull the room together before Barb and Pete arrive in two weeks for their third visit to the new house. Before I get to the final room, I thought I'd share some of the process, which I'm sure I made much more complicated than it needed to be.

First, the pieces I was working with. A mid-century campaign desk in a honey stain; a taupe, raspberry, and navy turkish rug; the hotel bedding we registered for when we got married; and a pair of block printed pillowcases I bought at ABC Carpet and home a decade ago.

And the pieces that I needed. A dresser, a desk chair, a headboard, lamps, curtains, and possibly side tables.

I think the inspiration as I developed version 1 was this story from Domino's May 2007 issue, "Viennese Revival."

[via Domino]

I liked the idea of the bold black and white, the graphic shapes. I found some white curtains with black stripes at Ikea, a striped lampshade at Target, and brought in the silhouette Clio made me for mother's day and a pair of yellow lamps from our Boulder bedroom.

I found a bentwood chair on craiglist like the cafe chairs in the domino spread, planned to paint it black; tried this ikea chair as a backup.

I liked the strong shapes, the crispness of the stripes. Only problem? What does modern Vienna have to do with turkish rugs, block printing, and campaign furniture? While I love to mix styles and am hopelessly eclectic, this felt like a bit of a mash-up even to me. After living with it (unfinished) for a few days, I returned the curtains to Ikea, put the silhouette in the master bathroom, and used the lamps in the basement den, bringing me back pretty much to where I began.

Stay tuned for Guestroom version 2...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stalking: Mid-Century Tallboy

I've been looking for a dresser for the guest room for months. While I occasionally dabble with the idea of a waterfall dresser, something sort of squat with wide-spaced handles, like this:

or something square but stacked at the top, like this blonde heywood wakefield-esque piece:

mostly I think I want something more classic midcentury, up on legs, to go with the midcentury desk that's in the room. One big problem: the dresser will go in a sort of niche next to the closet, and the space is only 36" wide, ruling out all the standard 36" dressers, like this absolutely gorgeous specimen.

I've had a few get away, too, either because I waited too long or because a dresser was part of a larger set that sold together.

I'm going to see this one later today, and hoping the finish is nice--it's hard to tell in this photo--because the dimensions are perfect and the hardware will work very nicely with the desk. I also kind of like that it looks like it has two eyes and four smiles.

I just have to say, it is amazing what a treasure trove of mid-century furniture I have encountered on craiglist over the past 6 months. I see listings for crappy new dressers for twice as much money and wonder who would buy them.

But maybe that's just me.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Everything Old is New Again

My mother-in-law saves everything. As our kids have grown through the ages, each visit to Illinois brings another of my husband's toys, out of the attic, cleaned (preserved, really), and ready for this next generation. Most everything in her kitchen was a wedding gift--40 years ago. I find this remarkable in an age of planned obsolescence, inspirational in our throwaway culture. When we visited over the holidays, Barb pulled out this set of wedding sheets for the pull-out couch.

I thought: I've seen those before.

Sure enough, Dwell Studio's Dorothy Draper bedding has stripes in the same weight, and with the same yellow, but modernized in of-the-moment gray.

But really: same thing, right? (By the way, the Draper sheets can be found on the bed of uber-mom-blogger Heather Armstrong over at

West Elm then knocked off Dwell with last season's yellow and grey striped sheets, which have been reinvented this season in green or blue.

Barb reports that her sheets were a gift in 1969 (incidentally, the year Dorothy Draper died), that she believes that they are Fieldcrest brand (available these days at Target), and that they have held up so well only because their heavier weight made them slow to dry, so she didn't use them that often. I think she is being modest.

What do you have in your home that is destined for a comeback? I'm thinking our Ghost chairs will be to tomorrow what the Eames shell chairs are today.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Flashback Friday*: Freshman Dorm

I have always been interested in the way my space looked. I remember making floorplans and elevations to turn my childhood bedroom into a studio apartment when I was,like, eleven. I've also always had a distinct point of view. Whether or not it was in fashion, I always had a vision, and I always did what I could to execute it well.

I'm not altogether sure this is wise, but I've been digging up photographs of some of my early decorating decisions, and I thought I would share them here. Gulp.

First up: Vassar College, 1993.

The Vision: French Country, via Florida. (very often my vision is one thing with a dash of Florida thrown in, for better or for worse.)

The Elements: Sunflower bed-in-a-bag, white wicker shelving, Matisse posters, classic ceramic lamp, and--ummmm--a display of wide-brimmed hats on the wall.

The Huh? Factor: I've never been a stuffed animal person. I'm not exactly sure where that fox came from, or why I felt that freshman year in college was the time to drag it out.

The Analysis: I had recently spent a year in Switzerland. I had a thing for Laura Ashley cocktail-length dresses. I have written here about the concept of choosing an identity to project upon arriving at college, and looking back, I truly wonder what I was thinking. But I will give it this: it is polished, considered, and, well, coordinated, in a phase where most kids were pinning tapestries to the wall and calling it a day.

What Remains: I still love stylized flowers, particularly combined with stripes. My wicker love has evolved to a love of the more "refined" woven woods: rattan, bamboo, and caning. I continue to love yellow. That's actually a lot to take form this, and it just goes to show that our style evolves, but it doesn't completely change.

I'd love to hear about your decorating faux pas or finest moments.

* The idea for "Flashback Friday" come from my friend Rebecca over at On Being Blythe. We did a post-a-day challenge last February and this was her invention to wrap up each week.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dining Room Curtains: After

[Here's the dining room before. See how the room really called out for curtains? Feels unfinished an a bit cold. The Phillipe Stark Ghost chairs are our our old dining room chairs, and that chair on the end was out on approval. I did not, in the end, approve of it, and love the teal eames chairs, which ground the space much better than the white.]

I am usually a rule-follower. I read rule manuals for games and can be quite a stickler, I would always abide by formatting rules for papers in college, and it makes me nervous to turn when a sign declares no turn on red, even in the middle of the night when clearly no one is around. There are two major exceptions to this tendency. In baking and in sewing, two realms that actually require precision, I'm an eyeballer, a wing-it kind of a gal. When trying to make proper curtains for the dining room, I tried my best to follow instructions. I learned the hard way (my favorite way, I suppose), why a number of common practices are, in fact, common. While readers of this blog may have the budget and the good sense to hire a professional, I thought I would share my mistakes with those who might want to do it themselves. I am not going to go through the whole curtain making process--there are many, more qualified sources out there. Instead, consider this a list of warnings or addenda to keep in mind as you work through instructions from a professional source. Also, if you are a professional, do not cringe! Instead, leave a comment with any added tips, if you care to share trade secrets with us DIYers.

1. Plan your project in advance and buy the right amount of fabric.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but for some reason I have never considered a curtain that might be wider than a single width of the fabric as it comes. By the time I realized that the dining room curtains needed more fullness, there was a distinct danger that I might not be able to get another six yards from the same dyelot, especially since I bought by silk at a discount warehouse. Upon returning to the store with the existing silk in hand to match, I circled the silk section in panic. It appeared that my bolt was gone. Finally, after digging through hundreds of bolts, I found the remainder of the original bolt, and--thank goodness--it had six yards left on it. But this could have been an unhappy ending.

Any drapery book will have instructions for measuring, but basically you need the full length of your curtain from rod to floor, plus eight inches for the hem, plus about four inches for the heading (depending on heading type), and most curtains that you plan to actually close should (as opposed to stationary decorative panels) have 2 1/2 times fullness. This means that your fabric, when laid flat, is 2 1/2 times the width of the opening it needs to cover.

Here's the fabric as I'm getting used to it. Feels a bit skimpy.

2. Do not hang your fabric up "just to see how it looks"--for weeks, or even months, at a time (see photo above!)
Again, perhaps obvious. But sometimes I need to live with something for a while before fully committing. (Which is funny because I almost always commit in the end. You'd think I could skip those extra steps.) Anyway, as I learned, leaving the fabric unceremoniously hung by clips or pins can warp the fabric. My project included two panels, each with two widths of fabric. The panel made from the original silk, which had been hanging up while I mulled it over, was much more difficult to deal with than the fresh silk. The side hems were almost the end of me because of the uneven pulling and the near impossibility of pressing an even hem.

3. Measure before you start
I went ahead and assumed that the people at the fabric store had measured correctly. Turns out one persons 6 yards can be another person's 6 1/4, and that's a mighty big difference. Because, well, sewing is precise. Following directions, I went ahead and put in hems first, then side seams, THEN measured from hem to top to make sure my two panels were of equal length. Guess what? Not only were they NOT of equal length, but one of them was TOO SHORT, leaving me with a couple of bad options: lower the curtain rod or take out the hem and redo it with a much smaller allowance. It would have been more pleasant to make an informed decision in the beginning than to rip out 7 feet of seams from silk. Also, I could have gone back to the store to complain that I had not gotten the right yardage.

4. Square your fabric
Another step I skipped, and regretted skipping. Okay, I didn't skip it, but on the first panel I half assed it. Here's the thing: you can't eyeball square. It's simply not possible. Do it properly from the beginning.

5. Trim the selveges
Selveges are those woven edges that basically keep the fabric from unraveling. I'm always thought they were kind of useful in keeping things in line, but in this project I discovered that, with delicate fabrics in particular, the selveges may again pull in an uneven way. Trimming them just before you pin and sew a seam makes the pinning and sewing much smoother--literally.

Looking at this list, I'm not sure there's much I did RIGHT. Also, I realize in hindsight that 9 foot, double width curtains in silk is perhaps not the place to start when learning to pinch pleat, but remember? I'm the one who learns the hard way. (If only I could learn that lesson--not to learn things the hard way.) The good news is I applied some of these lessons to my other curtain projects for the house, and the curtains for the girls room came together quickly and beautifully.

Here's the other thing: there are NO instructional videos out there for "tiny soft pinch pleats," "fan pleats," or "parisian/french pleats." My drapery book just said to proceed as for pinch-pleats, only pinch the fabric at the very top. So I took that for what it was worth, and ended up with this.

Happily, I am loving the results, and feeling very proud of my handiwork. I think I got the effect I was going for.

Even if one panel has a proper 4 inch hem and the other is more like an inch. Even if I did the pinch pleating a couple of days apart and didn't write down what I did the first time, leaving me with a more free-form pleat on the second curtain. You know what? No one sees that but me. And any of you, now, if you come to my house.


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