Cyclones & Curtains

We have a cyclone brewing on the coast. Far away enough for us to just be feeling the winds gently. So far atleast. Perhaps it’ll get worse soon. I hope those in the eye of the storm will able to get to safety. So as the winds get stronger & blow my curtains up and out – here’s the story of how these beautiful curtains came to be…

Curtains have this wonderful ability to turn an empty room into a cozy home. For the last decade or so, I’ve been using ‘export reject’ curtains, which come by the dozen to safina plaza. Because the lengths are not exactly the same, or the tabs are different, or some small error has been made at the factories around Tirupur, they are considered unfit for export to foreign markets, and are sent to urban India instead. The fabrics, colours and styles are beautiful and the prices incomparable. But Bangalore is too far away to be able to curtain shop, so in BC, I turned instead to the internet for DIY and recycling ideas. That’s how I met some fascinating new words: upscycling & repurposing (we have really come a long way from the 3R’s).

Long story short, I decided to upcycle a whole bunch of my mothers and grandmothers bright cotton sarees into curtains. I modified ideas from blogs like these and with SK didi’s expertise, we had great fun turning these beautiful sarees into curtains. I must admit they are closer to voiles. But since our part of the country is relatively sparsely populated and privacy isn’t really an issue, they work perfectly.

You need: fabric, scissors, a roll of ribbon, pins, measuring tape or ruler, a sewing machine (you could do it by hand, but a sewing machine makes it painlessly fast!), windows or doors with a curtain rod to hang up the curtains when you’re done

Step 1: Get your material together, in my case, old cotton sarees. You could use sheets, dupattas, any fabric that catches your eye. Measure your window or door and decided how big each curtain should be.

curtain1

Step 2: Cut up into desired curtain lengths. With the sarees it was easy – divide by three to get three curtains per sari. The saree breadth is just perfect.

Step 3: Get out the ribbon for making the tabs. I used white satin ribbon but any will do. Plan your tabs – 1 had 7 per curtain. The more tabs, the more pretty pleat folds you get. Then cut up the ribbon into strips that are an inch longer than the tab length. This extra inch is so that you can reinforce both the top and bottom of each tab as seen in the Steps 5 & 6. (You could also do this with fabric strips, but you’d have to hem so many many edges. Ribbon is much easier, neater and prettier option. Others have used self-adhesive strips & hot glue guns, but as far as I know, we don’t get those in rural India).

Step 4: Using what we call ‘bell’ pins here, fold the top and bottom of each tab and pin in place. Get all the tabs pinned and ready to place onto the curtain.

Step 5: Arrange the tabs on your curtain, leaving a top margin of a few inches  (this will stick out above your curtain rod) and pin them in place. The idea is to reinforce the tabs by double stitching on either side of each pin. Remember not to make them too tight, as the curtain rod has to fit through each tab. If possible, do a trial run and hang the curtain up to see how it looks. Re-adjust the pins and tabs if needed. (I had planned ten tabs per curtain, but after a dry run, realised that 7 would be more than enough.)

Step 6: Get out your sewing machine and stitch a line on top of the pins, and another under the pins (that’s 4 lines in total). Pull the pins out, and hem the sides of the curtain if needed. If using sarees, only the top or bottom needs to be hemmed.

curtain4

And there you have it – beautiful curtains to turn your room into a home! Get cracking!!

curtain5

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Comments on: "Cyclones & Curtains" (2)

  1. that looks great! and the loops/tags have come out well. WHat’s the difference between upcycling and reusing?

    • I think its a degree of recycling and re-using. These imply the original item has lost its value and is being down-graded for a ‘lesser’ use, a kind of apologetic attitude. Upcycling gives the new item a more ‘equal’ status and actively supports a non-consumerist approach. We definitely need all of these…

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