Who’s old enough to recall the early days of the Internet, when every business still had the word “online” in its web address? The TV was blaring with ads claiming that you could: Buy plane tickets in your PAJAMAS! Check your bank account in your UNDERWEAR! Pay your gas bill in your BARE ASS!
Back in 1999, the future was here, and it meant never having to get dressed ever again.
The only problem? That pesky combination of windows and curious neighbors. The problem hit home for me last week, when I came home from my morning run, kissed the kids good-bye, and stripped off all my sweaty synthetic running clothes (I have a somewhat rational fear of becoming permanently fused to my sports bra).
As I cooled off, I wandered into the kitchen to reheat some coffee. Before I could press the “quick minute” button on the microwave,* I heard loud footsteps just outside the kitchen door. I scampered away to the modesty of my bathrobe. My upstairs neighbor was tromping down the back stairs with his laundry, and came within seconds of getting a show through our kitchen door window. Here’s his view:
As an emergency measure, I used binder clips to attach some IKEA fabric over the mysterious Victorian-era hardware that was stuck to either side of the window.
While sipping my stale coffee, I stepped back and thought, Hey, that looks pretty good! The baby blue perfectly matched the walls, the brown made the woodwork pop, and the dark cyan blue even picked up the color of my Bowling Alley Chairs in the dining room. Maybe it was time to get serious about my backdoor modesty!
—Simple D.I.Y Modesty Curtains for the Clothing-Optional Kitchen—
STEP ONE – PICK YOUR FABRIC: For full-sized windows, it’s always cheaper to buy pre-made curtains than to make your own, due to the sheer volume of fabric it requires. Really cute (i.e., Japanese) designer fabric will cost you at least $15 a yard. And as many times as I’ve tried to use old bedsheets for curtains, they always end up looking just like old bedsheets.** Loyal readers know that my favorite place to get cheap and stylish curtains is a certain Swedish Big Box store. However, for this tiny window, I could spare some of my adorable designer fabric (which was from IKEA anyway).
To determine how much to cut, first measure your window. Then add 1 inch to each side, 1 inch to the bottom, and 3.5 inches to the top of your fabric. Use chalk to mark your cut lines:
STEP TWO – IRON & SEW: Let’s start with the sides of your curtains. Fire up your iron (or just plug it in). Lay the fabric wrong-side-up on the ironing board. Fold ½ inch of fabric over and iron flat.
Then, fold the fabric over again another ½ inch, and iron flat, again.
Pin the seam in place, placing the pins perpendicular to the edge – this will make the pins easier to remove while sewing.
Repeat on the other side. Take your fabric over the sewing machine, and stitch along your ironed and pinned edges. Leave the iron plugged in if there’s no small children around.
Back to the ironing board, and repeat the steps above (fold and iron, fold and iron, pin and sew) to create the same hem for your bottom edge. Take it to the sewing machine and connect it to your sides. The bottom corner should look like this:
Back to the iron, one last time, for the top panel, or what I like to call the “Rod Pocket.” Fold and iron yet another ½ inch over the top, just like you did for the sides and bottom. Now – here comes the exciting part – fold the fabric over again about 2 ½ inches.
Don’t get cocky: Be sure to use a ruler or measuring tape to make sure the Rod Pocket is uniform throughout. Iron and pin, as usual.
PRO-TIP!! Always err on the bigger side when sewing your Rod Pocket. In past curtain projects, I’ve foolishly made the rod pocket only slightly wider than the rod. This makes it nearly impossible to slide the curtain back and forth across the rod, and looks tight and uncomfortable for the curtain. Have you ever bought a sweater from some tiny woman at a yard sale, and when you tried it on later you realized you couldn’t even push the sleeves up your arms cause they were too tight? Don’t do that to your curtains.
When you are comfortable with the size of your rod pocket, sew it shut.
The back of the curtain should now look like this:
STEP THREE – HANG THE ROD: First, I had to pry off whatever strange old hardware was stuck to the back of my kitchen door, which is always kind of fun.
Next, I drilled pilot holes and then mounted the new hardware, which I found in our pantry:
Now, this project wouldn’t be complete without me dragging some garbage into the house. Since I didn’t have an actual curtain rod, I grabbed this rusty “tetanus rod” out of a weed-filled planter in the back yard. I’m guessing my landlord left it back there ten years ago:
Can we see that rod close up? Yes, those are toddler fingers, and yes, he’s had all his shots.
Scrub the rust off with steel wool, and wipe down with some of that Metal Polish stuff that everyone has under their sink:
Let’s call it “Oil-Rubbed Bronze:”
Finally, slip the rod through the Rod Pocket and hang on the door.
You are now free to prance around with confidence in your clothing-optional kitchen!
* A “Quick Minute” is approximately 58 seconds.
** We all have someone on our block with bedsheets for curtains – don’t let it be you!
Tetnus rod: perfect. You are so much more sophisticated than my solution which often involves tape unless my mom is around and she forbids me from such shortcuts.
I love that I am often the first to comment. We are devotees of the modesty door window treatments. Our back doors face south, and even though they are wrapped by our back stairs, they bring in wonderful light in the winter. I like to find that sweet spot between sheer and opaque fabric to give a nice glow.
I’m usually with you on the sheer window treatments. I’m a total light addict as well. But that back kitchen door opens up onto a covered back stairway; since it didn’t get any light anyway, I didn’t feel bad about covering it with heavier fabric. Luckily the actual window in the kitchen looks out unto the bedroom window of the folks in the building next door, so I don’t even bother covering it. It’s a privacy stalemate.
Your curtain corners are way better than mine. Sigh.
Good curtain! We just make the neighbours suffer… Can I have the old roller blind brackets you took off the door? I can only find them as part of a kit in the hardware store.
Sorry, those old brackets are missing several key pieces. But they’ve been on there so long they’ve been stained and lacquered right along with the door. I’m tempted to have them carbon-dated!